The kink of never growing up

Baby Edie, a member of the Society of Bastet, talks about his adult baby lifestyle.

A black truck pulls into the parking lot of the Society of Bastet’s play place: a tiny grey commercial complex. Inside, the play place looks more like a small three bedroom apartment than a kinkster club — until you realize they have more interesting furniture than the standard table and chairs.

A wooden ‘X’ with metal rings sits and waits in a corner of the room. Beside it is what looks like the support for a tiny swing set, but in its place hang two large carabiners for suspension play.

Two large couches are off to the side of the main play area; the space is empty this Sunday afternoon.

The Society of Bastet's main play area. (Photo: Francis Tessier-Burns)
The Society of Bastet’s main play area. (Photo: Francis Tessier-Burns)

Before starting the interview, he asks to stay anonymous in order to protect his real-world identity. He agrees to use his kink name, Baby Edie.

The kink

Baby Edie is almost 70 and says he didn’t get into the lifestyle until his 50s.

The name itself comes from the kink: age play.

“It’s always been thought of as part of pedophilia, but it isn’t,” says Baby Edie. “There’s a lot of people, even in the kink world, that really don’t get it and still are hesitant to accept it.”

In age play, adults role play different ages ranging anywhere from the elderly to infants and everything in between. In Baby Edie’s case, he plays an adult baby/diaper lover, or AB/DL girl, the youngest type of age player.

Linked to that is usually a power relationship — often domination and submission. However, in many AB/DL cases, like Baby Edie’s, the relationship is more nurturing than sexual.

Baby Edie has been a part of Bastet for about 10 years, and says he’s been well supported by the society.

“Over the years, people have got to know me and accepted me,” he says, adding that many people have praised him for coming out as AB.

“I’m sort of the mascot of the group and the community because I’ve gotten involved in the club a lot more,” he says.

He says it was a relief in the beginning to find people that were also interested in something “so bizarre.”

Not always easy

Baby Edie has been in the annual sex show, held at the Cunard Centre, for the past few years. He says it’s one of the only sex shows across Canada that has an age play component to it, which can be problematic at times.

“When I’ve been there, I have my own little space and I have some toys, colouring books, a play pen and I act out the baby,” he says.

Some people are intrigued and see what is going on, while others “avoid me like the plague,” he says.

An incident he remembers well happened a few years ago. Two women came up to him and asked questions. Questions, he says, that morphed into insults with one of them saying, “You’re the biggest, fucking ugliest baby I’ve ever seen.”

After that, he considered leaving the show and never doing it again.

“Things like that certainly shoot you down,” he says.

Although difficult, Baby Edie continues to go to shows, mostly to educate people.

Outside the sex show and the club, as most of Bastet’s members refer to it, Baby Edie keeps his kink to himself, hidden from family and work.

After two marriages that ended in divorce, which Baby Edie says was mostly due to other reasons than the kink, he now lives alone. He keeps his dresses – about 330 of them – on racks all over his house.

He says he used to make his own dresses, but once he realized they could be professionally made, he invested more into them. The dresses are specifically made as kink-wear and cost on average about $70 each.

“I was figuring it out one day, and I said, ‘Jeez, I must have a lot of money tied up there’ … I had like $25,000 in dresses at home,” he says.

In addition to the dresses, Baby Edie has plastic and vinyl raincoats he usually orders from the UK.

Keeping the collection away from people isn’t an easy task, and he asks people to call before they drop by.

“If I have visitors, I’ll hide them. I take them all and dump them on my bed and close the door to get them out of sight,” he says.

The dresses are worth it; it’s a comfort for him. If he’s had a bad day at work, he can come home, put on a dress and feel relaxed.

However, he says he wishes he had someone else to dress up with to make the experience that much better. He says he’s not interested in women his own age and wishes he could find a partner in the 40 to 60 year-old range.

“There is no younger women that will get into the scene with you,” he says. “I don’t want to feel old.”

Since he doesn’t have anyone to play with at home, he usually spends Saturday nights at the club in his designated corner.

