Jesse Jane, a former Hooters waitress and beauty pageant contestant who went on to star in the highest-budget film series in pornographic film history, was found dead Wednesday in a home in Oklahoma. 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 for a welfare check at a home where Jane and her boyfriend, Brett Hasenmueller, had been staying. Both were found dead, Lt. Franco said, adding that the deaths remained under investigation.
Jane, with her sweeping blonde hair, arched eyebrows and vivacious personality, was a defining porn star of the early 2000s, when the internet transformed the industry. She then moved on to some mainstream productions.
“She was an actress at a time when adult films were seen around the world and promotions were massive,” Brian Gross, a porn industry publicist, said in a text message to the New York Times. She “made sure to give it her all, not only in acting, but also in promotion.”
Ms. Jane was born Cynthia Ann Howell on July 16, 1980, in Fort Worth, according to public records. Her family settled in the Oklahoma City area when her parents worked at Tinker Air Force Base. according to a 2006 interview Ms. Jane gave to The Oklahoma Gazette. She graduated with honors from Moore High School in 1998.
Ms. Jane modeled for retailers such as 5-7-9 and David’s Bridal before landing a job at Hooters, the restaurant chain, for a commercial. The Gazette wrote. She worked her way up through the organization to regional training coordinator before deciding to become a full-time Hawaiian Tropic bikini model.
In 2003, she had signed with Digital Playground, a porn studio, debuting in the porn film “Beat the Devil.” She also hosted two shows for the Playboy Channel, “Naughty Amateurs Home Videos” and “Night Calls,” garnering awards and praise from various industry publications.
Ms. Jane was best known for her work in the “Pirates” film series, in which she plays the first mate of a ragtag ship of sailors pursuing 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 Revenge,” notable sums compared to the costs of lower-budget films in the industry.
As the industry transformed, Jane transformed with it.
The introduction of high-definition cameras prompted her to have her breast implants redone because the cameras made them bulge strangely on the screen. She eschewed the “shock value” approach that porn took in the mid-2000s and retired from the industry in 2007, then went on to create her own line of sex toys.
“I got into porn right at the perfect time, when porn stars mattered.” Ms. Jane told GQ in 2018.. “They were big and glamorous. You walked into a room and caught attention. Everyone knew who you were because they actually had to buy your product or your DVDs, everything. “Pornography was very naughty, but everyone watched it.”
But he said “the Internet killed the business.”
“Now the only people who get attention are those who seek impact,” he said.
Ms. Jane’s work was not limited to pornography. She was among the few porn stars to make the jump to mainstream Hollywood, including the 2004 reboot of “Starsky and Hutch” and the HBO series “Entourage.”
After retiring, he returned to Oklahoma, according to GQ. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available Thursday.
Mrs. Jane he told CNBC in 2009 that she saw performance as a job: “You have to treat it like a job. I’m a mom. I have a family. You know, I bought a house. It’s the way you pay your bills.”
Still, he said he loved it and would do everything he could to meet his fans.
“I always had fun acting in front of the camera,” Jane told GQ. “It’s great sex with great people and it always turned me on when people looked at me.”
Kirsten Noyes contributed to the research.