WEST HILLS, Calif. - Dozens of close friends of the late Dick Miller gathered at a private residence in the San Fernando Valley on Saturday night to celebrate his life.
The AVN Hall of Fame director/producer's career in adult spanned over four decades, and he left lasting impressions on people wherever he went. Those who knew him best remembered countless great times on Saturday as the sounds of two of Miller's favorite musicians, Johnny Cash and Bruce Springsteen, played softly on the outdoor patio.
"I had known Dick since 1969, he was like a brother to me," said Ralph Lodder, who then motioned to his son Patrick who was born in 1970 and once shared a room with Miller. "... Dick always told me he wouldn't grow old."
The elder Lodder wore a brown and yellow Mister Mustard Productions t-shirt paying homage to one of Miller's first production companies in which they partnered. On the back of the t-shirt, it read "I had a friend named Dick."
Miller passed away in Westwood, Calif., on June 28 on the eve of his 63rd birthday in an apparent suicide. He recently had grappled with professional setbacks as well as an escalation of the effects of Myasthenia Gravis, a neuro-muscular disease that he suffered with for several years.
Evil Angel general manager Christian Mann became friends with Miller in 1982.
"As far as the industry is concerned, Dick's influence on the players of the adult entertainment industry spans decades. There are guys here that he did business with from the 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond," Mann said. "The thing about Dick is he was such a social guy. He was a guy who instantly formed a strong relationship with people within days of knowing him. He loved you like a best friend. Accordingly, there is a wonderfully diverse group of people here, some from the industry and some non-industry."
Mann continued, "To know Dick was to have fun with Dick. All who knew Dick also had fun with Dick. So we're celebrating a little bit of Dick-story here."
Many in the crowd recalled their favorite "Dick-isms" that have stayed with them through the years such as, "You can't tell a man about his heart," which was one that resonated with Mann.
Photographer Don Mantooth said Miller used to always say, "'I don't live to work. I work to live,' and he meant it. That was Dick."
"Logic is a joke in the face of emotion," was one that Mark Stone, the veteran producer/director and lead guitarist for the AVN Awards Show band recalled.
Stone even brought one of his guitars to the party just in case the moment called for some live acoustics.
"I know the exact Elvis Presley set that Dick would want me to play," Stone said with a smile.
Miller's adventurous spirit was evident in some of the personal photos that were displayed on Saturday. He spent much of the past decade in Prague, Czech Republic, where he produced and directed movies that were distributed by several top manufacturers including Wicked Pictures. Miller also founded Blue Lights View, a gay video label distributed by Pulse Distribution. He was best known as the founder of Island Home Video which later became Intropics Video, after which he acquired Soho Video. He directed under the named Richard Mailer, and was born Richard Mills.
"He wanted to live life," Mann said. "He had an appreciation for the arts, for classic literature. Many people didn't know how literate he was, how old school. He also had an appreciation for classical music."
Mann said he found it interesting that the last book Miller was reading was "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac.
"It wasn't the title that was as revealing as it was that he was reading something classic," Mann remarked.
As the sun began to disappear behind the mountains on Saturday, AVN founder Paul Fishbein asked for the group's attention.
"I think Dick would've approved of this," Fishbein said as Miller's friends formed a semi-circle around the pool deck. "I've imagined myself sitting with him and asking, ‘What do you want?' I wish we would've thought of doing this for him when he was around.
"... I keep waiting for him to come up behind me and pinch me on the shoulder and say, ‘Hey pal, just kidding.'"
Fishbein went on to say that during his numerous conversations in recent weeks that something Miller's dear friend Michael Pulwer said about him seemed most fitting for this night.
"I'm trying to think of how to summarize what Dick meant, he was so well loved," Fishbein said, "and Mike said one line to me that encapsulated it perfectly. He said, ‘Some of the greatest times of my life were spent with Dick.' That's it.
"If he only knew what people thought of him, how many people loved him like a brother, maybe he would've made a different decision." Miller was staying at Pulwer's home when he died.
Barry Marks, who was Miller's partner in Intropics, followed Fishbein's remarks.
"I knew Dick for over 30 years. I loved him with all my heart. He was a super guy. He loved me. He was goodhearted. If you needed anything, he'd give you the shirt off his back," Marks said.
K-Beech Video owner Kevin Beechum remembered meeting Miller during his first days in the business. Miller had been at Beechum's home a week before his passing.
"Dick was one of my best friends for 25 years," Beechum said, adding that he and Miller had numerous memorable experiences together.
AVN Hall of Fame performer Amber Lynn became Miller's girlfriend soon after she entered the business when she was 18.
"We lived together for a while. We were really in love," Lynn recalled fondly.
Lynn said she arrived late to the party Saturday because of her emotions surrounding it. "Tonight I just couldn't get out of my own way coming here," she said with tears in her eyes. "I'm just so angry that we lose the good people. It's just hard to swallow."
Lynn remembered her last conversation with Miller, just a few days before his death.
"Paul put me on the phone with him, and I said, ‘How are you doing baby?' He told me, ‘I still love you kid. He was kidding with me like always," Lynn said. "I was driving home from the Valley and I said take my number down. He said, ‘I'm not doing so well,' which was kind of odd to hear him say that. I thought he'd call me in a couple days and we'd go have dinner. He never called me. I remember thinking about it. I was thinking it's been three days and he hasn't called. I thought I'm going to call Paul and ask for his number."
Lynn said she and Miller remained close after they dated.
"We always supported each other," she said. "Dick was someone I would turn to when I was depressed, after a bad break-up or something. I was very young when I was with him.
"It was so unbelievable. He was so special. It was so unbelievable to me that someone like Dick would do that. ... We just have to try to be as good to each other as we can."