It took James Deen three months to make a living off porn.
Now, we’re sitting in a shady hotel room sharing a styrofoam box filled with pad see ew. He stabs at the thick noodles, twisting his plastic fork so that they wrap around in bunches, lifts the fork and takes a big, satisfying bite.
He leans back on the couch and talks about this morning’s fiasco: a freak out on set with a lady throwing a temper tantrum mid-scene. Deen runs his hands through his hair, cropped short, and shakes his head. Drama, it’s too early for this.
It’s a little before noon, so I suppose the Thai food we’re engulfing counts as breakfast. Deen explains that after this interview he’s heading straight to a film shoot. I ask how often he does a scene. Oh, every day.
In 2009, he was one of the youngest actors to swoop up “Male Performer of the Year” by Adult Video News (AVN) Awards. Today, James Deen is a household name in the industry — a rare achievement for the average male performer usually relegated to the role of “cock prop.” Yet Deen’s untiring professionalism and uncanny crossover appeal to women and teen girls has given his career a longevity most would envy.
After finishing our meal, we delve into the bygone days of porn, porn now, and why his “sex tape” with Farrah Abraham was just ” a regular day at the office.”
Fluffer, fact or myth?
There are no fluffers on set. Not since the 60s or 70s. I have never seen a single fluffer in my entire career. The only time I ever heard of anybody who’s seen a fluffer in their carreer and the way I found out they were actually a thing was through this movie that was a remake of an old 70s movie, Behind the Green Door. They brought in a cameo from the original and he was talking about “back when they had the “Get ‘Em Up Girls.” They didn’t call them “fluffers” but “Get ‘Em Up Girls.”
Why did it stop?
Porn started to get more professional. All the stereotypes in adult films, all the things people hear and are scared of — the creepy guy with the mustache and gold chains — all of them existed at a time. Now it’s so regimented and orderly. There’s organizations that advocate for performers and producers. We’ve veered away from the fluffers, cocaine and paying in cash. Now people are on payroll, things are very legitimate.
If you’re an asshole, you don’t get hired. If you don’t do a good job, you don’t get hired. If you show up drunk, you don’t get hired. If you’re crazy and do a bad scene, you don’t get hired. If someone’s on set doing cocaine in the bathroom, they get kicked off set and that shoot doesn’t happen.
I feel like a lot of people still imagine porn to be very old school — the sleazy mustache, the girls being “pimped.”
It’s hard to break away from all those misnomers and stereotypes. But look at any ethnicity or minority. Look at the female population, African American, Latin, Asian, Gay, Trans — any sort of counterculture community and the stereotypes that get put on them. It takes years and years of activism to fight that. The only way to fight ignorance is with education and it takes a really long time.
James Deen on choice:
Everything is a choice. Adult films are a choice. Being homosexual, being black, that’s not a choice. But if you choose to opt into a counterculture or something that has a predjudice against it, you have to accept that you’re going to have stuff thrown at you and you’re going to have to deal with it. If we’re gonna pick a battle, you should fight against the things that people can’t change and can’t control. That’s why the Chase Bank thing — Chase was shutting down adult film stars’ accounts left and right — they were saying this is discrimination. Actually, no. We chose adult films. The fact that they’re saying we don’t agree with the choices you’re making and we choose not to do business with you is not illegal.
So, do you stand with Chase’s decision?
I don’t. I think they’re very close-minded. It’s not right but again, I would prefer to focus my energy on educating people before they make the decision to do adult films and what they’re getting into. So they’re making the decision to go into adult films with the knowledge that there are going to be repercussions. That in 10 years, if you want to be a school teacher, you might get fired. It’s not right, but it is a potential repercussion. Make sure you know going into it.
Once that’s a standard, then we start focusing on “Hey, sex work is legitmate. You need to let people keep their bank accounts so they can pay taxes.” It’s frustrating but at the end of the day, I made the choice to engage in adult films and these are the repercussions. I made the choice to do this action, that’s the consequence.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big of a deal. There are plenty of banks that would love to take my money.
