The Last Days of August review – unsettling tale of a porn star’s demise

Jon Ronson’s new podcast focuses on the tragic death of August Ames and uncovers some uncomfortable truths about the industry she worked in

Jon Ronson’s new podcast, The Last Days of August, is a sparing, delicate and at times harrowing series, ostensibly about the suicide of the porn star August Ames, who killed herself in December 2017, at the age of 23. Ronson first delved into the adult entertainment business with his previous podcast The Butterfly Effect, which offered a sympathetic picture of an industry that many within it argue is still little understood by the mainstream. It was a warm and compassionate investigation, and drew smart lines between the thundering pace of technological advances, the easy availability of pornography and what that all meant for the people at the heart of it.

Given that Ronson is also interested in social media and its sometimes catastrophic impact on people’s lives, it’s no surprise that August Ames’s story piqued his interest. Ames – who is referred to by both her work name and her real name, Mercedes Grabowski – took her life shortly after a controversial tweet ignited the kind of pile-on that Ronson studied in his book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. Ames wrote that she chose not to work with men who had shot pornographic scenes with other men (“crossover talent”); the response was swift and damning, particularly from other famous figures in the industry.

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The Last Days of August review – unsettling tale of a porn star’s demise