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He was the closest thing Washington’s goths had to a bon vivant. Dirk Smiler, a flamboyant sommelier known for his joie de vivre in a scene most acknowledge for its joie de mort, is dead of a gunshot wound to the head, Fairfax police have confirmed. He was 37.
The incident occurred last night around 10:30 p.m. in Smiler’s Annandale home, according to police. Officer Bud Walker from the Fairfax County Police Department’s Public Information Office confirmed that police questioned—-and are continuing to question—-occupants of the home. Smiler lived with his girlfriend, Cara Cottle, with whom he had broken up with earlier in the day, according to Smiler’s friend Skot Braunfeld, and made up with in the hours before his death. Police are still deciding whether to rule the incident a homicide or an accidental death. Walker said no one has been arrested.
Smiler, who worked at the restaurant Bezu in Potomac, “could quote Shakespeare like he could take a puff of a cigarette,” Braunfeld said. He was known for his extravagant lifestyle and foppish style. “If you can stratify something as nebulous as the goth scene on a popularity scale, everybody knew him,” said Braunfeld, who is updating a tribute page to Smiler and helping organize memorial arrangements. “All the guys knew him and all the girls had been hit on by him at least once.” A Facebook memorial to Smiler has elicited dozens of comments. Cottle’s Facebook page has been taken down.
Friends since their late teens, Braunfeld and Smiler shared a birthday—-this coming Sunday, Feb. 21—-which Braunfeld said would now serve as Smiler’s wake. Braunfeld said he was glad to speak to a reporter about his friend. “He was definitely a prima donna, so he would have loved to have somebody write about him.”
Above: Smiler’s Facebook photo. On the right is Cottle.