ZUMA BEACH, Calif. - It was perhaps an odd setting, in 2009, to hold a memorial ceremony for one of the adult industry's most famous legends, but it was also Marilyn Chambers' favorite place.
"We used to bring our dogs here all the time," noted McKenna Taylor, Marilyn's daughter, "and they'd go chasing around all over - they just loved it."
In all, more than 100 of Marilyn Chambers' friends and fans joined McKenna and her cousin Jamie Briggs this afternoon next to Lifeguard Tower #9 to give the star the type of send-off that she would have enjoyed, and many who knew her told some of their memories of the actress to the eagerly attentive crowd.
"We have people here who knew her way back in Westport, Connecticut, who grew up with her, knew her as an athlete, as a junior Olympic diver, as a great gymnast," noted Darcy McGinn, husband to Marilyn's closest friend, Peggy. "I've heard stories about how she could handspring all the way across the road. She was a cheerleader. She was a model. Her first movie was with Barbara Streisand, The Owl and the Pussycat... Then she comes across to the west coast and becomes a trailblazer in the adult industry."
"This is our second service," explained Peggy McGinn. "The first was on Sunday, and I think we had about 150 people, and it lasted for 10 hours... We had a wonderful day, it was phenomenal. She was my best friend. Every night at 8:30, I still think she's gonna call; sometimes to bug me and sometimes fight, and I don't know - it just hurts so bad."
Then, turning to McKenna, she admonished, "You have to call me every night at 8:30 so I know where you are."
"I've never seen one of her films," Peggy admitted, "though I've represented her for the last 10 years, and one of the jokes she used to tell people when traveling was that I've never seen her with her legs spread, but she has seen me twice with mine, when both my children were born... She was a truly dignified, wonderful, loyal friend."
Also on hand were long-time adult industry members Bill Margold and Veronica Hart. Margold spoke of the "broast" he arranged for Marilyn in 2005, where the surprise guest was her first co-star, Johnnie Keyes.
"When he entered the screen in 1972, he basically ripped American morality asunder when he took Marilyn Chambers on," Margold explained, recalling the main interracial scene from Behind the Green Door. "Our industry was never the same, and it was born that day in the O'Farrell Theater in San Francisco in August of '72."
Margold also spoke of the "Legends of Porn" playing cards he one day hoped to have printed, with Marilyn as the ace of spades and John Holmes as the king of hearts.
"Together they will reign over the carnal cinematic court they so magnificently and monumentally helped to create forever," Margold envisioned.
Besides reading excerpts from the remembrance he wrote for the latest edition of the L.A. Xpress, Margold also produced a statement from Marilyn's former co-star Serena, who wrote, "Marilyn was a light from her childhood, as a soft and innocent ideal to her grown-up hot ravenous icon."
"The greatest noise you can make for Marilyn is applause," Margold concluded, "because that's what we do it for, to be appreciated by the anonymous fans out there because without the fans and the family of X, we don't exist. Now the queen is gone, but she'll live forever."
"What a legend Marilyn was, an icon for our generation," Hart echoed. "The public Marilyn stood for so many things: For the First Amendment, for free speech, for sexual expression. What a huge thing that is!"
"We all knew about Marilyn," she continued. "She was that beautiful mommy on the Ivory Snow box, and then she got to show us how you actually become a mommy. That's why I remember Ivory Snow: Because of Marilyn."
Speaking of her first meeting with Marilyn on the set in New York City in the early 1980s, Hart gushed, "She was all I could ever hope to be... She was always so kind to me, very gracious and quite wonderful, but it really wasn't until she came out of her retirement from the adult business that I got to know her even better."
Of course, it was Hart who directed Marilyn's three comeback films for VCA Pictures, starting in 1998, which Hart noted that Marilyn only did in order to provide for her daughter's education.
"She was an amazing actress," Hart said. "I'm convinced that no matter what, no matter where her path would have chosen her to go, she would have become a famous actress. She just had that something about her. She had that charisma. She could turn it on in front of the camera and you had to watch her."
Also on hand was porn icon Georgina Spelvin, who earlier remarked that with Marilyn gone, she was now "the last survivor of the Big Three," referring to Marilyn, Linda Lovelace and herself, the star of the original The Devil In Miss Jones.
"Someone came up to me and handed me the greatest honor I've had in my life," Spelvin quipped. "He said, 'Are you Marilyn's mother?' Close but not quite."
Spelvin thanked Hart for giving her the chance to be an extra in Marilyn's first comeback film, Still Insatiable.
The other major figure from Marilyn's past who appeared at the memorial was Liberty Mitchell, daughter of the late Artie Mitchell, co-owner of the O'Farrell Theater and the Mitchell Brothers Film Group.
"I think I'm probably one of the few in this crowd who can say that Marilyn Chambers was my babysitter," she began.
"The last time I saw Marilyn at my father's funeral in 1991, enormously pregnant with McKenna," she continued. "She waddled her way up to the podium to speak, huffing and puffing, and nobody knew who she was, and she said, 'Hi, I'm Marilyn Chambers,' and collectively, 300 people sat up in their chairs, and she said, 'I would love it if I could go into labor right now.' We all almost died laughing, because he [Artie] would have loved that."
But then Mitchell got serious.
"McKenna and I share a peculiar bond, as our parents were inextricably altered when they joined forces to create Behind the Green Door," she stated. "They gave her a new surname; she gave them Ivory Snow, and never could they have anticipated at the outset the impact that film would have upon the world and ultimately their personal lives."
Also on hand were Mara Epstein, who ran Marilyn's fan club at Miracle Pictures, and Greg Blatman, director of Porndogs, Marilyn's last movie project, but neither spoke.
Although there had originally been plans to scatter Marilyn's ashes into the ocean during the ceremony, that proved not to be possible, but Marilyn's cousin Jamie Briggs had an even better idea.
"Marilyn started the tradition in our family," she told the crowd, "that when her father died, she brought some ashes to Rhode Island to the family plot and planted them between our grandparents, and McKenna and I are going to do just that with her ashes this summer."
The ceremony lasted just under an hour, under an overcast sky that somehow suited the occasion perfectly, and when it was over, most of the attendees stayed and chatted with each other for a while. Many of McKenna's schoolmates had come, mainly, according to Peggy McGinn, to help keep McKenna's spirits up.
"She's just 17," McGinn said, "and has all the behaviors that go with that. One moment she'll be laughing and talking, and the next she'll be crying to the heavens for her mother."
(Pictured: Veronica Hart)
A gallery of photos from the event can be found here .