Meghan Wren (also known as Amber Rayne) was found dead of an overdose in California at the age of 31. She rose to mainstream notoriety by accusing Bryan Sevilla (also known as James Deen) of rape, a rape that was filmed and then used by many thousands of men to get off.
She joined a chorus of voices who accused Sevilla of rape and violence in 2015, initiated by outspoken sex work activist Jessica Stoyadinovich (also known as Stoya):
“We were in a piledriver, he was fucking me in the ass and I said something like, ‘Yeah fuck me like that you son of a bitch.’ His face twisted and he came down on my face two times—close-fisted,” says Rayne. “I was punched in the face while he was still in my ass and then he starts going crazy on my butt—extreme, brutally fucking it. He just starts shoving things in to the point where he ripped it and I bled everywhere. There was so much blood I couldn’t finish the scene.”
Released in 2006, in a scene some fans call the “weirdest in porn,” the director, the late Chico Wang, alluded to these issues in a forum post about the movie's release. “It seemed I went a bit overboard when one of the girls, Amber Rayne, suddenly couldn’t finish her scene because of backdoor problems.”
She remembers hearing the director say, “Oh, shit.” The director’s assistant took her into the bathroom to assess the damage. In his opinion, she needed stitches (which she later received). Ever the consummate professional, Rayne said, “I’ll be fine,” determined to finish the scene, somehow. She and the director decided on a multiple-guy BJ scene (sans Deen) featuring her face instead of the injured rear.
“It took many years before we worked together again… my agent showed up at the end of that scene and said, ‘We’re taking you straight to the hospital.’ He was pissed,” says Rayne. “I was a big money-maker and I was out of commission.”
Years later she consented to working with Deen—again under the supervision of a trusted director. “I went in waiting for a battle, ‘I’m going to take you on now.’ It was a challenge, like, ‘I will break you,’ and it ended up being a really sweet scene. At the time, people really liked working with him and it was that scene when I realized why,” says Rayne. “It seemed like he’d grown up significantly, at least in his interactions with me, and I grew into a stronger person as well.”
Looking back, Rayne says she rationalized the incident by thinking of Deen as really young and new to the business. But now that so many others have come forward, the newbie excuse no longer applies. “I can’t blame it on immaturity anymore. I can’t blame it on being new to the industry and being some young kid. No, you know better.”
Despite the rhetoric of feminism and women's rights, as well as on-the-job safety, the coverage of the scandal's aftermath was largely silent on what had been improved for women like Stoyadinovich, like Wren.
Indeed, Sevilla pled bafflement to all of the accusations against him, and there have been no charges filed against him, or against the pornographers who watched the rapes happen, packaged and sold some of them.
These women stepped forward with a common accusation - a man who makes his living fucking women for the camera somehow had some deep-seated rage and misogyny issues. He continues to be enabled by the deep-seated rage and misogyny issues that seemed to have been best exhibited as production crew stood around and "high-fived" each other during the brutal attacks.
Did Meghan Wren, a woman who loved the outdoors, animals, and described herself as a "normal woman" despite her profession, did she seek drugs or suicide as a result of this culture of violence?
Is there any way to reform the porn industry? Or are the deep seated issues at the heart of packaging women for mass sexual gratification too entangled in the industry itself?
Either way, like Christy Mack beaten and raped to within an inch of her life, are we able to adequately support these victims of domestic and occupational violence?
Did the outrage at Sevilla's actions result in any major changes to the way the sex industry operates?
Or was this lack of response, of material and emotional support past "#istandwith____" possibly what kept these women silent in the first place?
"Ever the consummate professional", Wren was pressured - whether she realized it or not - to continue working after she received injury that required stitches and inflicted god-knows-what on her psyche.
It's possible that the scars of her admission being relived every day online, as well as the professional ramifications that come from taking a swing at one of the more powerful players in the industry, as well as the fact that women in porn so rarely last past their thirties, drove Wren to commit her tragic last act. But is a feminism that demands acceptance while gaining no traction in actual reforms somehow responsible for her death? Do we have lazy activists to blame? Or is it a culture of misogyny that might share responsibility for the death Meghan Wren?
The trending hashtag for her death is "She has a name" - but what is that? Who are we mourning, and why?