Posted on August 25, 2014
His name was Craig Baker.
In my 20’s I worked at a wholesale fashion agency called Ramaje, and I met Craig there. He had a tiny shop in Melbourne’s Brunswick Street, called Fetish. Despite the racy name, it was more closely reminiscent of a bong shop than a purveyor of kink. Craig, of truly lofty stature,possessing long, unruly black locks and a certain alt rock star demeanour, would descend upon the upstairs suites at Bridge Rd, usually 10 minutes before closing time on a Friday afternoon, smelling of sweat and incense, to spend at least half an hour buying weekly stock for Fetish.
When I first met him, and for some months after, I found him to be impossibly rude and brusque, but after a while my instinctive dislike mellowed under the realisation that his manner was not the whole of the man. He was funny, and intelligent, and he appreciated forthrightness in return, he would never be offended by anything that you said, or not for long, so you could call him out on his bullshit.
He was the only one of our clients in the 7 years that I worked there who would take us up on our invitations to join us for Xmas drinks. We would go to local Richmond pubs for dinner and he would sit, long legs clad in black jeans, and regale us with tales of Brunswick St and the dramas of Fetish and its feisty trans manager, Christine.
This was back in the days of the legendary and long gone Punters Club in Brunswick St, with it’s thick smoke filled, sticky carpeted pair of rooms, and I would sometimes stumble across Craig there at 3am, both of us off our faces, sheepishly greeting each other beneath the rocking out of the bands.
I am not sure how long Fetish was there, but I think of it as one of those early shops in Brunswick St, back when the street was on the edge of alternate cool; grungy, grubby and a bit wild, and I can’t separate Craig and the street, they are fused as one.
The extreme hipstering up of Fitzroy eventually led to the demise of The Punters Club, and Fetish later had to move from its central location, much further down the street, almost to Alexandra Parade. That is where I dropped in to say hello, the last time that I saw Craig. He greeted me with a smile, and I spent half an hour in there chatting to him.
To encounter him, one felt sure that there was nothing pedestrian about him. I hope that someone writes stories about him, tracing out that larger than life silhouette.
Vale Craig, I will remember you x