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I was fighting for my life, near death, when I decided to set up a fundraiser to help pay with medical and living expenses.
Yes, I am a fetish porn star but that has nothing to do with how I got sick.
It all started back in March, when I had a traumatic experience on the set of a movie. A girl I was shooting with had a seizure in my arms and nearly died. It was the scariest thing I'd ever experienced in my life. Afterward, my psychiatrist prescribed me Zoloft to help me deal with it.
About two weeks later, I got a huge rash on my face and my inner thigh with blisters. My skin was peeling off like paint. Then the rash started to heal but I started to get more flu-like symptoms and I had a burning fever and shaking cold. My stubborn ass waited way too long to go to the doctor, but I finally went to urgent care on Easter.
When I was there, the doctor I dealt with was not interested in helping me and was very dismissive. I was afraid she wouldn’t take me seriously because I am an adult actress, so I only told her I was a model. But she looked at my long pointy nails, my rash and the fact that I was covered in tattoos and she decided that I did meth. She told me that I probably picked my face, and she would be happy to make me a psych or derm appointment. She wouldn’t even look at some of my blisters, since her mind was already made up,
I waited five long days until the following Thursday until my lab results came, which were not expedited. During those five days, I started walking into walls, and I started acting drunk and delusional, saying nonsensical things to my roommate. I eventually found out that I had the skin disease Stevens Johnson syndrome, caused by an allergy to the Zoloft.
I was prescribed antibiotics for the Steven Johnsons, but since it had been left untreated for so long, I got a staph infection on top of the blistering. Then there was so much infection that it triggered the most severe form of hypothyroidism called myxedema coma, and I ended up in the ER with my nervous system shutting down.
I've been saying for a long time that we need some kind of safety net for performers in case there is an emergency. Sex workers are usually freelancers. Any porn girl can tell you about a good month or a bad month. It's a huge sex worker truth. Our income revolves around other people's leisure. So if someone doesn't care to pay you or accommodate you, then you can't pay your bills. In my case, I did have money saved up, but because I had to cancel all of my shoots and wasn't able to work, all of that money was quickly used up.
Which is why, at the height of my illness, I was sitting alone in my house for weeks trying to get my dogs outside and feed them and bathe myself. I tried so hard to be strong, even when I couldn't even take care of myself. My friends convinced me that I needed to reach out for help, which is why I decided to try fundraising on the Internet. I was aware of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but I knew they were for creative projects so I decided to go with GiveForward because it's 100 percent for medical expenses.
That's also why I worded my request so specifically. You can still see it in Google cache. We told people: "I'm sick. I'm getting sicker. And the money is being used for expenses. It's only being used to get me back on my feet." I wanted to use a company that was sympathetic to medical emergencies.
I set up the fundraiser on May 11. And a week later -- on Friday -- I started getting alerts that something was wrong. My friends started telling me their donations were bouncing back. I said, "Let's not cause a fuss. Let me test it." I donated $5.60 out of my own money to test if the donations were working. When I woke up the next morning, I had been informed there was "processing error" with my donation and it was going to be refunded.
Then I got this email, which I posted to my Twitter:
I was shocked to find out that my fundraiser had been canceled. I looked in my bank account and $700 of money that said it had been cleared now was changed to "pending." They put a hold on the money. Besides feeling terrified and frantic and angry and hopeless, I felt deceived and abandoned. All these people were trying to help me but this company decided that I couldn’t receive help because of my profession. WePay was originally founded to fund a bachelor party -- and I felt like they had decided that I didn't deserve to live because I am an adult film actress.
I eventually found out more about what had happened. Someone at WePay discovered tweets from some of my supporters offering adult photos to encourage donations. I had retweeted the offers. This was deemed a violation of the Terms of Service, which I learned states that you cannot "use the Service in connection with adult content or services." Ultimately, I don't know why sex work is an issue, but things like this anti-abortion campaign are not. The money I was raising was strictly for my medical expenses, and that was very clear on my page. I felt sick and defeated.
After my fundraiser was canceled, my story started to get some attention online, and the companies involved sent me apology after apology because of the PR nightmare that ensued:
When this is over, I don’t care how many sex scenes I have to do, I don’t want to take anybody’s money unless I have to. I’ve never been through anything so hard in my life. I only have my body, but my body is spent.
I have been in constant pain for almost 40 days. I have so many doctor’s appointments to try to get well again, and I may still have to have a series of thyroid tests, exams, and treatments. I’m hoping that I will be back to work and I’m trying to be positive. But I don't know, which is why I’ve raised the goal on my new fundraiser to $15,000. Any additional money that is raised, I am going to put in a trust for other sex workers who are in acute medical emergencies and we’re going to build a new nonprofit based on the fact that sex workers are human and life happens.
I don’t want anybody to feel this way ever again -- and to every single person who has donated to help get me back on my feet again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.