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    Future Sex: An Interview with James Deen, America's Porn Sweetheart

    Written by

    Kelly Bourdet

    James Deen, with his well-documented boyish good looks, has skyrocketed to stardom in a recent role in a film written by Bret Easton Ellis and a lengthy profile in GQ. Many porn stars have risen to mainstream prominence, but what is most intriguing about Deen’s newfound fame is that he’s propelled, in large part, by his legion of female fans. Searching “James Deen” on Tumblr reveals endless female-curated blogs dedicated to Deen as if he’s a teen heartthrob.

    He’s often associated with the genre of “female-friendly” pornography, though not for any calculated reasons. Deen says he just goes into his scenes and does the best job he can; women just happen to like him. It’s easy to see why. He’s smart and articulate on both matters of his personal sexuality and the politicization of the LA adult industry with the recent passage of Measure B. And, honestly, he just seems like a really nice dude. Over the course of our conversation he said that his favorite sex toy is whatever his partner likes: That’s my favorite sex toy at that moment.” He also told me a story about visiting his grandma in the hospital.

    Motherboard: You know that you have a huge female fan base. I’ve come across so many Tumblrs run by women devoted to you. You’re also often associated with the term “female-friendly porn.” What do you think that is? What makes something “female-friendly?"

    Deen: Well, let’s see. Psychologically speaking, I guess males are visually stimulated and aroused, and women are more mentally aroused. So maybe female-friendly porn is more just porn that dances around the fantasy that arouses the majority of women. But at the end of the day sex is a very personal thing.

    For example, every girl I knew that watched porn when we were growing up, they didn’t want to see this soft, pretty, fantasy-driven sex stuff. They wanted to see their fantasy. Rocco Siffredi throwing them up against the wall and fucking the shit out of them and putting their head in the toilet and making them feel like a dirty slut. That’s what they liked, but that doesn’t mean that’s what everyone likes. I think female-friendly porn really just means...actually I have no idea what it means.

    It’s such a personal thing. 500 people can view the exact same porno and have completely different opinions about it. Someone could say this is really female-friendly because it seems erotic to the female sensibility, blah blah blah, someone else could be like, “No it’s just a dude fucking pounding the crap out of some girl.” Because of that it’s really difficult to categorize female-friendly porn. It’s like saying something is male-friendly.

    In this capacity it seems to mean if all porn is male-friendly, then only some porn is female-friendly. Well, in actuality, porn is just made to arouse people, and it’s only a matter of what people are aroused by what porn. Some of it, the general populace can decide what they like and what they don’t. If they don’t like it then they don’t watch it, and if they do like it then that’s what they get.

    Because so many women like you, do you go into scenes thinking about what women would specifically like to see? Do you gear your performances to them in any way or is this just sort of naturally your acting style and it happens to appeal to women?

    I just do what I want. I just kind of go in and do the best scene that I think there [is], and do the best shot I can do. It just so happens that people like it and some of those people are women.

    I read your AMA on Reddit discussing Measure B. Do you use Reddit a lot?

    Um, no actually, I’m not that familiar with Reddit. I have a couple friends who are really into it. Every now and then I look through it, it’s just not really my thing. Internet forums and the internet is just like a giant melting pot for people screaming at the top of their lungs about whatever they want to say. I’ve learned that the majority of people on the internet who are very vocal are also very opinionated, which is fine. It’s good to be opinionated. I feel like most internet threads turn into these giant arguments of opinions, really it’s like arguing religion or politics. You can’t try to convince anyone of anything.

    I try to avoid at all costs places where people are having internet debates. I’m just not involved for my sanity’s sake.

    Let’s talk a little bit about Measure B, the LA County measure aimed at requiring condoms on porn sets. You were a very vocal opponent, but it did pass. What do you think the effect is going to be on you and how you do your job?

    The problem with Measure B is it’s written in a really vague way. So the intent behind it may be good. I don’t honestly know what the intent is, because it doesn’t really affect anyone except for people who are watching porn or those who are involved in making porn. The people who are watching porn, they want to see condomless porn and they can just then go to any production that is made outside of Los Angeles.

    Right now is an interesting situation with people talking about what’s going to happen next. Some people say, “Oh, it’s just going to move. We’ll go out of the city.” So we have to see what happens. Additionally, as I said in many of my Measure B protests, it’s really a constitutional issue, a violation of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Because there have been precedents, situations like this when adult film was told it was obscene and was going to be harassed with all these criteria. It’s been taken to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court basically said, no, the adult film industry qualifies under arts, regardless of whether you want to call it art or not. It’s entertainment that’s being made for a purpose to inspire certain feelings of eroticism.

