Death of WeHo’s Dirk Shafer is Attributed to Meth and Cocaine

Dirk Shafer
Dirk Shafer

Dirk Shafer, a well-known figure in West Hollywood’s gay community who got national attention for being named Playgirl’s “Man of the Year” in 1992, had significant levels of methamphetamine and cocaine in his system when he died last month.

The L.A. County Coroner’s office today said Shafer’s death was an accident caused by “methamphetamine and cocaine toxicity,” and it noted that he suffered from hypertensive cardiovascular disease.

Shafer was found dead in his car at 1350 Laurel Ave. between Fountain and Sunset on March 5. He was 52.

After being named Playgirl’s “Man of the Year” Shafer directed and starred in a 1995 film called “Man of the Year” in which he gave a fictionalized account of his life as a gay man under pressure to deny his homosexuality.

Shafer made another film, “Circuit,” a look at the gay circuit party world, that won best film at the 2001 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. In recent years he had worked as a fitness trainer.

Shafer was buried earlier his month at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in a private ceremony attended by his family from Oklahoma.


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Stan
Guest
Stan

Listen I am a recovering Alcoholic I have 17+ years. We do not know if Dirk an addiction to meth or cocaine. We can only guess. This is still a very painful loss to me. He was my hero and will always be that to me. Please do not attack this man. He is not here to defend himself. .

Stan
Guest
Stan

A man is dead. Regardless how he died its still a loss.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Dave, I have zero doubt that your black and white, scientist-like thinking serves you brilliantly in the life and death scenario of the E.R. Unfortunately, when you attempt to apply it here you come across as dispassionate and judgmental. As a psychotherapist who specializes in dual diagnosis, I have NEVER seen a client who has developed an issue with ANY drug who isn’t attempting to manage overwhelming feelings due to an underlying mental health issue (e.g. depression, trauma, anxiety). The evidence is clear that experimenting with crystal meth is playing with fire and no one will argue that it is… Read more »

Kylan
Guest
Kylan

Dave, I’m wishing that your name meant that you were from Maryland, rather than holding a medical degree. Since there is no indication that you were Mr. Shafer’s physician, nor that you knew him personally, I assume that you haven’t the slightest idea whether or not he was “in pain,” addicted, or suffering from other mental or physical ailments that contributed to his fatal use of drugs. Yes, we all know that many people at least begin to use drugs as the result of making a poor choice. Yet we rarely know enough to understand what motivates those choices. And,… Read more »

Dave MD
Guest
Dave MD

What is truly sad here is that people keep making excuses for drug use. Who said he was in any kind of pain? THIS WAS NOT SELF-MEDICATION. 85% of all people, not just gay, use meth for reasons other than to reduce pain such as enhance sexual experience. So to assume he was in pain and he was self-medicating by using meth is nuts. The other 15% are in pain because of the drug withdrawal. It’s a cycle that is started by making that choice the first time meth is used. There are many other drugs he could have chosen… Read more »

Brent Forester
Guest
Brent Forester

The sad reality is that this story has been repeated so many times. A veil or health, fitness and beauty blurs the ugly truth of drug use. Its safe to say that our community is still gripped by a party drug epidemic yet no one wants to talk about it or admit there is a crisis among us. Its a shame LA is still trapped in the grip of meth with no end in sight….well said Dr. Robert

Peter
Guest

He was a handsome white man with a beautiful body in a society that sees more value in goodlooking white people. I’m sure he had problems, as we all do, but there are many ways to deal with them that don’t involve drugs. He chose to use drugs to alleviate the pain, and he paid the ultimate price. What a waste, but my sympathies lie elsewhere.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Robert, I understand your rage toward a life ultimately destroyed and wasted through drug use. But I’m surprised that an MD wouldn’t have more compassion about what might drive someone to self-medicate. We have no idea what was going on internally for Dirk or for anyone else who falls into drug abuse. You are 100% correct that it is a choice to try drugs and, yes, meth is notoriously addictive. But if an MD shames someone for a bad or desperate choice, then why on earth would they believe anyone else would help them? Gay men experience enough internalized shame… Read more »

Robert. MD
Guest
Robert. MD

The worst thing we can do is say things like “poor Dirk” he was in so much pain. What makes anyone think he CHOSE to use drugs because he was in pain? Why make excuses for his CHOICE to use drugs? It does a dis-service to the gay community to put the message out to young people that if you CHOSE to use drugs which will ruin your life and kill you, we will feel sorry for you and act as though you were a victim. There is enough information about meth that if someone CHOSES to use it for… Read more »

seaguy (@seaguy11)
Guest

Well said Steve. Our community does itself no favors shaming those who use meth rather than encouraging them to get help and being supportive. If we were more supportive and encouraging maybe he would not have died alone in his car high.

seaguy (@seaguy11)
Guest

Sad, Kind of strange that he would have both in his system usually you use one or the other. Cocaine has been proven to cause death in people with heart problems. Meth of course cannot be good either.

brian belt
Guest
brian belt

I knew Dirk and we had friends in common in Oklahoma. While I live in Denver I wish someone could have been there for him as Dying alone in a car tweaked out seems lonely.