Mike Kulich Passes Away

LOS ANGELES—Publicist and company executive Mike Kulich, an industry veteran of more than 10 years, passed away sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning in his apartment, AVN has confirmed. He was 29.

Longtime friend Rob Russell, who has also worked in the industry in various capacities, told AVN that he found Kulich's body at around 9 p.m. Saturday in his living room after his fiancée, Erin Clark, called Russell concerned that she had not been able to reach Kulich in about a day. Clark and Kulich were scheduled to be married next month, and Russell was to serve as Kulich's best man. 

"She was at Ozzfest for the weekend, and she was worried because his phone had been off since Saturday morning," Russell recounted. "At around 8:00, she called me and was like, 'Rob, I still can't get in touch with him,' and she asked if there was any way I could go check on him. I said sure, and I went to their apartment and was banging on the door for a long time, with no answer. Finally I convinced the neighbors to let me in, and I saw him and it was bad. As soon as I touched him, I knew. He was cold and stiff."

No official cause of death has yet been issued.

"At about 6:00 Friday, I spoke to him," Russell imparted, noting that Kulich had just signed a new client for a very large publicity deal and was working unusual hours. "He was working on stuff and saying he had a lot of anxiety about his wedding. Later that night I messaged him on Facebook, and I said I was worried about him. Then at about 9:00 he said to me, 'Hey man, are you OK?' And that's the last time I spoke to him.

"This sucks, and it's a nightmare," Russell continued. "There's nothing anybody could have done. The doctors said it looked like he'd gone about 20 hours before, and thought he passed peacefully in his sleep, because his eyes were closed. And that made sense because it would have been just a little after I talked to him Friday night."

Kulich was born in Westport, Conn., and often said his entry into the world of adult was when he got suspended from high school for selling Playboy magazines from the trunk of his car.

Kulich got his official start in the industry at 18 as a salesman for IVD. When he left IVD, he started DVD replication service DVD Makers, and later went on to found Monarchy Distribution, which released DVDs under imprints including Assence Films, OGEE Studios, Black Storm Productions and Tranny Factory. In 2014 he founded SkweezMe, a VOD-based portal that featured adult content. He has long made his name, however, with his ventures in pubclicity. He did PR for a number of adult companies and stars beginning in 2014 through his firm Stunner PR, which rebranded last April as MAK PR. Over the past several months, he attracted a large amount of mainstream attention for former client "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli and client xHamster.com.

Russell said Kulich's death comes at an almost surreally tragic time, given his impending wedding and his young son Tyler's recent recovery from leukemia. "He was a loving father to his son, and very good to his fiancée," Russell offered. "It hasn't even really sunken in yet."

Another friend, journalist Reba Rocket, told AVN, "I knew Mike as a sweet man who loved his son and fiancée, his friends and family. He wanted to be a success—not for himself, but so others would be proud of him."

Added Takedown Piracy owner Nate Glass, who worked with Kulich shortly after he left IVD, "Mike was one of the most hardworking and ambitious people I've ever met. He wouldn't accept not being successful at whatever he put his mind to. In such a short time he accomplished so much, I can't even imagine what all he would have accomplished had he not been taken from us so early in his life. He has my utmost respect not only as a businessman but as a man, a father and a soon-to-be husband. I always admired how Mike had such reverence for the people who he felt paved the way for him. He was always respectful and kind. Mike just had a heart of gold. Seeing how much he cared for his kid and how much he loved his fiancée, I'm just devastated to lose him. My heart goes out to Erin and Tyler and all of Mike's family."

Sherri L. Shaulis contributed to this story.

[Ed. note: This story has been revised from its orginal version at Rob Russell's request.]