My very dear friend Paul Mulder passed away this morning.

Paul is dead.

I still can’t believe it, though I was not surprised when Dave called me today to give me the news. Funny, I was planning on stopping to see him on my way back from San Francisco next week. I wrote about Paul and his battle with full blown AIDS a few weeks back-the link is here:

It’s a cold, grey sunday in LA. It’s March in the year 2001. I just landed a job, and it looks like I’ll be able to stay in LA and make a go of it after all. George W Bush is in his second month in office. I’m in line at the Faultline, waiting to get into the Sunday beer bust. He’s standing there behind me. I’m immediately drawn to him- his tall, lanky frame, his imposing presence. But most of all – and I can still see it in my mind’s eye to this moment- I ‘m drawn to his sparkle, in his face, upturned to the sky as he smiles, welcoming the first drops of a March rain. 

It’s September 14th, 2001. Fuck the news, fuck the terrorists, Paul still goes on with the annual “gay camp” at his house with the huge backyard out in Sylmar. “Camp itchy crochy” has been a LA bear tradition for years, and many, many guys, still shell shocked from the week’s events, show up to forget the fear for that night at least. Paul has gotten me to bring my 16mm projector and some old 1960’ TV shows that i had collected syndication prints of. Paul introduces me to many people that will soon become close friends.

It’s August, 2003. San Diego -or rather, the home sex party in El Cajon that we’ve all come down to …  attend. Paul, Dave,Ned, Patrick, and I are there. Someone produces several tablets of that relatively new drug, Viagra. We all pop one. Paul says “Great! Now we can all be Superman.”

It’s sometime in 2004. I’m waiting at the Cinerama Dome on Sunset Blvd for Paul to show up. We’re both meeting up there to see a showing of “How the West Was Won”, to be exhibited in it’s actual Cinerama format. As I’m waiting for Paul to show up, This guy who looks just like Steven Spielberg walks up to the box office with this young kid. My God. It IS Steven Spielberg. He’s here to see the film, too. Paul shows, we go into the theatre, take our seats, and Mr Spielberg is seated right behind us. Like RIGHT behind us. At the intermission, we are so amazed and stoked by the indescribable movie experience that is Cinerama. Believe me-IMAX has got Nothing on Cinerama. picture 3 imax screens blended together. Get it? That’s Cinerama. ruinously expensive. That’s why only 3 theatres on earth can still exhibit Cinerama films. Both Paul and I spend the entire 20 minute intermission in a huddle with Speilberg and we’re all exitedly gushing about the experience. Spielberg hasn’t sexperienced it since he was a kid and it’s an excitiing moment for him that he is eager to share with us. Nobody around us recognises Speilberg. we talk and talk.Paul and Speilberg get into shop talk. Paul was a special effects and prop builder.

It’s 2006. In the last two years, Paul has nose dived. We think that sometime around 2004, he found he was positive. He never told us, but circumstances lead us to believe that it sent him into a meth fuled nose dive. In two years, he lost his home, his job, his friends. He stole, he ranted and raved at everyone in public. I had never seen or dealt with such a rapid change in someone. We tried intervention. It didnt work. One night, Dave and I went out to Symar after Paul had threatened Suicide. He wasnt there.Just some meth phantoms who were by that time camped out in his home. I behaved and responded abominably. I walked away from him. I couldnt help him , he didnt want help. He was screaming for help. I saw him at the eagle one Saturday night. The place was packed. Paul showed up. I ignored him. He confronted me, and in front of 300 dumbstruck men, he screamed bloody murder at me and spat full into my face.

It’s 2007, late December. Paul is so much improved. He’s dealing with his meth addiction and getting his life back together. We bury the hatchet.Water under the bridge. I tell him I love him too much to hold a silly grudge.

It’s summer 2008 and Paul has full blown AIDS. In fact, Dave learns that He’s in an ICU near Bakersfield. We drive down there to see him. He tells us he’s not ready to go yet. I leave feeling that maybe he’ll rally this. I know in my heart that the end is near.

It’s this morning, September 23 in the year 2008. I’m in Downtown Los Angeles at the Civic Center. My cwell phone rings. It’s Dave. Paul is dead.

How odd it is to be crying uncontrollably in Civic Center plaza, and all the way home on the subway.


Charlie (left) Paul, And Greg

clockwise, from bottom: Jim (in sling) Andy, Me, Sam (at top) Dave and Paul (in the blue glasses) ~2003

Tom, Ned (in overalls), Me, Sam, Jim, and Paul ~ 2003


23 responses to “Paul

  1. I am very sorry for your loss. Nothing I can say will make it any better. He died knowing he was loved. I can think of no greater reward in life.

    You are in my thoughts big guy.

    *bear hug*

  2. I am so sorry to hear of Pauls death buddy. I truly am. Thinking of you at this time *hugs*

  3. So sorry to hear of your loss.

  4. Be grateful to yourself that you forgave him and made up with him. Be thankful that you went up to see him, as both are acts of love.

