LOS ANGELES — David Forest, the gregarious yet controversial veteran gay talent agent who recently died, was seen by many in the biz as “one of a kind” — a self-invented showman and promoter who hustled the deals but always showed respect.
Forest, who died last week at the age of 66 from complications of diabetes, not only was a talent agent for the gay side of the business but also ran “private meeting” connection services through sites like MaleAdultStars.com that always offered a select roster of exclusive models.
In a 2008 XBIZ article, Forest explained his true passion for his work in the adult entertainment industry, which upon his death spanned 35 years.
"I've been connecting people since the '60s, and I've been connecting men with men for 30 years, and I love it," Forest said at the time.
Forest was a native of Southern California, growing up on the west side of Los Angeles, attending Palisades High School, and eventually heading up north to Stanford University.
He began his career in Hollywood as a band manager in the late 1960s, representing such musical legends as Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. A job at David Geffen's Creative Management Associates had him handling rock royalty like the Carpenters, Van Morrison, the Moody Blues, James Taylor and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
But eventually he found himself in the gay adult entertainment world representing the best — and most financially successful — models gay porn had to offer.
Forest’s passing surprised many in the industry who recollected Wednesday about his legendary, larger-than-life persona.
Chi Chi LaRue, founder of C1R.com, told XBIZ that her friendship with Forest went back nearly two decades.
“David and I were friends for about 20 years,” LaRue said. “He used to be my agent and get me bookings on the road. He could be very, very frustrating and very maddening at times.
But that frustration, LaRue said, was outweighed by his genuine skill at pushing deals through.
“I think David had a good heart and he was a smart businessman,” she said. “He was successful in getting certain men in the gay porn industry, like Ryan Idol and Billy Herrington, to name a few, the highest prices ever paid to porn guys.
“He had lavish parties and along with that came some decadent behavior! Good, bad or indifferent, David was one-of-a-kind and he will never be forgotten.”
Mike Stabile, an adult entertainment industry publicist and friend of Forest, said that the talent agent was planning a comeback after breaking two bones in his leg and suffering a massive heart attack earlier this summer.
“He told me he was planning a comeback — or at least was hoping his recent heart attack would provide enough drama for an article on said comeback,” Stabile told XBIZ. “Always a hustler, and never ever boring. I enjoyed his company immensely and will remember him with a large smile — and maybe a loving eye roll or two.
“David was one of a kind. He was a hustler, for sure, but to me at least, he never uttered an unkind word. I talked to him this summer, after he'd gone into the hospital. He told me he wouldn't be able to make the L.A. premiere of ‘Seed Money,’ my documentary on [Falcon founder] Chuck Holmes, and wanted to let me know why.
“I'd interviewed him for the film several years before, and he was one of the most entertaining, voluble and frank interviews we'd did. His only complaint? We weren't shooting more of him.”
Joanne Cachapero of the Free Speech Coalition remembered Forest as one who had a deep-rooted passion for adult entertainment and the cogs that make the business spin.
“I was always think of David Forest as a little larger than life,” Cachapero told XBIZ. “He had a long career in music and models, and he really loved the show business life. He was sometimes a controversial figure in the gay industry, but I always found him to be gracious and he enjoyed a good time.
“At his 'retirement' party/press conference, when he sold his business to Howard Marr at Fabscout, he had mariachis playing. He told me he always had them, when he would throw big parties and events in the old days. He was one-of-a-kind."
Michael Lucas, founder of Lucas Entertainment, said there was "no denying there was a lot of tragedy in David Forest’s life, and it’s public knowledge that there was no love lost between the two of us over the years."
"But he also loved the adult industry and continually returned to work in it, even at the risk of his own freedom," Lucas told XBIZ. "That shows genuine dedication."
Outpouring of sympathy for Forest also was made on social media since the news of his death.
Adult star Buck Angel, on Twitter, noted that “this man was one of the few who supported my early porn work.”
In the past day, some have even posted past YouTube news posts Forest made in past years. Forest, who regularly sent out his opinionated “From the Desk of David Forest” columns to those in the trade, also videotaped some of his reports.