Queerty is better as a member

Log in | Register
  IT GETS BETTER

Michael Lucas Addresses Recent Spate Of Porn-Star Suicides

michaellucaspinkbugThe death of Wilfried Knight upset many in the gay-porn industry, coming as it did so soon after other porn-star suicides—as well as that of Knight’s own partner, Jerry.

Is there an epidemic brewing?

Michael Lucas, the controversial owner of Lucas Entertainment, issued a statement about the situation:

Dear friends,

Like so many others, I am heartbroken by the news that our beautiful friend and colleague Wilfried Knight has committed suicide. I was lucky enough to work with him many times.

Beneath his tough exterior Wilfried was, like many guys in the adult-film industry, a sensitive and intelligent man. And like many guys in the adult-film industry, he struggled to maintain his external image and his sense of self-worth.

Coming so soon after the suicides of Roman Ragazzi last year and of Arpad Miklos just last month, Wilfried’s death is deeply troubling. I am scared at what this trend suggests about the gay world. It’s not just porn stars who are killing themselves; about ten guys in my gym alone have recently committed suicide. (Wilfried’s partner, Jerry, killed himself just two weeks ago, as Wilfried wrote about here.)

But porn actors are among the highest-profile casualties of gay suicide, and are especially vulnerable in some ways. We do not have good support systems in place for people in our industry. We need to talk more about this as a community. We need to be there for each other.

To anyone in the porn world who is reading this: If you are feeling depressed, or despairing about the future, please know that you’re not alone. If you’re in trouble, call me.  [telephone number and email redacted]

Life can be rough but it’s a gift and you only get it once. Your pain will pass. We have to remember that and help each other.

This pattern can’t go on. Please, let’s break it.

Love,
Michael Lucas

Does porn attract troubled souls? Does porn create troubled souls? Or can we, as consumers, help foster an environment where adult-film performers can maintain a healthy outlook and lifestyle?

Share your thoughts, respectfully, in the comments section below.

By:           Dan Avery
On:           Mar 18, 2013
Tagged: , , , , , ,

  • 23 Comments
    • GayTampaCowboy
      GayTampaCowboy

      So i’m not sure how to feel about the rash of suicides among gay porn actors. I befriended
      a porn star several years back and he was really well adjusted because he viewed what
      he was doing as a BUSINESS so he was able to separate his movie life/persona from
      his personal life…he always said,”being in porn is like being in the Mafia – like
      they said in the movie the Godfather, ‘it’s not personal -it’s business.”

      That said, i think there were other issues at play with the couple who took their lives
      1 week apart. They were “married” but they were from 2 different countries (US and
      Canada) and so the issues of work and residency and the risk of having to live apart
      caused incredible stress – and i think might have been the driving influence in their
      depression.

      Clearly, the stats bear out the reality that gay folks are at higher risk for suicide than most other groups – and that has to be addressed. Dan Savage’s project, It Gets Better” is a great initiative – but more needs to be done.

      I know i’m doing my part!

      Mar 18, 2013 at 10:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sparkyu1
      Sparkyu1

      I think Lucas is right – it’s not necessarily porn stars who commit suicide at such a high rate, but GBLT people in general have very high rates of suicide. However, a porn star has a much higher profile and we’re much more likely to hear about it.

      Take Willfried, following his blog you will see he was going through a truly horrendous time due to homophobic laws and policies making his – and his recently deceased partnetr (also from suicide) lives very difficult.

      Let’s face it, there’s a lot of negative out there. And even when we fight for equality that just prompts the pulpits, politicians and media to pump out more hatred – it is soul destroying, it does hurt and it is unrelenting. I don’t go a day without hearing something homophobic and dehumanising – does anyone here? Do any of us? How many of us grow up with the seeds of self-hatred planted in us by family, preachers, media which stay with us even when we think we’ve rooted them out? Is it any real surprise that this barrage takes its toll?

      I think we need to do what we can to offer what support we can – not just for kids too – through things like It Gets Better and the Make it Better project – but ultimately it won’t change until the hate stops.

      Mar 18, 2013 at 10:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Taliaferro
      Taliaferro

      Certainly high profile porn stars get more attention than those in the LGBT community who are unknown and commit suicide. My questions center around the professional life span of a porn star. How many years are they at their prime and in demand? What happens when they age and become closer to the age of 40? How many have other ways of earning their living? The gay world places an extremely high value on looks and body image and novelty. Think of the many porn stars who were once at the top of their profession and are now never seen save in “vintage” movies. Mr. Lucas points out that there is little support for porn stars. Does Mr. Lucas’ corporation provide any such support? Do porn stars have friends outside the industry? I grant that a lot of the pressure and problems come from a society which demonizes member of the LGBT community and those in the porn industry. However, it is 2013, and things ARE better than they were when I came out in 1969. One can survive and even flourish if one has a good self-image about all aspects of one’s life. Yes, it is exciting to view beautiful men having sex, but if that is all one has, what happens when life get hard?

