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Monday, August 03, 2009

Keep your daughter off the pole

Those were the wise words of Chris Rock to all fathers everywhere. The one duty of a father, he said, was to keep their daughter away from a career stripping.

It's probably redundant to add, keep her out of porn too. That's sort of implicit in what he said. Yet increasingly, the San Fernando Valley in California is inundated with girls who think that they might have found a back door to fame by whoring themselves on camera.

I was watching a documentary the other night about Ron Jeremy, the world's best known male porn star, and I found it tragicomic, poignant and ultimately depressing.

Here's a man who is engaging, warm, friendly and self-deprecating. A man from a good New York Jewish family, who works like a navvy even at 50 plus. A man who many other men believe has had the best life in the world.

Yet he's lonely, depressive, and ultimately frustrated in his lifetime ambition to make it in mainstream movies as an actor.

That got me thinking: if that's how life ended up for the industry's success story, how did others fare in porn? Then I found this blog, which tracks porn stars after their career. And the answer to my question was revealed. And it was frightening.

Sure, Stormy Daniels is running for Senate and Jenna Jameson is a millionairess. But what about all the others? Let's start with Chasey Lain, who was once so well known that she had a top 10 hit written about her.

Now a crackpipe ho. Pretty tragic. But she's still alive. Which is more than can be said for:

Billy London: murdered, his head and feet found in a dumpster
Marilyn Chambers: heart attack after taking prescription meds
Bryan Kocis: murdered by two other gay porn actors
Buck Adams: repeated heart attacks caused by drug and alcohol abuse led to his death at 52
David Wasserman: suicide
Missy: dead of a drug overdose at 41
Anastasia Blue: dead, apparently from drug use
Megan Lee: suicide by gunshot wound at 26
Melba Bruce: dead in her thirties in mysterious circumstances
Miyouki Asou: suicide at 22, believing porn had ruined her life
Paige Summers: drug overdose at 27
Star Stowe: murdered by a serial killer at 41
Elisa Bridges: drug overdose at 28
Dorothy Stratten: murdered
Lea de Mae: died of brain cancer at 27
Kathy Harcourt: found shot in the head, possibly self-inflicted
Vanessa Freeman: murdered at 30 by her boyfriend
Angela Devi: suicide by hanging at 30
Naughtia Childs: found dead at bottom of a stairwell, either suicide, murder or accidental death while tripping on LSD
Trinity Loren: overdosed at 34
Rene Bond: dead at 44 from liver cirrhosis
Rebecca Steele: died penniless in a motel room from a drug overdose at 42, while suffering from full-blown AIDS
Taylor Summers: murdered by photographer in possible snuff movie shoot
Terri Diver: dead at 29 from a drug overdose
Sheridan: wiped out in car crash at 20
Lolo Ferrari: died from 'mechanical suffocation' at 4o, husband spent time in prison for it.
Lisa de Leeuw: dead from AIDS at 34
Eva Lux: heroin overdose at 32
Britney Madison: died in car crash at 21
Chanel Price: overdosed at 35
Zoe Zane: murdered aged 18
Cal Jammer: shot himself aged 34
Haley Paige: dead of an overdose, boyfriend committed suicide before he could be questioned as to whether he had murdered her
Nancee Kellee: hanged herself
Alex Jordan: found hanging in her own closet, suicide or auto-erotic asphyxiation suspected
Savannah: shot herself aged 23
Julie Robbins: died in a car crash possibly caused by her being impaired at the wheel aged 26
Linda Wong: drug overdose at 36
Kristi Lynn: died in a car crash, suspected to be drunk at the time of driving
Shauna Grant: shot herself aged 20
Chloe Jones: died penniless of liver failure caused by alcohol and Vicodin abuse aged 29
Jon Dough: Suicide by deliberate overdose aged 43

And others are alive, but clearly damaged:

Kay Parker: believes she's been alive for 6,000 years.
Lori Michaels: faked her own death to avoid porn fan stalkers
Houston: former drug addict, cancer sufferer, now a Christian, sacked from her job because of her porn past
Alisandra: arrested for employing underage girls as strippers
Janine Lindemulder: jailed for tax evasion and lost custody of her kid
Tommy Saxx: jailed for credit card fraud
Fleur Brown: crack addict, jailed for trying to sell the virginity of a 13 year old
Hyapatia Lee: suffering from multiple personality disorder following the trauma of her porno experience
Jack Venice: jailed for raping a college girl
Max Hardcore: jailed for over three years for abusing women in his videos
Tony Eveready: jailed for possession of cocaine and guns
Danielle Rush: crippled in a car crash
Barbara Dare: broke and living with her parents in her late 40s
JR Carrington: a prostitute in a Nevada brothel
Marilyn Starr: convicted and jailed for insider trading
Melissa Walker: jailed for attempted murder

I probably didn't need to reproduce so many names. But I wanted to counter any charge that I was cherrypicking horror stories here.

Sure, some porno stars get out alive and relatively well. Though who knows what's going on inside their heads?

