Friday, October 31, 2008
“Adult Baby” Is Her Identity, Not a “Fetish”
interview by MARK GABRISH CONLAN
Copyright © 2008 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved
Viewers of the 2008 San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade last July were treated to a remarkable sight from one small contingent. It consisted of only three people: a hot-looking man named Brian dressed in adult-sized Buster Browns a large person named Tammy dressed in a scaled-up version of a little girl’s pink-and-white dress; and the central figure, heidilynn, dressed in a frilly top and baby’s panties and being pushed in a giant stroller. People couldn’t get enough of them — before the parade stepped off, a number of folks from other contingents came up to be photographed with them — and two months later heidilynn, who lives in Phoenix, did a phone interview with Zenger’s to give us a further introduction to the world of “Adult Babies” (AB’s, also sometimes called “Advanced Babies”).
heidilynn — the name is spelled about four different ways on her Web site, www.heidilynnsworld.com, but all one word and all lower case is her preference — was born William Windsor over 50 years ago. “I found myself drawn to diapers and rubber pants at a very early age,” heidilynn recalled on her Web site. “”The first time I recall actually putting [them] on is trying on my baby sister Sally’s rubber panties at my grandmother’s house in Middletown, Ohio, when I was four years old. After Regina (the nanny) had finished changing my sister, she hung the rinsed-out panties on the doorknob of the bathroom that faced the bedroom I was billeted in. The lure was irresistible. I held back as long as I could. But ultimately I gave in.”
Those words — “I held back as long as I could. But ultimately I gave in” — describe a good part of heidilynn’s life. How she came to identify not only as a baby but as a baby girl, her struggles in learning to live with her identity and survive in the non-baby world, her experiences with the “mommies” who change her diapers, feed her baby food and take care of her, and the breadth of the adult-baby lifestyle — there are many adult-baby Web sites and several companies making adult-size baby clothes, strollers, cribs, playpens, high chairs and the other gear — all came up in our interview.
Zenger’s: What do the initials “AB” stand for?
heidilynn: There was somebody called Tommy, whom you might call the father of AB/DL. I don’t really remember his last name. He was the first one to bring it to the Internet, and actually it was through the Internet, through an organization called DPF, Diaper Pail Friends. It was Diaper Pail Fraternity at first, because most members were male, or that’s what he thought. He came to find out later that there are as many females into this as there are males. But anyway, to answer your question, “AB” — he called them “Adult Babies.” Not “Aryan Brotherhood.” DL” stands for “Diaper Lover.” They are a whole different segment of the community. They’re attracted to diapers and like to wear them, but that is more of a fetish or an attraction. AB’s are more of an emotional kind of thing.
Zenger’s: Some of the material on your Web site also refers to it as “Advanced Babies.”
heidilynn: That comes from Kathi Stringer. She’s a Transgender advanced baby who came up with that term, and she’s done a whole lot of research into this. You might want to visit her Web site, toddlertime.com. She came up with the “advanced baby” because she said, “I’m not really an adult.”
I’ve got a little bit of an argument there, because I do feel like I have to be an adult because you have adult responsibilities you have to take care of in your life, regardless of how you feel about yourself. I go with “Adult Baby,” but I think Kathi has done a lot for us to understand why, who and what we are.
There’ve been so many questions over the years since I first really realized I wanted to do this, when I was four years old. There was always a question why, and I know a lot of people who see me say the same thing. I don’t really know what to tell them, because I’m still asking that too. Kathi has brought me a little bit closer to understanding.
Zenger’s: How did you first become aware of this aspect of your life? I mean, age four doesn’t sound that far removed from biological babyhood.
heidilynn: I don’t really know how it started. Just an attraction to it. A lot of psychiatrists and professional people, mental health people, say it was separation anxiety, maybe a transitional object which the diaper becomes, much like a blanket or a Teddy bear or something like that, at that age.
I have a hard time going to Pride events and stuff like that. I’m not Gay per se. I’ve tried it in my life. I was in show business for a while in New York, and it’s hard to escape when you’re in that profession, especially in New York. There were times when I tried it, but I don’t see myself as Gay. I see myself as different. The reason I participate in the Pride events is I’m proud: I’m proud of myself, I’m proud of what I’ve done, and I’m proud of standing up for who I am. So that’s why I participate in Pride events.
I really have a hard time with fetish events. Even though I participate in Pride events, I usually don’t go to fetish events, because it’s not really a fetish. For me, it’s become at this point my lifestyle. I bristle a little bit when I hear it called a “fetish,” even though I understand why. It’s a generic, cover-all description for people who might not know anything about it: “Oh, that’s just a fetish,” It’s like rubber, or latex, or whips, or whatever alternative kind of lifestyle people are into.
