Chatting with porn’s ‘it’ boy, James Deen
Fri, Jan 18, 2013 (5:20 p.m.)
Photo: Glenn Francis
For porn’s “it” boy James Deen, 26, it’s been a whirlwind year. There was a profile in GQ, a photo shoot for Rolling Stone and a mainstream acting role opposite Lindsay Lohan in The Canyons. He has an award-winning line of signature sex toys designed in his likeness, and a loyal following of teenage “fan girls.” He’s been described as “porn’s boy next door,” a sex symbol for the Facebook generation. He’s like the Robert Pattinson of porn: he is handsome and affable, someone you’d like to have a beer with, but also take home and cuddle ... and stuff.
I had a chance to catch up with Deen at the Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel, where he is nominated for a whopping 18 AVN Awards, including Male Performer of the Year and Crossover Performer of the Year. We talked about his “fan girl” following, professionalism in the adult industry and his lack of patience for people who think that mainstream film is so much better than porn. (To those people he politely says, “Go f*ck yourselves.”) Deen is self-deprecating and funny, endearing and sexy, humble and opinionated at the same time. And the fact that he showed me a picture of his kitten in the middle of our interview, well, what’s not to love about that?
You sell a t-shirt that says, “Deenager.” You have a legion of teenage fans who write blogs and have started Tumblr accounts in your honor. When I shared on Facebook that I was interviewing you, my thread exploded. “He’s my favorite,” said one woman, and a male friend said his girlfriend wrote a poem from a teenager’s perspective about you. How do you make sense of your teen following? I’m super flattered by it on a daily basis. As far as I can understand, what makes me interesting is the fact that I defy the mold of the stereotypical porn star. If you line up 50 male porn stars, and I am in there and you say, ‘Pick the one who doesn’t belong,’ they are going to pick the skinny, weird-looking Jewish kid every single time. I am short; I am skinny; I look like I am twelve. I am a little Jewish guy in an industry with all of these machismo, muscle-bound dudes. Because of that, I get a little bit of special attention. And apparently I am not bad looking, which is pretty awesome. So you get this guy who has been marketed as the boy next door. I’ve been packaged this way; but I am sitting here saying, “Hey, I am fun, I’m smiley, I’m having a good time.”
There is a common perception that porn actors and actresses use porn as a stepping stone to mainstream film. You knew from an early age that you wanted to work in porn. It seems like you’ve always embraced porn as a viable career option. I get so offended when people congratulate me on crossing over. I tweeted and wrote a blog about it. When people say, “Congratulations on crossing over and doing more than just porn,” or “You must feel so lucky to be able to do mainstream.” F*ck you. Seriously, go f*ck yourself. Do you think mainstream is better than porn? Porn is so much more professional, well rounded and good. It is what I want to do. I embrace and love my job. This is what I have aspired to do my entire life. It is so insulting when people act like mainstream is some giant accomplishment. It should be, “Congratulations on exploring your options and doing more.” It’s just a different entertainment field. Porn is not a degrading or subservient entertainment form in comparison to mainstream movies.
As far as I see it, mainstream movies are this unprofessional, egotistical, pathetic, weak world full of people ... like Lindsay Lohan [my costar in The Canyons.] She is a perfect example. Hollywood made her. They made this monster. There is nothing wrong with her; she just cannot communicate. It is not because she is not a good person. She just doesn’t have the tools. She’s been acting since she was a kid. She says the words, “I am thirsty,” and before she even gets up to get a glass of water, people make her sit down so they can bring it to her. Now she is an adult and she doesn’t know how to say, “Excuse me, please hand me a glass of water.” She just says, “I am thirsty,” and then gets confused about why a glass of water doesn’t appear in front of her. She doesn’t have the tools. She is a product of the Hollywood system. She has no bad intentions. She just doesn’t have the tools to live in the real world.
People who read the recent article in the New York Times Magazine about the behind-the-scenes drama on the set of The Canyons have told me that you came across as the most likable and professional of the bunch. People didn’t expect that the porn star would behave the most professionally. I take an extreme amount of pride in my professional behavior. I pride myself on my business and professional ethic. If I am supposed to show at 10 am, I try to show at 9:45. In that article it mentioned something about, “James seems lonely and he doesn’t seem to have any friends. He is the only person who didn’t have anyone show up to set.” Who brings people to work with them? To me that is unprofessional and asinine. It would be like working at McDonald’s and asking someone to come and watch you flip burgers. It makes no sense. The level of professional courtesy that is given on adult films sets is so different, because people are naked and you want to make sure that everyone is comfortable, so people are overly-professional. You don’t invite your friends to porn sets.
What do you do on set in order to establish chemistry with the person you’re performing with? I am terrible. I get really shy and awkward. It is actually kind of stressful. I say things like, “I think you are very pretty. I am looking forward to having sex with you.” I go slow. I kiss. I try to see what they are into. I approach each scene as though I have just met this girl at a bar and we went home together. How do we establish chemistry? It’s all about “vibing” with them.
If there’s one thing you’d like people to know about you, especially those who have never heard of James Deen before, what would it be?I am five-eight. I am short. I am not a tall person, despite what it may look like on video. I am lying down in all my videos, so you cannot tell. I like to be honest with people, and when they come up to me and say, “Hey, I thought you were taller,” I feel like I’ve told them a lie. Now they know: I am a short man.