    I hope your kindnesses to him bring you comfort in this time of loss and sorrow.

  5. My deepest sympathy to you, and Pauls other friends and family.


  6. You know how to get a hold of me if you need to talk or just cry.

  7. I am saddened by the loss of a friend, Paul was one of those rare people who make you feel special. I feel fortunate to have known him.
    Thanks you for the write up and pictures, it brings back memories of his best of times. He will live fondly in those memories.
    My sympathies.

  8. I don’t know why, but it took 2 days for it to hit me hard. I called his still-working cell phone and heard his voice. I came home and deleted his info from my Palm. I hit the delete button and proceeded to ball my eyes out for a good half-an-hour. I miss him.

  9. Louis and Randy, you both knew Paul better and longer than I. My sympathies to you both.

  10. I hate this for you. I hate feeling powerless to make this less painful. Even so, I really don’t care to write the “appropriate” things, even if I could conjure them up. This sucks, is all. I hate this for you. I just hate this.

    That is some fine writing, friend.

  11. I, like Paul, are Imagineers. We have been friends for 10 years. He and Alan McFarland taught me more after I left Disney. I was called back to Imagineering while He was recovering
    out of ICU. I got the call as well. I was at work on the 23rd and a voice said…Paul has passed away. Disney sent me home. Paul was not only my friend yet more so a mentor. Ignoring Paul at the time He was ALIVE was a mistake. He needed friends that would listen at that time.

    There is a celebration Of Life for Paul Mulder at The Magic Castle on Sunday 10-12-09 from 3pm to 5:30 pm.

    7001 Franklin Bld. Hollywood ,Ca .90028

  12. Vince Sturdyvin

    I have spent the last two years living with Paul and loving him unconditionally as he did me. I know Paul had a hard time mending his broken heart after a ten year relationship ended. Yet some how he did

    Paul strived to leave his magnanimous mark on this world and he most certainly did in many places including my heart. I love Paul, truly, madly and deeply. The ache inside me is bigger than the grand canyon and deeper than any ocean. I have to pray to God every day for the strenght and courage to take even the smallest breath and continue on with out him.

    I ca’t stop crying. He was the best friend I have ever had.

    Pauls family and I welcome his freinds to join us in a celebration of his life on Sunday October 12, 2008 at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. A place Paul loved very much and will forever be a part of.


  13. Paual disliked being ignored. He was somehow more sensative than others. Vince was there for
    Paul and helped him during his best and worst moments. We are all in this moment now. Please
    stop telling us how terrible you were to Paul and his alledged use of substances…He is no longer here to defend himself. “A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed.”

  14. The fact here is that Rich looked down on paul because Rich was in a click! Rich…You laid out Paul’s grave. Remark all you want on Him and you posting about alledged drug use has hindered my efforts at Disney to spread the word of His memorial. They deny his Imagineer status….thanks to you

  15. I was introduced to Paul while working at the Bar. Paul and I became good friends. At the time I seemed to be Paul’s only friend. Paul had his problems like all of us. It was sad to see someone with so much love have no one to share it with. I learned a lot from him, I learned how to unconditionally love someone even when they turn their back on you. I learned that friendship is based on peoples’ actions and not what they say. It was a sad day in my world when I found out of his passing. I saw him a few weeks before his passing and he actually looked great. Paul I miss you and love you. As in the song “What Sarah Said,” ‘Love is watching someone die.’ I’m sorry Paul, I wasn’t there.

  16. I just was going through some things and I came across some papers of the Time Square Ball that I had printed out. Paul had me working for him for a while because he knew of my background in art and geometry. This was before Google made everything so easy to find. Paul had assigned me to find the dimensions of the ball and scale them down so we could build a miniature of it. It never got built but Paul and I had a really great time working on the project.

  17. Wow, Red! I remember when he was working on that project. Wasn’t it for some sort of huge manhattan miniature being built in Japan? I remember hanging out at his shop in Sylmar, sitting on a stool in his workshop, and we’d talk and talk.I still can’t believe that he’s gone.

  18. Treat people as you would like be treated. forgive those who wrong you. Grudges last longer than a human life. Paul said volumes on
    His perseption of life