      Mar 18, 2013 at 10:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      Well Gee Michael, maybe part of the stress the Porn actors go through are money troubles. Perhaps if studios like yours or Chi Chi Larue actually gave them some residuals on the use of their scenes they wouldn’t constantly have this stress.

      Oh wait,….you guys care…but just not THAT much. We get it.

      Mar 18, 2013 at 10:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Little-Kiwi
      Little-Kiwi

      Cam – that’s a reality. “mainstream” film industry is affected by pirating. even more so is the adult industry, where performers don’t make a lot of money, and their work gets spread around all over the net – no royalties, no income.

      Mar 18, 2013 at 11:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • viveutvivas
      viveutvivas

      No, it won’t get better. I think that line is stupid and facile; maybe it is trur for some teenagers in some godforsaken place, but at some point later in your life you may come to a point where you realize that it won’t get better any more. Suicide is in my opinion a legitimate choice at that point. While I cannot kill myself while my parents are alive, I completely understand the impulse. To suggest that people only kill themselves because they’re not thinking clearly is untrue and patronizing.

      Mar 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @viveutvivas:

      Then again, to also suggest that you know the future and can say without doubt that nothing will change and things will never get better also seems odd.

      Mar 18, 2013 at 12:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • viveutvivas
      viveutvivas

      @cam, I think it is certainly possible to know oneself well enough to make that prediction.

      Mar 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • RomanHans
      RomanHans

      I appreciate Mr. Lucas’ sentiment in “being there” for people in porn. Unfortunately, it’s pretty clear nobody has any answers, including him. If anything he should accept some responsibility for being part of the cause.

      Mr. Lucas says “We do not have good support systems in place for people in our industry.” We don’t have good support systems in place for ANYBODY. Sadly, porn stars will inevitably face problems in their lives, since their identities are based on their looks. “We need to talk more about this as a community,” he says. Um, why? Because what I think the community should say is, “DON’T BECOME A PORN STAR.” Besides, how is a community supposed to convince people that the looks-based lifestyles porn stars have chosen don’t actually mean life ends at 40? Even then, you’re not going to get rid of the cause of two recent suicides: immigration policies that won’t allow gay couples to stay together (though I’m guessing mental illness played some part, because it’s mighty strange a man who had so many problems with government red tape would kill himself WITHOUT WRITING A WILL PROTECTING HIS PARTNER).

      “We need to be there for each other,” Mr. Lucas says. Absolutely true. And when he actually suggests some actual, concrete way we can facilitate support and acceptance in the gay community — say, supporting the gay community center, or SAGE, or suicide prevention lines, or the It Gets Better project — he will have my utmost support.

      Mar 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • viveutvivas
      viveutvivas

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a porn star.

      I am not sure why we are treating suicide as something pathological that prople should be “saved” from. We are all replaceable except perhaps in the affections of our parents, and the only objective reason anybody can have to live is if someone will be sad if we die. In the absence of that, any worth we may ascribe to our own lives is nothing but egotistical self-delusion, and so to live or not is really a personal preference that should be respected.

      Mar 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jheryn
      jheryn

      I think the porn industry is like any industry. It has it’s ups and downs. One thing pretty exclusive to the porn and sex industries is the taboo it carries in society.

      Most gay men seem to have no problem with watching porn, but if you ask many of them what they think of the models themselves you get very low opinions. Many think they must be brainless, pretty boys capitalizing on their looks. Many think they do it for quick drug money or because they are not fit for anything else. Many also think it is narcissistic and egotistical drives that motivate them. Most I believe think it is a combination of all of those things. Although there are those in the industry that personify those attributes, those people exist in all professions. The gay porn industry is no different. It is filled will varied types of men with as many differing personalities and tastes.

      I dated a porn star for two years. I was never allowed to tell anyone what he did for a living. We always told people that he was in another profession. He went to college for that, but never actually had a job doing it. He was paranoid about anyone outside of those who purchased and watched porn finding out what he did. He said that when people learned of his profession, they instantly judged and labeled him. I found this to be true in the time I had with him. He still doesn’t see it to this day, but he also has a lot of shame and self hatred because of his porn work. It was this paranoia and self-hate that eventually compelled me to leave.

