Longform

Baby Man

It's late on a warm Thursday night in April, and William Windsor heads to the checkout stand at the Fry's supermarket at 20th Street and Highland Avenue, in central Phoenix.

Customers and cashiers stare at the 5-foot-11, 180-pound man, who is dressed in a pink bonnet, pink shorty dress, and white patent leather shoes. Gold heart-shaped earrings twinkle beneath his carefully curled hair. Under his dress, you can see his diaper. He takes his place in line with a carry-all basket full of juice and Gerber baby food.

"Oh shit! It's Baby Man," says one cashier, a Hispanic kid who's heard the legend but has never been a witness to the spectacle. "It's like Sasquatch!" he says. "You don't believe it exists until you see it."

And even then, you're likely to think Baby Man is the star of a hidden-camera TV show, a singing telegram, or maybe on his way to a costume party. But Windsor is for real. This is no spoof.

The customers waiting in line behind Windsor -- a 54-year-old semi-retired singer and actor, and "full-time adult baby/diaper lover" (AB/DL) -- are giggling, then grimacing. But Windsor seems oblivious.

When offered a business card and asked for an interview, Windsor doesn't bother to remove the pacifier he's sucking on before responding.

"Oh, cool," he says from the side of his mouth.

He promises he'll call the next day to answer the biggest question of all:



Why?

And then he gets into his Buick sedan -- personalized license plate: "DIAPER1" -- and drives home to his east Phoenix apartment where he'll play with stuffed animals, eat in his high chair, and maybe play on the Internet, searching for friends.

Then he'll wash his messy nappies before putting himself down for the night in a custom-made crib big enough for a baby his size.


William Windsor, who answers to at least a half-dozen nicknames -- Will, Willie, Bill, Billie, and to the name of his alter ego, HeidiLynn -- does not call the next day, or the day after that.

On the third day, he uses the Internet, which he's only discovered in the past year.

"For lack of a more suitable sobriquet," he writes in an e-mail, "'Baby' is the name most people in my neighborhood know me by. I have other nicks I go by on the Internet, of course, but 'Baby' is the one that seems to have the legs around here."

He goes on to write that addressing "every avenue of 'the why?'" would be laborious, and asks for a more specific angle. He includes his phone number.

You walk around in baby-girl clothes and a diaper, sucking on a pacifier. That's the angle.

"Okay, fair enough," he says from his cell.

Is there someplace we could meet to talk? Do you drink?

"Yeah, I drink beer."

Well, is there a bar you frequent, a place you feel comfortable?

"I don't really go to bars, but there's a place right down the street from my apartment called Bogie's," he says. "Let's meet there at about 6 tomorrow night.

"I'll show up a little early, to make sure it's okay for me to be there."

See you then.

In the meantime, a Google search for the terms "infantilism," "adult baby" and "diaper lover" returns dozens of sites and personal Web pages, including first-person tales, academic papers and links to small businesses that sell everything a big baby needs, confirming that "AB/DLs" like Windsor -- well, not quite like Windsor -- are no joke.

Men, the majority of the "AB/DL" community by at least 9-to-1 according to sites like dpf.com (the Diaper Pail Friends network) and infantilism.org, are known to organize "diaper lover" parties in New York and L.A., where they dance around in diapers and make small talk about their day jobs. In late July, the second annual "Adult Baby Camp" gets under way at a campground in Alberta, Canada, where a few dozen outdoorsy babies are expected to show, and fish the remote Wildhay River in nothing more than a cloth nappy.

Infantilism has become so mainstream, so to speak, that even the hit CBS series CSI: Miami featured it in an episode in February.

But still, it's not every day you see an adult baby wandering the aisles of your local Fry's.

Straight adult babies, like Windsor -- who was, in fact, once married and has a 24-year-old son -- often have "mommies" who change their diapers, feed them warm bottles of milk, and even let them breast-feed, lactating or not. Some have wives who make them frilly frocks and dress them up in baby-girl clothes. The gay adult babies, ironically, wear pastel blues and onesies made for adult baby boys, and are often on the lookout for daddies.

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Joe Watson