Depression, bullying and abuse are just some of the things plaguing the adult film industry

Depression, bullying and abuse are just some of the things plaguing the adult film industry

After adult film industry starlet Olivia's death, social media is abuzz with what's going on in the industry

         Thanks for the wine encouragement guys! #youdarealmvps#happygirl

          — Olivia Nova (@olivianovaxxx) December 9, 2017

This was Olivia Nova's last tweet. A rising star in the X-rated film business, Nova was found dead at her Las Vegas home on 7th, January 2018. Her death was the latest blow to the adult film industry. 

Death of the adult-film industry beauties

On January 10 in 2018, Lexi Rose Forde—better known as Olivia Nova, was confirmed dead by her agency, LA Direct Models, who paid tribute to the young woman by stating that she was a "beautiful girl with a very sweet and gentle personality".

Only 20-years-old, Nova, a Minnesota-native born, was the fourth adult film actress to have passed away in the last three months.

Nova's death succeeds the recent deaths of three other popular female adult stars — Shyla Stylez, Yurizan Beltran and August Ames. 

Born Amanda Friedman, adult-film industry veteran Stylez, 35, who hailed from Canada, had passed away in her sleep on 9th November at her mother's home in Armstrong, British Columbia. The cause of death hasn't still been identified.

Another established star Beltran, popularly known by her screen name Yuri Luv, 31, is believed to have died due to an accidental overdose of prescription drugs on 13th December at her rented home in Bellflower, California, last year. A couple of weeks before her death, Yuri had spoken on Twitter about needing a hug.

Read: Tragic pornstar August Ames sent heartbreaking messages to pal Keisha Grey just days before she killed herself.

Ames, born Mercedes Grabowski, 23, had hanged herself on 5th December in a public park in Ventura County, California, after she came under fire for stating that she refused to work with 'crossover' performers — men who had also appeared in gay pornography, on Twitter.

Following her tweet, Ames was at the receiving end of several thousand comments that ridiculed her and accused her of being anti-gay. Despite insisting that her choice was based solely on grounds of health, many pounced upon her for her ignorance and blatant disregard. 

One such tweet that came under fire after Ames's death belonged to adult star Jaxton Wheeler, a cis man who identifies as pansexual.

Wheeler had tweeted at Ames on December 5th; which read: "The world is awaiting your apology or for you to swallow a cyanide pill. Either or we'll take it."

 Ames final tweet came on December 4th which stated "fuck Y'all.

The truth behind the deaths

The recent spate of deaths has shaken the foundation of the L.A-based adult industry that is still reeling under shock after the rapid succession of deaths. Several industry stalwarts have, in fact, come out to give insight into what exactly is going on in the adult entertainment business and delve further into why there is a spike in the number of suicides in the industry.

Earlier last year, Ames had appeared as a celebrity guest on Holly Randall Unfiltered, a podcast by and about porn stars. In the podcast, Ames had openly spoken about her history of battling depression and bipolar disorder, as well as revealed how difficult it was finding a sex-work conscious therapist.

“We’re always trying to connect people to doctors and mental-health professionals,” Mike Stabile, the director of communications for the performer advocacy group the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), told Men's Health Magazine. “The hardest issue we face is that mental-health providers, particularly for sex workers, are really difficult to find. You’ll hear over and over again that there will be a blame-the-victim narrative,” he said further.

"As sex workers, we present a fantasy version of ourselves for public consumption," Tori Lux, a porn star and professional dominatrix, told Rolling Stones. "We often don't discuss our mental health issues, as doing so can potentially harm our livelihood by disrupting the element of fantasy we work so hard to cultivate," she explained.

After his wife's suicide, Ames's husband Kevin Moore, had written a tragic blog post on Ames's website, in which he spoke about how his world 'was instantly shattered' and life without her 'is a cruel existence devoid of color'. But the grief-stricken husband did not hold back and also opined about the apparent reason behind his wife's shocking death.

Kevin (left) blames online troll for his wife August Ames's death. (Twitter)

He wrote: "She took screenshots of everything [the tweets]. All of the bullying. It is all there on her phone, including many of the tweets that have since been deleted. She left it for me to find."

"If you fire a gun into the air and that bullet randomly hits someone that you never intended to kill, you still killed them," he wrote ruefully.

Depression and bullying

"The passing of @AugustAmesxxx and @YuriLuv have inspired me to open up more about my own fifteen-year battle with depression instead of exhausting myself further by hiding it," Adult film actress and 10-year industry doyen, Odette Delacroix tweeted.

Odette Delacroix told Sun Online about how she was shocked at hearing about Olivia's death after the other three deaths. But without mincing words, the 28-year-old star spoke at length about how adult film stars are dealing with abuse, stigma and associated prejudices, bullying and professional insecurities—all and more, with little or no support whatsoever.

"I knew all the girls - Yuri and August more so than the others - and they were all very versatile, successful and beautiful," Odette revealed.

"They were all making money, they had tons of fans - using typical logic they should have been happy," she added.

But the truth runs completely parallel to the said logic. 

