There's no doubt that while the adult entertainment industry is one of the most profitable markets in the world, it can take a toll on its stars. Of course, the adult entertainment industry isn't usually solely responsible for the suffering surrounding one of their actors in the midst of turmoil, but the media is quick to blame the industry should there ever be a tragic death or suicide.
Recently, as the adult entertainment industry expands and diversifies, it seems more and more adult performers really could be your next door neighbor or the classmate sitting next to you. In a particularly high-profile example of the changing tide, it was recently revealed that a student of the prestigious Duke University in the U.S.A., Belle Knox, has been using paychecks from adult entertainment work to cover her tuition fees. Unfortunately for student Alyssa Funke, who found herself in a similar situation, the bullying became too much for her to handle and she took her own life. Knox has, however, been admirably weathering the storm of criticism she's received. But these cases highlight, perhaps, that the ease of entering the adult entertainment industry has caused many young people to overlook the potentially tragic fallout.
Along with great successes in any industry, there is sure to be tragedy, and the adult entertainment business is more volatile and pressured than many. Below, we've recounted ten tales of adult entertainers who have met tragic endings to not only their careers, but also their lives. Despite what your thoughts are on the adult entertainment industry and their actors, there's no question that any premature death is a tragic one. The question we all must ask is, what is the cause? Can all these deaths be attributed to the influence of the adult entertainment industry on performers' lives, or does it merely take a backseat as other circumstances contribute to the tragic way in which these actors' lives ended?
10 Claudia Fielers – 1979
Claudia Fielers was a well-known and popular adult entertainer working in films in Germany, who committed suicide at the tragically young age of 23. Fielers went into the industry to help pay for medical school as well as to support her child as a single mother. She performed in several movies, and during the filming of her last film, she had an argument with the director. Fielers then went to a park called “The English Garden” and proceeded to imbibe poison, which ended her life. Instead of trying to honor her in that film, the director replaced her.
9 Shauna Grant – 1984
If you’ve ever watched the Lifetime movie, “Shattered Innocence”, then you probably have an idea about the tragic life of Shauna Grant, who took her life at just 20. After graduating high school, Grant moved to Los Angeles with her boyfriend, where she started nude modeling to pay the bills. She eventually transitioned to film, and her career boomed. She earned over $100,000 from her brief two-year stint in the industry. At the time, she was battling a cocaine addiction. After retiring from the industry, she was dealing with turmoil in her personal life with a new boyfriend having been imprisoned for shady business practices, all of which probably contributed to Grant's tragic choice to end her life.
8 Megan Leigh – 1990
In 1990, adult entertainment star Megan Leigh was found dead in her home in Solano, CA from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Her career started at the age of 18 when she became a stripper in San Francisco, CA. While her bosses didn't think she was much, she became one of the most popular strippers making over a grand in tips per week. She eventually segued into film and photography when she became an overnight sensation. Around the late eighties, she began to abuse drugs, however, which is the decisive factor that's believed to have led to Leigh's suicide.
7 Kelly Van Dyke-Nance – 1991
Kelly Van Dyke-Nance was already a famous name as the daughter of Jerry Van Dyke, the star of “Coach”, and the wife of “Twin Peaks” star Jack Nance - and as the niece of Hollywood legend Dick Van Dyke. So how does someone with such stellar Hollywood connections end up in the adult entertainment industry? It's hard to say, but it seems the pressure of establishing a legitimate career in Hollywood along with apparent Christian guilt were just some of the things tormenting this young adult performer, to the point that she took her own life in 1991, at age 33.
6 Savannah – 1994
Savannah, also known as Sharon Wilsey, was a well known adult entertainer, most famous for relations with Slash, Billy Joel, and Axl Rose. She was also known for using cocaine, and for having an alcohol problem. On the night of July 11th, 1994, after crashing her Corvette, breaking her nose, and while in the process of dealing with overwhelming debt to the IRS, Savannah shot herself.
5 Alex Jordan – 1995
Alex Jordan entered the adult entertainment industry in 1992, becoming a well known star quickly. In 1995, at the age of 31, Jordan was found hanging in her closet from what was initially perceived as suicide. However, adult entertainment mogul Ron Jeremy later stated that it may have been possible that Jordan was in the process of autoerotic asphyxiation at the time of her death. Whatever the circumstances, Jordan had a bright future ahead of her, and it was cut tragically short.
4 Naughtia Childs – 2002
Naughtia Childs’ death has been debated since it occurred in 2002. Some say it was a suicide, while others cry murder. Witnesses also testified that Childs might have been under the influence of acid and LSD at the time of her death. Police confirmed that she landed feet first from a fall that started from the 4th floor of her apartment complex. Childs starred in over forty adult entertainment features and was considered to be the next starlet in the industry before her life was cut short under these mysterious circumstances.
3 Angela Devi – 2006
American adult actress Angela Devi, a New Yorker from a Punjabi family, was a successful adult entertainment model who ran her own website. Initially, her disappearance from the world wide web start rumors and speculation amongst her website followers, who were uncertain about her fate. It later emerged that the 30 year old had been found dead in her home in Scottsdale, AZ from asphyxiation with a piece of cloth wrapped around her neck and a chair toppled over along with empty Xanax packages.
2 Clarissa Doll – 2006
Before Clarissa was a part of the adult entertainment industry, she was an actress and a model working in Las Vegas. Before 2002, her work involved non-nude modeling and she was also a Budweiser Girl. She appeared in her first film in 2003, “The Luv Generation”. Doll found much success in the adult entertainment industry but in 2006, at 26, she was found dead in her home. At the time the details involving her death were unclear, but it was later determined that she had taken her own life.
1 Alyssa Funke – 2014
This is a tragic tale and an unfortunate reflection of adult entertainment in the social media age. 19 year old Alyssa Funke wasn't yet a star in the adult entertainment industry, but she had featured as an actress for a short casting couch style adult video. In April 2014, when the video became general public knowledge, the straight-A student at the University of Wisconsin was taunted and bullied to the point that she committed suicide. The taunters? Largely Funke's former fellow high school students from her hometown. At the time of writing, police have no plans to press charges against the people who harassed Funke.