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Cocaine, meth blamed in ex-centerfold's death in West Hollywood

Former Playgirl 'Man of the Year' died from toxic levels of cocaine and methamphetamine, coroner says

Dirk Shafer, the former Playgirl model whose experiences as a closeted gay man became the subject of the mock documentary “Man of the Year,” had toxic levels of cocaine and methamphetamine in his body that caused his death last month, authorities said Wednesday.

Shafer, 52, also had hypertensive cardiovascular disease, which may have been a contributing factor, according to an investigator with the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

On March 5, the Carbondale, Ill., native was found dead in his car in the 1300 block of North Laurel Avenue in West Hollywood, officials said.

Shafer catapulted to fame with nude spreads in Playgirl, and in 1992 he was named the magazine’s “Man of the Year.”

That honor became the title of the 1995 fictionalized documentary he wrote and directed that highlighted the tensions of living as a closeted gay man who is adored by female fans.

Reviewing the film in 1996, Times staff writer Kevin Thomas called the film “tart” and “ruefully funny.”

“Clearly, Shafer, whose future as a filmmaker is most promising, is a man who learned more about himself than he ever expected to as a centerfold -- and ironically gained some unexpected insights into women as well,” Thomas wrote.

Shafer later directed the award-winning “Circuit” in 2001 and appeared on NBC’s “Will & Grace.”

He also worked as a trainer for several celebrities, including Eric McCormack, Katy Perry, James Garner, Richard Dreyfuss and Olympian Greg Louganis, CBS reported last month.

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