He points over to the corner beside the suspension set. Plush toys, blocks, and colouring books are stuffed to the side in stark contradiction to the flogging cross across the room.

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Worth it

Baby Edie says he knows a lot of people who are into his same kink but do not have outfits or baby gear. He will often offer himself as a resource for those people.

“There are a lot of people that are into the age play that are so paranoid that they figure if they come to the club and they see someone they know, then that’ll be the end of their life,” he says.

That didn’t stop him.

“I’m not going to let the fear of being outed interfere with my life to the point that I’m going to be a hermit,” he says.

It’s one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

“I noticed that since I’m with the club, I’m a lot happier than in vanilla world,” he says. Vanilla world is essentially the world outside of kink.

“I have a lot more friends than I had before,” he says.

Books hold more secrets than just stories

The Halifax Public Library finds notes and other treasures hidden between book pages.

You make your way to the local library to get your hands on the newest literary sensation. As you near the checkout desk, you peel your eyes away from the page and notice a stray piece of paper poking out the top.

Tugging on the corner reveals it’s in fact a long-lost postcard.

This is one of the many examples of the hidden gems that library staff find in books, says Christina Covert, Halifax Central Library’s circulation supervisor.

“The normal Kleenex, grocery receipts, bills, bank statements — those we see all the time,” says Covert.

A quick walk around the library’s third floor results in a new bookmark, a postcard and tiny sugar-packet-sized drawing being added to the collection of forgotten items.

Bookmark, drawing and postcard found during a quick search at the library. (Photo: Francis Tessier-Burns)
Bookmark, drawing and postcard found during a quick search of books at the library. (Photo: Francis Tessier-Burns)

Covert says she’s seen everything from toilet paper and condom wrappers to government cheques stuck between pages.

For important items, such as debit and credit cards, the library tries to track down the owner. If their efforts turn up empty, the library typically holds on to items for about a month before throwing them out.

Then there are little notes purposefully stuck in a book’s spine.

“I especially like the ones where people recommend a particular book,” says Covert, “Like, ‘If you like this then you might also like that,’ type of thing.”

Although the library doesn’t condone leaving things in books, sometimes it’s hard to prevent.

“If it’s on a small piece of scrap paper, we won’t notice unless it falls out,” says Covert. “Books can go for month and months without us knowing someone’s put something inside it.”

Kasia Morrison, a spokeswoman for the library, says last fall she saw a book and there was a note in it stating the book had come all the way from Iceland.

Flipping through the pages reveals it’s the property of the Library and Archives Canada, and was last checked out in 1987. Morrison is unsure how – or why – it ended up at the central location.

“Someone wanted to clear their library conscience and return it,” she says with a laugh.

Safe to say, the note was anonymous.

Covert’s favourite note actually came from a children’s book. “It was a list of someone’s goals. ‘When I’m 30, I will have done this’,” she says.

“It was in big letters, some were even backwards,” she says with a smile.

Unfortunately, not all notes are as heartwarming.

“I’ve seen books with notes discouraging people from picking up certain authors,” says Covert.

And that’s if they haven’t defaced the book completely.

“Use your imagination for what you could possibly find in a book. If you can think of it, someone is going to do it, and you can find it if you look hard enough,” says Covert.

Bacon makes everything better, even urban planning

Baconfest, a film festival focused on urban planning, which features Ed Bacon’s ‘Understanding Cities’ series, opened Monday evening at the Halifax Central Library.

Monday evening saw the opening of Baconfest at the Halifax Central Library’s Paul O’Regan Hall.

The festival focuses on Ed Bacon, famed city planner from Philadelphia and his Understanding Cities film series from the 1980s.

“It’s about educating and engaging the community … to get involved in what [the city] is doing,” said Rollin Stanley, the festival’s creator. “I thought the best way I could do that would be to have something fun like a film festival.”

Stanley, who is also Calgary’s general manager of planning, development and assessment, ran Baconfest for the first time in Calgary last year and is a guest speaker for Halifax’s edition.

“It’s a celebration of urban planning, recognizing it and I thought it would be a great fit for the new library,” said Hilary Skov-Nielsen, the library’s adult programs manager.

