Warning: This articles deals with suicide and may be distressing for some readers.
Porn actor Jaxton Wheeler has denied claims he drove adult film actor August Ames to suicide by telling her to “take a cyanide pill” over Twitter. Ames, 23, was found dead in a public park in California in the early hours of Tuesday morning, December 5.
Wheeler’s comments were part of a cyber bullying attack that came after Ames tweeted a warning to the actress replacing her in a shoot.
“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,” Ames shared with her 600,000 followers on Monday morning.
Ames wanted the actress to know the male co-star was a “crossover” – someone who works on both straight and gay porn – because, she explained later, some women prefer not to work with gay actors due to health concerns.
Immediately, Ames was labelled a homophobe and leading this charge was Wheeler.
“Oh poor sweet ignorant @AugustAmesxxx,” he tweeted. “Ever heard of talent testing? I’d shove your sock in your mouth before blasting ignorance.”
“You f*cking hoe @AugustAmesxxx, you’re a piece of sh*t,” he continued. “WE ALL GO IN THE SAME PASS SYSTEM.”
The situation disintegrated rapidly.
Ames denied her comments were homophobic – explaining she, herself, was bisexual – and apologised immediately for offending anyone.
She tried to use humour to diffuse the situation. It failed.
She attempted reason – that it was her body and therefore should be her choice. That failed, also.
And she tried meeting anger with anger, “F*ck you guys attacking me when none of my intentions were malicious. I love the gay community! I CHOOSE who I have inside my body. No hate.”
Her every attempt to rationalise, explain and undo any damage fell flat. Twitter was alight with rage and people behind shiny screens were throwing words around without thinking of their impact.
“The world is awaiting your apology or for you to swallow a cyanide pill. Either, or, we’ll take it,” Wheeler said.
No one was thinking about the 23-year-old on the other side of the screen.
The same person who, only weeks before, had spoken publicly about the way she struggled with memories of the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. That she could “flip” between moods in a manner that was “crushing”. That she was often left paralysed trying to deal with depression and bipolar disorder.
The same person who, at that moment, was stuck in a spiral of darkness feeling ambushed, threatened, and misunderstood as the entire world watched on.
“Cry baby,” Wheeler re-tweeted Ames’ final ever tweet. A defiant “fuck y’all” before she took her own life.
Cry baby https://t.co/SnDGpPeFZ6
— Sir Jaxton Wheeler (@JaxtonWheeler) December 5, 2017
When news broke of Ames’ death, Wheeler was quick to respond.
“I would never advocate someone bring harm to themselves that aren’t a threat to others,” he tweeted, weakly.
“In the pursuit of political correctness I hope we haven’t pushed a fellow performer too far, I was simply trying to attack an issue not the value of the person. Awaiting details #RIP #AA”
Now, he’s spoken publicly about the ordeal, saying he’s “also a victim” after being targeted in the wake of Ames’ death.
“It’s been overwhelming and not just online,” Wheeler told gay porn blog The Sword, The Sun reports.
“Newsweek ran a story and put me as the sole bad guy right in the headline. I have received so many threats of death and violence I had to call the FBI — the f***ing FBI.”
He said his family has been threatened, and he’s lost work.
“My mother’s and my son’s personal information has been doxed. I had two gay shoots set up for next week and I was fired from them.”
“Like I said, she is the victim here, but it doesn’t mean that I, too, haven’t been victimised.”
He also wants to make it public record: His tweet about the cyanide was posted after she was found dead, but before the news had been made public.
Do parents have to crack down on teens? Post continues below.
Can’t. We. Just. Stop?
Surely. SURELY? The death of a woman who couldn’t find a way through the hate, is where this whole mess should end.
Social media makes it oh, so easy. People could send their tweets, calling Ames a “piece of shi*t” that she “hated the gay community”, before going about their everyday lives. They could type a quick, 250-character message threatening violence, even to kill her, before starting dinner for the evening. Or going to the movies. Or calling their mother.
Ames’ suicide cannot be put down to a single reason. But, in the hours before her death, she couldn’t tear her eyes from her phone as notification after notification lit her screen. Every single ‘ping’ calling her something different.
Let’s not do the same with Wheeler.
Absolutely, his actions were deplorable. Authorities, his employers, Twitter itself, should take action that will prevent Wheeler from bullying another person into desperation. Action that might act as a deterrent to other online trolls.
But, the rest of us, must stop the hate. This cycle, surely, ends here.
If you’re struggling with mental health issues and need help, or just someone to chat to, Mamamia urges you to call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636.