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Adult Babies on the Donahue Show

By BitterGrey

The Donahue's adult baby episode was remarkable in a number of ways. The first distinction to be visible is the number of custom adult baby furniture pieces and the lavish stage decoration; playpens, adult-sized high-chairs, etc. This forms a sharp contrast to the K-mart sourced Jerry Springer episodes. More meaningfully, this episode is remarkable in that Donahue and all the guests clearly had given the topic some thought and research. Most in the audience seemed reasonably polite and intelligent, although some asked questions that made it seem like they weren't even watching the show.

The Adult Babies

The episode opens with three adult baby boys and one sissy walking on to the stage. Consistent with the set dressing, they are all wearing baby clothing that is either custom made, or could pass for custom-made.

"Ginger" is the first to be introduced. It is instantly clear why: A man dressed as a baby girl, Ginger is introduced as a former marine and Vietnam veteran. She (based on role, not birth sex) was clear and articulate, as authoritative as one can be while in a high chair and wearing a bonnet.

"First time this has ever been aired - and I have to be the one to explain it" she opened. "For me it ... takes me back to areas I've never been to before, as a child it allows me to be free, to be who I want to be, to explore, to be comfortable about it, and to enjoy life." The cameraman had adapted for the highchair, keeping a neutral viewpoint, neither dictatorially high or caricaturishly low. Donahue didn't interrupt, and the audience didn't shout her down.

The next adult baby introduced was "Dennis." He claimed a BA degree in social work, specializing in sexual minorities. He also discussed his activism, including appearances in gay pride parades.

"Lee" was the third adult baby to be introduced. This truck driver discussed his hard childhood, including how his stepfather drove his mother away when Lee was eight. Traumatic childhoods are often given as reasons for being an ABDL.

The last adult baby introduced was "Gene." Gene founded "GLADS," the Great Lakes Adult Diaper Society, after serving in the US Navy. Gene gave displacement envy as his suspected cause, that older siblings try to reclaim babyhood as a means of reclaiming the attention transferred from them to younger siblings.

Other Guests

There were two other guests introduced. The first was Anne Murray, a $200/hr professional mommy who runs a boutique that includes adult baby clothing. The last guest introduced was Charles Moser, PhD, MD, and professor of sexology at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, in San Francisco. He mentioned having interviewed scores of ABDLs.

The Party Segways

Before and after the commercial breaks, prerecorded video from a Seattle party with some of the adult baby guests and some other ABs was shown. These included a spanking montage set to Michael Jackson's "Bad," (Michael Jackson wouldn't gain his current reputation, adding a connotation to this song, until after this episode had aired.) Other segments had less ambiguous music, such as Amy Grant's "Baby Baby."

The Callers and Audience

After the introductions, Donahue started taking questions from callers and the studio audience.

Diaper use was asked about. This would become one of two recurring questions in talk shows about adult babies. The audience accepted the answer that some do, and some don't.

The other perennial question relates to pedophilia. One caller said "I think they exploit children." One of the adult babies answered that it had "Nothing to do with the involvement of children." Donahue cited a Kinsey institute study from the 1980's that concluded that most infantilists are not pedophiles. Dr. Moser stated that he has worked with both infantilists and pedophiles, but that there was no crossover: He had yet to see an infantilist that was a pedophile, or a pedophile That was also an infantilist. A second caller said the adult babies were "maybe child molesting". A third caller would comment similarly. Someone questioned whether these callers were actually watching the show. Unlike the question about diaper use, which was actually a question, these audience comments were speculations or assertions. A public prejudice was being voiced.

Of course, some of the audience were more open-minded. One caller asked Anne Murray for advice on how to become a professional mommy, having raised children of her own.

The topic of adult teens came up; people who didn't act their age, but could get away with it because they were close enough to mainstream. Anne Murray added that diapers were the marginalizing factor, separating ABDLs from the mainstream. Dr. Moser would later mention expecting more of a gender parity than the all-male adult babies on stage. This suggests that he didn't differentiate between the mostly male ABDLs and the largely female non-ABDL ageplayer 'littles.' Broadly, the two differ in their acceptability within the mainstream. Specifically, they differ in the emphasis placed on diapers or the marginalization caused by that emphasis.


One lady from the audience referenced Genesis 1:27 and then claimed "God will punish you for this." The stern and lean woman was dressed in conservative black, appearing exactly as one might have guessed from her comment. The adult babies answered that she was speaking for her impression of God, not theirs. (Technically, Adam and Eve were in their 'birthday suits' until Genesis chapter 3.)

On stage, there was a group of adult babies - grown men who desired and asserted a certain role. They decided to go on nationwide TV in hopes of influencing understanding and acceptance. They might not have known that the episode would be watched and discussed decades later. Generously assuming that the "God will punish you" lady was not motivated by hatred or bitterness, she too might have been seeking to influence understanding and acceptance.

One key difference is that the adult babies on stage braved social and professional risks to claim the right to be themselves, even though it meant being judged by others. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

- Updated:26 Jan 2013  1st:17 May 2011     

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