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There were big baby boys in cute, grown-up-sized jumpers (the kind with snaps on the crotch!) and others in ruffled plastic panties with pink ribbons in their hair. There was also a large group of guys sitting around chewing the fat. From the waist up, they appeared ordinary in their button-down shirts and turtleneck sweaters, but when I looked at their laps, they were wearing Huggies (not really Huggies, by the way, but adult-sized diapers mostly designed for incontinence).
One man told me that he wears diapers 24-7he's a stockbroker who dons them under his suits when he goes to work. He loved them as a baby and believes they made a profound impact on him. He knew a tremendous amount about different brands of diapers, and told me that European companies make a far superior product. His favorite is Molicare, from Germany: "It's like having a futon between your legs," he said, which sounded dreadfully uncomfortable, but judging by the grin on his face, he really liked the feeling.
The stockbroker was so ordinary looking, so warm and charming, it made me think that anyone could potentially be wearing Luvs under their Levis. Reflective of the larger community, SIDNY is about 95 percent men (although the number of women is quickly rising), and only a few people at the partyof about 35 attendeeswere women. (Incidentally, half of all men in the "diaper scene" identify as gay, which partially explains the gender bias.)
Daddy Russ, SIDNY's founder and co-chair, is an attractive 32-year-old with an MBA and a passion for Pampers. He estimates that there are about 100,000 diaper fetishists worldwide, and the Internet is the main meeting place for many of them. There are thousands of Web sites (like dpf.com, Nurseryish.com, Babyjamie.com, and Diaperstation.com) devoted to this desire, featuring everything from online emporiums of adult-size baby paraphernalia (a big-boy pacifier for $26!) and e-zines of personal stories and erotic fiction to advice for adult babies on how to find a mommy and photos of infantile behavior.
Russ is sweet, social, articulate, and full of information about all things diaper-related. He sees the Adult Babies/Diaper Lovers (AB/DL) community as made up of four specific, yet overlapping, groups: adult babies, sissy babies, diaper lovers, and s/m diaper players. Adult babies (often called bABies, ABs, or abies) are grown-ups into infantilism: They like to dress and behave like babies with all the trappings of the early yearscuddling, bottle feeding, diaper changing, nap time, and, sometimes, but not always, spankings. Sissy babies role-play not only age, but gender as well; they are men who enjoy being baby girls. For these babies, the diaper is just one signifier among many (the pacifier, the bib, the rattle, the jumper) that help them get into their role, or what ABs call "baby space." There are also plenty of daddies, mommies, nannies, and other parental figures in this community, since babies can't be left alone!
Diaper lovers are more like fetishistic purists: They eroticize diaper-wearing, but it has nothing to do with being a baby. Some simply like the sensation of wearing one, some feel comforted and safe in diapers, and others wear them as a sexual turn-on. Some diaper lovers take advantage of the diaper's utilitarian purpose, others do not. According to Russ, the s/m diaper players are perhaps the smallest niche-within-a-niche; they are kinky folks who use diapers to dominate, discipline, humiliate, and otherwise play with power dynamics. "For me, the diaper can be like a collar; it's a constant reminder of my baby girl's submissiveness," explains Russ. "The diaper puts her in her place, and the ritual of changing it reinforces the dynamic again and again." For all diaper fetishists, the diaper, as well as the role-play that sometimes goes with it, may or may not be sexual.
Among people who have unconventional erotic identities or practices, AB/DL-ers are perhaps some of the most misunderstood and denigrated. They are not antisocial freaks, emotionally immature adults, or pedophiles. They are everyday people from all walks of life with careers, families, and friends. Because their tastes are very taboo, they are stigmatized (even by other kinky people) and disrespected. Anything that has to do with kids and sex is a red flag for so many who want to protect children from Internet predators, child pornography, and violence. From what I have seen of this community, AB/DL-ers are grown-up people who like to play with other grown-ups, and that play happens to revolve around diapers or babyhood.
Being a baby is an opportunity to be comforted and taken care of in an unparalleled way; to re-create a childhood one never had; to be helpless, naive, or full of wonder; to surrender to a dominant parental figure; to return to a primal self, before language, intellect, and ego got in the way. Hey, after a hard day filled with familial and financial responsibilities, who wouldn't want to lie in a crib for a few hours and gurgle?
As my readers know, I often try things out for the sake of my column (I love my job!), but when confronted with the idea of wearing a diaper in order to really go deep inside this fetish, I was totally resistant. Russ suggested it "as a matter of effective and accurate journalism," but I think he had an agenda of the baby-sitting variety in mind. Then my Voice editor chimed in (flexing her inner dominatrix by telling me to do something I didn't want to): "I think your personal experience would really add something to the piece, Tristan." So, for the sake of adventure, I put one on. In fact, I wrote this entire column while wearing it. The diaper itself was not comfortingit was bulky, made noise when I moved, and was somehow humiliating, even though I was all alone. But there was no one around to inspire me or put me into baby space, so I can't say that I explored all aspects of the fetish. A diaper lover I am not. A potty-trained toddlerwell, that's another column.
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