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When it comes to Marilyn Chambers, I really have a hard time finding a place to begin. Only now have I sufficiently been able to get my thoughts together to write anything.
We talked often, and certainly on holidays. When I didn’t hear from her on Easter Sunday, I decided to call her after I got home from a family gathering. Alas, I fell asleep, so that call was going to have to be made on Monday.
Obviously, we never got there.
I am feeling such a tremendous sense of personal loss that it is hard to describe. Marilyn and I had, at one time or another, a relationship on several different levels, but one constant was that she always remained a good friend and confidant; about as close to me as anyone outside of my own family. That is because I knew the human being much better than I knew the celebrity; the pop culture icon.
Marilyn had done many favors for me over the years. One of them was agreeing to be my running mate on the 2004 ticket for the fledgling Personal Choice Party. My request came out of the blue, but even though she was not particularly inclined to run for office, she accepted without very much hesitation at all. Again in 2008, when I wanted to include her as a write-in running mate in Utah and a couple of other states, she was all too willing to oblige. I did it partly for sizzle, but partly for substance as well. As I’ve told reporters who have inquired, Marilyn was one of the people who was really on the front lines when it came to the free speech issue, not only by virtue of her early pioneer status in adult film but also pro-actively, as she supported organizations like the Free Speech Coalition. In that way she offered a kind of legitimacy that is not found every day in a political candidate.
It went beyond that, however. What a lot of people don’t know about Marilyn is that she was a staunch advocate of the Second Amendment, and once owned a gun shop in Las Vegas with her ex-husband, Chuck Traynor. She was also fiercely devoted to animal rights; in fact, there were periods in her life when she said she spent almost all of her time with Animal Rescue, taking unwanted and abused animals and finding homes for them. That continued in one way or another till the end. The last time I actually saw her, as she was in Chicago wrapping up a movie, she talked about one abused and abandoned dog in her area for which there was an all-out search going on. After she got back to L.A., she eventually found the animal, and a home for it.
There are a lot of other things that are not widely known, both in her personal and professional life. She had great and loyal friends all over the country. She was a loving mom. She looked out for her neighbors. She was a standout athlete in high school, and a straight-A student in junior college (I’ve seen the transcript). She’s received the key to the city in both San Francisco and Las Vegas. She had a single on the Billboard Top 100 charts. She has been the star of the first film produced by Wes Craven and one of the first features directed by David Cronenberg (beating Sissy Spacek out for the role). Her first adult feature was also the first – and to my knowledge, the last – adult film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival.
Some of those in the media and throughout the pop culture landscape may have objectified and/or trivialized her, but what is not widely reported is what a warm heart she had, always ready to offer her help or time. She’s flown all the way from L.A. to Fort Lauderdale to help organize a birthday party for me. She’s walked all over Beverly Hills with me when I was looking for an apartment. She did countless radio shows with me. She’s read commercials for my sponsors on the air. She did anything I asked her to do with the campaign, and many things where I didn’t need to ask. It goes on and on.
There was one instance when an individual had promised to send my seven-year-old niece some seashells from the beach in California but reneged. My niece was crushed, but when Marilyn heard about it she drove from her home in the Santa Clarita Valley down to Malibu – which is quite a haul – gathered up some shells, cleaned them off, and sent them to my elated niece, along with a beautiful note attached. This is the side of her most people didn’t get to see.
I wouldn’t classify her as a reluctant celebrity; indeed, she enjoyed being in public, making appearances, signing autographs, and was as gracious with her fans as anyone I have ever seen. At the same time, she also very much wanted to be just Marilyn Taylor. She wanted to live a normal life, with a normal occupation. In fact, she was doing quite well as a sales executive for a large auto dealership in Van Nuys, and was actually talking about selling me an Audi in one of our last conversations.
She was a dear friend, and I am going to miss her greatly. For those of you who have gotten in contact over the last couple of days, I am incredibly appreciative. And it goes without saying that I send out my heartfelt condolences to McKenna and the rest of Marilyn’s family.
I would like to do something in Marilyn’s memory, but I’m not sure what. I still have a bunch of buttons left over from our 2004 campaign, and was thinking of selling them through eBay and donating the proceeds to a cause she believed in, perhaps Animal Rescue or the Free Speech Coalition. If anybody has some ideas or thoughts along these lines, please let me know.
And when I see her in the next life, I’ll be sure to tell her all about it.
2004-2008 Presidential Candidate – Personal Choice Party
2008 Presidential Candidate, Boston Tea Party
Friend of Marilyn