David Carradine's "suicide" called into question


Carradine's death by strangulation last week is proving to be anything but an open and shut case.

It's not a laughing matter.

Well, not in polite company anyway. Which, admittedly, we're not. But we are definitely hiding any morbid chortling behind our hand.

More information is leaking by the hour about Carradine's untimely death. Yes, the cause of death was strangulation. No, signs of struggle haven't been discovered. And yes, Carradine was found with a nylon rope around his you-know-what.

The truth is yet to be known. But this seems like an appropriate time for Gimme Noise to offer a quick compendium of notable figures who died in the course of auto-erotic asphyxiation (a dangerous, ill-advised sexual practice that deprives the brain of oxygen during a sex act). Oddly, some sources are alleging that "foul play" was certainly involved-- whether this reflects a belief that Carradine was murdered, or just an inherent Bangkok prejudice against self-strangulation for sexual release, is unknown.

Call it a cautionary tale, or just a morbid attempt to satisfy our curiosity. If the facts bear out that Carradine was in fact engaged in lethal self-bondage, he'll be keeping some fairly prestigious company.

Frantisek Kotzwara, 1791-- The virtuoso double-bassist and composer is the first recorded case of death by auto-erotic asphyxiation. After a prostitute refused to castrate him, he strangled himself with a rope affixed to a doorknob while engaged in intercourse with her that left him dead.

Albert Dekker, 1968-- The stage and screen actor was found strangled in his home bathtub, his body vandalized by sexually graphic words written in red lipstick. Though there was some evidence of an unforced entry and subsequent burglary, the coroner ruled the death accidental, a result of auto-erotic asphyxiation.

Michael Hutchence, 1997-- The defacto mascot of lethal auto-erotic asphyxiation, despite this never being officially ruled as his cause of the death. The INXS frontman was originally presumed to have committed suicide, but the lack of a note and the fact that he was found nude caused investigators to speculate that in fact Hutchence had died as a result of self-bondage.

Carradine's body is being given over to U.S. authorities, and autopsy reports will not be available for four to five weeks.