James Deen on love:
I don’t think sex and love have very much to do with each other. I think it’s great when they do but I see no reason why you have to be in love with someone to have sex with them. Sex is a physical activity. It feels good, it’s enjoyable. I see no reason why that has to be done with somebody you love. Let’s say you enjoy playing basketball. Do you have to play basketball with people you love or can you play basketball with people you like? I don’t think it’s necessary to associate the physical activity of sex with the emotional feeling of love. It’s great when they go hand-in-hand and when you’re having sex with someone you love. I personally enjoy doing anything with someone I love — whether it be watching TV or going bowling or having sex.
You’ve mentioned that Sasha Grey has a bad rep in the industry, why is that?
I know her reputation in the industry is not good because she said a lot of bad things about the adult industry. In my opinion, what happened was she started doing adult films when she was 18 years old. Like most 18 year olds, they think they’re the smartest people in the world, they know everything. When I was 18, I was the smartest person in the world. But 18 year olds, when it comes down to it, are fucking morons.
So she had everything figured out, was smarter than everyone else and wanted to do this Belladonna thing.
Did you know her then?
I met her before she did scenes. Her agent brought her on set and introduced her to everyone. She kept trying to push the envelope. Nastier. Rougher. Crazier. Most insane stuff possible. That’s what her goals were. Then as she grew up, she changed her goals and went from doing the nasty, rough stuff to doing more of the elegant side, the higher end.
There’s a lot of growing between 18 and 25. Whatever her reasons were, I don’t know, I don’t talk to her about it. So I have no idea what her movitivations were. But she went from being the rough girl to the classy girl and then she got some mainstream opportunities. So I just assume, that when was between the ages of 18 and 25, a lot changed in her life.
Now she’s in her twenties, saying things like “the only way I could manage to do anything like that was because it was performance art. I didn’t enjoy it.” So it’s basically a slap in the face to the industry.
We’re working so hard to not be the skeezy people behind closed doors that are taking advantage of everyone. Come on.
Like I said, there’s a lot of growing going on. I’m not saying she’s lying. I’m not saying she’s a bad person. I’m saying she started doing porn when she was 18. She’s grown up and wants different things. The reason the adult industry doesn’t say nice things about her is because she hurt the adult industry’s feelings.
When it comes to Sasha, I don’t know enough about her to form an opinion about her as a person. I did know her when she was performing. I never had a bad experience with her. I had some good conversations with her on set. We’ve done some good scenes. The only thing I personally have a problem with is it’s reevaluating a stereotype. If that’s her experience, then I’m not here to tell her that it’s wrong. I want to learn from her on how to make sure that experience never happens again.
Have you seen yourself go through a change in your career like Sasha?
I imagine I have. When I was an 18 year old, I was a brat kid, a little annoying teenager. When I see a piece of video from behind-the-scenes, an interview I did, me on set — yeah, I was the essence of arrogance, very obnoxious. I was smarter than everybody. Everyone was wrong, I was always right. Same sort of thing like I was talking about with Sasha. “I’m better! I’m more!” It was the same sort of thing. I like to think that I’m not like that any more. As you mature, you realize that you were a little shit. I was told that when I’m in my mid-thirties I’ll have a proper understanding of the world around me.
And then when you’re 50, you’re gonna realize you were a shithead when you were 30?
Maybe. I don’t know. I know I look back 10 years ago and just face palm it.
James Deen on Farrah:
That girl should just do porn. She did a great job. Everyone on set, the DP to the director were both like, “This girl is amazing.”
The truth about celebrity sex tapes:
Any celebrity sex tape, it’s all bullshit. A company finds somebody, there’s contracts on the front end, she [Farrah] got a check day-of from Vivid. I met her the day we went to go get tested. We spent all of 15 minutes in a testing facility. Then I picked her up [next day] and went to set. That is the extent of our relationship. I just want this thing to fucking die. It was a day at work. I went to work. I did a scene. I went home. It was a regular day at the office.
PHOTOGRAPHER: PHILLIP REARDON
Photographer Assitant: Rocelyn Galileo