Stephen Housewright: Partners

Cover of Partners by Stephen Housewright.
November 2021

Jerry Hunt (1943–93) was among the most eccentric figures in the world of new music. A frenetic orator, occultist, and engineering consultant, his works from the 1970s through the early ’90s made use of readymade sculptures, medical technology, arcane talismans and all manner of homemade electronic implements to form confrontational recordings and enigmatic, powerful performances.

Part biography and part memoir, Partners begins in 1950s Dallas with the meeting of Stephen Housewright and Jerry Hunt in a junior high school music class. It ends thirty-six years later in the couple’s self-built house in rural East Texas where Jerry, now an internationally regarded artist and musician, makes the decision to take his own life after having recieved a terminal medical diagnosis—documented in his harrowing video, How to Kill Yourself Using the Inhalation of Carbon Monoxide Gas. The moving story of their relationship traces Hunt’s career as one of New Music’s most eccentric figures across the US and Europe—where his pursuits as a teenage occultist, vegetarian cook, engineering consultant, televisual artist, and aleatory composer interweave with Housewight’s only slightly more conventional development as an academic, educator, and librarian.

Originally self-published in 1995 and distributed only among a small group of the couple’s friends and collaborators—which included the likes of composers Pauline Oliveros, Annea Lockwood, and Petr Kotik, and artists Michael Galbreth and Karen Finley, who writes this book’s introduction—Partners is a forthright memoir of sexual awakening, artistic experimentation, and life-long commitment.

Cover by Alec Mapes-Frances.

Stephen Housewright was born in Dallas in 1943. He studied liberal arts at St. John's College in Santa Fe and English and Greek at the University of Houston and in graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin. After teaching for almost ten years at Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving, near Dallas, he earned a Master of Library Science and became a librarian in the humanities division of the Central Dallas Public Library. He and his husband Hal Bennett live in Texas and divide their time between Canton and Garland.

Karen Finley is an artist, author, and arts professor in the department of Art and Public Policy at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. 

Also available from Blank Forms Editions: Transmissions from the Pleromaa new anthology of writing by and about Jerry Hunt, and reissues of his music including Ground: Five Mechanic Convention Streams (1992) and the boxed set Irida Records: Hybrid Musics from Texas and Beyond, 1979-1986, collecting the complete releases of the label Hunt ran from his home in Canton, Texas.