Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sex, Death and Eyeliner

I was up late watching porn last night.

Or not really porn but a documentary about porn called Inside Deep Throat. In short (sort of), Linda Lovelace (Boreman), then 22 years old, starred in a low budget, silly and wildly successful adult film. With it's success came public scrutiny, not only of the film but of the stars themselves. Linda found herself in the middle and through out her life went back and forth between allegations that she was not a willing participant (she stated matter-of-fact that Deep Throat was recorded evidence of rape) to publishing "pro-porn" books back to anti-porn campaigns then back to nude pictorials for the magazine "Leg Show". I don't assume to know what really happened. I do know that things ended badly. She was plagued with problems, from growing up in a less than stable home, getting involved with abusive boyfriends and a seemingly constant money issue (haven't we all been there?), her life at times seemed like an uphill battle. She contracted Hepatitis then was involved in a fatal car accident in 2002. She had one hell of a difficult life. And the more I think about it, the more that it makes me wonder: Is doing porn like a barrel of monkeys or a can of worms?

It's true that certain occupations have statistically higher instances of suicide, murder or both.  (see the link to the national database below) Funeral directors, doctors and dentists are all up there. But I've noticed another trend, perhaps not astsuch a ratio to compare to lawyers and wall street workers, but significant none-the-less.

With the horrifying ex-porn star Luka Magnotta in the news as of late, a man who streamed images onto the internet that will never cease to be, the gruesome death of a young man forever at anyone's fingertips, I see more sensational news about his dabbling in porn at the forefront, before his own abuse or psychopathy. The public seems to feel that porn is the gateway drug at times. So I started reading and asking myself: Does being a porn star ruin your life and/or shorten your lifespan?

Porn stars seem to be dropping like flies and tragically so. I started my foray into the seedy science of pornography by reading Jenna Jameson's How to Make Love Like a Porn Star. Talk about a sad story. In the book, she talked about her favorite star from the years before, Savannah. Yet another sad story. And the more people's bios I started reading, the more I noticed this trend. Here's a few.

Savannah-

Her real name was Shannon Wilsey. Best known for her platnum blonde hair, sweet girl-next-door face, giant fake tits and that X factor. (pun intended) She grew up with divorced parents, bouncing from home to home and was sexually abused along the way. She quickly rose to fame in the porn industry and just as quickly became involved in heavy drugs (coke and heroin) and heavy shopping habits.
She dated rock stars like Axle Rose and Billy Idol (famously stating that Axle was a 2 pump chump which I totally believe). Like many abused and deeply sad women of porn, she found love with another women. She claimed to be deeply in love with Jeanna Fine, another porn star. July 11, 2004 she was driving home wasted and crashed her white Corvette. She survived with a broken nose and face lacerations. She called her manager, somewhat incoherent, saying she needed plastic surgery, that her face was a mess. Maybe it was the drugs, the head injury or the fact that her beautiful face was never going to be the same again. She took a .40 Barretta and shot herself in her garage. She stayed in a coma until her family took her off life support and she died. She was 23.

Dorothy Stratten-
Her real name was Dorothy Hoogstraten. (I can see why she had a stage name...) This was a gorgeous girl in a very 80's kind of way. The hair, the smile and the generic good looks of a Benetton ad. Except, she was naked and creepy guys were taking pictures of her. Yet, I digress. She met Paul Snider when she was under 18 (ew) and they married when she was 20 (he was 29) and it was hell for poor Dorothy. He was controlling and psychotic; she suspected that he poisened her dog because he was jealous of the love she gave the little pooch. They seperated after a year. She moved on, he did not. Stalker McStalk-y was everywhere, even creeping up to her new boyfriend's house, Peter Bogdonovich. (director of Paper Moon, The Last Picture Show, etc) Paul called Dorothy, asking for money. She arrived at his house to give him $1000 to get him off her back for good. She sadly wouldn't make it out alive. Snider put a shotgun to the side of her face and ended her life. Then he did some other very bad things that I won't mention. Then he shot himself. Bogdonovich was said to be devastated. He married her 20 year old little sister a short time later. Hm. The film Star 80 is based on her life and death.

Lolo Ferrari -
Lolo had the largest breasts in the world. You notice I said 'had'? Things don't end well, obviously. Her real name was Eve Valois. She was born in France and reportedly had a sad childhood. No father, a mother who disliked her and at 25 married Eric Vigne, an ex-con drug dealer 15 years her senior. He was her "manager" although the cops saw it more as prostitution when they arrested the pair. Lolo had some amazingly low self esteem. It was said that her husband didn't help this problem. He pressured her into numerous plastic surgeries and in the end, she had a 71 inch bust, several new noses, giant lips and who knows what else. None of which made her happy. Her official cause of death was an overdose of antidepressants and tranquilizers. Some think her husband had something to do with it. We'll never know.
Oh, and she was a recording artist. I use the term loosely.

There are dozens more just like that. And this is not to mention all the deaths by alcoholism, drug overdose, HIV/AIDS, and an amazing amount of car accidents. And even those who survive don't have happy endings. Lori Michaels faked her own death to avoid creepy stalkers. Hyapatia Lee suffers from dissociative identity (multiple personality) disorder which worsened after years in porn. Max Hardcore went to jail on obscenity charges.

Most would point out first that many (some would argue all) have suffered from abuse, broken homes and/or addiction thus leading them to a life of pornography (not the other way around). Although, I imagine many getting hooked on drugs after starting their careers. How many people out there can do a rough gangbang totally straight? Not many. I know I would have to be coked out of head. Regardless, something about the business inherently brings tragedy.

For better or worse, it will change the way I watch porn from now on... Not that I do in the first place.



P.S. Amanda Seyfried will be playing Linda in the new film, Lovelace. I will probably see it.

Check out more porn stars fate at a strange and fascinating site:
Frances Farmers Revenge 
NIOSH and CDC database of occupations and death
LA Times article about Savannah