The Invisible Dragon
John (he/him/his) started doing theatre in grade school. His very first role was as the stage right half of the show curtain in his kindergarten’s school play in Middleton, OH. His nemesis (who he pictures as being Veruca Salt from the first …Chocolate Factory film) played the other half of the curtain. But John is not exactly an Ohioan. He was born and mostly raised in Texas minus his preschool years just outside Cincinnati and his junior high years in Newbury Park, CA just south of Santa Barbara. His first non-school play was as the lead in a summer children’s theatre production of The Invisible Dragon at Alvin Community College in Alvin, TX. His first musical ever was a summer youth theatre production of Oklahoma! in Westlake Village, CA. This production sealed John’s fate. He was going to become an actor. Or a film director. Or an astronaut.
Little Shop of Horrors
The Devil's Disciple - Alley Theatre
Regional theatre credits include Alley Theatre (The Devil’s Disciple, A Flea in Her Ear, Houston Young Playwright’s Exchange (HYPE)); Theatre Under The Stars (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (World Premiere), Funny Girl, Grand Hotel, Zorro, and the 1st Annual Musical Theatre Awards honoring Jerry Herman); 5th Avenue Theatre (Grand Hotel); Stages Repertory Theatre (Shakespeare’s R&J, The Firebird, & more); and Main Street Theater (Leave It to Jane, Lady Be Good). John has also directed with the Alley Theatre’s HYPE (fun fact: one of his actors was rising star, John Behlmann).
Music Video for a cover of Beyoncé's "I Miss You"
Performing at Stonewall Inn
Law & Order: SVU
New York theatre credits include several new works (including Lee Feldman’s Greene) and appearances throughout the cabaret and nightlife scene, including many at the historic Stonewall Inn. He co-wrote the devised work, Gold Coast, with Stages on the Sound for Metropolitan Playhouse’s Gilded Stage Festival under the guidance of Tectonic Theater Project’s Scott Barrow.
John has also written the original one-man shows, Jerby: Fully Loaded, Jerby With A “Y”, A Very Jerby Christmas, & A Lady Gaga Christmas Spectacular. He has written and directed shorts and music videos ranging from satire and comedy to politics and activism for YouTube, including Broadway Zombie, Fierce iPhone Update, Starbucks is GAY!, The Bigot’s Guide to the Homosexual Lifestyle, Booty Text, and The Worst Christmas Pageant Ever. YouTube was where he wrote and directed one of the first ever web series on the platform, the 8-part The Message Board. A recurring guest on HuffPost Live, he would offer his opinion on a variety of topics from politics to entertainment.
Film work includes the following short films: Outside Hearing In (voice), NSA Interviews, Bigger Than Fiction, and Atramentous. He’s on the following recordings: Show Choir! The Musical Studio Recording, Avarice the Musical Cast Recording, Carols for a Cure Volume 12 with Bernadette Peters and the cast of A Little Night Music, “Vampire Drag Queen”, & Our First Christmas Together.
In January 2019, John made his network television debut guest starring as Karl Patton on Law & Order: SVU on NBC.
During the Covid-19 Pandemic, John, in collaboration with his frequent creative partner and husband, Jared R. Pike tried to fill the year and a half with as much creativity as possible with work ranging from live broadcasts (often with projections) to comedy and music videos to the massive Snowmatica: The Complete A Lady Gaga Christmas Medley Parody, which can be described as a fantasia of 33 of Lady Gaga’s songs parodied as holiday music in 37 minutes.
He is represented by ATB Talent.
Performing "Origin of Love" online with projections during the covid-19 pandemic
Snowmatica: The Complete A Lady Gaga Christmas Medley Parody
Avarice the musical
The following is a work in progress. Please contact me if you have any feedback you wish to share. I welcome your ideas knowing that learning/unlearning is a constant, humbling process I hold with gratitude.
It may not be common for an individual artist to include this section, but I think it might be beneficial to state where I stand on these matters. I believe that trust is earned through time and action, but perhaps this will allow other artists and groups to feel they can begin a collaboration with me, knowing they can point to these words to hold me accountable if and when I fail to uphold them.
The Bottom Line: I am very passionate about fighting white supremacy culture in order to help build systemic equity for Black people and all people of color as well as people who are differently abled, transgender, and female identified.
When I Am In a Position of Power on a Project
I believe that a workspace, a creative space, a space of collaboration should be a safe space for every person who will occupy it and that every person working in the building's humanity is respected. It is simply how it should be, and that is enough reason. But, the truth is that this is also how the best art can happen. This means that this space will not accept racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, ableism, and all other forms of hate and will enact policies that uphold this. If an artist feels that they are being subjected to any form of hate, no matter how seemingly benign it may appear or have been intended, that artist should be heard and the matter should undergo the appropriate amount of accountability. If an artist feels the need to speak to how they feel they are being represented in a work, those thoughts should be welcomed with gratitude. Likewise, I also vow to uphold what is meant by the expression, "Not About Us, Without Us". To paraphrase Brené Brown: lived experience trumps research every time.
I believe that any moment in a creative work that involves intimacy or words and actions that represent forms of hate, an intimacy coordinator must be hired to oversee and insure that these moments are handled with complete care--especially for any artist that would be directly affected by the material.
