Almost everyone has heard of the idea, theory, movie or play entitled Six Degrees of Separation, in fact, there are numerous writeups here at E2. If you saw the play or movie, you'll recall it was based on a true story about, in essence, a young black con man. No, you don't have to be black to be a con artist but this one was and his real name was David Hampton. I say was because Mr. Hampton recently passed away at the ripe old age of 39 at an Aids shelter in New York City.
Twenty years ago, David Hampton, pretending to be Sidney Poitier's son and a victim of a mugging which left him financially embarrassed, conned some of the city's finest and wealthiest and ended up with some temporary shelter ( in a condo), a little cash and a whole lot of ego pumping satisfaction. It also led to more permanent shelter in the form of 21 months of incarceration for his deceit, which became formally known as "attempted burglary." Things really never got much better.
Having always sought the good life and never able to quite attain it, David Hampton tried over and over to scam his way in. Always using aliases, Hampton played on the gay bar scene and with his celebrity good looks, charm, and bullshit succeeded in scamming his way into the high life, at least temporarily, now and then. But the law didn't look kindly on Hampton's way of climbing the social ladder and more often than not, his shelter for the night was behind bars for various offences ranging from credit-card theft to
Hampton was born in Buffalo in 1964, but little is known of his early years. Star struck, he left Buffalo because no one lived there "who was glamorous or fabulous or outrageously talented". It seemed his performances began innocently enough when in 1983, he and a friend were attempting to gain entrance to Studio 54. His friend had the "brilliant idea" to pose as the son of Gregory Peck and Hampton decided to do the same as the son of Poitier. It worked. So successful it was that Hampton couldn't stop, often posing as David Poitier just to gain access to restaurants, later explaining that "Dad must have been detained on business." After pulling the infamous "six degrees" con, Hampton was forcibly evicted from his temporary living quarters when the owners, an editor of Newsweek and his wife, found Hampton in bed with a male friend he had "smuggled" into their home. When John Guare wrote the play that became the movie, Hampton seethed at the fact that others were profiting from his "performance" and sued Mr. Guare for $100 million and lost.
His last scam occurred during a date with a previously innocent male admirer who was invited to attend a post 9/11 party of sorts with Mr. Hampton; there was only one small problem. Hampton needed his date to "front" him a grand so he could pick up the tickets and the date promptly complied. At a restaurant on the way to the party, the two enjoyed some $23 shots of rare scotch while Hampton "performed", all the while making his companion more comfortable by the second. After running up an exorbitant pre-party dinner bill, Hampton excused himself to go to the bathroom; you guessed it, never to return. Charges were filed and Hampton was identified as the perpetrator. But the date was still highly impressed, surmising, "It was one of the best dates that I ever went on." David Hampton is somewhere in purgatory now, trying to convince dubious landlords of his better than average intentions. Rest in Peace.