Sex and death are inextricably linked. Sigmund Freud first proposed the idea in 1920, in the psychoanalytic work Beyond the Pleasure Principle, where he theorized that the duality of human nature emerged from two instincts: Eros and Thanatos –the instinct towards sex, and the drive towards self-destruction and death. Nowhere is Freud’s theory more intimately entwined than the adult film industry. For a $10 billion industry devoted to churning out explicit sex, it is almost as well known for sensational stories featuring homicides, suicides, and mysterious deaths.
7. Percy Foster
Percy Foster wasn’t just a 35-year old dwarf p*rn star; he was a 35-year old dwarf p*rn star with an uncanny resemblance to celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey. In this day and age, one would think a celebrity lookalike dwarf p*rn star would be a legend in the blue film industry, but according to a 2011 story in the UK tabloid Sunday Sport, the pint size man’s rise to wealth and fame (supposedly he had recently purchased a diamond-studded soda making machine) was cut short when he was found dead and partially eaten in a badger’s den in west Wales. What the 3’ 6” performer was doing “deep in an underground chamber” is a mystery, but officials have not ruled out suicide.
Sky News and RadarOnline both reported on the story, but when a reporter from Huffington Post Weird News contacted the police in Wales, officials said they hadn’t heard of any report of the death. Moreover, the Internet Adult Film Database has no record of a dwarf p*rn star named Percy Foster. While the tragic death sounds difficult to swallow, questions remain whether the story is a hoax or if it’s just so strange and sordid that officials did their best to erase it.
6. Camilla de Castro
Camilla de Castro was a petite transsexual and a regular on the Brazilian television show Superpop. She starred in the XXX film Big A** She-Male Road Trip and was something of a celebrity in Brazil, transcending pornography, gender, and race. In 2005, Camilla de Castro jumped naked from her 8th story apartment. Her death was ruled a suicide, which investigators said was the result of an out-of-control drug rampage –heroin, most likely. However, the details of Camilla de Castro’s death are mysterious. The adult film star had just recently gotten engaged, and she was in negotiations to host a new reality show; she even posted an upbeat message about the new show on her website a few days before her alleged suicide. In the words, Camilla de Castro seemed to have everything going for her.
5. Eve Valois, Otherwise Known as Lolo Ferrari
A French dancer, model, and adult film star, Eve Valois gained global recognition for having “the world’s largest breasts.” Eve underwent 22 enlargement surgeries, and according to the 1999 Guinness Book of World Records the adult entertainer’s breasts weighed 12.4 pounds. After the enlargements, Eve changed her stage name to “Lolo,” which is a French slang term for breasts.
In March 2000, Eve Valois died of an apparent overdose of antidepressants and tranquilizes. Her death was ruled a suicide, but a second autopsy suggested that forced suffocation could not be ruled out; suspicion quickly fell on her husband, Eric Vigne, a former drug dealer 15 years her senior. A third autopsy was conducted that allegedly determined Eve’s death was a suicide. After spending 13 months in prison, Eric Vigne was cleared of all charges.
4. Maryam Irene Haley, Otherwise Known as Haley Paige
Haley Paige got her start in the adult film industry when she was 19, after answering a newspaper advertisement for nude modeling in San Diego. By 2006, she was the newest director for Smash Pictures. According to Stuart Wall, vice president of Smash Pictures at the time, Haley Paige’s debut video, Virgin Territory, “centers around teens in white panties shot in a gritty, gonzo style catering to those who appreciate an explosive hardcore movie yet with a female touch.”
On August 2, 2007, Haley Paige married the adult film director Chico “Wanker” Wang. Three weeks later, on August 21, Chico Wang (real name Inko Wolt Hwang) brought Hailey to a hospital in California; she had no pulse or respiration. Paige later died in the emergency room. She was 25. Her death was ruled suspicious, and it was later discovered that Hwang had pistol-whipped her earlier in the day. He was booked on suspicion of murder, but later released. There were rumors in the adult film industry that Haley Paige died of a heroine overdose, but no track marks were ever found. A toxicology screen showed trace amounts of methadone in her system. Her death was eventually ruled an accidental suicide. The story took another mysterious turn when, a month later, Hwang committed suicide in a hotel room plastered with computer images of his former wife.
3. Emily Sander, Otherwise Known as Zoey Zane
Emily Sander, a sweet-faced, 18-year old student at Butler Community College, led a double-life working as an Internet p*rn model. She went missing on November 23, 2007, and was found dead six days later 50 miles east of El Dorado. Israel Mireles, a convicted child molester, was arrested in Mexico and charged with murder, rape, and aggravated sodomy. According to police reports, witnesses saw Mireles and Sander leave a bar in El Dorado, and blood was later found in his hotel room.
While numerous details about Emily Sander’s six-day disappearance and murder remain a mystery, it was revealed at the 2010 trial that Sanders has been stabbed multiple times and strangled with a telephone cord. Investigators do not believe Sander’s role in the adult film industry was connected to her disappearance and death; however, little is known about Zoey Zane, as friends and family had no idea she had been recruited to work at an online pornography site just after her 18th birthday.
2. Natel King, Otherwise Known as Taylor Summers
In 2004, the body of 23-year old Canadian p*rn actress Taylor Summers, known in the industry as a fetish specialist, was found in a wooden ravine beside the Schuykill River in Pennsylvania. Summers had been missing for over a month. She was last seen at a bondage film shoot in photographer Anthony Frederick’s basement. When Taylor Summers was found, she had multiple stab wounds and was still dressed in bondage paraphernalia. Rumors quickly circulated that Summers had been killed in a “real life” snuff shoot, a pornography genre in which a person’s death is simulated on film. “It seems the murder took place as part of a sexual bondage fantasy,” said Montgomery County district attorney Bruce Castor.
The murder, however, had nothing to do with a sexual bondage fantasy. It had to do with money. Apparently, the situation turned ugly in Anthony Frederick’s basement when the photographer refused to pay Summers for her services. Investigators found Summer’s DNA in Frederick’s car, and the dark drapes that her body was wrapped in were the same type used by photographers. Anthony Frederick was arrested and charged with first degree murder and his assistant, Jennifer Mitkus, was charged with lying to authorities and hindering an investigation.
1. Shannon Wilsey, Otherwise Known as Savannah Smiles
Platinum-blond siren Savannah Smiles was one of the most prominent adult film stars of her time (1990-1994). She was one of the first Vivid Girls, made 122 adult films, and in 2002 Adult Video News ranked her #19 on their list of The Top 50 Porn Stars of All Time. However, Savannah Smiles was as famous for her sexploits with rock stars as she was hardcore films like Blonde Force and Happy Endings. She was involved with several musicians including Greg Allman, Vince Neil, Slash, and Billy Idol. She often publicly bad-mouthed her partners after their relationship was over, which kept the tabloids buzzing with tawdry headlines.
In July 1994, coming home from a night of partying, Savannah crashed her Corvette into a fence a block away from her house and suffered facial lacerations and a broken nose. Not long after the crash, she called her friend and manager, Nancy Pera, and begged her to come over. When Nancy arrived, she found Savannah in a pool of blood with a 9mm handgun beside her; after nearly 11 hours in a coma, the adult film star died at St. Joseph’s Medical Center.
All sorts of theories surfaced about Savannah’s death. Was it a suicide? An accident? Was it related to her drug use or financial difficulties? The police called it a suicide. Savannah’s family blamed the adult film industry. But the mystery deepened when the press suggested that maybe one of her enraged, rock star ex-lovers was responsible.