Baird Jones was a man of many talents and interests. He was a nightclub promoter, an art curator, a gossip reporter, an author, and a collector of celebrity artworks. He was also a fixture of the New York City nightlife scene since the early 1980s, rubbing shoulders with artists like Andy Warhol, Mark Kostabi, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. He was known for his eccentricities, his trivia knowledge, and his controversial inventions, such as midget bowling. But on February 21, 2008, he was found dead in his East Village apartment, at the age of 53. What caused his sudden demise, and what legacy did he leave behind?
## A Life of Adventure and Art
Baird Jones was born on February 3, 1955, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where his father, Cranston Jones, was the Time magazine bureau chief and later a founding editor of People magazine. He attended the Buckley School, the Groton School, NYU and Columbia University, where he earned multiple degrees, including a law degree and a master's in social work. He was said to be a misunderstood genius, with a very high intelligence and a deep understanding of modern art.
Jones started his career as a nightlife promoter in the early 1980s, when he was known for his Studio 54 passes that allowed people to enter the legendary disco. He later promoted parties at The Underground, Webster Hall, and other clubs, attracting a diverse crowd of celebrities, artists, and outsiders. He also curated art shows at galleries, museums, and nightclubs, featuring works by his friends and acquaintances, as well as paintings by Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, and other notorious figures. He had a vast collection of artworks by celebrities, ranging from Muhammad Ali to Jimi Hendrix to Princess Grace, from Mel Brooks to Jack Kevorkian, from Buddy Hackett to Marcel Marceau.
Jones was also a prolific writer, authoring two books, Mark Kostabi and the East Village Scene 1983-1987 and Sexual Humor. He was a contributor to the New York Daily News, the New York Post's Page Six, and Gawker, writing about the gossip and trivia of the celebrities he encountered. He was known for his relentless and sometimes intrusive questions, which annoyed some of his subjects, such as playwright Arthur Miller. He also appeared on The Howard Stern Show, where he claimed to be a 36-year-old virgin in 1991.
## A Controversial and Creative Mind
Jones was not only a witness of the New York City nightlife, but also a participant and a provocateur. He invented the sport of midget bowling, a form of dwarf-tossing that originated in Australia, where people pushed midgets on skateboards at bowling pins. He claimed it was a performance art designed to satirize the values of mainstream America. He famously employed Michael J. Anderson, the actor who played the Man from Another Place in Twin Peaks, as a participant. The sport was banned by former Governor Mario Cuomo, and Jones sued him for violating his freedom of expression.
Jones also celebrated the release of Dr. Kevorkian from prison at Webster Hall, and hosted parties for various causes and occasions, such as the legalization of marijuana, the anniversary of the moon landing, and the birthday of Elvis Presley. He was always looking for new ways to entertain and shock his audience, and to express his artistic vision.
## A Mysterious and Tragic End
Jones was found dead in his apartment on February 21, 2008, by his superintendent, who had not seen him for a few days. The cause of his death was initially unclear, as the autopsy was inconclusive, and further toxicology and tissue tests were needed. Some reports said he died of a heart attack of natural causes, while others speculated that he had a drug overdose or a suicide. He had no known family or close friends, and his funeral was attended by only a handful of people.
Jones left behind a legacy of art, gossip, and controversy, as well as a mystery that remains unsolved. He was a man who lived on the edge, who explored the boundaries of art and society, who challenged the norms and expectations of his time. He was a man who made an impact on the New York City nightlife and art scene, and who left a mark on the history of the city.