Jesse Jane, a former Hooters waiter and beauty pageant contestant who went on to star in the highest-budget film series in pornographic movie history, was found dead Wednesday in an Oklahoma home. She was 43 years old.
The cause is believed to be a drug overdose, said Lt. Francisco Franco of the Moore Police Department in Moore, Oklahoma. He said officers responded Wednesday morning to a welfare check at a home where Jane and her boyfriend, Brett Hasenmuller, were staying. They were both found dead, Franco said, adding that it was still under investigation.
Jane, with her long blonde hair, arched eyebrows and vivacious personality, was a defining star of early 2000s pornography, as the Internet transformed the industry. She then launched into some mainstream productions.
“She was a performer at a time when adult films were seen all over the world and promotions were massive,” said Brian Gross, a publicist for the porn industry, in a text message to the New York Times. “She made sure to give it her all, not only in the performance, but also in the promotion.”
Jesse Jane was born as Cynthia Ann Howell on July 16, 1980, in Fort Worth, Texas, according to public records. His family settled in the Oklahoma City area when his parents worked at Tinker Air Force Base, according to a 2006 interview with the Oklahoma Gazette. She graduated cum laude from Moore High School in 1998.
Jane modeled for retailers like 5-7-9 and David’s Bridal before landing a job doing a commercial at Hooters, a restaurant chain, the Gazette wrote. Eventually, she rose through the ranks of the organization to the position of Regional Training Coordinator before deciding to become a full-time Hawaiian Tropic bikini model.
In 2003, she signed with Digital Playground, a porn studio, making her debut in the porn film “Beat the Devil.” She also hosted two shows for the Playboy Channel, “Naughty Amateurs Home Videos” and “Night Calls”, winning awards and praise from various industry publications.
Jane was best known for her work in the “Pirates” film series, in which she played the first officer of a ragtag ship made up of sailors who take on a band of evil pirates. Digital Playground spent $1 million on the first film in 2005 and $8 million on the 2007 sequel, “Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Vengeance,” notable sums compared to the costs of the company’s lower-budget films. industry.
As the industry transformed, so did Jane.
The introduction of high-definition cameras prompted her to have her breast implants redone, as the cameras made them bulge strangely on screen. She eschewed the “shock value” approach taken by pornography in the mid-2000s and retired from the industry in 2007, then turned her attention to creating her own line of sex toys.
“I got into porn at the perfect time, when porn stars mattered,” Jane told GQ in 2018. “They were big and glamorous. You walked into a room, you turned heads. Everyone knew who you were because they actually had to buy your product or your DVDs, everything. The porn was so bad, but everyone watched it.
But she added: “The Internet has killed the business.”
“Now the only people who get noticed are the ones who want to shock,” she said.
Jane’s work wasn’t limited to porn. She was one of the few porn stars who made the jump to mainstream Hollywood, including the 2004 reboot of “Starsky and Hutch” and the HBO series “Entourage.”
After retiring, Jane returned to Oklahoma, according to GQ. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available Thursday.
Jane told CNBC in 2009 that she views the job as a job: “You have to treat it like a job.” I am a mother. I have a family. You know, I bought a house. It’s how you pay your bills.
Still, she said she loves it and will go out of her way to meet her fans.
“I’ve always had fun acting in front of the camera,” Jane told GQ. “It’s great sex with great people, and it’s always turned me on that people are watching me.”
This article was originally published in the New York Times.