Social media today is a vast space for the good the bad and the ugly; messages of solidarity sit side-by-side with witch hunts masterminded by nameless keyboard warriors.
Twitter is a difficult environment for anyone in the public eye; a fact made terribly, terribly poignant by the recent death of popular adult film actress, August Ames, who tragically passed away on December 5 at the age of 23.
Her husband last night confirmed the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office reports, stating the Canada-born actress died on Tuesday in Camarillo, California, from ‘unknown causes’.
But her Twitter account – and a close friend who told Hollywood Life Ames had taken her own life after a reported battle with depression – tells a different story.
Ames’ friends, including fellow adult performer Anikka Albrite, reportedly connected Ames’ death to a heated online debate that took place in the days before she died.
Ames tweeted on Sunday saying she wouldn’t work with men who have done homosexual performances:
whichever (lady) performer is replacing me tomorrow for @EroticaXNews , you’re shooting with a guy who has shot gay porn, just to let cha know. BS is all I can say??♀️ Do agents really not care about who they’re representing? #ladirect I do my homework for my body?✏️?
— August Ames (@AugustAmesxxx) December 3, 2017
However, she received incredible backlash over her position and was deemed homophobic by a number of online commentators, including fellow porn stars who stated all entertainers must undergo the same rigorous health checks, regardless of gender or sexuality.
Ames even received all manner of death threats, from fellow entertainers:
oh of course, but telling someone to kill themselves or comments like this from your own work peers is disgusting pic.twitter.com/mAwyNMKgee
— IG: MrsKellyPierce (@MrsKellyPierce) December 6, 2017
She strenuously denied being homophobic and said her comments were not meant to be malicious, and in fact she was just looking after her health.
After days of defending herself against a tide of hatred, Ames’ final tweet simply said:
— August Ames (@AugustAmesxxx) December 5, 2017
Amid a flood of tributes on Twitter, a debate has since raged over adult entertainers’ rights to work with whomever they choose.
UNILAD spoke to Harriet Sugarcookie, a fellow adult star, who said the issue is one of consent:
This is a woman who chose not to have sex with someone, and got berated for that choice.
For whatever reason, she said no, and I consider people hurling abuse at her for her choices to be insensitive to the topic of consent.
It’s her body. It should be her choice. No one should be shamed for saying no to sex.
Adding the problem exists ‘across social media’, Harriet continued:
It’s a problem because porn stars are public figures. Their social is open to everyone and it’s very easy on platforms such as Twitter for things to escalate.
You get situations where there is a mob mentality overwhelming someone with abusive comments… That sort of attack, for me, that’s peer pressure.
Ames, whose real name is Mercedes Grabowski, had more than 270 film credits since making her acting debut in 2013, receiving two AVN Awards.
She was also seen to support the LGBT community, being bisexual herself.
Her husband, adult film director Kevin Moore, said She was the ‘kindest person he ever knew and that she ‘meant the world him’ before asking for privacy during these hard times.
Numerous figures in the adult entertainment industry were deeply shocked by the news.
Performer Abella Danger tweeted:
She was the most kind-hearted person ever.
Director Jules Jordan added:
Rest In Peace to August Ames, one of the best, nicest people I ever knew in the business.
Fellow performer Kissa Sins said:
You were always there for me when I was feeling sad or sensitive and I’ll always love you. I’m sorry I didn’t do more to help. RIP Auggie.
when you don't trust anyone so then you finally meet someone and they're all like "ooooo trust me" but it turns out they're a lying fucking assturd just like the rest of (most) of society so then you shut out from the world again because people suck and never tell the truth and follow random insta hoes so let's bottle everything inside because fuck your lip service and fuck you -me whenever Jamba Juice gets my smoothie messed up
But Harriet, who said it was ‘deeply sad to have lost such an amazing person’, claims the nature of online witch hunts against female porn stars is commonplace.
She told UNILAD about her own experiences, recalling:
I’ve been called racist because I’ve only shot with a white male, despite explaining I’ve only ever had sex with one man on camera.
They are calling [Ames] homophobic but she has done tonnes of lesbian scenes. The narrative doesn’t make sense.
August regularly shared uplifting messages with her fans, with one of her latest Instagram post emblazoned with positivity, and body-confidence hashtags, including those that read, ‘be confident in your own skin’, ‘screw what other people think’ and ‘be yourself’.
It just goes to show, you never know what is going on underneath the surface, behind the social media accounts of someone smiling on Instagram, all the while suffering abuse online.
Police have confirmed there was no indication of foul play.
Our thoughts are with Ames’ family and friends at this difficult time.
If any of the issues raised have affected you, you have been the victim of cyber-bullying, or you are feeling suicidal, please don’t suffer in silence.
Call Samaritans on their freephone 24-hour hotline on 116-123.
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.