They call him Perry Poppins.
Perry Taylor, a former Naval Academy lacrosse player, has been spotted pushing pop star Britney Spears' baby stroller recently and schlepping her groceries. The tabloids have dubbed the 28-year-old former Easton resident Britney's "manny," or male nanny.
"Actually, he's more of a bodyguard," said his mother, Caroline Moncure-Taylor, a Washington real estate agent who said that Taylor has worked for Spears for less than a month.
Already, though, he's making supermarket headlines.
"Britney's Sexy New Stand-in Husband!" shrieks Star magazine, which plastered him on the cover of its latest issue.
"He's good with kids and he's always there when he's needed -unlike Kevin!" the headline continues, taking a shot at Kevin Federline, Spears' scruffy, semi-absent, aspiring-rapper husband, and the father of her son.
Friends from Easton were astounded by Taylor's new career move. The last they heard, Ensign Taylor, who graduated in 2000, was fulfilling his five-year commitment to the Navy as an engineering officer aboard an amphibious aircraft carrier.
"They don't really train them to be mannies," said Bill Chapman of Easton, whose son grew up with Taylor. "I think we're all in shock."
Taylor's formidable military skills, he said, might be out of place in Hollywood.
Yet Spears' small son, 9-month-old Sean Preston, may be in need of serious protection. Child welfare workers have visited her home twice - in February, after photos showed the baby on Spears' lap as she drove, and in April, after he was injured falling from his high chair.
Spears drew criticism again last month when tabloid photos showed the baby in a forward-facing car seat, rather than the backward-facing type recommended by safety experts. Also last month, Spears nearly dropped Sean while exiting a hotel.
Enter Perry Poppins.
"I'm sure he'll do a fantastic job" as a bodyguard or manny, said Chris Roesgen, who played midfield with Taylor on the Navy lacrosse team and was fascinated to learn of his friend's new job.
"He's pretty protective. He always watched out for the younger guys on the team."
Taylor's official duties are unclear, though contrary to some tabloid reports, "I don't think he's changing the diapers," his mother said. Nor is he romantically involved with Spears, as news accounts have implied, she said.
Taylor was born Feb. 4, 1978, in Alexandria, Va., and spent most of his childhood in Easton, though he boarded at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa. An excellent all-around athlete who studied martial arts, the 5-foot-11- inch, 190-pound midfielder started on the Navy lacrosse team his senior year.
"He is physical, active and fun-loving," Moncure-Taylor said, adding that he once led a group of midshipmen to climb out a dormitory's sixth-story window. For this and other pranks, he racked up plenty of demerits, which she said later got in the way of his goal of becoming a Navy SEAL.
After his stint on the USS Iwo Jima ended about a year and a half ago, he decided to pursue private security jobs, his mother said, hoping to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. But cushier opportunities arose in California, where he had contacts at a security firm. He started picking up work, as well as a job this spring as a lacrosse coach at Beverly Hills High School.
Then, about three and a half weeks ago, Moncure-Taylor was visiting in California when her son said he had some news.
"Mom, I have a new job," she remembers him saying.
Joe Dolce, editor in chief of Star magazine, says Taylor is filling a void in Spears' life created by the apparent absence of her husband, Federline. Dolce said Taylor was originally hired as a security guard, but then Spears realized he was good with the baby. He added that Taylor's life will be changed enormously as a result of this exposure, and he thinks the public will like Britney's new man.
"Perry Taylor is in a great position, and I'm sure if he wants to continue being a security guard or nanny, his coin has just been upped."
Spears is expecting a second child, so Taylor's hands may soon be full. If nothing else, he may be able to outsmart his small charges by drawing from his own history as an obstreperous child. On one family vacation, 16-month-old Taylor eluded his own parents and a baby sitter by climbing out the window.
"People criticize Britney as a mother," Moncure-Taylor said, "but we had two parents and a baby sitter and he still got out the window."
Sun reporter Bradley Olson and researcher Elizabeth Lukes contributed to this article.