      I met many men in the gay porn industry and there were high intellects, arrogant assholes and everything in-between. Just like people everywhere.

      And just like people everywhere, suicide in general is on the rise. It isn’t surprising that it is happening more in the porn industry. It’s happening everywhere. Porn suicides are just more public. It is very sad across the spectrum. My heart goes out to all those who have found themselves at a place where they feel that is their only option. Tragic.

      So I applaud Mr. Lucas for reaching out to those so afflicted. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were people in every industry that did the same?

      Mar 18, 2013 at 4:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • the other Greg
      the other Greg

      “We are all replaceable except perhaps in the affections of our parents….”

      That’s ridiculous. Obviously, plenty of people reading this have been rejected by their parents for being gay, but they still have friends and even spouses who don’t consider them “replaceable.” Over the years, a couple of dozen friends of mine have died and I don’t consider them replaceable at all. Heck, I don’t even consider my deceased PETS replaceable, really (though I always eventually get another one).

      No wonder your comments here are always so fucking depressing! If you can’t see a therapist, visit your local animal shelter and adopt a pet, or try volunteering there.

      Mar 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • the other Greg
      the other Greg

      sorry, #12 was a reply to #10 viveutvivas

      Mar 18, 2013 at 5:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dixie Rect
      Dixie Rect

      That is the thing about suicide. You never really know what happened or why people do the things they do, one can only speculate.

      Chances are, Mr. Lucas wrote this to further his own image, company and net worth. By showing this ‘sensitivity’ it gets him more press, more attention and raises the company value. What reaching out is he really doing? The pattern can’t go on (umm, really?, duh) – got it – but what is his plan to rectify this problem? He doesn’t have one. Its an ego trip.

      Mar 18, 2013 at 6:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Demented
      Demented

      I don’t think it is so much about being a porn star, possibly more about being gay and getting older alone. Once you reach X age, you just don’t feel wanted anymore. As friends leave one way or another, you feel more alone. Having children may help through this as a reason to continue.

      Trust me I have been fighting this, and being single at 51, no local in the flesh friends, deciding if i am angry or jealous of those who have left …

      Mar 19, 2013 at 12:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • RomanHans
      RomanHans

      @Demented: Sigh. Poor kid. I can sympathize, having the same feelings about aging and lack of family. However, it’s still possible to have a terrific life, though as I think you suspect you’ve got to move to the big city. I’m in NYC, where 99% of the population is gay supportive and a reasonable segment is gay.

      What you say about gays not being wanted past a certain age is not true. I like age-appropriate men, and most of my gay friends do also. I go to events at the LGBT center here and the cruising among the seniors is intense and fabulous. I’ll admit that when you’re older your average gay bar isn’t exactly going to cheer you up. They’re for kids, and kids are welcome to them. I’m not sure if they want me but I DEFINITELY don’t want them.

      Anyway, email me if you want: romanhans@earthlink.net. I’m not too smart but I’m more entertaining than the shopping channel.

      Mar 19, 2013 at 12:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jar
      jar

      @viveutvivas: I would argue that the fact that you consider the hurt to your family as a reason not to commit suicide is a reflection that one is not truly suicidal. Suicide has been romanticized in art for most of the 20th century (reaching a crest in the 60-s, with Berryman, Plath, Sexton, etc. Many people feel depressed and hopeless and think that it would be better to just end it all. But the survival instinct is still in tact even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles to one’s peace and contentment.

      To be truly suicidal one relinquishes or defeats the survival instinct. I believe this is a threshold that most depressed people do not cross, as much as they may romanticize doing so. It is because the survival instinct has been quashed that it is so difficult for friends, families and professionals to help suicidal people.

      I find Lucas’s statement disingenuous. If he is so concerned, why does his open letter not include a call to action for porn producers? What is he, as a money leader in this industry, doing to help those he publicly professes such concern for?

      I believe that the core issue here is aging. As we approach middle age, we are compelled to acknowledge that we are no longer young. Our bodies are changing and we start to think of the second act of our lives. We are forced to confront the fact that we do not have children (in most cases) to look after us as we get older. We will have to make our own way. I would imagine these concerns are exacerbated for those who do not have stable careers, homes, or relationships. Aging porn stars see their time in the industry nearing an end. Or are tired of the industry, but don’t have other options readily available (we are still in an economic depression for most Americans).

