Dirk Shafer, Dead at 52, Blurred Sexual Barriers

By Mike Szymanski
[email protected] 

scan0001Dirk Shafer, who directed and wrote two defining movies on the gay world, really “got” bisexuality, and even tried to explore bisexuality in real life when he was named “Man of the Year” by Playgirl Magazine.

Shafer was found dead in his car in West Hollywood, Calif. of an apparent heart attack. He was 52. The Los Angeles Coroner’s office will check for foul play.

(This was a personal loss, because Dirk was posing as heterosexual and sneaking around with his boyfriend. And, I was writing for major national gay publications and sneaking around with a girlfriend.

19-Dirk-Shafer-pictureOver the years he met my girlfriends and boyfriends, and I met his. I lived just up the hill from him, and we saw each other at many parties, private and public. I wrote about him, he offered workout advice and we kept up with each other over Facebook.

Dirk became personal trainer to other stars such as Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss, Grammy-nominated Katy Perry and TV’s Tiffanni Thiessen, among others.

Although Dirk wasn’t afraid of being open about his sexuality, or being naked, he definitely wasn’t ever bisexual, not even when he tried to fake it.

“I gave a good go at it, it just wasn’t there for me,” Shafer tells me. “I’d giggle when I kissed my friend Vivian (Paxton who plays his girlfriend in ‘Man of the Year’). I tried it with other women, it just wasn’t there.”

But, he knew guys who were bisexual, and in “Circuit” he wrote the lead character’s backstory with a successful female relationship.

“I know it’s real, I know people who are bisexual,” Dirk said. “And I know I’m not.”

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Mike Szymanski
Mike Szymanski has written about bisexual issues since 1989 and has one of the longest-running regular bisexual columns as the National Bisexuality Examiner. He came out as bisexual in a cover story of Genre magazine, which resulted in more than 50 television appearances, including Ricki Lake, Phil Donahue Show and 20/20. Szymanski won the Lambda Literary Award in 2007 for co-authoring an informative humor book “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways.” Write him at [email protected]