David Hans Schmidt suicide? PHX sex-tape hawker found dead.
An ass on an ass? Schmidt in better days, from his Web site.
Could it be another of David Hans Schmidt's publicity stunts? Yet, there it is in black and white on my 'puter, the news that the celebrity sex-tape hawker was found dead in his PHX home of an "apparent suicide." I phoned Sergeant Andy Hill of the PHX PD's Media Relations Unit, and this is the statement the cops are releasing:
During the afternoon of September 28, 2007, the Phoenix Police Department received a “check welfare” radio call. According to the caller, Mr. Schmidt had been required to wear a monitoring device. The device had not registered movement for some time and the caller was concerned for Mr. Schmidt’s welfare. Officers responded to 4301 N. 21st Street, went inside the residence, and Mr. Schmidt was found deceased. Based on the scene investigators believe this is an apparent suicide. Final determination of the cause and manner of death will be made by the Office of the Medical Examiner. No other information will be released at this time.
No word yet on how he offed himself: gun, pills, razor or whatnot. However he did it, I find the news eyebrow-raising because he struck me as a "will to power" kind of guy. You know, the type who takes to heart the Nietzsche aphorism, "That which does not kill me makes me stronger." I met him once at a bar, the now defunct IO at the Biltmore, and he seemed a pugnacious, yet friendly sort. Almost Damon Runyon-esque, if that's possible in Sand Land. Later when I dealt with him by phone, he got a little nasty, threatened to take an order of protection out against me if I didn't stop calling him for a comment. At the time, I was trying to find out why a planned Phoenix magazine profile of him never saw the light of day. The tale from the guy penning it, former KTAR talk-radio host David Leibowitz, was that Schmidt threatened the mag with legal action if the profile went forward. Schmidt didn't like that Leibo was getting into what Schmidt considered too-personal territory. Ultimately the piece didn't run. Makes me wonder if Leibo is going through his old notes today. I know I would be.
(A commenter below notes that this article is in the current issue of Phoenix mag, which I haven't seen yet. If so, talk about timing! New Times also awarded him a BOP, "BEST ATTEMPTED SHAKEDOWN OF TOM CRUISE." The last two lines seem prescient: "In August, Schmidt entered in to a plea agreement, and now faces two years in the pen and a $250,000 fine. Let's just hope that this time, we won't be hearing about him for a long, long time.")
Schmidt, of course, was known for hawking sex tapes of Tonya Harding, brokering nudie pic deals for Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Darva Conger and others, and trying to sell Paris Hilton's diaries. He reportedly got his start as disgraced Governor Ev Mecham's press secretary during Mecham's impeachment, a tale told in New Times scribe Robert Pela's entertaining 2002 interview with Schmidt. I love the part where Roberto asks Schmidt about how the Tonya Harding sex tape came about, and Schmidt relates,
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.
New Times reporter Bob Nelson wrote about Schmidt's toubles with the law on several occasions, in "Pay Back" (August 23, 2001), "Schmidt Happens" (September 20, 2001), and "Spleen Man" (July 26, 2001), wherein Nelson describes Schmidt taking on the case of Jefferson Davis McGee, a victim of Joe Arpaio's gulags, who was misidentified as a child killer and rapist and got his spleen danced on by fellow prisoners.
David Hans Schmidt (right) with former client and spleen-man Jefferson Davis McGee.
More recently, Schmidt repped Dale Hausner, suspected "Serial Shooter," but he may have bitten off more than he could chew by trying to sell wedding pics of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes back to Cruise for over $1 mil. The feds nabbed him for extortion, and he was planning to plead guilty. He was facing a possible deuce in the federal pen. Still, he'd been in Arpaio's jails before. Compared to that, two years in federal stir has gotta be a slice of bannana cream pie. Likely there's more involved. Or perhaps at age 47 the guy was weary of the fight.
One thing's certain: everyone in P-town's sure to have a Schmidt story. He reveled in his role as the Sultan of Sleaze, and reporters ate up his antics. How can you hate a guy who peddles topless snaps of U.S. Army POW Jessica Lynch, and helps broker Saved by the Bell's Dustin "Screech" Diamond's sex vid? Schmidt was a hustler, a wannabe Hollywood playa stuck in the PHX, a ballsy bottomfeeder always ready to take the slime prime-time. A character, to say the least. And for fans of everything tabloid, one that will be missed, in spite of his many sins.
For a previous post on Schmidt, see: David Hans Schmidt, uh, I mean Schmuck.
Also, check out Schmidt's own site Hansnews.com, which features a link to an O.J. Simpson sex tape Schmidt had been peddling.
Finally, NT writer David Pasztor tackled The Schmidt way back in 1992 with the piece "HAVE HUEVOS, WILL TRAVEL."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.