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Christine Barker, Third Girl From the Left: A Memoir
Christine Barker, Third Girl From the Left: A Memoir

Thu, Apr 20


Collected Works Bookstore

Christine Barker, Third Girl From the Left: A Memoir

This memoir is an emotional, honest examination of what it takes to succeed in the competitive world of New York theater, how hard-won dreams can be quickly lost, what it means to redefine family, and the devastating toll AIDS exacted on a generation of artists.

Date, Time & Location

Apr 20, 2023, 6:00 PM MDT

Collected Works Bookstore, 202 Galisteo St, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA

About the Event

This will be an in-store presentation. We will live stream the event on Zoom, please register to watch on Zoom here.

You can pre-order Third Girl From the Left from CW online here. The book publishes March 14.

“This beautiful and haunting memoir recalls a period in our recent history with unyielding honesty. Christine Barker vividly weaves the unrelenting demands of a dancer’s life with the onset of a mysterious and bewildering disease that those of us who lived through will never quite get over. Her resilience and determination remain intact throughout this harrowing period, depicted in an uplifting and remarkable book, that I recommend highly.” -- Victor Garber, Award-winning star of film, television, and stage

As a middle child in a large military family, Christine just wants to dance. Her parents support her dreams, even if they seem beyond their comprehension. At 20, determined and talented, Christine heads across the country from Santa Fe to New York City and, in a made for-Hollywood story, is chosen for the London cast of A Chorus Line.

While unwilling to fully cut ties with the traditional life her parents envision for her, she finds a new family with the dancers and more fluid, open characters that fill the theater world in London, and later New York, in the '70s & '80s. Christine learns that one member of her family is equally at home in her new world: Laughlin, her older brother--divorced, a father, ex-military and a corporate lawyer--also makes his way to New York City, where he meets, and begins to build a life, with rising fashion star Perry Ellis. The two men enjoy a partnership and a financial success that Christine both admires. and envies.

She spends much of her free time in their Upper West Side brownstone and Water Island retreat. Soon everyone is talking about a mysterious new disease. As deaths of dancers, theater folk, and eventually friends start to mount, Christine realizes she's in the middle of an epidemic that neither her traditional family nor the public at large is ready to reckon with. As the AIDS crisis cuts closer and closer, eventually impacting those she loves most, Christine does what she has always done: she strikes her own path.

About the Author

Christine Barker has always considered Santa Fe her home, although she has spent most of her adult life on the east coast. In 1968, the year she graduated from Santa Fe High School, she proudly represented Santa Fe and the state of New Mexico in the America’s Junior Miss Pageant, a national contest that provided college scholarships to finalists. In the nationally televised contest, Ms. Barker won the Third-Runner Up title. After attending UCLA for two years, she ventured to New York City to pursue her dream of a career in theater and dance. After working in summer stock, dinner theater, and national tours, she eventually landed her dream job when she was hired for the London production of the Tony award-winning A Chorus Line. From London, she toured the United States with the show, and eventually joined the Broadway cast. Over the course of her Broadway career, she also appeared in numerous national television commercials. Life in New York changed when the AIDS epidemic claimed the life of her older brother Laughlin, his companion Perry Ellis, and many close Broadway friends and colleagues. After their deaths, she retired from the theater and turned her professional sights to her next dream – to be a published author. She went back to school and earned an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction at Sarah Lawrence College. Ms. Barker is married, has two children, and divides her time between Santa Fe and a home in Connecticut. In addition to working on her own projects, she teaches writing to high school students.

Family History in New Mexico:

Christine Barker descends from the Barker and Laughlin families who settled in Santa Fe in 1879. Her father, Laughlin Barker, graduated from Santa Fe High School and the US Naval Academy. He served his country as a naval aviator and commander of squadrons that patrolled European skies and in the Pacific Fleet during the Cold War. When he retired from the Navy, he and Ms. Barker’s mother, Rene McClatchy Barker, returned to Santa Fe with their six children where he was a real estate broker and property manager and served as President of the Chamber of Commerce and the New Mexico Association of Realtors. 

Christine Barker’s grandmother, Ruth Laughlin, graduated with the first class of Santa Fe High School in 1906 and later attended Colorado College where she earned a BA in English and Journalism. In 1916, Ruth Laughlin joined her mother, Katie Kimbrough Laughlin, in the campaign for women’s suffrage in New Mexico, which included support for bilingual initiatives to protect the rights of all women whose native language was Spanish. Ruth Laughlin authored two books considered classics of Southwestern literature: Caballeros, a history of Santa Fe from its founding by Spanish conquistadors, and The Wind Leaves No Shadow, a work of historical fiction about the life of Dona Tules Barcelo. She was editor of the social section of The New Mexican and served as chair of the New Mexico Press Association. Ms. Barker’s grandfather, William Judson Barker was appointed U.S. Attorney for New Mexico from 1933-37 and served as judge of the First Judicial District Court.

N.B. Laughlin, Ms. Barker’s great-grandfather, was an illiterate young man from Illinois who learned to read and write, eventually studied law, and arrived in Santa Fe on horseback in 1879. He was appointed Associate Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court of New Mexico and Presiding Judge of the First Judicial District Territorial Court by President Grover Cleveland. N.B. Laughlin was actively involved in New Mexico achieving statehood in 1912. His wife, Katie

Kimbrough Laughlin was vice-chairman of the New Mexico branch of the Congressional Union of Equal Suffrage and one-time president of the Santa Fe Women’s Club and Public Library Association. She campaigned vigorously in New Mexico for the passage of legislation requiring female representation on boards of all state institutions, establishing juvenile courts, enacting community property laws, and improving conditions for women working on farms.

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