NL-David spent twenty years fighting for first amendment rights and stood up to the Religious Right. He believed in your right to enjoy adult entertainment without government interference. He was one of the good guys. He will be missed.
Attorney-turned-strip club owner David Wasserman commits suicide
Susan Jacobson | Sentinel Staff Writer article is here
11:44 PM EDT, September 26, 2008
Not long ago, David Wasserman was a high-powered attorney for the adult-entertainment industry who wore $100 ties, lived in the country-club community of Heathrow and had an office overlooking Park Avenue in Winter Park.
But then Wasserman was arrested, his law license was suspended and he started living in a $350-a-month Orlando-area apartment. where he was shot in the chest in December.
On Thursday, Wasserman, who owned Lake County’s only strip club, committed suicide at home, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said Friday. He had battled depression since his mother’s death 16 years ago, said his companion, Lois Stone, 48, who found his body.
“I want David to be remembered for who he really was,” said Stone, a bartender at Wasserman’s Fantasy Gentlemen’s Club in Four Corners. “He was the most loving, caring individual I have ever met.”
Wasserman, 52, was a passionate defender of the First Amendment who loved a good fight and reveled in speaking his mind, those who knew him said. He was the Christian Coalition’s nightmare, a guy whose credo was naked bodies are no big deal and none of the government’s business.
“I’m a crusader,” Wasserman said in an April interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “A lot of people love to hate me.”
At the time of his death, Wasserman was fighting for the survival of his club as Lake County and his landlord tried to shut him down. He was facing criminal charges for what investigators say were violations of Lake’s adult-entertainment law stemming from a raid earlier this year. Last month, he sued Lake County in federal court over the matter.
But his tribulations only made Wasserman feistier. A human run-on sentence, he was eager to preach his Gospel of First Amendment freedom.
“When I knew him, he was passionate, he was bright, he was committed and he was absolutely a believer,” said Orlando defense lawyer Mark NeJame.
Wasserman made a name for himself in the 1990s by defending high-profile clients in Central Florida and beyond.
He argued for the rave club Cyberzone, which was fighting a county ordinance requiring it to close at 2 a.m. In Kissimmee, he battled the city over a store that sold X-rated videos and argued for a couple who operated a sex dungeon at a warehouse. He represented men who ran a gay-pornography Web site out of a Seminole County home. He fought adult-entertainment laws in New Smyrna Beach, where he owned a lingerie shop that gave the locals fits by selling adult videos and sex toys.
“David was our attorney for years,” said Charlie Veigle, former owner of Rachel’s adult club in Casselberry and co-owner of the house that Wasserman lived in. “He was a good friend. He had gone through a hard time. It’s a sad loss because he was a nice guy. He had a big heart and truly believed in what he was doing.”
Although he was proud of his work, depression remained a near constant in Wasserman’s life. He told the Orlando Sentinel that he wrote his own eulogy and had tried to kill himself, including the night in January 2003 that he was arrested for growing marijuana at his Heathrow apartment. His law license was suspended in 2004 after he pleaded no contest.
“I’m not afraid to die,” Wasserman said.
“I want to be remembered as a first-class lawyer who was very ethical, that I was a caring person and tried to help the poor and the downtrodden.”
Wasserman is survived by his father, several siblings and a stepdaughter.
Susan Jacobson can be reached at [email protected] or 407-540-5981.