af Yoshi Obayashi • illustrationer/fotos Anton Nielsen Illegal 14

In Memoriam, Haley Paige

By Yoshi Obayashi

Artwork by Anton Nielsen

Adult lm actresses are disproportionately vulnerable to substance abuse and cumulative health risks. Here’s a story about one I knew and loved.

August 21st, 2017 was a very memorable day for me. Not because of the solar eclipse and all of those astral idiots making a fuss over it. No, it was the ten-year anniversary of the death of Haley Paige, 25, née Maryam Ireae Haley. She was a beautiful and kind individual. She was also a rising star in the porn world at the time. I sure miss her.

She died on August 21st, 2007 in north- ern California. Her husband of a few weeks was Chico “Wanker” Wang, 35, née Inkyo Volt Hwang. Wang directed a slew of hardcore porn movies such as the Gangbang Auditions, No Swallowing Allowed, Down the Hatch, Un-Natural Sex and the Spring Chickens series (you get the idea). Even prior to his career in the adult business, he had amassed a criminal record. According to The Mercury News, Haley’s death was deemed “suspicious” by police, particularly due to allegations that Wang had pistol-whipped her a few weeks previously. Toxicology tests revealed a minimal amount of methadone in her system—which isn’t rare for women in the adult film industry. According to the Coalition Against Trafficking, 87 percent of international and 92 percent of United States adult film actresses use drugs and alcohol as part of the industry culture. The same survey found that 94 percent of adult film actresses who use drugs inject heroin, while 21.1 percent use methamphetamine.

Even a small amount of methadone could be lethal—depending on a person’s prior drug use. With Haley, no one knew what happened. What is known, though, is that substance abuse is especially problematic for women in the adult film industry because they already disproportionately struggle with other serious health risks. According to a 2011 study conducted in Psychiatric Services Journal, female adult film performers have significantly worse mental health and higher rates of depression than other women. Bipolar disorders, PTSD, anxiety, depression and schizophrenia are common—so common, in fact, that a 2008 study in J Urban Health found that female adult lm performers are an especially vulnerable group exposed to many health risks that are often cumulative. (Drug addiction, mental health issues, an increased risk of living in poverty, exposure to STDs, domestic violence… they’re all prevalent for women in porn.) In fact, anti-porn advocate Dr. Shelley Lubben suggests that the aver- age life expectancy of an American female porn performer is only 36.2 years—a shocking 42.4 years less than the average American life expectancy of 78.6 years.

So, did Haley accidentally overdose? Or perhaps Wang tried to kill her? Who knows. Shortly afterwards, Wang’s body was found a few feet from a shrine he had constructed to “his” Haley. In a spiral notebook, he described the difficulty of dealing with her death. It may have been an intentional overdose.

I met both of them. To my mind, she was an angel, and (although he acted very friendly) he struck me as a creep. As Johan Hari says in his magnum opus Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, “The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It’s connection.” Maybe she was looking for a connection, and she somehow found it in Chico Wang.

Haley was a poor girl who got into porn to make money. Yes, this put her in the gutter. I was in it, and so was Chico. But that didn’t obscure her view of a modest dream: to be a psychologist or sex therapist after her adult career. She wanted to help people. And she wound up unable to help herself. In one of her last video interviews, Haley told the interviewer that she wanted to get into business, maybe real estate. Dreams about traveling to Greece, becoming a mother, and having tons of pets. That’s all she wanted.

None of the major adult business magazines mentioned Haley’s ten year anniversary. I remember her for all of the obvious reasons, but am especially saddened to see this kind of story keep repeating itself over and over again. In late 2017, five adult film actresses died in seven months. Maybe I should learn to look to the sky and forget about such preventable tragedies. Connection? Yes.

R.I.P. Haley Paige