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1994.07.16 - Los Angeles Times - Suicide of Young Superstar Weighs on Porn Industry

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1994.07.16 - Los Angeles Times - Suicide of Young Superstar Weighs on Porn Industry Empty 1994.07.16 - Los Angeles Times - Suicide of Young Superstar Weighs on Porn Industry

Post by Blackstar on Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:55 am

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Suicide of Young Superstar Weighs on Porn Industry

Tragedy: Pampered, wild Shannon Wilsey, known as Savannah, was the third actress to take her life.

By JOHN JOHNSON
TIMES STAFF WRITER

UNIVERSAL CITY — After crashing her white Corvette and injuring her much-glorified face on the way home from another night of hard partying, Shannon Wilsey sent a friend out to walk her Rottweiler, Daisy, and then shot herself in the head.

For the 23-year-old sex video superstar known as Savannah, it was the most outrageous act in a short but outrage-filled public life. It was also the third major suicide in the adult video industry, whose most valuable and pampered commodity is beautiful but often troubled young women.

[...]

Mike Wilsey said she began dating rock star Gregg Allman while still in high school, eventually going on the road with him for a couple of years.

After returning to California and deciding on a career in Hollywood, Wilsey drifted into adult entertainment. She rose to fame in the world of screen sex as fast as anyone had. Her symmetrical good looks, enhanced by two breast enlargements, and her curtains of blond hair brought her to the attention of Vivid Video in Van Nuys. The company signed her to a contract and starred her in a four-part “On Trial” series that revolved around a porn star’s obscenity trial.

Her growing celebrity and wealth enabled her to indulge her instinct for excess. Her fascination with rock stars endured, according to Adult Video News. “I love sex and I love sex with rockers more than anything else,” she said in an interview.

While some of that was probably propaganda for the consumption of naive fans who think, or hope, that porn actresses have insatiable sexual appetites, her exploits eventually filtered beyond the insular world of pornography. People magazine columnist Mitchell Fink reported two years ago that she and one rock star engaged in what Fink called “full hit whoopie” in a crowded New York bar, after which she jumped into a waiting limousine.

It was then that the whispers began: Here was a woman headed for destruction.

Wilsey had the temerity to diss Axl Rose as a lousy sex partner in a supermarket tabloid. Bryn Bridenthal, a spokeswoman for Geffen Records, said Rose may not even have known Wilsey.

While mocking conventional mores, she also began isolating herself from the people who could have been her natural allies: other porn actors.

In 1992, Wilsey was named the industry’s Best New Starlet. At the awards show, she became an anti-Sally Field, reportedly saying in her acceptance speech: “I know a lot of you don’t like me, but that’s tough. I got my award.”

She also developed a reputation for hard drinking and drug use. Her father said she used heroin for a time.

But Pera said this hard, wild veneer was constructed to cover a very vulnerable and lonely young woman who never felt pretty.

Wilsey believed she had no friends and had trouble trusting anyone. “She was very discriminated against because she was so big and didn’t take any shit from anyone,” Pera said. “She made big money. She knew her value.”

Yet her lavish tastes outstripped even her six-figure income. She bought designer clothes and decorated her leased hillside home overlooking Universal City with thousands of dollars worth of art.

Her spending on friends was just as mercurial. She spent $3,000 on a birthday present. Pera said her idea of economizing was buying a pair of designer shorts on sale for $173.

There was no apparent single event that precipitated the suicide, although some said her career had started to slide. More likely, she had been frustrated with her inability to break away from the work, as she told Pera she would, or break into legitimate acting.

Even though Wilsey dated Hollywood celebrities, she could never be a part of that world. Wilsey’s famous pals routinely trashed the sex industry to her, “but the whole reason they were with her was because she was a porn star,” said Jeanna Fine, a former sex star and friend of Wilsey’s.

Pera, 46, who considered herself as much a second mother as a manager, said Wilsey had been depressed for months over her breakup with rock guitarist Slash, like Rose of the band Guns ‘N Roses.

Bridenthal of Geffen Records denied that Slash had a romantic relationship with Wilsey. “If she was (carrying a torch), it was completely one-sided,” she said.

Of late, Wilsey’s problems had been intensifying. “Maybe I should kill myself,” she told friends on more than one occasion. Police said she owed money to the Internal Revenue Service and her savings account was so depleted that she had arranged to send Pera money to cover checks from Nyack, N.Y., where she was booked for a nude dancing engagement at a club called Lace.

[...]

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-07-16-mn-16251-story.html

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