  19. I’ve known Paul since 1982, when we met at CSUN… he was the secretary of the Gay students union there…
    we had many adventures over the years, good times and bad…
    He had been my best friend.. my friend who I’ve know the longest in my life… all the rest have all gone.. Paul and I went thru so much of that pain together…
    I have been HIV+ since 1989… he watched me almost die.. he visited me in San Francisco in 1996 when the doctors didn’t think I was going to make it.. his love helped me to keep going…
    I too, went thru my struggle with sobriety when he was going thru his meth addiction… I was as supportive as I could be, as a friend… he knew that and I told him he could always have an open door with me… and that I would always be there if he needed someone…
    our relationship at times was sporadic… we would see alot of each other, then drift off or do other, things for a bit, then a phone call, catching up and spending time together again.. I lived with him in the early 90s for a couple of years… he helped me a great deal.. he was always someone I could turn to.. an older brother who I never had… I don’t know what my life would have been like without him in it… I never knew he was HIV+ – he never told me and that hurts me… I guess he didn’t want to upset me, I’ll never know…
    he again helped me out this winter thru a particularly bad time in my life… let me stay for a while and get things together and decide what I was going to do…
    it was a difficult time for both of us.. I could see that his health was failing, but had no idea what was wrong… I felt bad that I was imposing on him… I finally had to leave because the situation was getting bad, and I had to make a decision what to do with myself.. I’m hurt that he didn’t confide in me… I did get a chance to tell him before I left what an amazing person he was, and that he had accomplished only what I could have dreamt of… that he made a real difference in my life that he had been a true friend to me…
    I’m so glad I got to do that… its so rare that you can tell someone that the last time you see them alive…. he knew then How much I loved and cared about him…
    after I moved back to SD, my phone died and took all my numbers with it… I contacted Paul on Bear411, and eventually he got back to me… I had had no other way to contact him.. this was in May of this year… I left him my # and we played tag back and forth for awhile, between May and July.. I didn’t hear alot, but Ifigured he was busy on his ranch, he had such dreams for thtat place.. it was what he always wanted to do, from the time I met him and we would take camping trips up to the Kern with “the gang”.
    I guess when he got sick, no one had a way to contact me.. I knew nothing about it… I certainly would have been by his side… I would have done anything for him..
    I found out thru Scott Moat’s distribution about the celebration of life.. I was in SF visiting a friend and cut the trip short so I could come back and get it together before the service… It hit me so hard…
    he could be stubborn as anything… but thats what I loved about him… he never seemed to give up… no matter what happened to him… he inspired me that way…
    What more can I say? for those of you who were at the Celebration, I spoke from my heart…
    my friend Travis and I went to see “Wicked” after the show.. during the Finale, “For Good” I completely lost it.. I think its appropriate to post the lyrics here, as It says it all for me, and many of us…
    26 years, guy.. more than half my life… that is the gift you gave to me…
    You were truly loved, and the most succesful man I have ever known…
    I’m limited
    Just look at me – I’m limited
    And just look at you
    You can do all I couldn’t do, Glinda
    So now it’s up to you
    For both of us – now it’s up to you…
    I’ve heard it said
    That people come into our lives for a reason
    Bringing something we must learn
    And we are led
    To those who help us most to grow
    If we let them
    And we help them in return
    Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
    But I know I’m who I am today
    Because I knew you…

    Like a comet pulled from orbit
    As it passes a sun
    Like a stream that meets a boulder
    Halfway through the wood
    Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
    But because I knew you
    I have been changed for good
    It well may be
    That we will never meet again
    In this lifetime
    So let me say before we part
    So much of me
    Is made of what I learned from you
    You’ll be with me
    Like a handprint on my heart
    And now whatever way our stories end
    I know you have re-written mine
    By being my friend…

    Like a ship blown from its mooring
    By a wind off the sea
    Like a seed dropped by a skybird
    In a distant wood
    Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
    But because I knew you

    Because I knew you

    I have been changed for good

    And just to clear the air
    I ask forgiveness
    For the things I’ve done you blame me for

    But then, I guess we know
    There’s blame to share

    And none of it seems to matter anymore

    Like a comet pulled from orbit
    As it passes a sun
    Like a stream that meets a boulder
    Halfway through the wood

    Like a ship blown from its mooring
    By a wind off the sea
    Like a seed dropped by a bird in the wood

    Who can say if I’ve been
    Changed for the better?
    I do believe I have been
    Changed for the better

    And because I knew you…

    Because I knew you…

    Because I knew you…
    I have been changed for good…

    Vince, my heart goes out to you… I know you loved him as much as I did…
    as we all did…

  20. hi guys… i just wanna let you know that erik has set up a myspace page in honor of Paul… .. great spot for sharing photos… stories… and tears… thank you everyone… for all your love and hugs… i’ve never met a more caring, compassionate group of people…

  21. I would like to post pictures of Paul as an infant for the new arrival wall at The John Hench Graffitti Galery at Walt Disnsey Imagineering. The one with him with the wild with a smile. if you can help me out please send them to

  22. you all seem to love..Oh well.l..DREANERS IN CHARGE!

  23. I feel very late on this… as I just came across this site. However today it has been 1 year since Paul passed. Granted I did not know him as well as the majority of you. But he was a good friend and an enjoyable person. Vincent I was trying to find your contact info when I came across this site. Not sure why you couldn’t tell us. I hope you are doing well with today. I know it won’t be an easy day for you, your sensitive soul with envelope all the emotions that one can have on this day. I wish you the best on handling it. I miss you and I miss him… -Lydia

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