Savyon “Ben” Zabar, former Escuelita manager, was found strangled in his apartment on New York’s Upper West Side.
Israeli-born Savyon Zabar, who many knew as “Big Ben,” managed the now shuttered Escuelita gay latin club. His roommate found the 54-year old’s body on a bed without any signs of life in their fourth-floor apartment on W 81st and Amsterdam.
Ben was alone in his bedroom with a 22-year old African American escort who had previously served time in jail, a confidential source told OutBuzz. The two had previously met at a casino. When the young man left the room he claimed that Ben tried to rape him.
According to police he died from strangulation and heavy internal bleeding. Police are treating his death as a homicide. Friends and the gay community in NYC are shocked by the murder.
Ben’s neighbor, Vinnie de Angelis, 61, who has lived in the building since 1976 told the NY Daily News, “He had a whole posse of handsome young guys, mostly Latinos,” he said. “Really handsome guys, well built. Lots of tattoos. They were crashing there [in Zabar’s apartment].”
Other people took to Facebook to share memories and express condolences.
Huffington Post contributor Omar Sherif Valdez wrote on his blog:
Savyon Zabar taught me the true meaning of loyalty, friendship, and how to get what I want. He taught me to never give up and always put up a good fight; how to smell bullshit from a mile away and that my gut instinct will never fail me. Most importantly, he taught me to always be grateful.
Zabar was a bold faced name in the NYC nightlife world and was active in gay rights causes.