Zenger’s: I read about you in one of the articles on your site that you had, quote, “trained yourself to be incontinent,” unquote. When I read that I said to myself, “That is when it became more than a fetish.” So when did that happen, and how did you manage that?
heidilynn: How did I get to that point? Well, to tell you the truth, I’m not totally incontinent. There’s still a little control, if I have to, because it’s extremely inconvenient at times. But in my sleep, or if I’m not within say, two or three seconds of a commode or toilet, at times it just happens. I started using audio recordings, hypnosis-type things, and when you get used to voiding yourself, over a period of time your muscles get weaker. Your sphincter muscles and all that stuff in that area get weaker from non-use. So it just happens. There’s a certain amount of control, but I wouldn’t trust myself without a diaper on, walking around. I wouldn’t trust myself not to lose control.
Zenger’s: How did you get to the point where you realized it wasn’t just a fashion statement or something that felt good physically: that this was something that really an identity: something basic about who you are?
heidilynn: The clothes, and everything like that, came about when I was living in New York City, I think. No, actually it was even before that. It was always there. I just wanted the whole thing, back when I was first interested in diapers. The rest of it came along with it.
Zenger’s: Given that this started for you at the age of four, would it be fair to say that in a real sense you never grew up?
heidilynn: Yes, I try to avoid adult circumstances or adult responsibilities as much as I can. Unfortunately, life doesn’t afford me that luxury all the time. Other writers who have written about this, and one catch word that I thought was kind of apropos was “Peter Pandemonium.” It referred to people who enjoy being a kid again, in whatever way they felt comfortable with. She writes for the Reno News-Gazette. Her name is Siobhan McAndrew — she’s got a Celtic name, and she’s got a really good article there. I’ve got it on the Web site. [Her article also uses the term “rejuvenile.”]
Zenger’s: One of the things that probably surprises people about this is that there seems to be enough of a market for kids’ clothes in adult sizes that there are people commercially manufacturing them.
heidilynn: All you have to do is put “Adult Baby” in your Google box and Google it, and these things are everywhere. It’s obviously a lot bigger than anybody ever thought it was. When I was young, I was sure that I could be the only one in the world that could possibly want to do this. Then I appeared on the Jerry Springer Show with Tommy, that gentleman I mentioned earlier, in 1992.
There was another person, Ken Perry. I was living in San Francisco at the time, doing a show called Hair, a resident company at the Orpheum Theatre on Market Street. I was very young, about 19 years old, and I was constantly checking the underground papers at the time. That was the Internet back then! I think they had the Oracle, and they had the Village Voice — which was considered an underground paper at the time. It’s not anymore; it’s considered mainstream, pretty much.
But anyway, I had always checked the personal ads to see if anybody would have anything there about infantilism. Then one day I ran across this personal from somebody in New York. His name was Ken Perry, and he left a post office box and said he had an interest in this. He wrote that he had an interest in baby bottles, baby clothes and diapers, and just returning to infancy, trying to as much as any adult can; and was there anybody else out there who enjoyed this sort of thing?
So I wrote him back, and we struck up a pen-pal relationship. This was before the Internet, so I was shocked when I saw the personal. I don’t know what possessed me to keep looking through the personal ads, thinking somebody would be in there with this. But, sure enough, there he was one day, and we started trading letters. As luck would have it, I had been on the road with Hair at the time of this, but I had got my draft notice, so I had to leave here for a while.
They were starting to cast Jesus Christ Superstar at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in New York. I had done a production of Hair in Washington, D.C. with Tom O’Horgan, the original director of Hair on Broadway. He was chosen as director for Jesus Christ Superstar, so a friend of mine said, “Look, I’ve got a friend you can stay with in New York and audition for Superstar.” I did get cast in the original cast of Jesus Christ Superstar, so my friend telling me to get my ass back to New York and audition for the show was a good idea. I got Broadway experience, and they ended up offering me the lead in Hair on Broadway. I was the lead in Hair for about a year and a half at the Biltmore Theatre. But I took New York for granted, for some reason. Looking back, I miss it now.
Anyway, as luck would have it, the person I was staying with lived on 77th Street, and Ken Perry lived on 79th Street, right across from the Museum of Natural History off Columbus. So I ended up in New York just three months after I had answered one of Ken’s letters. He had been delving into this a little bit deeper than I had at this point, and he was a little bit older than me — about four or five years — and had just done a stint in the Navy and all. But this has been going on for a long time. He showed me some pictures that really scared the hell out of me.