But this lengthy list of casualties has some common threads running through it: drug abuse, suicide, criminality, suspect car accidents, murder.

Given the small number of porn stars, and the incredibly young ages some of these people died at, it seems to me that one of the best ways to preserve your life to a respectable age would be to avoid porno as a career choice.

Let's go back to Chasey Lain before I finish. She was the subject of the Bloodhound Gang's 1990 hit 'Ballad of Chasey Lain' in 1990. But nearly two decades on, she's still apparently doing porn, when her crackpipe addiction permits her to perform.

She has a son. She's still not even 40. But like others on this list, she'll be dead or jailed soon enough, judging by the video above.

I'm no prude and I'm not judgemental. I'm not a big fan of porno generally. It's monotonous and sort of gross sometimes. But it's not a $10 billion industry for nothing. People like it and buy it and use it all the time.

Someone's making that $10 billion, but it's clearly not the performers. Not those who died through murder or suicide or overdose. Not those in jail, or ill, or mad. Not even relatively successful and affluent people like Ron Jeremy or Jenna Jameson.

And whoever's making the money clearly doesn't give a shit for the performers, who to them are as dispensible as the tissues they wipe down their sets with when their done filming.

I recently came across a campaign against cocaine which berated coke users for being 'selfish' because something like 3 square metres of rainforest is cleared to produce every gram or so of the drug.

What a species of people we are, who care more for trees than we do for people.

Porno can be bad for people who consume it, since it can become addictive and replace genuine affection and sexuality in people's lives.

But it is far more destructive to those who perform in it. When will we see an anti-porn campaign that is based, not on Christian disgust or feminist outrage, but on genuine concern for the people being damaged by the industry?

Do we really care more for Brazilian trees than we do for flesh and blood people?


Eric said...

Nice piece of writing. I had no idea the porn industry was so destructive to the perfomers involved.

Rua said...

Jenna Jeameson isn't so stable, I saw a documentary on her, she's been gang raped 3 or 4 times and nobodies ever been convicted-fucked up.

Anonymous said...

i really doubt being a porn star caused the car accidents

JC Skinner said...

Single victim road traffic accidents are very often suicides, actually.

Anonymous said...

How about a list of accidents, death by natural causes, suicides, murders, ODs etc in the music business? Or the film industry? Or any other career? Or would that not fit your agenda? I guarantee it'd be a lot longer.

No wonder some people in the industry end up in a bad way with the likes of you judging them.

JC Skinner said...

How about you go compile such a list for those other industries if they concern you, Anonymous?
What's my 'agenda' anyway?
I've not judged anyone. I've judged their industry. It's an industry that destroys people's lives for profit. I'm no prude, and I don't judge people for taking part in porn.
I fear for them, given the rate of suicide, drug ODs, murders and STAs that result.

Anonymous said...

"Keep your daughter off the pole"..Nice title. I remember that joke in rock's comed show.

Now about this article! The list is pretty long but it didnt even inclued the porn stars living with H.I.V and AIDS. Or the less extreme cases of the ones living with incurable dieases like herpes. I like porn also, but im a fan of "soft-core" porn or non commerical home-made porn...The big cooperate produced stuff is the modern day vampires of soceity. Because theres that evil capitalism involved. Make money, even if it destroys lives in the process. SHAME!

phlashman said...

Great post...The Porn industry has a long history of sucking ppl up and then spitting them out, but then again Hollywood as a whole has the same issues. BTW...there are several actors/actresses listed that are still alive and well (Lisa De Leeuw as an example), this is very typical as many folks who chose to "retire" from the business reclaimed their anonymity by using that method.

Slickchick said...

Ya, its too bad about what has happened to so many veterans of the porn industry -and especially so because most of their deaths by drug use and suicides are no doubt the end result of a long journey into depression and guilt brought on by outward society's pubic rejection to these people for what they chose as a career. Yet sex is instictually on all our minds most of the time and porn is a worldwide multi-billion dollar industry. Ahhh the reeking stench of hypocrisy. These people have done society a favor in more ways than one. Besides the obvious entertainment value, I think porn helps keep sex related crimes and offenses down worldwide. Think how many more rapes and molestations there would probably be if people couldnt get off alone at home in front of a screen and call it a night!

backmaster Johnson said...

Slick chick has lost her mind. To say something is ok because it "stops" them from perpetrating a crime is misguided. Eventually the person will escalate the addiction and no matter what they view on a box it will not be enough. This person will have to satisfy the urge. Will do the crime in time is the sex addict/offender motto.

smoothjazzandmore said...

Great piece of writing. Here are some other porn stars who have been affected.

Brooke Ashley - HIV+
Nena Cherry - HIV+
Darren James - HIV+
Jordan McKnight - HIV+
Tiffany Six - Fired from her job as a teacher because of her porn past.
Amee Donovan - Endured a painful operation after rough anal sex.
Finally, Jack Baker - Died of cancer, broke and penniless.

