David Lasher: From Sergeant to Lovey
“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”
Every time Air Force One lifts off from Andrews Air Force Base, a team of avionics experts works quietly behind the scenes to ensure that the renowned 747 arrives unerringly at its destination. In the mid ‘80s, the man supervising this squadron of skilled technicians was none other than Senior Master Sergeant David Lasher, now retired and a full-time resident of Rehoboth Beach.
David joined the U.S. Air Force right out of high school. As part of the enlistment process, he was given a test that suggested he would excel in electronics. Not even remotely technical, he admits to this day that he has no clue as to how (or why) that happened, but in spite of it all he successfully completed the training required to become an autopilot specialist.
After a tour of duty in Vietnam, he settled down and married, becoming father to two sons. David escaped from the stresses and regulation of military life by engaging in the theatre arts, particularly acting and costuming. Some of his fondest memories include Halloween nights when he constructed intricate costumes for himself and his sons—transforming himself into Dracula with his two boys as mini-Draculas. David says that the reflection and skill that went into creating these illusions energized him and made day-to-day life in the service more bearable.
The highly mechanical world of avionics was, in his words, “not a comfortable fit.” His people skills did serve him well, however, when he was eventually promoted to supervisor; responsible for the safe flight and navigation of the twin 747s that are the president’s private jets. Lasher and his crew checked and double-checked systems long before the planes took off, and remained long after they landed, making adjustments and “putting them to bed.” David tells the story about how his fellow technicians were convinced that he was actually a CIA plant—put there to spy on them—because, in his words, he was “terrible with tools, but could type 60 words per minute.”
As part of his retirement (finally liberated from all the mechanical thingamajigs to which he just didn’t relate), he took another test that verified what he had known all along: He was, indeed, a “people person.” He enrolled in school and received his B.A. in psychology and his Masters in counseling, spending the next ten years working in the Virginia school system as a professional counselor.
David and his wife divorced after twenty years of marriage, and in 1994, Lasher’s enjoyment of country/western two-step led him to what would be a very special Memorial Day tea dance. That’s where he met first-grade teacher Larry Pennington. David’s affection for Larry, combined with his flair for poetry, inspired him to compose these words to the man who was to become his life partner:
Once in a Blue Moon there comes a special love,
Once in a Blue Moon prayers are answered from above.
Someone at the garden makes your paradise anew.
This once…the Man in the Blue Moon was you.
Now we double every moment holding hands.
Stealing kisses by the cars or on the ocean sands.
Someone to talk with and to walk with for a mile,
Serendipity like this only comes once in a while.
Pamala Stanley (noted diva and performer at Rehoboth’s Blue Moon) set David’s poem to music, and plans to include “The Man in the Blue Moon Was You” on her next album. The song has been so well received that she and David are now collaborating on a new musical featuring David’s lyrics and Pamala’s melodies.
David and Larry’s relationship grew stronger over the next ten years. In 2004, at a social event in Toronto, both men seized the moment (and Toronto’s enlightened attitude toward marriage) to commit themselves to one another forever. A year later, both David and Larry retired from the school system and made Rehoboth Beach their permanent home.
Lasher’s flair for illusion was further sparked by award-winning female impersonator (and singer in his own right) Christopher Peterson. David was captivated when Peterson stepped onto the stage as a totally convincing Marilyn Monroe, and then, with the mere flip of a wig, morphed into Carol Channing. Since that night, David has made his mark in Rehoboth by appearing at parties and other functions “in character”—from Lovey Howell (escorted by Larry as Thurston Howell from Gilligan’s Island), to Hillary Clinton (with Larry as “Billary,” of course), from Marlene Dietrich to Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. “This is not ‘drag,’” he explains. “It’s a special genre of performance art. I’m an illusionist, appearing in the background as a distinct personality or character.” Many of these personalities and characters are pictured in his new book, Carrie & Friends, available at Proud Bookstore and Spahr.
Avionics technician, poet, Air Force squadron supervisor, performance artist, school counselor, musician and illusionist! Throughout his life, David Lasher has moved seamlessly from one to the other. Here in Rehoboth Beach, he brings imagination and humor wherever he goes.
Bob Yesbek is a Rehoboth Beach resident. Email Bob@RehobothFoodie.com.