BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Monday night, he'll speak about Baker's ``forgotten years'' at the World Erotic Art Museum on South Beach.
``I'm very happy to speak at that museum of sex, or whatever you call it,'' says Jean-Claude, now 66 and owner of Chez Josephine bistro in New York City's theater district, ``where the legend of Josephine still lives.''
Baker died suddenly at age 68 in 1975, days after a celebrated stage comeback in Paris. Glowing newspaper reviews from that final performance were scattered about the bed where she died.
Most who remember Baker think of her as a glamorous singing star who performed at the Folies-Berge`re in 1926 wearing nothing but strategically placed bananas.
Baker broke ground for black entertainers.
Protesters threatened to bomb the nightclub where Baker and singer Sophie Tucker were appearing. Said Tucker: ``Very good, they will have to blow me up too,'' according to Jean-Claude.
Years later, Baker stood with Martin Luther King Jr. ``We were all inspired by your presence at the March on Washington,'' King wrote to Baker on Nov. 5, 1963.
Baker reinvented herself time and again the way Madonna would 70 years later. When she thought of herself as too old to be a sex symbol, she changed her image to that of mother.
``She started the Rainbow Tribe of children of different races, colors and religion,'' said Jean-Claude, born in Dijon, France, and one of her 12 adopted children.
``Way before Angelina Jolie -- and I regret that Brad is not my daddy. You can quote me,'' says Jean-Claude, a gay man who researched his mother's life and in 1993 co-wrote a biography of her, Josephine: The Hungry Heart.
Baker -- who was married to four different men and had affairs with many others -- actually was a lesbian, ``looking for tenderness'' that only another woman could show her, Jean-Claude says.
Jean-Claude Baker will speak 7 p.m. Monday at the World Erotic Art Museum, 1205 Washington Ave. Admission is $20, no one under 18 allowed. For more information, call 305-532-9336 or visit www.weam.com.