Porn Star Comebacks
In May 1998, the curvaceous, raven-haired Lee stated on her website that she had relapsed into a "serious childhood illness." By December of the same year, members of Lee’s official fan club began receiving the following chilling email:
"Hyapatia Lee has relapsed into a childhood illness [diabetes] and passed away. This news has upset many beloved fans and friends around the world. When Hyapatia learned of her inevitable demise she had one last request.
It read, "Please set up a fundraising sale in my behalf for my medical and burial expenses. I have no medical insurance and my family can’t even afford the doctor bills, not to mention the cost of a burial. I have a lot of fan club merchandise left that can be sold and I will give a list of personal, one-of-a-kind items that are sentimental to me. These items are truly part of me and my history of being a legend in erotica.’"
Lee then invoked her Native American heritage in the morbid missive:
"I really appreciate all of the love and support from my friends and I’m sure the Great Spirit will reunite us all one day. I will autograph as many items as I can. Remember, if you buy any merchandise from the fan club, it is mine personally. You will not only help a friend in dire need but also help my spirit to live on with you.
"Please help if you can. Hyapatia Lee, 1961-1998."
Fans, Luke Ford
Due to the cynicism of fans and the investigative reporting of porn columnist and blogger Luke Ford, Lee’s plea from beyond the grave was quickly exposed as a hoax motivated by sheer, baldfaced greed. Brad Williams, former moderator of the news group RAME (rec.arts.movies.erotica) called Lee’s actions "beneath even the most sleaziest in society."
Lee’s limited following at the time may also have contributed to the failure of her felonious enterprise. As adult film reviewer Roger T. Pipe points out: "No big stars have died in the Internet Age. If Jenna Jameson were to die today, websites would be popping up to cash in on her demise faster than the ink could dry on her death certificate."
Ten years after her death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, videos and DVDs featuring former Vivid Girl Savannah continue to sell at a brisk pace on dozens of websites.
"Her death was very public and increased her visibility," says Pipe. "Ten years ago the only time we heard about porn in the mainstream media was when something like the death of Savannah or John Holmes happened."
Laurie Holmes, also known as Misty Dawn, is the successor to the Holmes legacy. She currently maintains at least three websites — Johncholmes.com, Johnholmes. com and Johnnywadd .com — designed to extract cash from the name of the porn legend, who died of complications from AIDS in 1988.
Through the online John Holmes Porn King Store, Laurie Holmes hawks posters, apparel, memorabilia, and 27 Holmes titles on VHS and DVD. Most of the titles are compilations but a few classic features such as "Girls on Fire" and "Pizza Girls" are available for between $13.95 and $29.95 each.
With a paid membership of $19.95 — available in multiple billing options — Holmes fans can also download for free the ebook version of the out-of-print and somewhat dubious "Porn King: The Autobiography of John C. Holmes" authored by the late porn star along with Laurie Holmes and Fred C. Basten.
An Amazon.com search yielded two results for the obscure paperback version of the Holmes autobiography; one listed for a flat $300 and another seller was attempting to unload a copy personally signed by Laurie Holmes for the wildly inflated price of $2,475.
Like John Holmes, Linda Lovelace literally became a living legend long before her death at the age of 53 in a car crash in 2002. A random eBay search unearthed 30 active-selling items, including Lovelace screensavers, 8"x10" glossies, autographs, posters, books, a CD of the original motion picture soundtrack for "Deep Throat," and a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan "I Choked Linda Lovelace."
Type the name Linda Lovelace into the Google search engine and one of the first results is a link to United Kingdom-based Kozmichoroscopes.com where, after reading the extensive and exhaustive astrological arc of the reluctant blue-screen queen, one can purchase their own deluxe 25- page reading with commentary for $50 or a full 20-page reading without commentary for $35.
Dorothy Stratten was the 1980 Playboy Playmate of the Year and an actress of distinctly modest gifts who was elevated postmortem to lofty thespian heights she might never have achieved in life. Killed in 1980 by husband and business manager Paul Snider in a horrific murder-suicide, Stratten’s death grabbed the headlines and the morbid fascination of the public.
Bob Fosse’s "Star 80," a decidedly grim and troubling film exploring the murder of the Playboy centerfold (portrayed by Mariel Hemingway), was released by Warner Bros. in 1983 and currently ranks just below the top 10,000 of DVD sales on Amazon.
In answer to Fosse’s film and public speculation about his own contributions to the turmoil in Stratten’s life, filmmaker and former Stratten paramour Peter Bogdanovich penned a book in 1984, "The Killing of the Unicorn." With an Amazon sales rank of just over 675,000, Bogdanovich’s book is not only outpaced by DVD sales of "Star 80" but, with perverse irony, by DVD sales of Stratten’s outing in a campy, low-budget softcore scifi fantasy called "Galaxina," with a sales rank of 17,000.
Stratten fans with deep pockets will find an abundance of posters, stills and centerfolds on the web. Moviemugs.com even sells 11 oz. Dorothy Stratten coffee mugs.
Befitting her posthumous status as an iconic sex kitten, Stratten is buried in Westwood Memorial Park, the same cemetery that hosts the final resting place of Marilyn Monroe.
The last time 24-year-old porn performer Krysti Lynn was seen alive was on Dec. 3, 1995. She was drinking beer and watching a football game with a friend, Stella Martinez, 33, at the Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas, Calif., across the Santa Monica Mountains from Malibu. The bodies of the women were discovered three days later by a road crew at the bottom of a 150-foot ravine. Lynn’s 1993 Acura Legend had skidded off Las Virgenes Road while speeding at about 100 mph in a 50 mph zone with hairpin curves.
N. Smith operates Krysti Lynn.com, a nonprofit site dedicated to the fallen porn starlet. He began the site in 1995 before Lynn’s death with a slim handful of photos that porn mogul John Stagliano — also Lynn’s boyfriend at the time of her fatal accident — gave him at the 1995 East Coast Video Show. Smith uses a server from Creampie.com to host the site and offers a reciprocal link.
Smith’s Krysti Lynn tribute site receives about 300 unique visitors per day and he doesn’t promote the site..
"From what I can see most of the traffic is foreign, especially from Brazil," says Smith. "It’s all from type-in or search engines."
Smith has also maintained a nonprofit website devoted to the memory of Savannah for the last 10 years.
"I don’t keep stats on the Savannah site," Smith confesses, "but I do get a lot of email. What’s weird is that a lot of people keep asking me when I’m going to update the sites."
Smith has nothing but good intentions, but there are others in the cyber marketplace who can’t resist a morbid run for a buck. They are fueled, unfortunately, by willingly compliant consumers.
The disappearance and gruesome murder of porn actress Taylor Summers, also known as Natel King, in March piqued the death-obsessed curiosity of many web surfers.
For the week of March 22, the Google Press Center Zeitgeist archives — recording the most popular search queries — ranked Taylor Summers at No. 4 and Natel King at No. 6.
Several websites hawking images of Taylor Summers were activated after authorities confirmed finding her decomposed corpse — with a bondage ball in her mouth — in a ravine in White Marsh, Pa.
In light of the fact that Summer’s slaying was described by homicide investigators "as part of a sexual bondage fantasy" many of the Internet culture vultures ceased displaying graphic images of the 5’8," 138 lb. blonde actress in various torturous poses.
As of this writing, one website, Girlswithwebsites.com, is still running semi-nude bondage photos of Summers with a self-important introduction that attests that "Taylor would have wanted to have been remembered for her art and her beauty, and would be pleased with our decision to celebrate her legacy."