Here's my blog about him. http://smoothjazzandmore.blogspot.com/2007/06/remembering-john-anthony-bailey.html

nikki dacamara said...

Ultimately alot of these performers are on drugs. How can someone mentally enjoy the physical pain and emotional pain that happens in these scenes. Its not a coincidence that out of the whole population of people all these porn stars have had bad luck as far as car accidents etc.......Plus the suicide rate is higher,people buying these dirty dvds are just throwing their money into the pockets of drug addicts and people with mental health issues...

Steve Grant said...

Of course, you get those types who cart out the "it empowers women" argument, but it's obviously nonsense. No sane person would want to turn one of humans' most intimate acts into a commodity.

Gregory Toma said...

The blame being placed on the industry itself is far to generalized and incorrect. To say that doing porn is what made these people suicidal drug addicts and criminals, is drawing an inaccurate conclusion based on nothing but conjecture. People's lives consist of many different avenues that influence their behaviors, and their career is only one of them. But much more importantly, blaming porn for all these people's pitfalls, conveniently ignores the obvious influence (whether good or bad) that the person's first 18 years of life contributed to their problems. And it should go without saying, that the decision to do pornography, or even become an exotic dancer, is almost always made as a last resort, by people with a low self image, usually do to some kind of sexual abuse beforehand. So I think whether they choose to do pornography or not, the likelihood of turning to drugs and alcohol, or committing suicide, is probably just as high as it would be in any case of an abused child. After all, it is not as if the porn industry is recruiting college graduates or happy well adjusted kids and turning them into drugged out sex zombies.

JC Skinner said...

It's true that correlation is not causation in all cases.
That said, the deviation of life results experienced by pornstars compared to the general public is far too great to exonerate the industry from all blame.
If it is headhunting damaged people to enter the trade, they need to look at that. If it is damaging them while they are in the industry, then they need to look at that too.
No matter how you look at it, the industry carries a responsibility.

Logan MacDonald said...

Not bad overall, but a lot of the reasoning needs work. Not only do you have to consider what job they are in but what type of people get into that job, then compare death rate, criminal acts and generally screwed up life to that. A lot of pornstars come from a lower class back grounds, they may have died the same way with out the "negative influence" of the career. I worked at a factory where something like 20% of the workforce were cokeheads or former cokeheads (actually a lot higher with that). Not because of the factory, but rather the factory because of similar geography, past life decisions, etc. The career is also a big change, young girls involved in Disney have also dramatically screwed up their lives due to the sudden change of money and stardom, as have lottery winners. A lot of things to consider aside from doing porn, even they ones that directly blame porn for ruining their lives. Would their lives be better with out it, would they not be suicidal or drug addicts?

kenneth thomas said...

Interesting article. Were you able to confirm that the information you provided was accurate? In Lisa Deleuuw`s case, there are a couple of insiders who say she is alive and healthy. I would speculate that the majority of people that enter the porn industry are already damaged in some way. Consequently, they would lead self-destructive lives regardless. That is judt my opinion. I have no reasearch to back it up.

Unknown said...

I always thought Lisa deleuw was well divine !!! If she's dead at 34 how sad !
If she's still alive GOOD I HOPE SHE IS WELL !

Vinters said...

This reminds me of the attack on homosexuals as a "dangerous lifestyle" because of the high numbers of suicides. Well, have we taken a step back and considered why? Not because someone is gay or someone works as a porn actor, but because of society's view, judgement, hate, and outcasting of those people.

Plus statistics are nessasary to determine if this industry is actually more dangerous then just, "feelings" that it must be. For example the study published inJournal of Sex Research, showing porn actors were no more likely to come from a background of molestation than accountants.

Vinters said...

This reminds me of the attack on homosexuals as a "dangerous lifestyle" because of the high numbers of suicides. Well, have we taken a step back and considered why? Not because someone is gay or someone works as a porn actor, but because of society's view, judgement, hate, and outcasting of those people.

Plus statistics are nessasary to determine if this industry is actually more dangerous then just, "feelings" that it must be. For example the study published inJournal of Sex Research, showing porn actors were no more likely to come from a background of molestation than accountants.

JC Skinner said...

What a sly equation to attempt, Vinters. Are you suggesting homosexuality is a profession?
Your citation of the study is equally interesting. Effectively that proves that it is the industry's treatment of porn actors which is so detrimental to their chance of long life, since we don't see so many accountants HIV positive, drug addicted, jailed or deliberately driving their cars of the road, do we?

Roxanne Wilde said...

Given that my kindred & I are hookers, I can only imagine what this blog's author would say about us.

Maybe the suicidal ideation stems more from society's hypocritical treatment of adult workers. Ie. The societal obsession with youth, sucking it dry whilst simultaneously judging other ppl who choose to celebrate their sexuality. After all, what practical purpose does ridicule have when no viable industry exit strategies are in place.

Try googling the suicide rate that currently reigns unabated amongst the dentist trade. Given this above tirade against porn, can we now expect a diatribe of the same vein against orthodontia?

Yeah. Right.