The Source Family Documents Hippie Huckster Jim Baker


Say what you will about Jim Baker, also known as Yod, Yahowha, Father, and then just plain God to his tribe of hippie acolytes in Los Angeles’s so-called Source Family, but the man had the hair for the job. Zeus himself might envy the pillowy, platinum coils that Baker grew out in the late 1960s while reinventing himself as a spiritual cult leader with a sideline in the restaurant business. It wasn’t just the hair that drew in the kids, as we learn in The Source Family, Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille’s largely sympathetic history of the Baker-led phenomenon. Baker knew his market so well that he advertised meditation classes for “all the confused, lost children of the new age” in the local paper. Offering himself as a father, protector, and—if you were a teenage girl—sexual instructor, Baker ruled a mini-society of about 150 kids, several of whom appear to tell their story. That kind of charisma is tough to translate, and indeed photos, footage, and recordings of Baker do little to suggest he was more than a gifted huckster with great hair. With some focus and critical perspective, The Source Family might have documented more than a spectacle of its time.