Mark I Chester photo of the day
Mark I Chester studio  1229 Folsom St./SF  415-621-6294 

November 3, 2011

photo of the day 10/31/2011.  photo of David Baker at a young age in military school.  Date and photographer unknown.

David Baker was one of those unforgettable people that you meet in your life.  I first encountered him in Crimes Against Nature, an ensemble from the Gay Men's Theater Collective that put gay men and gay men's stories out on stage.  No one had ever done that before.  At least not that I had seen  Certainly not like this.  If I remember, David's story dealt with his fanatical obsession for jockstraps which he hid in a suitcase.  It is not surprising that David's story dealt with sexuality and eroticism.  San Francisco gay men adored the radical faggots of Crimes against Nature.  And they adored being adored, except when they were standing in a bar looking for sex. <eg>  Then the adoration became a ball and chain.

We connected because we were theater people.  I photographed David in a gay reworking of Genet's The Maids and CD Arnold's Delivery when restaged at 544 Natoma Performance Gallery.  David was one of those high wire without a net actors.  He put it all out there from the bottom of his gut.  There were no limits when it came to inhabiting a role and challenging the formal constraints of "theatre!"  As a wanna be actor, I was always amazed at the power and strength of his performances.

Having AIDS changed the path of David's life and it also became his life work.  It was difficult watching someone age 20 years in just a few years.  Watching men in their 30s and 40s, walking around as if they were old men.  But as David aged and got sicker, somehow he also became lighter and happier and more accepting of life and this strange journey that we are all on.  We were not best friends.  We were not close friends.  But we were connected intimately as our lives flowed in and out of each other's path.

Peter Hartman, the director and founder of 544 Natoma Performance Gallery once claimed that we all knew each other in a former life.  That we were soldiers from the same battalion, an army of lovers from an ancient society.  He claimed that we were brothers and lovers and family and that we fought heroically in war and died together on the battlefield.  David sent me this photo of himself from military school in one of his last Christmas letters.  I think he wanted to share this personal memory of himself of a time long before we met.  I will never forget that we were soldiers and brothers and that we fought the battle of our lives and he died heroically on the battlefield.