23 August 1994
|Died||5 December 2017 (aged 23)|
|Cause of death||Suicide by hanging|
August Ames (born Mercedes Grabowski; 23 August 1994 – 5 December 2017) was a Canadian pornographic actress. She appeared in almost 290 movies, including a non-pornographic film in 2016, and was nominated for several AVN Awards. In 2017 at the age of 23, Ames committed suicide after a particular event of social media backlash following a tweet she posted.
Ames was born Mercedes Grabowski in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, on 23 August 1994. She grew up in Petawawa, Ontario, and later lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She graduated from Oromocto High School. She was of Polish ancestry and was also one-quarter African-American. Both her parents were in the army and she spent her early years as a military brat, including a number of years living beside Canadian Forces Base Petawawa.
Ames's mother suffered from bipolar disorder. Ames alleged that she was routinely sexually molested by her paternal grandfather as a child, but her father refused to believe her and at 12 years old she was sent to live in a group home. In her early years, she worked as a nanny, animal-assisted aide, and horseback trainer.
Ames's career as a pornographic actress began at the age of 19, in November 2013. She performed in over 270 films, including productions by companies such as Brazzers, Elegant Angel, Evil Angel, Girlfriends Films, Jules Jordan Video, New Sensations and Sweetheart Video. She was nominated for four AVN Awards in her lifetime, including three nominations for Female Performer of the Year.
In 2016, she appeared in the non-pornographic film Model for Murder: The Centerfold Killer.
Weeks prior to her death, Ames said that she had a history of bipolar depressive disorder and dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality) due to a traumatic childhood, stating: "Some days I'll be fine and if I'm not doing anything I'll get these awful flashbacks of my childhood and I get very depressed and I can't get out of bed and cancel my scenes for like a week or two."
In December 2017, Ames was due to perform in a pornographic scene, but withdrew when she learned that the co-star was a man who had appeared in gay pornography. On 3 December 2017, Ames wrote on Twitter:
August Ames @AugustAmesxxx
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🤓✏️🔍
3 December 2017
The tweet drew criticism and abuse from social media users. Jaxton Wheeler, a pansexual performer, demanded that Ames apologize or take a cyanide pill, which he later said he regretted. Ames, a bisexual, defended her right to exercise her sexual autonomy in a subsequent tweet.
On 5 December 2017, two days after her tweet, Ames was found dead in a park in Camarillo, California, at the age of 23. Her death was ruled a suicide due to asphyxia by hanging by the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office. Upon her autopsy, toxicology results revealed that she had cocaine, marijuana, the antidepressant Sertraline (Zoloft), and the anxiolytic Alprazolam (Xanax) in her system at her time of death. Close friends stated that cyberbullying led to her suicide.
An investigation into her suicide was covered in the Audible series The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson after her husband, Kevin Moore, encouraged Ronson and his producer to look into the cyberbullying that he claimed had led to Ames's death. In the podcast, Ronson investigates the cyberbullying aspect of the story but then goes further and looks more closely at Moore's role in Ames's death by examining his prior relationships and Ames's history of mental illness. Ronson concludes that a number of people around Ames contributed to the poor mental state that led to her death and draws comparisons between Ames's suicide and the fictional suicide of the young girl in J. B. Priestley's play An Inspector Calls.
In the wake of Ames' death and the deaths of several other adult performers that year, several initiatives within the industry were proposed to deal with the issue, including The August Project, a hotline conceived by Moore, and Pineapple Support, a non-profit organization launched in April 2018 by British performer Leya Tanit.
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- August Ames [@AugustAmesxxx] (3 December 2017). "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🤓✏️🔍" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- EST, Maria Vultaggio On 12/11/17 at 1:25 PM (11 December 2017). "Jaxton Wheeler explains August Ames "cyanide" tweet and what really he meant to say". Newsweek.
- "Gay porn actor Jaxton Wheeler responds to claims he drove August Ames to suicide". NewsComAu. 11 December 2017.
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- "Porn star August Ames found dead in suicide after online criticism". BNO News. 6 December 2017.
- Connor Casey (9 February 2018). "Adult Film Star August Ames Had Cocaine, Depression Medication in Her System at Time of Death". Retrieved 21 January 2019.
- Rachel Desantis (6 December 2017). "Porn star August Ames dead at 23". New York Daily News. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
- Tina Horn (19 March 2018). "How August Ames' Suicide is Changing the Porn Industry". Rolling Stone.
- Susannah Breslin (31 January 2019). "A Porn Star's Widower Delivers a Moving Speech at the Oscars of Porn". Forbes.com.
- Kaitlyn Severin (25 May 2018). "Mental Illness is Killing Porn Stars and the Industry is Taking Action". VICE.
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