    Anyway, the way that it affects me, the law vaguely says something along the lines of “all fluid transfer must have a protective barrier.“ Now that could mean no kissing because, technically that’s fluid transfer, so you would need a protective barrier there. Maybe you would need gloves for certain things. There are all these weird things where basically we would have to adhere to the same standards as a hospital, so since we’re naked and we’re touching each other’s genitals we would need to wear gloves.

    In the adult film industry we operate in this weird grey area, legally, between things that are kind of similar to use–like hospitals and restaurants–and the entertainment industry, which we are completely similar to. But at the same time, we’re not. Let’s say an actor wants to do a movie and they have HIV; let’s say Tom Hanks in Philadelphia actually had HIV. You can’t discriminate and tell him you’re not going to hire him because he has HIV. But let’s say Tom Hanks has HIV and wants to make a porno. It’s not discrimination to say, "Look, we’re not going to let you have unprotected sex on camera with someone else knowing that you have HIV." But because of California discrimination laws, technically it is illegal to tell him that he can’t do it.

    There’s all that grey area that we operate in, and this law is written with a shitload of grey area, where we don’t know if it’s just going to be, “You have to wear a condom when you do your scene.” If that’s the case for me, personally, I don’t have an issue because I love condoms. They’re awesome and I use them all the time. Although the girls that I have spoken to have a different opinion because they’re the ones being penetrated and having a piece of latex roughly going in and out for an hour or an unnatural amount of time for entertainment purposes, they say it really harms them physically and they find it unenjoyable. Talk to a lady about that!

    But if I’m not allowed to kiss in my scenes anymore? If I have to wear gloves and goggles?

    Proponents were saying that the measure was put forth to protect the performers. Do you think that’s necessarily true or do you kind of see it as a more general backlash against the adult film industry in LA?

    I see it as a more general backlash. I appreciate the intent, if that’s the real intent. I appreciate it very much, but we’ve had zero HIV transmissions in almost ten years. We’ve had zero. We have a system. The system works. Could it be better? Could it be improved? Probably, there’s always ways to improve and we should do that. But having someone who’s not involved in the adult film industry come in and tell us how to be safe. That’s treating us like children. And if that’s the case we’re making child porn.

    Have you ever had sex with a Real Doll? One of those sex robots?

    No, I haven’t had sex with a Real Doll.

    Would you?

    Yeah, I would try anything twice.

    It can seem that, in the media, there are always new addictions being coined and discussed: love addiction, internet addiction, etc. Right now it seems that sex addiction is a buzzy topic. As somebody who has sex a lot, do you have any thoughts on the phenomenon of sex addiction?

    I think the word addiction is thrown around very loosely and inaccurately, just like the word fetish. An addiction–though it’s obviously better to talk to a doctor or a mental health professional or somebody who is not just some porn star who has an opinion–as far as I understand, an addiction is a situation where a person is physically altered. And also a situation when something starts to affect your life. It’s not just enjoying something.

    I really enjoy sex. I really like sex. If I didn’t do porn I probably wouldn’t have the same amount of sex, but I’ve always had a good amount of sex and a healthy sexuality. I don’t think I have a sexual addiction though. Because in the event that I need to do something, I do it. For instance, I had the opportunity to have sex the other day, but my grandma was in the hospital. I went and saw my grandma. It was a no-brainer.

    It’s just like a fetish. People are like, “Oh I have a glasses fetish.” No, I just like girls who wear glasses. Girls in glasses are very attractive. I think addictions are miscategorized a lot. It’s like when someone says they have a TV addiction because they watch TV instead of reading books. That’s asinine and incorrect.

    Do you have favorite sex toys to use on yourself or on other people?

    [Announcer voice] Actually, the James Deen sex toy line is absolutely my favorite sex toy line. Every single thing in it – from the Black and Blue Collection to my realistic cock – are the most amazing toys in the world. Highly recommended! Everyone should go to their local sex toy store and pick some up today.

    Ha. Outside of the vein of my own sex toy product placement, for me personally sex toys don’t really do much. I don’t really need them for myself. I’m perfectly happy with a partner. If the girl I’m having sex with likes a certain kind of thing, then I love that sex toy. That’s my favorite sex toy at that moment.

    Okay, I have one more question for you. Have you ever had sex with someone who interviewed you?

    Yeah, actually I have.

    All right. Good to know.

    Follow Kelly Bourdet on Twitter: @kellybourdet

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