David Hans Schmidt won't drink with me. The infamous media flack is determined to be a model parolee, so he talks me into leaving Devil's Martini and joining him at his place, where we sip parole-sanctioned bottled water. Schmidt has been a free man for less than two weeks, and he's eager to talk about what he learned during his stint in Safford prison -- where he spent a year for violating his ex-girlfriend's restraining order -- and about his illustrious career as agent to the world's cheesiest stars. Part huckster, part old-school press agent, Schmidt has scored big-deal coverage for Z-list celebs like Tonya Harding and political ho's like Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers. If I were an unknown actor or a big-titted über-celebrity, I'd hire this guy to represent me. And you would, too.
New Times: You started out as Ev Mecham's press secretary.
David Hans Schmidt: No one else wanted the fucking job, and I was there to take it. All the way through his impeachment process, his reelection campaign, all that shit, I stuck by him. He never paid me a dime, but I cut my teeth and made connections all over the world: Donahue, Geraldo, Oprah. And that's how I made it. I catapulted into the stratosphere, because I had the chutzpah to go after the biggest story in town.
NT: Most of your clients are known more for their scandal than their talent.
Schmidt: Give me your poor, your huddled masses! The motto at my agency is, "We take what William Morris rejects." The day after I got out of jail, I was being hounded by Dick Clark's people about working on Celebrity Boxing III. I'm telling you, me being in the joint was slowing up a lot of shit in Hollywood.
NT: Celebrity Boxing III?
Schmidt: I'm trying to convince them to do Tonya Harding versus Divine Brown. I'm calling it "The Ho on Skates versus The Ho Who Sells Dates."
NT: Gennifer Flowers was your first coup in 1992. You got her on the cover of Penthouse.
Schmidt: I was in the check-out line at the grocery store one night, and I saw her on the cover of The Star. I got goose bumps, because I'm thinking if she got 125 G's to show a little cleavage and give a kiss-and-tell story about Bill Clinton, I'll bet Penthouse would give me a million dollars to get her naked.
NT: You've brokered a lot of tabloid stories for your clients.
Schmidt: Tons! I was one of the first agents to broker stories for Inside Edition and A Current Affair. No one in the history of Playboy and Penthouse has brokered more celebrity pictorials than me. I've made millions for Hefner and Guccione. When the Tonya Harding wedding video hit, that was my deal.
NT: How'd you get that one to happen?
Schmidt: I was Jeff Gillooly's agent, and I told him, "You want to make some money? You've got to get me some skin on the old lady." He called me up the day after they were married and said, "I got a 30-minute wedding-night video of Tonya." I took it straight to Bob Guccione at Penthouse.
NT: You got Katarina Witt into Playboy, and Paula Jones into Penthouse.
Schmidt: I was Paula's agent at the time. She kept saying, "I wanna make some real money, sugar!" I said, "Look, little Southern belle, remember how your boyfriend sold those topless pictures of you to Penthouse when you had your ugly nose? Now you've had plastic surgery, and if you take your clothes off, you'll make some very decent bank."
NT: You've sold a lot of Miss Universe title holders to titty magazines, and you convinced Darva Conger to take off her clothes for Playboy.
Schmidt: She's beautiful. I have that one framed in my garage. When we were getting ready to do the shoot on that, I said, "How about putting her in her wedding dress covered in dead roses?"
NT: So that was your idea.
Schmidt: Everything is my fucking idea! I'm not trying to boast, but that's what it comes down to. A lot of my stuff is on hold for right now, until I'm off parole. It's a shame, but I have to roll with it. I should be out in L.A. working deals right now, but I can't leave the state. I've got a pitch for Fox that will make everyone forget Judge Judy. You know how Judge Judy is all ugly? Let's replace her with a centerfold model. I'm gonna call it "Judge Fox on Fox."
NT: I'm guessing this young lady won't be wearing a judge's robe.
Schmidt: She will, but it'll be diaphanous.
NT: You broker deals for a lot of bimbos, but you've also done deals for Geena Davis, Shari Belafonte, even Tiffany. Not bad.
Schmidt: Being a good agent is something I was born with. It can't be taught. When The Globe set up Frank Gifford with Suzen Johnson, I was the first one on the scene saying, "Hey, this big-titted bimbo needs to be in Playboy, big time!" I brokered the deal on behalf of The Globe. My relationship with the tabloids is supreme.
NT: How'd you wind up in the pokey?
Schmidt: I made a late phone call that violated a restraining order that the mother of my children had against me. I was entitled to call my daughters between 6 and 8 p.m. I impetuously called them 15 minutes after eight one night, which is called aggravated harassment. It's a felony.
Because I had a previous violation, I'm not bondable, so the only way to get out of Durango was to cop a plea to probation. I thought, "I'll do okay on probation; I'm not a criminal." But the overzealous law enforcement officials put me on the domestic violence unit of the adult probation department, which has a surveillance officer tagging you, a probation officer tagging you, you have to take urine tests, it's like jumping through constant hoops of fire. And when you get an arrogant son of a bitch like me in there, you're gonna fuck up. I fucked up on several occasions. One of them was when I laid a birthday card on my dead son's grave. Where was the judicial system? I got a new judge, and she had no compassion for my disposition. So I went to prison.
NT: How ironic: You were in prison, where centerfolds are every man's salvation.
Schmidt: They were loving me, man. It was great. You know, I got all those girls into magazines, but I never screwed any of them. Case in point: Tonya Harding made a pass at me one night, and I said, "No, God, trailer trash, get away from me." I always separate business from pleasure.
NT: While you were in prison, your friend Rick Chance was murdered by a prostitute.
Schmidt: What a tragedy. We would sit at the Ritz, two intelligent, entrepreneurial, handsome, middle-aged men with the world by the tail and a couple of Porsches to boot, and we'd just sit there and spit creative ideas at each other. I can't describe the helplessness I felt when Rick was murdered. I couldn't go to his funeral, I could only watch it on TV.
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NT: You just issued a press release about Chance's former wife, Jill Scott, that was downright libelous.
Schmidt: I've got a lot of respect for her, because she's crafty. What's she gonna do, sue me? Fuck her. What's the old saying about libel? If you sue for libel, it's liable to be true. If I get a letter from a law firm saying Jill Scott wants to sue me, I'll say, "Bring it on!"
NT: What now?
Schmidt: My first priority is to be a model parolee. I'm as clean as a devout Mormon baby. Next, I'm gonna go to the governor for a full pardon. I've got it coming. I went to the joint for making a late fucking phone call, which is horseshit. I did more time than O.J. Simpson. I went to prison not because of what I did but because of who I am: an arrogant and conceited guy. Come on, arresting a guy for putting a birthday card on his dead baby's grave? That's arrogant and conceited. These Keystone Kops are the ones who are arrogant and conceited.