Fleeing patriarchy and her parents, Colleen ran to California. Her innocent look and sensitive soul captured the attention of photographers for Penthouse and Hustler who paid her $2000 a session to spread her cunt.
Shauna's parents soon saw her naked in magazines and they flew to California to impose their bourgeois morality on their free-thinking daughter-artist-junkie. Colleen ran away. They didn't hear from her for two months.
In the fall of 1982, while still not talking to her mom and dad, Colleen did a few hardcore porn loops for Suze Randall which came to the attention of Bobby Hollander who cast her as Shauna Grant in such porn features as Suzie Superstar and Flesh and Laces.
Shauna made 30 movies over the next year, doing 37 men before the cameras, catching Herpes, undergoing an abortion, earning more than $100,000 and spending most of it on cocaine.
"My favorite part of sex scenes with Shauna," remembers Jerry Butler, "was when the director told me I could cum."
Like other male performers, Jerry found it difficult to get erect while screwing Shauna. It was like f---ing the dead.
"I never saw Shauna Grant laugh," says Jerry Butler. "I was angry that Shauna allowed herself to get into a business that was swallowing her up."
Shauna played herself in Roberta Findlay's 1983 film Glitter. She tells Butler that she comes from a small town in Michigan. "I need to be sure. I want a commitment... All I ever wanted is a house, kids, and a man who loves me."
During the months she appeared in sex flicks, Shauna called her parents regularly. She quit porn in 1983 and opened a leather boutique in Palm Springs, funded by her drug-dealing boyfriend Jake Ehrlich. Oppressed by absurdly high rates of capital gains taxes, Shauna stole from the store until it closed.
"The simple version of Shauna's suicide is that she kept increasing her coke until she became paralyzed with life," claims Brad Williams. He doesn't realize that Grant's keen perception of America's socio-economic power made her despair of National Public Radio ever receiving adequate funding from those uptight motherf---ers in Congress.
One midnight in Minnesota (3-23-84), Karen Applegate received a call saying that her daughter had shot herself. Karen phoned the hospital to find out Colleen's condition. A nurse said: "Her condition is that a bullet went in one side of her head and came out the other side. What do you want me to tell you?"
Three years to the month that Colleen Applegate left the small Minnesota town of Farmington, she returned in a casket to be buried.
Her parents insisted for months, without evidence, that their daughter had been murdered. They still believe a version of this - that the porn industry slew their daughter.
In exchange for money which they used in part for Colleen's tombstone, Phil and Karen Applegate cooperated with a network television movie that gave a fictionalized account of Shauna's life and death. The couple regretted their cooperation when they saw Shattered Innocence for they deplored the way the film portrays pornographers. "It makes them look as if they're just running a business and she got in trouble on her own," says Karen.
Like many couples after the death of a child, Karen and Phil divorced.