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Adult Babies on the Jerry Springer Show

No discussion of adult babies on TV would be complete without the Jerry Springer Show. This show is generally best known for on-stage fights, profanity, planned confrontations, and similar acts of showmanship. Adult babies are naturally a recurring theme. While a rote structure developed, there was one early show that is notable.

The Standard Elements

A typical adult baby Jerry Springer Show show consists of five elements: a man in a diaper, a woman posing as a caregiver, a set of K-mart props, a woman posing as a unknowingly cheated-on spouse, and a fight between the two women over or around the man in the diaper. This setup was used in "Sexy Stories" (aired 11 July 2001), "Freaky Fetishes II" (aired 12 November 2001), and maybe others. The first opens with a video of "Ray" playing in what is supposed to be his nursery: A kiddie car and baby-sized crib are crushed under his weight. He was fed from dozens of jars of baby food using various implements, including a funnel. The second man played on-stage with a baby-sized crib, provided with toys and baby food by a stage hand in a K-mart plastic bag. Jerry quipped that it was "unbelievable what we provide." Real adult babies established enough to have caregivers generally have their own toys.

The man, who walked onto the stage clothed, strips down to just a diaper. The diaper is a uselessly thin piece of cloth, worn without plastic pants. The haphazard props are in remarkable contrast to the carefully placed microphones and wireless transmitters. Next, the wife or girlfriend, who was watching backstage, marches out. She is furious, and yells at the woman posing as a caregiver. The man might intervene, or not. The women quite professionally avoid words that would need to be beeped out. Jerry Springer steps aside as the two women fight over the haphazardly diapered but carefully microphoned man.

Adult babies (or actors playing them) have also appeared in the 1998 "Adult Babies" episode and a segment titled "Baby Man" in "Jerry Springer: The Opera."

"The" Adult Baby Jerry Springer Episode

In contrast to those staged to the standard template, there was one 1992 notable episode. It featured members of the ABDL community who were dressed in adult baby clothing not available from K-mart, and who stayed dressed. Generally, if ABDLs are discussing an episode of Jerry Springer, this is the one. This episode is available through the Museum of Classic Chicago Television. (The embeded links below might only be visible if you have flash installed and operational in your browser.)

Part one includes Jerry Springer and a diaper-clad graduate student, called "Stephanie." She handled herself reasonably well, given that this was probably her first time on live TV, especially without pants. However, her emphasis on infantile sexuality came across as a fringe viewpoint used as a justification. Her use of the Moneyism autonepiophiliaDEF was probably misheard as auto-nappy-ophilia. Stephanie brought up the premise that diapers are eroticized during infancy. This is conceptually elegant, but even Dr. Money described the formation of paraphilias as being during the juvenile period [1].

Part two introduces Tommy, founder of DPF, and "Heidi," introduced as a truck driver. "Heidi" would later gain local notoriety as "Baby Man"EXT by giving up age- and gender-conventional clothing entirely, living off an inheritance. "Heidi" mentioned visiting convenience stores dressed as he was on the show; in a bonnet, short dress, ruffled panties, and diaper. When Jerry brought this back up in Part three, Tommy emphasized that "Heidi" was an exception, and that most adult babies are discrete.

Tommy's joke about visiting the opera might have been misunderstood. However, he was clear and eloquent overall, a good spokesperson. He stressed the need for both balance and self-expression. He gave limitations on self-expression as a reason why most ABDLs are male: Women aren't pressured to give up stuffed animals.

A man in the audience brought up Piaget's theory of cognitive development. This theory defines four stages of development, starting with motor skills and ending with abstract thought. Of course, an adult knowingly acting as a baby, aware of the significance and motivations for doing so, is engaging in an abstraction thoughtfully.

Part three introduced Lee Carrol and Dr. Butterworth. Lee Carrol might be everything she claims; an adult movie actor and dominatrix, willing to be a caregiver or mommy. Regarding "Dr. Robert R. Butterworth, Ph.D.," Erik Lacitis of The Seattle Times wrote "I can't think of another country in the world in which a psychologist would send out 160 press releases, hoping you'll quote him." [2] While expensive, Dr. Butterworth's self-promotion strategy seems to have been effective.

His comments about age regression therapy might have no relevance to paraphilic infantilism. The diagnosis of paraphilic infantilism was officially adopted by the American Psychiatric Association in 1987, years before this episode was taped. [3] An expert should have been aware of this.

The last guest is introduced in part four; Dr. Mary Hogan. Dr. Butterworth was quick to dismiss her as "not in the journals, not anywhere important," even though he apparently hasn't written any journal articles either. The difference between peer reviewed-journals and press releases is that the journal content is filtered by other doctors, while press releases can be made by anyone paying the publication fee. For Business Wire, Dr. Butterworth was paying $50 each.[2]

Dr. Hogan mentions interviewing or surveying a number of ABDLs for a book that she was working on. In contrast, Dr. Butterworth gives no indication of having met with an ABDL prior to the show. He then argues that Dr. Hogan, Lee Carrol, and Tommy were merely pandering. Dr. Butterworth was far too quick to blame Dr. Hogan and dismiss her thoughts as "voodoo". It is probably best to dismiss him quickly.

It is rumored that Heidi throwing the stuffed animal at Dr. "Narrowminded Poopiehead" was staged.

Part five includes more discussion, and a most atypical turn of events for the Jerry Springer Show. A member of the audience asks if children were involved. Tommy states that DPF members need to sign statements that they will not involve children. A member of the audience asks how being an adult baby is expressed in cultures without diapers. Tommy explains that almost all DPF members are from developed countries. A discussion about capitalism breaks out. Off-camera, and for maybe a moment, the adult babies invited to be freaks on a stage seemed suddenly like ordinary, everyday people.

After "The" Episode

Jerry Springer's impact on the ABDL community is mixed. It generally cast adult babies as adulterous freaks. However, the show has increased visibility of adult babyhood. The central aspects of adult babyhood, wearing diapers and being a baby, are freakishly but otherwise accurately portrayed. It may also have paved the way towards a presence on respectable daytime shows and later a prime-time presence, such as on CSI, by eroding broadcast morays.

ABDLs disagree about whether Jerry Springer was helpful or hurtful. Some ABDLs found out that they weren't the only ones through the 1992 broadcast. Later opinions or opinions on later episodes are more negative. This might be because the general awareness from appearances on shows like Jerry Springer, after trickling through the culture, isn't directly traceable to those appearances.

Dr. Butterworth died in 2008, and "Heidi Lynn" in 2009. Tommy's status is unknown, but DPF.com expired in 2010 after a long decline. It never successfully made the transition from the primary mail-order adult baby source to competitive among many ABDL websites. Dr. Hogan apparently did not finish her book or could not find a publisher. The only clear winner of the string of Jerry Springer adult baby episodes would have to be Oprah. In "Invasion of the Little People 17 1/2" (aired 9/21/2007), she argued with diaper-wearing, tantrum-throwing midget.

- Updated:21 April 2011  1st:21 April 2011     

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[icon] Books and Other References:
  1. Money, J Paraphilias: Phenomenology and Classification American Journal of Psychotherapy, Vol. 38, No. 2. April 1984, pp. 164-179
  2. Lacitis, E From O.J. To Oprah, This Doctor Knows A Sound Bite A Day Brings A Shot At Fame The Seatle Times, July 12, 1994, retrieved 21 April 2011 from http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19940712&slug=1919949.
  3. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 1987, pg 286