      We also must acknowledge that some of the issues being confronted by aging gay men are a result of the AIDS epidemic. We lost two generations of gay men. So, a generation of gay men did not have mentors or older gay men to help them with transitioning. And the younger generations are completely cut off from their older peers.

      Mar 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • viveutvivas
      viveutvivas

      @jar, @Demented, I agree with you that this has to do with aging, not so much profession. We come to a point in our lives where our bodies start to decay while we are in them like in some horror movie, we have no model for graceful aging while gay, and perhaps we see our future in the lonely old men in a corner of the gay bar or stalking the gay bookshops. I don’t blame people for being unable to take it and checking out early.

      Mar 19, 2013 at 2:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • viveutvivas
      viveutvivas

      @the other Greg, okay, I should have said loved ones, not parents.

      Mar 19, 2013 at 2:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AEH
      AEH

      The whole tragedy is just terrible, but I think we need to do more than just a cute slogan to address suicide.

      Mar 19, 2013 at 9:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • whiskeyclone
      whiskeyclone

      while I think the Wilfred story is really tragic, I really wonder why we place so much emphasis on porn stars… plenty on non-”famous” gay people commit suicide everyday but because they aren’t hot or doing porn noone cares. not to say the deaths of wilfred or arpad weren’t sad and disturbing. but rather why do we elevate porn stars above the rest of us. it’s all based on looks and body image. a lot of us that don’t have the good looks may see these attractive (yet apparently empty) men constantly flooding all forms of our gay media and feel as if if you aren’t attractive, your life means nothing… while many gay men without the fame die alone, it seems ironic that even when one is the object of attention and desire as a porn star may be, they are still just as alone as everyone else. I feel bad that these guys killed themselves, but I feel worse that being a sex and image obsessed person is so elevated in our culture. at the end of the day, his death is no more of a loss the the countless other suicides the gay media will never cover because those guys weren’t hot and didn’t make porn.. i’m tired of hearing about this. it’s not that porn stars a lonely or more depressed, it’s that being gay in general is difficult and there is a lot of internalized self loathing. it only makes sense that there would be a representation of that in the porn industry as with anywhere else. also, all the attention and adoration these guys get is just as fake and empty and not based on personality but rather looks.. there is this attempt for all of us to think we have to have the perfect body or be the perfect bear or whatever.. it’s all very swallow, no wonder even when someone achieves that level of attention and success that they are still empty and sad. wifried’s story is rather different as it involves the mourning of his partner and isn’t the same as arpad whom we may never understand why he chose to kill himself.

      Mar 21, 2013 at 6:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mitch8901
      Mitch8901

      It was sad to lose Roman last year and very, very upsetting for the losses of Arpad and Wilfried. Please….no more suicides. I wonder what fans like us can do or say to assist or help where needed to let them know that we care about their well-being?

      Mar 21, 2013 at 10:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dinodogstar
      Dinodogstar

      so many of us, so stiffled and repressed into defining our sexuality in only fits of sexual activity, seem to objectify ourselves and each other, in the same way the straight world objectifies women. Gay men, striving for that ideal, believing our value rests on the three hours we spend at the bar posing, hoping to be seen and later held, harm our bodies horrifically in the name of beauty, at the same rates of heterosexual women in terms of eating disorder statistics. ( iwon’t even go into the bs we do to get bigger in other areas.) We starve, vomit, get plastic surgery, hair restoration, implelment electro-shock equipment, take whatever pill or laxative or vitamin, we immediately buy the latest info-mercial exercise program that promises beauty in months; we use steroids to get bigger, retrict food to get smaller, we take supplements that never seem to satifactorily supplement our need for esteem and acceptance, and then we feel deep shame that we too get older, less fit, less youthfully-pretty, and we wonder why we are so unhappy and challenged by father time who doesn’t give a crap how hard you hit the gym…I am guilty of all these things, and a casualty, like the porn actors we objectified and who objectified themselves, wh come to realize being pretty isn’t fuffilling at all, and maybe even so de-humanizng, lacking in supporting their humanity, that they feel unworthy of holding on to their humnaness.

      Apr 12, 2013 at 12:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

    Add your Comment

    Queerty now requires you to log in to comment

    Please log in to add your comment.

    Need an account? Register It's free and easy.

  • POPULAR ON QUEERTY

    FOLLOW US
     



    GET QUEERTY'S DAILY NEWSLETTER


    FROM AROUND THE WEB

    Copyright 2014 Queerty, Inc.
    Follow Queerty at Queerty.com, twitter.com/queerty and facebook.com/queerty.