Saturday, December 5, 2009

David Aaron Clark: 1960 - 2009

I knew Dave Clark when he was an editor at SCREW, which would've been from early in 1990 to sometime in 1995 or 1996, (I'm navigating from memory here, so my dates may be a bit off). I thought he was a talented writer, he thought I was a talented cartoonist, and we shared a lot of common interests, so we hit it off almost immediately after we first met.

The aspect of Dave's personality that I remember most clearly is that he was incredibly witty, perhaps the wittiest person I've ever known. He often said things that were devastatingly funny, he had a comedian's sense of timing, and he knew how to put you in your place gently but firmly whenever the situation required it. He was also a voracious consumer of alternative culture. If you'd just discovered something weird and fascinating, the chances were pretty good that Dave already knew about it, and had moved on to something even weirder and more obscure. This was a very hip guy.

During the five years I knew him, Dave Clark underwent something of a metamorphosis. When we first met, he appeared to me to be a shy, smarter-than-average nerd, someone who wouldn't look out of place at a comic book convention. Before too long, Clark had reinvented himself as a tattooed, black leather clad denizen of the underworld, with a personal life so edgy, so tumultuous, his misadventures occasionally made the papers.

Around 1995 or 1996, Dave left his SCREW gig to relocate to the West Coast, and I lost touch with him. We had a few friends in common, from whom I learned that Clark was now directing artsy porn videos in LA. Only in this last year did I finally manage to reconnect with him on Facebook, where I was delighted to exchange a few quips with my old friend.

Dave Clark's appetites signaled that he was unlikely ever to occupy an old age home, yet I was shocked and saddened to learn that we lost him on November 28th, 2009, one year shy of Fifty. Filmmaker Charles Pinion, (a former SCREW staffer and close friend of Clark's) tells me the cause of death was a "pulmonary embolism." Whatever that is, I hope it was quick and relatively painless.

More than a few SCREW cover concepts were fed to me by the always-imaginative Clark, (including the Coffin Joe cover I posted on June 26th at Dave's request). I may post more of those later, but what I'd like to post now are two SCREW covers I drew in the early 1990s that featured likenesses of Dave Clark.

The first is an Easter cover dated April 16th, 1990. The idea here, (and I can't remember who came up with this idea) was to show Christ at the Last Supper, with SCREW's editorial staff cast in the roles of the Twelve Apostles, (although I only count nine apostles in this drawing). The folks depicted in this drawing are, left to right: (top row) Managing Editor Manny Neuhaus, Lennie Mace, publisher Al Goldstein, JC, John Walsh, David Aaron Clark, Charles Pinion, (bottom row) Art Director Kevin Hein, Keri Rosebraugh, and Cheryl Giordano.

The second cover, dated February 24, 1992, recreates an evening I spent accompanying Dave and SCREW Editor Eric Danville on their mission to a strip club in Rego Park, Queens, where we watched a porn starlet dance, (inadequate porn scholar that I am, I can't remember this gal's name). Clark and Danville are shown at the lower left, (the rest of the audience members are imaginary miscreants).

*ADDENDUM: the more-than-adequate porn scholar Eric Danville informs me that the dancing starlet in this drawing is none other than Madison. Upon viewing this illo, those of you who are familiar with Madison may exclaim, "that doesn't look like Madison!" In my defense, I will say that in 1992, as a newcomer to the ways of caricature, my efforts in this area could be counted on to fail as often as they succeeded. It is with deep humility that I now offer to Madison, (and to Mr. Danville, who some of you know to be far cuter than he appears in this drawing) my sincerest apologies.

Rest in peace, Dave.


  1. Ohhhhhhhhhhh crap. I traded some amusing emails with Dave 4 or 5yrs ago. I remember consoling him in the early 90s when his gorgeous girlfriend, who performed in a neo-punk band(anybody recall who I'm talking about?) passed away mysteriously. A really great guy. High tolerance for pain, certainly.

  2. That would be Jean, the band was False Virgins, and there was nothing mysterious about her passing. She committed suicide by jumping from an upper floor of the Martha Washington hotel. A troubled gal, and drugs certainly didn't help.

  3. Fuck me. This is the first I'd heard. I got a facebook email from him on the 26th. Fuck.

    Tad Kepley

  4. Wow -so sad. Thanks to being Dave's pool partner back in 1990 at some rathole bar in the East Village, I got my first job in the Big Apple and met alot of crazy fun people.
    Rest in Peace, Dave.

  5. I first got to know Dave during his Flase Virgins phase--seeing pictures of him pre-tats & black leather hat are kind of strange. Sadly, he was never quite the same after Jean's suicide. The last time I saw him in the flesh was when he was living in SF. It was a week or two after he & Joanne V. had broken up for good, leaving the walls of their apartment half-painted. I remember him complaining about how the magazine he was writing for insisted on everything being "sex positive", as if there was no darker aspect to human sexuality, and that he was thinking of relocating to LA to get into the "real" porn biz. That had to be at least 15 years ago. Like you, I only recently made direct contact with Dave again via FB, which makes the loss a little harder to take. I realized a long time ago that he would probably never make old bones, but I was hoping we'd at least have another 5-10 years of him being around. I hope he's happier wherever he is.

  6. Shit, this means I won't be able to return the first three DIRTY DEBUTANTE videos that I borrowed from Dave 15 years ago.

    I can't claim to have been a friend of Dave's--his having loaned me those three porno tapes notwithstanding--but I was a glancing acquaintance of his, Danny Hellman having been the agency of our acquaintanceship. Beneath his imposing bulk and outre persona, (porno writer and later auteur, S & M performance artiste, tattooed "hep guy"), Dave seemed like a good guy. Just last week I thought of him when I passed by a Chase ATM kiosk at 13th Street and Broadway, (just across from Forbidden Planet's current location); at one time that ATM kiosk was the location of a cut-rate video store that specialized in remaindered grade Z movies and, of course, porn. One evening I was there with Danny and Dave and our friend John Terhorst, and Dave found three porn videos he wanted to buy, but he couldn't bring himself to make his purchase from the cute girl running the cash register. He prevailed upon Danny to take his money and his skanky wank material and make the purchase for him.

    Underneath it all, Dave was just a geek, a nerd, a comics- and sci-fi-dweeb. In short, DAVE R US.

    I hope his life was more fun than not.

  7. That's funny, I have no memory of that incident, but I have no doubt that it happened. I vaguely remember that short-lived place on Broadway & 13th, but Dave's REAL cheapo DVD/CD haunt was on 14th and Sixth, right across the street from SCREW's old offices. Dave clocked a lot of hours browsing in that place, as did yours truly.

  8. Gonna miss him. Knew him from screw and I edited the first film he directed and was in.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.