One was this older guy with sunglasses on, I guess to disguise himself, and a wig and all these other accoutrements. I told Ken, after I looked at that picture, “Oh, that scares me, man. I hope I’m not like that.” Well, I’m not really like that. I don’t wear wigs and sunglasses to disguise myself or anything like that. It still is a part of my life, something I cannot cast off. There’s just no way. I’ve tried and tried and tried for years, and I’ve finally come to the conclusion that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Zenger’s: On your site you say it’s just a matter of identity. It’s like being Gay or being Transgender.
heidilynn: It is. I went to see a therapist when I lived in Nashville, Tennessee, at Vanderbilt University. I was going back and forth between what they call a “binge-purge cycle,” like bulimic people who eat, eat, eat, and then they vomit to get rid of it because they’re ashamed or whatever. I would buy all this baby stuff, and then eventually just sit down and look at myself and say, “This is ridiculous. You can’t do this.” I’d end up throwing away hundreds of dollars’, sometimes thousands of dollars’, worth of stuff — a high chair, a large playpen, and all my baby clothes that I’d had custom-made for me by someone in Nashville — that I had accumulated during the time I was in the throes of babyhood, and then and then three weeks, three months, a certain time later, I’d want to have it all back again.
Finally I said to myself, “Look, I’ve just got to talk to somebody.” So I went to Vanderbilt Hospital. It was just down the road from me, just a couple of blocks away. I went in there to see one of the shrinks, dressed in street clothes, jeans and stuff like that, and my next-door neighbor, who’d seen me as a baby, said, “Where’s your baby clothes?”
I told the psychiatrist about that when I got in for my first visit, and he said, “It sounds to me like you don’t have any trouble with people accepting you like that. I’ve treated other people with this, and it seems to me that everybody has a hard time with it in terms of getting rid of the desire to do this. We could go through months of group therapy and stuff like that, and maybe hypnosis and whatever, regression and stuff like that, but it seems to me your best bet is to just accept it and try to find some satisfaction, some sort of support group, and see if you can’t find a way to integrate this into your life, because it’s not going to leave you. That’s been my experience.”
That’s probably the best advice I’ve ever been given: just to accept it and let it be part of me, and not be ashamed by it or try to deny it, because it’s an exercise in frustration. It really is.
Zenger’s: Some of the stories on your Web site deal with traveling and some of the experiences you’ve had on the road. Do you want to tell a few of those stories?
heidilynn: I’ve taken little short trips here. I’ve been to San Diego once before this trip for the Pride Parade. My father died in 2003 and left me a car, so I flew America West Thanksgiving weekend, with a friend of mine, a lady friend who was kind of my mommy. We flew to San Diego and went down to Seaport Village and rode the merry-go-round and stuff, and had supper down there.
I did take a solo trip back East for a Pride event in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Somebody who lived close by in Arkansas, another straight Transgender person, had invited me, and I looked forward to meeting with her. This person had been a Marine, and I guess still is a Marine, because once a Marine, always a Marine; had gone through jump school and was a tank commander. He re-enlisted in the Army after he got out of the Marines and was a tank commander, but he calls himself “Little Miss Ruffles.” I went to Eureka Springs to meet with her, and met his mommy and stuff. But he’s not quite as adventurous as I am, so he left the next day. The next night, we were going to tour the town, both of us. I got a wild hair and spent about a week in Eureka Springs. The event only lasted a couple of days, but I liked it there.
Then I decided to go to the end of Spring Break in Panama City Beach, Florida, where I was thrown out of a Holiday Inn. When I went to check in at the front desk, everything was cool. They gave me my room and everything like that. I told them exactly how I dress, and they didn’t have any problem with it. They told me there was a complimentary breakfast they were offering to all hotel guests. I went down to have that, so I was pretty much walking around the hotel there, and I went upstairs to take a nap after I finished breakfast.
I was awakened by a knock on the door, and a security person said, “Look, you’ve got to put on different clothes if you’re going to be out and around the hotel here.” I said, “Why? You’ve got girls in thong bikinis and guys in Speedos drunk out of their minds walking around here.” “Well, this is a family hotel.” I said, “Yeah, anybody who comes to Spring Break and brings their family ought to know what to expect.” I thought it was a little bit ridiculous for security to say I had to leave because they didn’t like the way I dressed. They said, “Well, you can stay here. You just can’t — ” and I said, “These are the only clothes I have. So what you’re saying to me is I have to stay in my room the whole time I’m here, or what?”
