The average life expectancy in America is 78 years. The average life expectancy of a porn star is only 37 years. No, I don’t mean career life expectancy. I mean actual life. Take a minute and think about that. Have you ever heard of another career where the people involved have a life expectancy less than half the national average? I doubt it. This a cold hard fact, yet probably one of the least talked-about and least looked-into fact in the world we live in today.
Now that I am on the outside looking in, I can clearly see the dark cloud looming over the industry in which I not only managed to survive, but thrive. That is not the case for everyone. There is a mix of common causes of death among porn stars, but some that may surprise you. Overdoses and suicides are what you might expect, but maybe murders are what you least expect. As is the case with mostly anything, however, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected.
Speaking from experience, I can tell you that a majority of the performers I shot most of my movies with in the 1990s are no longer with us. When I look back at the trips we took, the fun we had on set, it is hard to accept they are gone.
The new generation of porn star faces an unspoken risk to their lives. In the past, we were mainly focused on the toll of the destructive lifestyle prevalent in the industry, filled with drugs and alcohol, which led to the tragic car accidents, suicides, or accidental overdoses. But the murder of porn stars is often overlooked – I feel most people just assume the worst and think absolutely nothing of another porn star’s life ending too soon.
The hardest thing for me to accept is the unknown and the uninvestigated. These murders are often considered a “trick gone bad,” and no one puts any interest or time into looking deeper. The authorities are not looking for the agents who are illegally booking jobs for porn stars, or finding answers to any crimes that may result as a consequence. Murder is a crime, no matter what you do for a living and no matter who you are. Sadly, these scenarios are considered low-priority cases, with little interest from anyone in law enforcement in defending the rights of the victim.
In my years in the industry, it was common for talent to come and go, with no form of further communication once they left the industry. In conversation, most people referring to stars who disappeared from the scene would simply say that they “got out of the business.” When I took the time to look further and troll through the devastating number of dead porn star videos I found on YouTube, I came across more and more familiar faces, finding myself at a greater loss. The most disturbing was reading the cause of death.
The lack of compassion for these lives, in and out of the industry, leads me to a place of concern and confusion. A business that is so incredibly profitable, with no union, no support groups, and no internal guidance, has left itself out in the cold while breaking the hearts of families everywhere. Every time I see and read a story of a new death within the industry I think the same thing.
Last weekend, the industry was faced with another death as Amber Rayne was found dead in her Los Angeles home. She was only 31 years old. When I heard the news, I went to her timeline and looked back through her photos noticing that just this past Easter she had shared time with her family. This is any parent’s worst nightmare and most likely was their biggest concern while their daughter or son entered the industry. It is their absolute worst-case scenario. As I looked through the photos, without knowing her family, I could still feel their pain. I could also feel everyone else in the industry doing the same, reading her timeline, while feeling that dark cloud looming over.
I still stay connected with a small group of friends from the industry and we always speak to each other at times like this. Last weekend was no different. We all spoke and made sure our heads were in the right place, and talked through our fears. I see things differently, yet clearer than ever, being farther removed from the industry. When new talent enters the industry, they are clueless to what will be waiting for them on the outside – I know I sure was. Though I have been very fortunate to cultivate a new life and career for myself, I am still discriminated against and not welcome in many places.
It is not easy to move through the world while the odds are against you. The fear of trying to reestablish a new life and attempt new relationships can be worse than that of a criminal out of jail. I have witnessed first-hand the lack of regard people assume I have for myself, people who ultimately feel I deserve no respect due to my previous career choices. I look at the sadness hovering over the business and am constantly trying to come up with a way that I can help in the future. I hope that by the example I am setting in my new career, combined with the way I lived my life while in the business, can be an example for the talent in the industry today.
What I can do from the outside in is reach out to all of you through my writing and express the facts, and hopefully build some compassion. We never know how weak someone may be or what he or she may be dealing with. We do know this – they are people. All people matter, all lives matter – even the life of a porn star.
Photo Credit: BBC