Entertainment

The Nerve Interview: James Deen

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"Porn's Boy Next Door" on the Constitutional rights of adult films, his first kiss, and the one thing you can't learn in porn.

James Deen has been called "Porn's Boy Next Door" and "The Ryan Gosling of Porn." Between his relatively normal appearance and active social media presence — just check out his hyperactive Twitter or his blog — he represents a new kind of male porn star. He was also the youngest performer (at twenty-two) to be awarded "Male Performer of the Year" by Adult Video News, and he's a producer on Cowboys & Engines, a "steampunk Western" currently being funded. Take that, Ron Jeremy.

You're currently shooting a new reality show called Amateur America about your search for America's next great female porn star. What's been the most memorable interview so far?
There was one where the girl was a wrestler. We're not talking about WWE entertainment-style wrestling, we're talking like Olympic wrestling. She was really good. We wrestled naked and she totally beat my ass. There was another girl who said she was really good at foot jobs and fellatio, so we gave her bananas and drills to pretend to have sex with, because the show's for cable, so we couldn't show sex or anything.

Sounds pretty awesome.
And there was Little Mermaid singing because, you know, if you get a group of people, you're going to start singing stuff from Little Mermaid.

"A Whole New World?"
No! That's Aladdin. "Part of Your World" is from Little Mermaid.

Oh, crap. Now that you've done over 4,000 films and been inside a large pool of talented ladies, what do you think makes for a good porn star?
Oh man, this is going to sound cheesy, but adult film is sort of the same as, like some sort of ballet, where you're telling a story. Even though the story is, "Okay, here are two people having sex, and this is them building their sexual relationship to a very strong point where they both have crazy orgasms all over each other's faces," you're still telling a story. For instance, I think it's horrible visually when a girl gets down on her knees and starts blowing a guy and grabbing his dick and jamming it in her throat and there's all this crazy gagging and weird shit like that. And I'm just like, "Let this develop, let's get there. We can get to the throat assault, but let it naturally happen." So, what makes a good performer is somebody who understands that they're in a dance that you two are doing together. One needs to lead, one needs to follow. Or, more essentially, all you need to be a really good performer is a love of sex. I mean, everything you can learn. For guys, though, the one thing you can't learn is how to get your penis hard on command.

How was your transition from porn to a feature film like The Canyons? Is there any real difference between making a porn and making a movie?
Not really. In The Canyons I didn't have sex. That's the only real difference. [laughs]. I guess in porn, if the acting is not so good, or the dialogue, or the lighting, nobody is going to make a big deal about it, because, you know, we're making adult films. If somebody can't actually masturbate anymore because of the plot to one of my movies, then maybe they should just go get a real movie. In the adult film world, we have different priorities, but it's shot exactly the same. People take the same kind of care.

So, after your experience with The Canyons, do you think you are going to do more feature films?
I have no idea. I actually just saw a clip and thought I was terrible.

Aw, I'm sure you're not.
I mean, people have been saying that I did okay. But the thing I was not happy about was, it looks like I held back. Which bothers me. It helps me to see it, because now if anybody else offers me a role, I can get better. I don't want to just do anything that is offered to me. I'm working up to being in the position where I actually don't need to be doing movies. I mean, I do porn. I make money doing what I love. I don't really need to do any mainstream stuff unless I want to. Realistically, I don't think I'll get many offers.

Much of your following comes from your Twitter and blog. Do you see social media sites as a way for porn stars to become less taboo, less hidden?
I think it helps people become more identifiable and accessible. And people can judge you based on your personality and not just your sexual organs. Before, you were just who the media painted you as. I personally think that the majority of the reason why people like me at all is based on Twitter, because they're like, "Oh wow, look at this guy. He's crazy and funny," as opposed to, "Oh, that guy, he's in porn."

You said on Nightline that you wanted to be a porn star since kindergarten. When was your first sexual encounter and what happened?
I remember in kindergarten I got in trouble because I was kissing all the girls on the playground, and there was this whole meeting with all of the parents. There was this whole "Our daughter's too young for this," and blah blah blah. And I remember my dad saying, "Would you rather have my son kissing your daughters or punching them?" And that got all of them to shut up.

You've publicly opposed Los Angeles County's Measure B, which would require condom usage in porn, saying that it's a violation of your First Amendment rights. Do you think that condoms impact porn entertainment, or do they hinder your personal performance?
For me, no. I don't care. I never had an issue with them while watching. Now, statistically, it's proven that you lose about 33% of the market with condoms. I think a majority of the people don't want to see it. I think it has something to do with the fantasy being veiled. They don't want to think about herpes, gonorrhea, and stuff that condoms make people think of. As far as my performance goes, I always have sex with a condom unless it's on camera or with another adult film star off-camera. If I meet a girl at a bar or something, I always use a condom. So it doesn't affect my performance, because I'm used to it. But what I found out was that the majority of women in porn complain about condoms chafing. I was talking to a girl about it and she was like, "Dude, I'm in pain everyday and constantly swollen." Because condoms are intended to be used on an average-sized penis for average sex, and we have entertainment sex, for anywhere from twenty minutes to to four hours. There's tearing and swelling and all these things that are really physically damaging. Also, you're not dealing with average-sized penises, for the most part, so that's compounding it.

And, look, you can call porn art or not, but technically, we are creating content to elicit sexual feelings and bring out emotions in people. We're getting a response from people on a sexual and emotional level, which I understand is pretty goddamn close to what art is. Which is why I say it's a First Amendment thing. I love being American. I love this country, and it's a violation of my First Amendment rights. I don't like feeling like my rights aren't there.

What's your favorite kind of porn? Or is that like asking Willy Wonka what his favorite kind of chocolate is?
No. I like amateur stuff, personally, when I don't know the people. Like, I know pretty much everyone in the adult film world, and sometimes it doesn't bother me, sometimes it does. Amateur stuff is just so real. You have two people who aren't really motivated by anything but the desire to fuck on camera. The best sex scenes are really just when two people really want to have sex with each other. I mean three people, four people, whatever, those can be really good too. But I personally think when you have two people who really want to fuck the shit out of each other, and they're going to town on each other, that's the best sex scene you'll ever get. And they're recording it by themselves? That's just the best for me.

What does the future of porn hold?
I'm actually working on getting this new thing live on my website in like a month or so. The whole concept is basically, if a girl comes to me and says, "I have a fantasy," I'll shoot a scene that has her fantasy in it. For the most part, it's just me and girls who I have really good sexual chemistry with, from within the porn industry or outside the porn industry. Or for like a fan girl, "Oh I just want to do a scene." The whole idea behind it is that there are no rules and there's no reason to make this a "production." It doesn't need to be twenty minutes and have a bunch of lights and all the stuff like that. It's just raw, real footage, and content about people's sexual desires. I do what I do for freedom of expression and sexual liberation and to connect with people and have fun and make everything feel good. That's pretty much the reason you do anything. Like dancing, or exploring. It's all the same thing.