A gay porn actor who was among the people trashing adult film star August Ames on social media is shooting down claims he had anything to do with her death.
Ames, 23, born Mercedes Grabowski, was found dead last week of a suspected suicide in California just days after she was forced to defend herself against online critics who accused her of being homophobic.
Gripes against Ames, who had previously struggled with bipolar disorder and bouts of depression, stemmed from the fact that she cited safety reasons in choosing not to work with an actor who had previously shot gay porn.
Among those who took issue with her decision was Jaxton Wheeler, an adult film star who took to Twitter with a threatening message.
Jaxton Wheeler sent a message urging her to kill herself just after her death.
(Jaxton Wheeler / Facebook)
“The world is awaiting your apology or for you to swallow a cyanide pill. Either or we’ll take it,” he wrote.
Wheeler’s tweet was published after Ames’ death, and it doesn’t appear that he was aware of her suicide when he published his message.
The two had previously exchanged notes on Twitter the day before her death, when Ames told Wheeler that she never said gay performers don’t get tested.
Backlash against Wheeler was swift — Evil Angel, a popular production company, tweeted that Wheeler would never shoot a scene for them again.
Former adult film actress Jenna Jameson also chimed in.
“You told my friend August to swallow ancyanide (sic) pill…you are directly responsible for her death. I will not rest until you are deleted from social media all together,” she wrote on Twitter.
Wheeler defended himself Sunday, explaining that he was simply upset that Ames was spreading false information about the gay porn industry’s STD testing regulations.
Wheeler added that he has received death threats and was fired from two upcoming shoots.
“The idea that I played any role in her decision is erroneous, as is the idea I demanded her death,” he told the gay porn blog The Sword. “All adult professionals have the same screening and testing protocols. As a performer, she knew that, but she put it out there to her half-million Twitter followers who didn’t. Now they believed it. It struck a huge nerve.”
In a lengthy statement, Wheeler, 30, said he was “saddened” by Ames’ death and admitted his language had been unnecessarily harsh.
“I acknowledge that I responded with emotions and an unfortunate choice of words. None of my aggression was directed at August nor her ability to consent to who she decides to work with,” he wrote. “My issue was with the misinformation that exists within the adult industry on crossover talent… I go through the same rigorous, regular testing all talent does.”
Stars gone too soon
Wheeler performs in both gay and straight porn films, and identifies as pansexual, which means his sexuality is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation.
Harlan Yaffe, editor of The Sword, told the Daily News that Wheeler and others’ public criticism of Ames came from a place of frustration in terms of long-standing stigmas that have plagued gay porn actors for years.
“This is really something that has simmered under the surface really for a long time. (They) were trying to get August to correct her record on the fact that in mainstream society, at first, all gay men were looked at as walking petri dishes of disease,” he said.
“I think that in mainstream society some of that has chipped away a bit, but in the porn world, it really hasn’t. And there’s still a belief that gay men are walking petri dishes and they are somehow more of a health threat to their co-stars than men that don’t do gay porn.”
Yaffe explained that, as Wheeler said, all actors working for mainstream studios are required to undergo the same testing at the same frequency under industry protocol.
Ames’ initial tweet did not reference testing specifically, but implied that working with an actor who previously shot gay porn was a health risk.
“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,” she wrote Dec. 3.
Ames’ final tweets did not reference Wheeler, but were addressed to the flood of internet trolls making similar comments.
“NOT homophobic. Most girls don’t shoot with guys who have shot gay porn, for safety. That’s just how it is with me. I’m not putting my body at risk, I don’t know what they do in their private lives,” she wrote. “F–k you guys for attacking me when none of my intentions were malicious. I f–king love the gay community! What the f–k ever! I CHOOSE who I have inside my body. No hate.”
A suicide note Ames reportedly penned before her death did not mention harassment and only apologized to her family, according to The Blast.