David Lemonds

Stephen Kanner and I were not particularly close during our “Yale career,” but we — along with classmates David Lemonds, an architect; and Charlie Harker, chief lobbyist for the American Physiotherapy Association (and a dear friend) — hung out during our 10th reunion. 

In 1988, I flew to Los Angeles to visit my editors at The Los Angeles Times Magazine (I was writing their design column) and Architectural Digest (I was an occasional freelancer). I wrote to tell Stephen that I would be visiting his city and he generously invited me to stay at his lovely home in the Hancock Park section of town. Well, was that visit ever an eye-opener to the Lotusland lifestyle. 

David Lemonds was already visiting there. One day when we were all chatting in the living room, he made the gloomy pronouncement that after having had sex but three or six times (I forget which) in his life, here he was, HIV-positive. 

Stephen had a thick pile of legal documents on the dining-room table. He asked me, as he did all visitors, to sign several of them. The documents, he said, would provide evidence of his innocence during his upcoming lawsuit by a former client who was alleging malpractice. 

One evening Stephen and his partner threw a dinner party. After dessert, he told me that he was feeling a little tired and drunk, so would I please drive him to see his cocaine dealer. Eager to be a good guest, I happily obliged. The 20-minute drive took us to a gas station, where the dealer was waiting for us in his Maserati. Stephen entered the Maserati’s passenger’s seat and through the rolled-down windows I caught snippets of Stephen’s innocuous inquiries about the dealer’s wife and kids. How very L.A.!  

One bedroom had been converted to an eclectic shrine where Stephen and his partner regularly prayed. It was a New Age-ee, Eastern-inspired mix of religious icons, burning incense and a red altar cloth. Not that it helped much. Within a few years, Stephen, his partner, David Lemonds and Charlie Harker would die from AIDS-related causes.

David Lasker

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