every momkey and their uncle knows the porn industry is run by crooks ......or mob .......or somone shady AF.......its porn ......its always been dodgy questionnable .........once you have done the deed its their foprever ......simple ....you cannot unsee porn ....so if you gte older and wanna erase a past ......its tits up amigo especially since you can see everything on the net .......there will always be casualties in any business ......ythis poor girl is just another .......she will be like all the rest become a memory
Hilary Rivera was as proud as any other mother would be of her daughter Mercedes Grabowski as she left her native Nova Scotia, Canada, with hopes of finding stardom in Los Angeles. And, within months of landing in Hollywood, the “free spirit,” as Rivera describes her eldest daughter, managed to make a name—well, a new name—for herself: August Ames.
Unlike some parents whose children enter the adult entertainment industry, Rivera was fully supportive of Ames’ career, becoming her biggest cheerleader and always eager to gossip with her about bumping into Kim Kardashian in a bathroom or chat about attending a party held at Charlie Sheen’s house. Really, the mother of four’s only qualm was the nearly 6,000-mile distance Ames’ new career put between the pair.
“I wanted the best for her; I wanted her to fulfill her dreams, and I wanted her to be happy,” Rivera told The Daily Beast, following the release of her new book Porn Star Mom: My Life with August Ames. “I was thrilled for her that she was getting these opportunities to meet famous people and to live in a beautiful community and to be a star. It was something that I had never fathomed could possibly happen to her.”
But now, nearly a decade after Ames decided to leave home, Rivera wishes that she had had better insight into what her eldest daughter was going through. She says she’s come to learn that Ames was deeply depressed and allegedly emotionally neglected by her husband Kevin Moore, a producer and director for the adult company Evil Angel.
Rivera was also sickened to discover that Ames, despite being one of the industry’s biggest rising stars, featuring in close to 300 movies over her five-year career, felt unable to stand up for herself against some of her co-stars who allegedly crossed a line during shoots—specifically Russian performer Markus Dupree, whom Ames accused of making her feel violated after one of their scenes.
“She was just on cloud nine,” Rivera recalls of Ames after her arrival in California. “And then over time, things happened, and she was forced into situations where she was very poorly treated—beyond poorly treated. She was manhandled by her co-star, [Dupree] roughed her up. He left marks on her so badly that she couldn’t work for a couple of weeks.”
Performers ignoring Ames’ boundaries and the crew allegedly failing to intervene when Ames was in distress must have been triggering for her, Rivera believes, referencing how Ames had confided in her that she had been sexually abused as a child by a family member.
“Even though she was such a big star, she deep down didn’t feel that way,” Rivera says. “She felt helpless, and at the hands of everyone around her.”
But Rivera believes that Ames was finally standing up for herself on Dec. 3, 2017, when she fired off a tweet about refusing to work with a “crossover performer.” That tweet would spark a relentless 48-hour torrent of cyberbullying that she believes ultimately led the 23-year-old to take her own life. (Rivera claims in her book that Ames had just learned that her would-be co-star had refused to take an HIV test, which is why she refused to shoot with him.)
“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 had tweeted. “BS is all I can say. Do agents really not care about who they’re representing? #ladirect I do my homework for my body?”
Almost immediately, Ames was accused of being bigoted and homophobic, with many claiming her tweet reenforced the negative stigma surrounding bisexual male performers—specifically, concerns that they run a greater risk of passing on sexually transmitted diseases to their scene partners. Ames tried to explain that she wasn’t being homophobic, but rather exercising her right to choose who she performed with. “I wasn’t attacking, I was warning, because most female performers I know won’t work with crossovers,” she claimed.
Still, the backlash intensified, and the hits came from all over, including from veteran performer Jessica Drake, who chastised Ames for “eliminating folks based on the fact they may have done gay or crossover work,” adding that her “logic is seriously flawed.”
Pansexual performer Jaxton Wheeler also chimed in, tweeting around 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, “The world is awaiting your apology or for you to swallow a cyanide pill. Either or we’ll take it.” That same morning, Ames’ body was found. (Wheeler claims that his tweet was posted after her death.)
Rivera accuses Wheeler of being “the catalyst” for Ames’ decision to take her life but also acknowledges that Ames was in the midst of a personal crisis, pointing to her strained marriage to Moore, a general lack of support from within the industry, her mental-health struggles, and finally, the social media pile-on.
“There was a whole chain of events that culminated in her taking her life,” she says.
While Wheeler went on an apology tour of sorts after Ames’ passing, with many pointing the finger at him for encouraging Ames to take her life, Rivera says that she has never received a direct apology from Wheeler.
“I’ve never spoken to that man, nor do I want to,” she says. “If someone’s gonna say publicly, ‘Why don’t you take a cyanide pill?’ that type of personality isn’t the type of personality that’s going to say, ‘Oh, gee, I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean for your daughter to take her life.’ No, it doesn’t compute.”
Still, Rivera says that she’s proud of her daughter “even though it caused such a storm in her life.”
“At least she was standing up for herself,” Rivera writes. “I suppose that was the last time she ever really put her own needs and wants above anyone else’s.”
