Republican Party Animals operator David Stein says he is really David Cole, and that he still holds controversial views.
To those who knew him, or thought they knew him, he was a cerebral, fun-loving gadfly who hosted boozy gatherings for Hollywood’s political conservatives. David Stein brought right-wing congressmen, celebrities, writers and entertainment industry figures together for shindigs, closed to outsiders, where they could scorn liberals and proclaim their true beliefs.
Over the past five years Stein’s organisation, Republican Party Animals, drew hundreds to regular events in and around , making him a darling of conservative blogs and talkshows. That he made respected documentaries on the Holocaust added intellectual cachet and Jewish support to Stein’s cocktail of politics, irreverence and rock and roll.
There was just one problem. Stein was not who he claimed. His real name can be revealed for the first time publicly – a close circle of confidants only found out the truth recently – as David Cole. And under that name he was once a reviled Holocaust revisionist who questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers. He changed identities in January 1998.
“That was when David Cole officially expired,” he told the Guardian in an interview this week. “That was the end of Cole. Or so I thought. That was when David Stein was brought into this world.
For 15 years I have been David Stein. Now the genie is out of the bottle. I’m done. I’m finished. I’m not going to try to remain as David Stein.
Cole’s brazen reinvention as a social networker and political pundit deceived a roll-call of conservative politicians, filmmakers, journalists and broadcasters who had no clue about his past. A falling out with a friend led to his unmasking in his social circle two weeks ago, when a group of former supporters was shown YouTube clips of Cole’s incendiary – and until then forgotten – television appearances in the early 1990s.
As a combative twentysomething with tousled black hair, he was a vilified guest on chat shows hosted by Phil Donahue, Montel Williams and Morton Downey, among others, and was depicted as a neo-Nazi on news shows such as 60 Minutes and 48 Hours.
“My friends are horrified,” said Cole, now aged 44 and with greying hair. “They rang and emailed to ask if it really was me. The Hollywood types are the ones hurting the most right now because they could be harmed by this. I’m feeling a certain amount of guilt.”
The unmasking shocked and angered the small, tight-knit community of Hollywood conservatives, setting their Facebook groups ablaze and prompting emergency meetings.
Some of Stein/Cole’s erstwhile friends are media figures with blogs, newspaper columns and syndicated radio shows. They put a lid on the story. Not a word has been published or broadcast. “When people found out it was, ‘Oh my God, get the fuck away from him.’ There was debate about whether everyone would look guilty by association,” said one entertainment industry artist, a member of Republican Party Animals, who requested anonymity. “The reason we were all so pissed at him is it plays into every horrible stereotype about the right.”
Cole, and the half-dozen former friends and acquaintances interviewed for this article, stress that no one suspected his secret and that no one should be tarred with his views.
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