Best New Starlet nominee Gia Paloma suffered a cocaine overdose at the Venetian's popular Circle Bar Friday night and not only did she survive, she made it to the AEE show floor Saturday afternoon where she was an instant draw with fans.
She said she thought the coke may have been mixed with something else,"I couldn’t tell you how much I did, I really couldn’t."
Paloma said she wasn’t paying much attention to the appearance of the narcotic, but she did notice that there seemed to be little flaky crystals, making her suspect it was mixed with crystal methamphetamine. A drug expert contacted by AVN.com said it was more likely “glass,” adding that he’s not sure why people use it because it reportedly feels like “sticking a drill up your nose” when snorted. Meth burns,” he said, “but glass feels like the fires of hell are burning through your nose. Some people just like to get high. It’s surprisingly popular.”
Paloma suggested it may have been mixed with heroin, but the expert said that she likely would have become sick if it was heroin. “First time users typically get physically ill and throw up immediately, especially when they take quantities,” he said. Paloma said that she did not get sick.
“The next thing I know, I’m downstairs [at the Circle Bar],” Paloma said, “and I saw Megan Martinez and another girl that I can’t even remember, her face was so blurry at that point, and then next thing I knew they were carrying me away on the stretcher and there was a crowd of people looking down at me and I was thinking, Oh, shit, I hope there’s no cameras.”
People who witnessed the overdose said that prior to her collapse Paloma was having a hard time walking and keeping her balance (some speculated that she may have been on Ketamine hydrochloride, an animal tranquilizer more popularly known as "Special K"). Finally she fell against (JM Productions owner) Jeff Steward, then onto the floor, completely unconscious. Both Steward and his wife, Sandy, said that Gia looked like she was going to die. No awareness, no ability to speak and probably no memory of the event. Paramedics were called and Paloma was carried through the Venetian casino on a stretcher.
Some eyewitnesses reported that Gia waved to the crowd as she was wheeled off in the stretcher. While she doesn’t remember anything from that time, she said, “That sounds like me.”
Paloma said that while in the ambulance paramedics said her heart rate was 264 beats per minute and there was a fear that she would have a heart attack. The normal heart rate for an adult is 60-80 beats per minute.
A 1999 study by the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Boston, the first to examine cocaine’s short-term effects on the heart, concluded that the risk of a heart attack increased by 24 times.
“Cocaine can cause a sudden rise in blood pressure, heart rate and contractions of the left ventricle of the heart,” the report stated. “These effects can increase the risk of a heart attack. Cocaine also tightly squeezes, or constricts, the coronary arteries that feed blood to the heart. If the artery constricts, blood flow to the heart and brain can be obstructed, causing a heart attack or stroke.”
Paloma said hospital personnel took away her cell phone and would not allow her to make phone calls.
“They were mean to me [at the hospital] because of why I was in there,” she said. “It was scary. I knew I had to tell them everything I’d done and how much and my tolerance level and that kind of thing, but I was scared they would call the authorities on me.”
While in the hospital she was told that she should eat chicken, salad and red wine.
While medical personnel wanted her to stay for observation, she had herself released from the hospital shortly after noon. “I said, ‘Fuck this, I have places to be!’”
As of 1:30 Saturday afternoon, sources at Anabolic (where Paloma was signing) confirmed the OD and said she was out of the hospital and in makeup, expected to be back on the floor signing in 30-45 minutes. When JM's Steward was told that she was not only out of the hospital, but would soon be back at the Anabolic booth signing, he shook his head and said, "Now that’s a real rock star."
An hour later there were conflicting reports from Anabolic officials. One refused to talk as he ushered some of the Anabolic girls to dinner, saying only that she was still in the hospital and would not be returning to the booth. Lance Alot, who had said she was in makeup earlier in the day, swore she was fine, out of the hospital and would be signing within minutes. She appeared at 4:45, 15 minutes before the show ended for the day. She wasn't 100%, but she immediately drew a big crowd and posed for fan photos for about 15 minutes before rushing off to dinner. She reluctantly agreed to discuss the incident as she and Anabolic's Saki Bomb walked through the hotel to dinner.
Paloma – who was nominated for six AVN Awards, including Best New Starlet, for which she was considered by many a very viable contender – was still weary from the previous night and embarrassed that her incident was seen by so many people, said at one point that she might skip the night’s AVN Awards. She was quickly reminded that it would be good for her to show people she was doing fine, and that she had a good shot at the Best New Starlet trophy and she wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to accept.
She was also nominated for Best Actress for her work in Wild Things on the Run (Coast To Coast Video); one of her many starring roles, Gia Has a Negro Problem (LéWood Productions/JM Productions) for Best Interracial Release; and Best All-Girl Sex Scene – Video for The Violation of Audrey Hollander (JM Productions; which also featured Audrey Hollander, Ashley Blue, Tyla Wynn, Brodi and Kelly Kline).
Paloma did attend the Awards and received grand applause as she and her co-stars accepted the Best All-Girl Sex Scene – Video trophy for The Violation of Audrey Hollander.
She has been one of the fastest-rising stars in the adult business since she ditched her job at Starbucks and ditched her clothes for a life in porno in October of 2003, and she has turned in countless scenes since then.
Recently she has been performing in fewer scenes and has been taking on more work as a makeup artist and in November directed her first video for Corey Jordan's No Boundaries, Gia Paloma – Hard Nasty Sex.
“I had only experimented with drugs once or twice in my life,” Paloma said, “so this came as a big surprise. I think I’m done experimenting.”