More to be said about the above coming soon.
When I Am Not
I vow to use my privilege to put pressure on producers, directors, writers, unions, etc. to create the same space I would want created as listed above. I vow to speak up for anyone who is being subjected to any form of hate no matter how seemingly benign it may have appeared or have been intended.
I will speak up when in service of upholding another person who works in the building's dignity.
More coming soon.
In My Personal Life
I vow to vote for political leaders who will work to enact policies that create systemic equity. Politics can be imperfect, but this is an area that will come to have the greatest influence in who I vote for or endorse knowing that even neutrality is an affirmation of the status quo of systemic inequity.
I vow to pass the mic to Black people and all people of color as well as people who are differently abled, transgender, and female identified whenever I can. I vow to make space for those who have been denied their rightful place at the table.
More coming soon.
I am sharing the following proclamation as it pertains to the goals of this section. Since the following document's creation, I attended an online workshop where our Black educator won me over to the idea of not using the acronym “BIPOC” as a default out of respect for those who may feel it doesn’t represent themselves or where such a generalization may offend. I am presenting the proclamation here as it was written when I originally posted it in the pursuit of transparency:
When Rashaan Asim James II called on all Actor’s Equity Association (AEA) members to create their own version of the following anti-racist pledge in order to create a safe space for our membership, I confess I was scared shitless. Putting these thoughts into words feels immensely vulnerable. But as an avid Brené Brown follower, I know that vulnerability strengthens and is the only path to freedom. Then, I remembered Laverne Cox on Ms. Brown’s podcast saying:
I believe we all are racist in that we all have been acculturated in what bell hooks calls “Imperialist White Supremacist, Capitalist Patriarchy.” I add to that Cis-normative, Hetero-normative; we all have grown up in this culture with films for 100 plus years that have reinforced stereotypes and implicit biases that we don’t even know we have, and the work of coming to critical consciousness.1
I shouldn’t be afraid to be vulnerable, especially when this is something that burdens us all. I’m someone who has always thought himself an ally, but I’m continually learning just how easy it is to get it wrong, especially whenever I get overly confident, comfortable, and/or complacent. Dismantling white supremacy must begin within. So let’s go:
I, John Raymond Barker, have been complicit in perpetuating white supremacy culture—
● Every time I saw a utopia of equality in green rooms, rehearsal studios, theatre spaces, audition rooms, and union halls without entertaining the notion that the space might not be experienced as utopia by everyone; or, that for a BIPOC or transgender person, whatever degree of utopia might have existed in those spaces evaporated the instant they left the space
● Every time I ‘clock out’ of the pain, frustration, and discomfort I feel in challenging moments of my personal anti-racism work, while knowing BIPOC don’t have the luxury to take a break from the exhausting pain, frustration, and discomfort of racism they have borne their entire lives
● Every time my privilege allows me to stay in a space made unsafe for BIPOC and transgender persons, by keeping my mouth shut and being able to do so because I am not personally affected or can pass— a particularly selfish form of ‘clocking out’
● Every time I tried to compare in any way my “struggles” as a gay man with those of the Black experience, having no idea that one's ability to cloak their sexual orientation, or to pass, alone constitutes a massive difference
● Every time I ever have shared a joke or story that wasn’t mine to tell and even worse every time I have had the audacity to dismiss anyone’s objections
● Every time I could pass the mic to a female-identified, BIPOC, transgender, or differently abled person, but don’t—even worse when I hog the mic thinking I have all the answers
● Every time I passed on the opportunity to vote in an AEA Election, out of laziness and privilege thinking that my vote and my voice were inconsequential—knowing now that every vote or lack of vote shapes policy, and even worse: when I let my poor voting record take away my power to speak up
● Every time, I’ve jumped to defensive reactions when hearing a BIPOC speaker share their truth, and falling into stereotypes and tropes that confuse and conflate justified anger and passion with violence; rather than pausing my ego, to be able to listen with compassion and an open mind and heart, but worse:
● Every time I’ve potentially put BIPOC, transgender, or differently abled lives in harm’s way by publicly expressing in any way my defensive reactions still steeped in white supremacy instead of working through my reaction and questions with a mentor in private— not to be duplicitous, but in the pursuit of getting it right through learning/unlearning AND doing so in a space that will not cause collateral damage to BIPOC, transgender, or differently abled persons
I vow to discontinue the harm that I’m aware of, and continue to search myself on my other contributions.
Now it’s your turn: I, _________, have been complicit in perpetuating white supremacy culture by (insert your story here). I vow to discontinue the harm that I’m aware of and continue to search myself on my other contributions.
1 Brown, B. (Host). (2020, June 17). Brené with Laverne Cox on Transgender Representation, Advocacy + the Power of Love. [Audio podcast episode]. In Unlocking Us with Brené Brown. Cadence13.
Laverne Cox was on the podcast to discuss her incredible Netflix documentary, Disclosure.
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I am represented by ATB Talent for all work in Film, Television, Theatre, and Commercials. Please contact my agents if you are interested in auditioning or booking me for any of these types of work.