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Collection #83

Henry W. Baker Papers

Record:83
Date:1967 - 2002 (Bulk 1982 - 2002)
Size:2.5 feet

Provenance

Gift of Henry William Baker, Jr.

Scope and Content

The Henry W. Baker Papers contains postcards, photographs, correspondence and miscellaneous items. The postcards were selected from a larger collection of nearly 2,000 cards that Baker bought or received in the late 20th century. These items do not attempt to be inclusive of the gay community at the time, but they do highlight several trends and styles of the day.

History or Bio

Henry William Baker, Jr. was born in Greenwich, Connecticut on November 13, 1952. His father was a draftsman and his mother a housewife. He attended public schools in Greenwich. In his high school years he taught Sunday school, was in the choir, and was an acolyte at Christ Church, Greenwich. At 16 he had his first boyfriend, Andrew Wolfe, 14; the relationship lasted two years. In 1970, he enrolled at Syracuse University, College of Visual and Performing Arts, from which he received a BFA in 1976. During this time, he accepted his homosexuality and often volunteered at the Gay Students Organization, manning the outreach phone lines. Here he met writer Jay Blotcher. He remained at Syracuse after graduation, accepting a position at the Synapse Video Center, a non-profit organization facilitating the then emerging video arts. During this time he lived with his boyfriend, Steve J. Hausmann, who died of AIDS in 1992.

In 1981, Baker received his Masters Degree in Synaesthetic Education at Syracuse University and moved to New York City. Here he met his mentor, Gilbert Lesser, Promotion Director of Life Magazine. Lesser introduced Baker to many of his NYC experiences and guided him from jobs such as scheduling producer, art restorer and cable series producer to a position as principal graphic artist at Charlex Productions. He encouraged Baker to start his own design company in 1986, BXB, Inc. Lesser was prominent in the graphics world, creating many Broadway posters as well as the logo for Studio 54 and for Baker’s BXB. Baker attended Lesser’s one-person show at the Louvre, Paris. Lesser died of colon cancer in 1990.

During the 1980s, Baker met the playwright John Patrick (“The Teahouse of the August Moon,” “Three Coins in a Fountain,” “Love is a Many Splendored Thing,” “High Society,” “Les Girls,” and “The World of Suzie Wong”) at his home in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. He was introduced to Patrick by the then aspiring lyricist David Zippel (“Hercules,” “Mulan,” “City of Angels,” “The Swan Princess,” “The Woman in White”). Baker also met Andy Warhol during this period. Warhol invited Baker to the factory for lunch, took several rides in Baker’s car, and invited him to an Islanders hockey game along with Maura Moynihan (daughter of the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan).

In 1987, Baker tested positive for HIV and he became involved with ACT UP, NY. He attended many public demonstrations by that group. He was arrested at the Albany, NY demonstration and spent the night in jail with a dozen other protestors. Charges were later dropped against all involved. Shortly after this time, Baker was in a relationship with the Canadian Leonard King. The couple spent under two years together.

In 1990, Baker began his four-year relationship with dancer Hernando Cortez of the Paul Taylor Company (PTC). Baker often toured with the company. During this time, Cortez co-founded Dancers Responding to AIDS (DRA), later leaving PTC to work at DRA until moving on to accept the position of Artistic Director of the Cleveland Repertory Project. During the 1990s, Baker returned to making oil paintings, some of which can be seen at http://homepage.mac.com/henrybaker/.

In 1995, Baker met Alwyn W. Heong on a trip to Hong Kong and the two became involved for the next nine years. Baker’s immune system was forcing him to slow down his television effects editing, so he took a sabbatical from BXB. He moved to Hong Kong to live with Heong. In Hong Kong, couples and small groups were invited to enter Baker’s makeshift studio to be documented. In 1997, Baker and Heong moved to Chelsea, NYC. They often traveled the world, yet their home remained in New York until the relationship ended in 2004. In 2003, Baker enrolled at Pratt Institute, School of Information and Library Science, and received his MILS degree in 2005. Baker moved to Alexandria, Virginia in 2005.

Folder List

Box 1

1. Houston, New Year’s 1983-1984
2. Hong Kong 1995, 1996
3. Miami and Key West 1980, 1988, 1990-1991
4. Washington, D.C. Quilt Weekend 1988, 1992
5. New York City Pride Rally June, 1993
6. New York City Gay Pride Parade June 1987, 1989, 1990, 1993
7. New York City Gay Games June 1994
8. New York City Stonewall 25-Gay Pride June 1994
9. Ho Chi Minh City 1998
10. Gay Games, Vancouver, August 1990; Gay Games, New York City, June 1994

Box 2

11. New York City Gay Pride, 1989; Undated
12. Laguna Beach, Labor Day Weekend 1987
13. Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco 1989, 2001
14. Sydney, Australia Mardi Gras, possibly 1999
15. Holidays and Parties 1983,1987, 1988, 1989, 1998
16. Fire Island Pines 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1994
17. Fire Island Pines Undated, 1990

Box 3

18. Fire Island Pines Morning Party 1993, 1994,1998
19. Fire Island Pines July 4, 1998, 2002
20. Hong Kong, Dragon Boat, Chiang Mat June 1996
21. Dream Team, Istanbul June-July 1991
22. Paris, May 1990 Seine Sights
23. Paris 1987
24. Friends Undated

Box 4

25. ACT UP 1989, 1990
26. ACT UP-Stop the Church, December 10, 1989
27. Gilbert Lesser Opening, Paris May 1987
28. Gilbert Lesser January 16, 1987
29. Gilbert Lesser Correspondence, Press Kits and Miscellaneous

Box 5

30. Leonard King, Los Angeles 1988, New York City, Christmas 1988
31. Hernando Cortez, Maui and New York 1992
32. Steve Hausmann 1984
33. Postcards-Collected
34. Postcards-Gilbert Lesser
35. Postcards-Received
36. Postcards-Made by Henry Baker
37. Paul Taylor Dance Company

Box 6

37. Paul Taylor Dance Company (3 of 3)
38. Provincetown, May 1987
39. Hong Kong, January 1996
40. Halcyon Farm, Lutherville, Maryland, July 1989; July 1991
41. Lutherville, Maryland, August 1985
42. St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, March 1984, January 1985
43. Henry Baker’s Gay Mediterranean Cruise
44. Correspondence and Miscellaneous
45. Miscellaneous