But a funny thing happened on the way down, as I was leaving. A Panama City cop asked if he could have his picture taken with me, and I asked this security person who was at the concierge desk as I was leaving if she would take the picture. The cop and I kind of leaned together, into each other, as she took the picture. He said, “O.K., now give me a thumbs-up when you’ve taken the picture, because my wife is not going to believe this.” He told me to have a good time while I was in Panama City, so the local law enforcement people didn’t have a problem with it. It was just the security lady at the Sun Spree Resort at Panama City Beach who didn’t like me.
After that, I’d always wanted to go to New Orleans, so I made my southern route there to New Orleans. I went in April 2006, almost nine months after Katrina, and there was still damage everywhere. It was amazing. I remember going down to the French Quarter and driving by the Superdome, and seeing guys doing the roof. They were still working on the roof at that point, and I was thinking of stopping because I had done roofing at one point in my life. Then I said to myself, “I wouldn’t want that job. Don’t look down!”
I wanted to stay in the French Quarter. I didn’t want to park the car and get out because I was by myself and I’d heard all kinds of bad stories about walking around or even parking in the French Quarter. I wanted to get a hotel close by, and they were still repairing from the hurricane too, so they only had a few rooms available and they were taken up. So I went from New Orleans on a southern route through Homa and then Lafayette, and then spent the night in Winnie, Texas, which is just a little bit east of Houston. I’m sure they got hit by the hurricane.
I went through Houston the next day and then through Austin. I stayed in Austin for about five days, and I’d been in Austin before as a baby. It was a pretty cool time there. I love Austin, Texas. I went through Austin and then through Van Horn, Texas, went that way and then stopped in Bisbee, Arizona. I’ve got some friends down in Bisbee, and Bisbee is a pretty cool town. So I stopped there for about three days, and that was right on my birthday as a matter of fact, and then I drove back up to Phoenix.
Zenger’s: You also mentioned on your site that you had once been married, and that you’d had some interesting experiences in that relationship.
heidilynn: She was into having me go out in public and stuff. She enjoyed doing that. But then my son came along, and we pretty much had to put the brakes on. I was still in my binge-purge mentality back then. I would do it for a while and then get disgusted and throw everything away, and then like I said, about three months later want it all back again and want to do it again.
It was a sexual thing for me at that time, too. Not the whole thing was sexual, but it became sexual. Like if you read Kathi Springer’s stuff, it became sexual during puberty. I was already into it before puberty, when I had no idea what sex was or anything like that. I knew I just wanted to do it. When puberty arrived and sexuality began to raise its head, so to speak, it became a sexual thing too, and it was for a long period of time. But it is no longer sexual for me. It still is sexual for a lot of people that are into this. It just happens. I don’t know why. I guess it’s because it’s a very sensual area down there.
Zenger’s: How do you make your living?
heidilynn: I’m retired. My father died in 2003 and left me a fairly decent sum of money that was in trust. And so I’ve got an investment account that I live on.
Zenger’s: Before your father died, how did you handle dealing with a work life and the need to earn a living while having this lifestyle?
heidilynn: For two years I did phone sales. I wouldn’t really call it telemarketing. We didn’t call people’s homes and stuff. We called businesses, and I sold epoxies and industrial chemicals to companies and cities. One of my biggest territories was wastewater management. We’d sell degreaser to treatment plants and stuff. Since that was phone work and inside, I didn’t have to wear a business suit. I was able to wear diapers. I wore diapers pretty much 24/7. I couldn’t dress the way I wanted to, but I was 24/7 with it then. Before then, I did underground electric. I did whatever I could, basically, to make a living. I was homeless for a while. I think it’s on the Web site, that article. A far cry from Broadway!
Zenger’s: Just one final question: how did the “heidilynn” persona come about? Not just a baby, but a baby girl?
heidilynn: When I first started out, I liked the clothes that baby girls wore better. When I got to New York, I had a girlfriend there whom I made aware of this desire of mine. She was from L.A. but we lived together in New York in a loft down on Chambers Street, about three blocks away from the World Trade Center. Her former boyfriend in L.A. had been a transvestite, and she’d enjoyed dressing him up and stuff. So we kind of fit together that way, and I guess from there and my attraction to baby girl clothes and stuff, because it always seemed cuter to me. I don’t know. I was just more attracted to that.
The name “heidilynn” came from when I was on the Jerry Springer Show in 1992. Before I went on, the makeup lady asked me if I wanted an alias or if I wanted to use my real name. I said, “I’ll use an alias, a different name, something like that.” She had a book of baby names, and when she got to “Heidi” I said, “That’s it. Heidi’s good.” I used “heidi” for a while, and then one of my girlfriends, another mommy that I had, started calling me “heidilynn” because I think she had a girlfriend when she was growing up back in Maryland whose name was Heidi Lynn. She started calling me “heidilynn” and I liked it, so I kept it.