Despite the festival not being in honour of the salty pork strips, there were still bacon cupcakes and slices of prosciutto for audience members to enjoy on Monday.

“In Halifax, there’s a strong desire to learn about what’s being built,” said Natalie Irwin of Fusion Halifax, the festival’s host organization. “Since it’s such a small city … people see the developments that are going up. It’s not something that is going up city blocks away from you, it’s next door.”

Monday evening, Paul O’Regan Hall at the Halifax Central Library held Baconfest. (Photo: Francis Tessier-Burns)

“[The event] is also a testament to Halifax’s own commitment to urban and city planning,” said Skov-Nielsen.

Three of Bacon’s films – which focused on Rome, Paris and London’s architectural revolutions – were presented on Monday to an audience of approximately 100 people.

After the films, Stanley prompted the audience to yell out Halifax’s highlights. The Halifax Public Gardens, Citadel Hill, the ferry stop on the waterfront, and a few others were noted. “This building, I think, is the best example,” said Stanley, referring to the new library.

“When you start to think about your city’s icons and how you connect those spaces, what do they mean?” he said.

“All we want is people to go away and start thinking differently about their city,” said Stanley.

The festival continues Tuesday evening with Radiant City by Gary Burns and Wednesday with City of the Future by Ed Bacon, as well as Contested Streets by Stefan Schaefer.

Dying with Dignity Canada calls on Canadians to talk about end-of-life care

Planning ahead is the best way to prevent problems: Dying with Dignity Canada

Dying with Dignity Canada has much work to do after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of physician-assisted death.

The court gave federal and provincial governments 12 months to come up with new legislation surrounding the matter.

“We’ve got time to do it and we’re in a really good position because (other places) have already done a template. I just think we’ve got such an opportunity,” says Sheilia Sperry, DWDC’s Nova Scotia chapter leader.

While politicians hash out the logistics for new legislation, Sperry says she will be busy prompting people to write those same politicians.

“Now is our chance to tell them what we want,” she says.

Jacqueline Gahagan, a health promotion professor at Dalhousie University as well as a member of DWDC, says there is still a “moral and mental blockage” in dealing with assisted death.

“The buzz around this is concerns from communities where individuals may have physical or mental challenges… The focus is not on the Supreme Court decision but on this moral panic around will this open the floodgates for euthanizing [vulnerable] people,” she says.

One of the things Sperry, and DWDC as a whole, have been advocating is for people to sit down and write out a continuing care directive. This directive is a document which names a delegate and describes your wishes for end-of-life care.

It will be important for the new legislation to recognize the legality of this document, says Sperry. “When you can no longer speak, your delegate is you,” she adds.

Both Sperry and Gahagan have lost spouses to terminal illnesses; both said their partners wished they would have been allowed to end their life earlier. “There comes a point in everybody’s life where the only thing that will ease your suffering is death,” says Sperry.

The next step for DWDC, says Sperry, is more campaigning for the new legislation to reflect the nuances of assisted death. “It’s going to come down to a case-by-case analysis. It has to because every single individual, their circumstances are different,” she says.

“What we’ve been doing for the last 30 years is knocking at the door and trying the get somebody to open the door. And, finally, the Supreme Court said ‘OK, come on in’.”

LiLynn Wan: from pottery to a PhD and back again

LiLynn Wan is a former university professor who traded in an academic career to become a full-time potter.

She is hunched over the wheel which flings water and clay against the cardboard wall. Her thumbs dig into a lump of clay. Her fingers latch onto the outside of the lump and pull up. It grows. Another downward pull – or throw in potter lingo – and the lump begins to take shape. Happy with the result, she grabs a wire, not much thicker than a fishing line, presses it down on the wheel behind the soon-to-be-mug and yanks towards her. This frees her new piece and she gently lays it on a board to dry before being baked in the kiln.

This is LiLynn Wan’s craft and passion: pottery. Proud owner of WaterDragon Pottery, she’s everything from the business’s CEO to floor sweeper – literally. Most of her week consists of sitting at the wheel molding, folding, working the clay.

However, it wasn’t always this way – well, other than the early mornings.

