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The Nerve Interview: James Deen
"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.
by Kate Hakala
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.