Rivera also expressed anger toward Ames’ husband Moore, who she claims Ames only married because she needed a green card to stay working in the U.S. While Rivera says Moore, who was significantly older, was happy to have the twenty-something serve as his arm candy, he failed to provide her with much-needed emotional support.
Ames had battled depression since she was a child, Rivera says, recalling how she recognized early signs when Ames was a young girl. (Only later would Ames tell her mother that she had been molested by a family member.) Later in life, Ames was also diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, something that Rivera also battles.
“I think [Moore] is just a narcissist who doesn’t feel that he has done any wrong,” Rivera says, claiming that he was emotionally abusive and neglected Ames. “Neglect is almost as bad as abuse. She was left to her own devices all the time. Other than the porn industry, they didn’t have anything in common. Certainly, the generational gap didn’t help.”
Moore himself admits that he could have done a better job of paying attention to Ames’ fragile state, telling journalist Jon Ronson in his 2019 Audible podcast The Last Days of August that he was going through his own emotional crisis shortly before her passing due to the death of their cat Kush.
“I withdrew from life, and I withdrew from [Ames],” he said. “I just wasn’t there. I’d sit there and look at photos of Kush. It’s so sad. She talked to her therapist about it, that she didn’t know what to do for me. I didn’t know she’d be dead six weeks later.”
It was around this same time that Ames partook in what would turn into a traumatic shooting experience for her with Markus Dupree, who has a reputation in the industry for being particularly rough and crossing boundaries with his scene partners.
Ronson previously spoke to The Daily Beast in 2019, recalling how he was shown the scene—which has never been released—in question. “You can’t shake the feeling that that’s the moment it begins,” he said.
“It obviously triggered in her things that she’d experienced as a child and she just looked so upset in that moment, and it’s really hard to shake that feeling. I’m not going to say that’s the reason she died but that was the beginning of the end.”
In 2019, Ames’ friend Emma Hix released a series of text messages that Ames reportedly wrote after her scene with Dupree, describing that he was “way too rough” and the scene “felt like rape.”
“Yesterday was totally unprofessional and I wanted to die,” the text read. “He was dragging me around and choked me with my panties, slamming my head down on the table and was just WAY too rough and the scene didn’t even call for it.”
“Nobody on set said shit and I was literally in panic mode, so I froze and didn’t say no or stop. I just wanted it to be over,” she added in a follow-up message. “I was looking at the sound guy with ‘help me’ eyes and he was looking back with ‘I’m sorry’ eyes.”
For Rivera, it’s heartbreaking to know that her daughter had not one single advocate in that room. She wonders why there can’t be intimacy coordinators on all adult film sets in the same manner as Hollywood productions.
“It would be common sense to have someone on set saying [stop],” she says. “Or a director for heaven’s sakes. Wouldn’t you expect the director to say ‘cut’ if one of the cast members is in physical and visible pain?”
It took years for Rivera to try and come to terms with what happened, something she’s currently struggling with. Through tears she admits that she, in part, blames herself for Ames’ death, largely due to what one of Ames’ close friends had relayed to her.
The friend had gone to visit a medium to gain some closure following Ames’ passing, holding out hope that the medium could make contact with Ames. Rivera learned from the friend that, according to the medium, Ames’ last words were “liquid courage”—which made Rivera’s stomach drop.
During Ames’ upbringing, Rivera admits that she battled alcohol addiction and would often repeat that exact phrase while drinking. Hearing it repeated back to her was devastating.
“It made me feel responsible because those were my words,” Rivera says. “I was a raging functioning alcoholic, and I didn’t know it. I didn’t acknowledge it, but everyone around me knew it. Certainly, my children who were teenagers at the time saw it. Alcohol was such a powerful drug for me, that’s all I wanted. I was exhausted at the end of the day, and I still had to put supper on the table. Alcohol was a way for me to loosen up and let go.”
“Just knowing that those could have been her last thoughts, it just breaks my heart that she needed that,” Rivera adds. “Knowing that I had that much influence over my daughter was a really hard pill to swallow for me. That’s why I take so much of the blame for what she did.”
There are a multitude of things Rivera wishes she could go back and change. For starters, she wishes that she could have had a more honest and open conversation with Ames as a young girl about speaking up when she was uncomfortable.
Rivera explains that she too was sexually assaulted while growing up and as a young woman, and it took until Ames’ death to tackle these tough conversations head-on.
“She and I had very similar experiences,” Rivera says. “I wasn’t closed off from her but closed off from everything that I just didn’t know how to handle the situation. I didn’t know how to talk to her about it. I’m a different mother today than I was when I was raising my first three children. I’m raising [my daughter] Ursula now who is 14 and trust me, I am not the same mother.”
Rivera hopes that her book will help bring about further support—mental health resources and on-set intimacy coordinators—for adult performers, and encourage parents to have difficult conversations with their children and cherish every moment with them.
“Parents need to know that they are such huge influences on their children,” Rivera says. “What you say to your child can’t be unsaid—or what you don’t say. I know this personally… because she’s not here anymore.”