Wan was born into a religious family in British Columbia. Her family moved to Singapore for a few years, then to Ontario before heading to Maryland, in the U.S. While in Maryland, she dropped out of Grade 11 and moved into a family friend’s home; this is where she first encountered pottery.

Wan was put to work in a small studio, sweeping floors and cleaning after the potter. “They slowly introduced me to mixing clays and glazes… but I didn’t touch the wheel for a whole two years,” she says.

And then, she was pregnant.

As a single, 19-year-old mother, Wan moved back to B.C. and worked in pottery for a couple of years, but it wasn’t enough. “I figured out a student loan gave me more money than welfare and that’s why I went back to school. I also had some sense that I should do something with myself and try and take care of my son a little better.” She enrolled in Okanagan University College and in 2004, she graduated with a bachelors in History.

After graduating, many of her professors encouraged her to apply for a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to pursue a master’s degree. She did, and to her surprise, she received it. Then, her and her son Lucas flew east to Nova Scotia. “I didn’t want to live in the city, and BC is really expensive, and I had a son. If you don’t have a lot of money, you don’t have the best options for [elementary] schools.”

But her first impression of Dalhousie University and the history program was much different from what she expected.

She was shocked after stepping into her first class; “It was white washed, everyone was white,” she says. She believed Halifax and the university to be much more diverse since “[it] advertises itself as being an international institution”. Despite this, Wan continued with her master’s – focused on race relations.

“Once you’re in [academics], you’re in this machine. There are just things you do,” she says. And so, she applied for another SSHRC for her PhD. “You can’t say no when someone hands you $35,000 a year to read some books.” Four years, a change in supervisor and a thesis defense later, Wan graduated with a PhD in history in 2009.

Shirley Tillotson, Wan’s supervisor, summed up her student as someone who “given the space to think through a problem, she’ll take it and mull it over for a while. She’s very practical in that sense.” Although their relationship was only professional at first, the pair have grown a friendship out of “mutual affection and respect.”

Colin Mitchell, also a history professor at Dalhousie, has followed Wan’s transition to pottery. Towards the end of her PhD, he says they discussed her options, both academically and for her pottery. “She was keen to rediscover a passion she had had earlier and make it more than just a hobby, more than an emotional outlet,” says Mitchell. Both he and Tillotson have become faithful customers of WaterDragon Pottery.

After graduating, though, Wan opted for an academic route and landed a job as a part-time lecturer at Mount Saint Vincent University for a year. Afterwards, she went back to Dal and taught for another two years.

Still, things didn’t feel right.

“I wasn’t willing to do the scramble… If you teach part-time, which is still a pretty heavy load, you come out of it with $24,000,” she says, shrugging at the thought.

She was a single parent – with a PhD – barely making ends meet.

But there’s more than money in the equation. “Academics is all about judging, ranking, ingraining, arguing, and being competitive. [It’s] about winning and losing, that’s the basis of academic life.”

And so, she quit.

Despite not touching the wheel for about seven years, Wan went back to pottery. “I knew I missed it a lot because while I was in graduate school, I remember thinking about it and thinking about being on the wheel and how to make the different forms,” she says.

WaterDragon Pottery was born soon afterwards.

Now, a little more than two years down the road, WaterDragon has done nothing but grow. Mugs, bowls, vases — and her personal favourite: teapots — are sprinkled around Wan’s studio, waiting to be baked.

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Her academic career has surfaced in the past two years as a guest lecturer on medieval ceramics in Mitchell’s first-year history class. The perfect balance between art and academics. “It’s no small thing to reinvent yourself,” says Mitchell.

But for the most part, Wan works the wheel in her home in Herring Cove, and sells on Saturdays at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market.

She wakes up at 4 a.m. to pack her black Honda Civic tight enough to burst with crates full of butter dishes, honey jars and garlic holders. All handmade – one by one. By 5:15, she squeezes into the car, which barely has enough space for her anymore, and drives the half-hour to get to the market. Once she arrives, it takes her just under an hour and a half to set up on the market’s second floor and greet her early-bird customers.