Feb 2nd is of course Ground Hogs Day, and more meaningful to a small band of friends and family, Rick Baker’s Birthday. Back in 1988, Rick’s 30th birthday was looming, which seemed like a big milestone at the time, so Terri and I thought it would be great fun to buy one of those “Over the Hill” party packages, complete with the black “Over The Hill” balloons and black buzzard beaks.
It was to be a surprise party, so we called up his girlfriend at the time, Marta, and arranged the birthday party with her and when the day arrived we went over to get their trailer set-up for partying early.
We thought it would be funny to surprise him as soon as he got home from work, so we hid in the spare bedroom to jump out and do the “surprise” thing. Marta said he always went straight back to change clothes and came immediately back and poured himself a drink. I wanted to document his look of surprise on film, so I had my camera and flash ready to go.
We pre-staged decorations just out of sight so we could get them up quickly. We got everything set-up and hid away in the spare bedroom. We were there for a while waiting when Marta came in excitedly and told us he had just pulled into the driveway. He came in the door jabbering about work to Marta…he always seemed to be talking about something.
We let him walk past us in the bedroom, down the narrow trailer hallway to his bedroom in the back. We planned on jumping out as he came back up the hall, sporting our black cardboard beaks on and snapping the shot.
He continued jabbering non-stop from the back. That boy could talk about anything, anytime. We assumed he was changing from his work scrubs and we had some time to get ready to jump out. We pulled our beaks into place, opened the door and listened for him to come back out.
He was back there for what I swear was only a second or two and we heard his steps coming back down the hall. This was it! Terri and I jumped out of the doorway with a big “SURPRISE” and I snapped the flash-photo at the same time. Still jabbering as he came up the hall, he stopped in mid-sentence as he processed what was going on.
The real surprise was that somehow in less than a minute, Rick had yanked every stitch off and was buck-ass naked! I don’t know who was more surprised, Rick or us! I thought the boy must be a magician to strip his clothes off that fast.
I only got one pic off as he was quicker than the flash recycle as he ran back to the bedroom to get some clothes on, quiet as a church mouse now and Marta laughing uncontrollably behind us.
Terri and I turned to each other with big eyes and burst out laughing instantly. Rick took a lot longer to get dressed than he did getting naked, but he eventually came out asking “what the hell is going on around here, can’t a man walk into his own house with some sense of privacy, blah blah blah”. We were all still laughing and getting the party decorations put up.
The stage set, we had a great time making dinner and telling old stories as we created another classic one. I gave the party prints to them and Marta loved to tell the story and show off the buck naked pic by holding her thumb strategically over Rick’s junk…
It’s a story that has been told many times over the years but I happily came across the negatives while digging for photos of Rick 30 years later and was amused to find the negative of Rick in all his glory. So of course I had to scan it and add it to the stories I don’t want to forget. Happy B-Day buddy.