Billy bares all on his book cover
Billy bares all on his book cover

A Doll's Life

He's a cowboy. He's a construction worker. He's a sailor. And a leather man. Anatomically correct -- okay, he's hung like a horse -- and buff as a bodybuilder, he's Billy the gay doll. Dreamed up by designer John McKitterick and debuted in a limited edition for a 1994 AIDS benefit in London, Billy was such a huge hit he was soon produced in mass quantities, becoming a sort of Ken for the gay set. Distributed by Totem International, thirteen-inch-high Billy has a Website ( that details his background from birth (though he was conceived in England, he apparently is of Dutch extraction) to his current life in New York City with his Puerto Rican beau, Carlos (they met at a South Beach nightclub during one of his ubiquitous "coming out" parties). He has had top-drawer designers such as Calvin Klein and Alexander McQueen create outfits for him, been photographed by famed lensman Christopher Makos, and now, thanks to lighthearted author David Leddick, Billy, Carlos, and buddy Tyson (The World's First Out and Proud Best Friend, according to the Website) have been immortalized in a book, Big Fun with Billy.

The peripatetic Leddick, who divides his time between Miami Beach and Paris, is a photography collector and author of the novels My Worst Date, The Sex Squad (with a protagonist named Harry Potter!), and Never Eat In. Perhaps his greatest fame (or infamy to some), however, derives from his numerous nudie-guy photo compilations, including The Male Nude, Men in the Sun, Male Nude Now, and Naked Men, Too, which showcases some celebrities you'd love to see baring skin (Charlton Heston, Rupert Everett, and Burt Lancaster) and others who should have kept their clothes on, e.g., Andy Warhol (ick!).

Will photographer Dianora Niccolini's shots of Billy and company be nearly as provocative? Buy the book. Somewhere along the pages, Billy and Carlos might show off not just their spiffy outfits but the many tattoos they treated themselves to on what they called their "carefree, stress-free, fat-free vacation."

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