Many porn stars are reluctant to step out and openly talk about their emotional, physiological and mental issues—eating disorders or substance abuse included. Their only fear? They believe that speaking out will lead to ostracization from the industry and they won't be booked for further jobs, she explained in detail. 

"August like me had struggled with depression and we'd tried numerous treatments. She also suffered a lot of online bullying after getting some minor cosmetic work done and the ageism left people worrying if she's been aged out," Odette told Sun Online.

"Yuri was also gorgeous and successful but she had told me that she hated how an 18-year-old would take her job - even though she would nail it and the other girl would show up high. I know she had lost a couple of gigs because of that but she had just hosted a birthday party which lots of people went to and she seemed very happy, then the next thing we know she's gone," Odette further stated.

"With Olivia's passing away, she was so young and had only been in the industry a short time so I think the pressure on her would have been immense," she said.

The adult film industry's inherent demons

The adult film industry has become a colossal, worldwide business empire. In 2006, the revenue from the adult business equaled some $97 billion.

However, behind the dazzle and appeal of the industry lies a dark truth. According to a report, when the deaths of 129 porn stars over a period of approximately 20 years were analyzed, it was discovered that adult stars experienced an unusually large number of premature deaths from causes like drugs, suicide, murder, alcohol abuse, accidental death, and even disease. 

Shockingly, when the death ages of these porn stars were averaged, it was deduced that the average life expectancy of an adult film star was only 37.43 years whereas the average life expectancy of an American is 78.1 years.

"Porn is a tough first job - I took my time before I even shot a scene with a guy for instance - but with the younger girls they are pressured to do that in their third week in the job," Odette told Sun.

"Adult performers get smacked around emotionally - they get it from every angle even within the industry. For example, because I'm kinky and have moved into fetish porn - people look down on me and I won't get nominated for awards anymore. Plus we're all afraid to talk about any problems we have because it's so competitive - if I say I'm depressed they'll just use someone else," she added further.

Shy Love, a friend of Yuri, told Mirror UK about how female porn stars are routinely disrespected because of their line of work.

"You know what sucks the most. You just want to be sad and morn someone and ur stuck still doing social media like life did not matter," Love had tweeted. "Being a pornstar is a harder job them most can imagine and I wish that porn girls got way more respect for their jobs and hard work," the tweet read further. 

Another adult entertainer, Summer Brielle, tweeted that porn stars need a good support network to stay strong. 

"I'm very very blessed to have him [my partner] and my family stand by me. It's still hard. I can't imagine how hard it is if you don't have that support. I'm just heartbroken for them," she wrote.

Not so surprisingly, many porn actresses reel under 'unbearable' pressure to not show any signs of aging and look as young as possible in a bid to fill in the demand for "tween" and 'barely legal' porn.

Odette said she had received a barrage of bookings in her ten-year-long career when she had shed a massive amount of weight and looked 'like a little girl.'

"When I started in porn the fad was for busty, curvy - not a little girl - a woman," she said. "Then around 2010 the obsession became about finding a Lolita performer. When I got a contraceptive IUD fitted, I lost a lot of weight over an eight-month period and I got down to 70 pounds. I got more work than I ever did in my life - in fact, I earned so much money I bought a house for my family and bought myself a fancy car," she divulged further.

"And that's because I was so skinny and looked like a little girl. No one once asked if I was ok - I thought I looked like a cancer patient but that was the trend, the look, that's what they wanted."

Intense competition

It is a well-known fact that the adult film industry is insanely competitive. Competition for work is so intense that Odette thinks these days it is easier to land a role as a mainstream actress than a porn role.

The intense competition loosely translates to girls being subjected to nerve-wracking pressure for shooting scenes they don’t want to do because they know they are easily 'replaceable'. 

"It used to be you started with solo porn, then moved up to girl-girl scenes, then boy-girl, then anal stuff —and you took your time and tried to milk it as long as you could,” Odette explained. "Now these girls do a three-month circuit and they’re done - no one books them anymore. Unless you are a 'spinner'—that is under 100 pounds and young-looking," she added.

"There's a lot more pressure now to never turn down a job, never voice your opinion and to do things that you might be uncomfortable with. You feel very disposable," she stated dolefully.

“I started out slowly in the industry and made lots of contacts and now I run my own business - and have my own websites so I am in control - but not everyone is able to do that.”

Odette, who turned to making and starring in fetish porn after being ejected out of mainstream porn, feels like depression is also widespread throughout the industry. With the hope of encouraging other peers to come out and speak about their problems, Odette wants to instill courage among her colleagues and inspire them to come forward and seek help.

"Since the tragedy of August Ames's death, I've seen an outpouring of performers tweeting about their mental health issues to raise awareness," stated Mia Li, president of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC), told Rolling Stones, noting that performers have said they're suffering from depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD. 

"Stigma, fear, and trauma are inherited through generations and we need to combat that with education, nonviolent communication, and open-mindedness. We need to not give into the reductive volatility of online communication often fueled by outsiders and see each other are the nuanced individuals we are," she asserted.

It's time the civil society pays attention to the problems of the industry and curb the inherent need to look at the industry with prejudice and judgment. 

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