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Porn Megastar James Deen on ‘The Canyons’ and the Future of Sex

Featured

Porn Megastar James Deen on ‘The Canyons’ and the Future of Sex

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Yesterday, at 10:45am EDT, I walked up two flights of stairs to my parent’s bedroom and announced to them that I would be monopolizing the land line from 11-11:30am as I conducted an important phone interview with James Deen. I was back in Canada visiting my parental homestead, under the very same the roof that sheltered me, from thirteen to seventeen, through a belated puberty and early sexual awakening. I couldn’t think of a more perfect place to gab with James Deen. He is the only man these days who can turn me into a teenage girl. (A dirty little barely legal slutty teenage girl.)

James Deen is a very famous, very important porn star, if you’re in the know of celebrity porn. If you’re not, he’s “that porn guy” who stars alongside Lindsay Lohan in The Canyons (out today). James is famous and important because he’s pretty much the only straight male porn star who is a star. He’s been dubbed “the porn star next door” for his unthreatening good looks and charm. James is boyish and petite, 5’8, with a relatively huge cock and incomparable chemistry with seemingly every woman on screen; that gaze, those hands, that thrust. Professional me, James’s sexual prowess was all I could think about as the clock ticked to 11am.

James was the real professional. He was right on time for his interview, all set to talk about what he was supposed to talk about—The Canyons. As he monologued eloquently on VOD and changing sexual mores, I shifted from teenage girl to pervy old man: like, seriously, won’t this bimbo shut up and take her shirt off already! Porn stars are people too, I had to remind myself, so listen to his brain speak. I did and guess what—James Deen is really smart. I suspected as much (his parents are both rocket scientists and his blog reveals an educated, dare-I-even-say feminist sex-positivism). Here’s James Deen, the brain, on adult versus Hollywood, online porn, and what our generation wants.

I wanted to start by saying that I’m a really big fan of your adult work and that I’m a little upset having seen The Canyons because you’re very convincing as this awful sneaky weiner character.
I think that’s a compliment, because that’s what I was going for.

Yeah, that’s the character. But it’s tainted my love for your porn personalities.
Aww, well that’s not good. I’m sorry to hear that.

It’s okay, I’m sure we can remedy that with, um, watching your—yeah. But how was it, making a non-adult movie?
It was fun. The differences between adult and non are subtle. Instead of trying to create media that’s going to stimulate someone in a sexual manner, it’s made to stimulate someone in an entertainment manner. Even though you hit the same parts of the brain, it’s trying to set off different a reaction. I had a lot of fun playing with the character and getting into the acting part of it.

You’re not transitioning though?
I don’t plan to. When I first took the role, my goal was just to do this one movie. I never intended to try and crossover and become some mainstream Hollywood actor. I felt that the best I was going to do was be a voice actor on The Simpsons playing myself. Making this movie was so fun though. Being able to create this imaginary person, it was like playing make believe outside when you’re a kid, like going to the moon in a rocketship made of cardboard. So, I wouldn’t be opposed to doing more, but do I see a big future in it? Not really, because I’m a porn guy, and that’s a big hurdle. There’s still a lot of negative thinking and stigma around human sexuality. You know, many celebrities have made porn: Sylvester Stallone, Steve McQueen, Dita Von Teese, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton. All these people have shot a porn or two. But I’ve haven’t done one or two, I’ve done like 4,000. That’s a big difference. I also have no desire to quit doing adult films. Even if I was doing, let’s say, two big Hollywood productions a year—the next up and coming star, the next leading man—I would still want to do adult films.

I would love to see some middle ground. I was watching The Wolverine last week, and I had been watching a lot of porn that week, and I kept thinking it was going to break out into hardcore porn. Like, Wolverine would take off his shirt and I kept expecting him to take it all off. Wouldn’t that be interesting?
There are some erotic movies like that. There’s that Shia Labeouf film…

Nymphomaniac.
Right. The eroticism is there. In my short life span, human sexuality has advanced so much. I think that people are going to, in time, become more liberal with their ideas of what is socially acceptable and what isn’t. Maybe it’ll be 20 or 50 years, but one day, it’s not going to be so taboo and risqué to put a penis or put boobs in a movie.

I was wondering how you thought the internet has changed sex and sex work. I’m thinking of two things in particular: one is the “Grindr generation” stuff in The Canyons, and the other is that porn is so readily available online but not just as porn; all of my favorite porn stars have Twitters and blogs.
This isn’t exclusive to adult entertainment, but the internet has definitely has created more of a connection between the audience and the artist. I think that social media and things like crowd funding have allowed the audience to really participate in the creative process. In terms of sexuality, the brown-bag era of porn, where people would go into adult stores and buy any movie, throw it in a brown bag, and leave clutching it in a trench coat and shunning their sexuality, has disappeared. People are now able to sit in the comfort of their own home and watch whatever content they want. Men and women can explore their sexuality without inhibition. This modern technology also allows us to have actual hard data. Producers can see, “Hey, we put this scene up, and it was this weird thing that we didn’t think would sell and people loved it. We should shoot more stuff like that.” So we can tailor products more towards the actual consumer. Art is imitating life.

I was talking to Paul Schrader last Friday and he was talking about the generation that is represented in The Canyons, which is my generation (I’m 25) and I think yours. Schrader said something interesting which was that his generation believed that they could change the world, Bret’s generation believed that they could make money, and that my generation doesn’t really believe in anything. We know the world is only going to get worse. What do you think about that?
I love Paul Schrader. Paul Schrader is, hands down, a genius. He is amazing in all types of ways, compliment after compliment. I want to make sure to get those in, because I’ve said things in the past, and have been quoted a little less than favorably. In a recent interview I said, “Paul Schrader is old. Old old old.” Paul saw it and he sent me this email that said, “James, how old do you think I am?” And I responded, “Really fucking old *smiling winky face*,” and then we started joking around and talking. But Paul is old. He has that theory, like you said: “My generation was this and all those kids on my lawn!” He’s set in those ways and that’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with it.

I don’t think that our generation doesn’t believe in anything. We’re different. I’m 27, you’re 25, we’re in the same era. I think, if anything, we’re motivated by self. Maybe we’re more selfish, but we’re selfish for good reason. If everybody takes care of themselves, takes the theory of individuality, the theory of equality and says, “We’re all people and we all deserve to be treated the way we want to be treated, and this is what I want,” then we are setting out to change things. It might appear like “caring about nothing” to an older generation who protested against Vietnam, changed the way voting rights are done, and changed the way women are perceived in society, but the world is different now. I’m not out to transform the whole world but I am going to change my world: me, my home, my internet, my cats. People have become more like islands, and I think their island is what they’re trying to better, not the universe that they live in.

I think that’s really astute. It reminds me of something that Bobbi Starr said about the current generation of feminism. The current wave is one that’s about leading by example, just doing your shit. It’s personal but it’s also precedent.
Yeah, exactly. People don’t deserve respect, you earn respect. In other words, you can’t just say, “I am this. Therefore I should get blank.” It needs to be, “I am this, here’s me proving I am this, and because of my actions and who I am, you are going to respect me.”