Ex-centerfold, filmmaker found dead in West Hollywood

Dirk Shafer, a celebrity trainer, filmmaker and former Playgirl model, was found dead in West Hollywood

Dirk Shafer, director of the acclaimed mockumentary "Man of the Year" and a former centerfold for Playgirl magazine, was found dead in West Hollywood on Thursday, authorities said.

Shafer, 52, was found in his car in the 1300 block of North Laurel Avenue, according to the Los Angeles County coroner's office. He was pronounced dead about 11:45 a.m. 

An autopsy to determine the cause of death is pending, officials said.  

Shafer was born on Nov. 7, 1962, in Carbondale, Ill., according to officials and movie database IMDb.

Shafer later moved from a small town in Oklahoma to Hollywood, where he struggled to make it in the entertainment business. His rise to fame began in 1992, when he became a centerfold for Playgirl.

He later wrote and directed "Man of the Year," a mockumentary about his experiences as Playgirl's Holiday Man of the Year and its effect on his life as a gay man.

The film's success later led Shafer to direct a second film in 2001 titled "Circuit," which focused on the gay party circuit. 

The film won several film festival awards and played worldwide theatrically, according to IMDb.

He has since appeared on TV's "Will & Grace" and in Playgirl in 2012 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his first layout, CBS reported.

Most recently, Shafer was working as a trainer at Liddy Health and Fitness in West Hollywood.

An employee at the gym confirmed that Shafer worked there and said his death has been very difficult for the staff.

Shafer was also a trainer for several celebrities, including Eric McCormack, Katy Perry, Tiffani Theissen, Olympian Greg Louganis, James Garner and Richard Dreyfuss, CBS reported.

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