Coming to terms with the death of August Ames as fans and an industry
The porn sensation was found dead at the age of 23 on December 6th
Yesterday afternoon, it was reported via XBiz, the New York Daily News, and various other outlets that porn star August Ames had passed away. At the tender age of 23, Ames (born Mercedes Grabowski) leaves behind a husband, dozens of friends and colleagues, and an imprint on the adult industry after becoming a part of it in 2013.
Although the Ventura County Medical Examiner's office has yet to release an official cause of death, suicide is suspected. News about the backlash Ames received on Twitter for refusing to work with a performer who had performed in gay porn has largely accompanied details surrounding her death. If suicide does turn out to be the official cause of death, one doesn't need to look too far to see what could've motivated the act. August reportedly suffered from depression; that compounded ny cyberbulling and social media harassment is a recipe for a breaking point.
I'm one of the unlucky ones; I never had the pleasure nor privilege of meeting August, not even at Exxxotica. I'm one of millions who simply knew her through her scenes and appearances in copious adult films. During her short career, August was as ubiquitous a porn star as they come, making appearances in scenes for Jules Jordan, Porn Pros, Brazzers, Vixen, Blacked, Wicked, Digital Playground, and several others.
I can't overstate August's prowess for adult films nor the charisma and spontaneity she brought to a scene. Consider the opener of Jules Jordan's film Dream Fucks, which was a conventional albeit electrifying scene featuring her and Jordan making love in a lavish mansion. "This is a poster-child example of a scene that clicks without a narrative concept," I wrote, for despite the scene not having any kind of story to go along with the sex, it managed to be a captivated watch on the basis of personality and carnality.
August didn't need a story with her scenes. She could be the story or just as easily replace it. Not only did she have the radiant beauty to make a scene come to life, she had an explosive energy that was clear as day even in the brief Twitter videos she'd treat her fans to on a regular basis.
But no praise or sentiment I can offer holds much weight when you hear the outpouring of grief and sincerity come from her closest industry friends. Kissa Sins, a frequent collaborator with August, cried out, "I’m so angry I can’t control myself right now." Richelle Ryan added, "Today was 1 of the worst days in 2017 for our industry as we lost an angel." Katrina Jade simply, and perhaps most appropriately, quoted August's final tweet: "fuck y'all."
Shortly after I shared the news of August's death, a friend of mine asked me how an industry where suicide has been an issue for many years can work to prevent it. Furthermore, he questioned whether or not society has normalized pornography to the point where we've grown complacent with such heartbreaking instances of stars taking their own life, and if so, where do we go from here? I can't provide the answers. A good starting place would be growing prominence of organizations that connect with porn stars and offer guidance, therapy, and career-advice to women and men working in the industry. Another good move would be making these organizations as heavily advertised as the modeling agencies that represent these women; make a commitment to promoting the health and wellbeing of these individuals in a big way. We'll never be able to fully know the thoughts and personal demons inside another human-being's head, but we can at least make an attempt at connection and empathy in our daily lives and, in this case, in an industry still raw from the deaths of Amber Rayne and Shyla Stylez.
Many have also been quick to blast those who attacked August on Twitter with such vitriol to their statements; one man told her to swallow a "cyanide pill." Others condemned her for her "homophobic" remarks. Having said that, I'm sure if August saw the outpouring of love for her across all social media platforms that's taking place at the moment she would be floored by her impact and the emotions she brought out in people. Sadly, it's too late now. Noelle Easton hit the nail on the head when she tweeted, "It's too late to stand up for her now. You should have showed her the same love & support you're showing now when she NEEDED YOU."
Almost certainly if August saw all this love, she would not have been compelled to take her own life. Unfortunately in this life, reversing the damage that's been done is right up their with being loved in terms of things we desire the most.