Ten days ago, BDSM porn star James Deen was flying high in his unique version of the American dream. With a career in porn spanning more than a decade, he had risen to become one of the most sought after stars in the business, including regular gigs with BDSM porn giant Kink.com. His look is atypical of male porn stars, and he had built a large and dedicated fan base among males and females alike.
His on-screen prowess has seen him nominated for more than 30 awards at the upcoming 2016 Adult Video Network (AVN) awards in Las Vegas, to add to his many previous accolades. His popularity has also helped him branch into other endeavors beyond the adult entertainment world, including starring alongside Lindsey Lohan in Paul Shrader’s film “The Canyons” in 2013. He was hailed by many as a champion of consent and feminist values, and posted a regular column at feminist interest site The Frisky.
All of this was turned upside down on November 28 when Deen’s ex-girlfriend and former co-star Stoya posted to Twitter alleging that he had raped her.
The actor responded swiftly with Tweets of his own to deny the accusation, saying:
“There have been some egregious claims made against me on social media. I want to assure my friends, fans and colleagues that these allegations are both false and defamatory. I respect women and I know and respect limits both professionally and privately.”
Shortly following Stoya’s initial accusations, two other female porn stars came out with allegations of their own. Tori Lux and Ashley Fires each described sexual assaults at the hands of Deen in interviews with the Daily Beast.
Adult organizations soon began to cut ties to Deen. The performer resigned his position as chair of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC). APAC issued a statement:
“In light of public statements made about APAC Chairperson, James Deen, James has voluntarily resigned from the board…. The APAC Board wants to state unequivocally that we stand with performers and other sex workers who are victims of any sort of sexual assault.”
San Francisco-based Kink.com also issued a statement ruling out further work with Deen, quoted in SF Weekly:
“For the Kink.com community, as well as the larger BDSM community, consent and respect are sacrosanct. Effective immediately, Kink.com will cease all ties with James Deen, both as a performer and a producer.
Our performers deserve not only safe sets, but the ability to work without fear of assault. Rape or sexual assault, with or without a safe-word, off-set or on, should never be accepted as a hazard of adult production. While many of the allegations against Deen are new, the pattern is alarming. Over the coming weeks and months, we will review our Model Bill of Rights to strengthen rights of performers off-set, and work with the larger industry to help performers to have been assaulted to more easily come forward.”
Adult Video Network was less unequivocal regarding it’s involvement with Deen, issuing a statement affirming his eligibility for no less than 32 awards that he has been nominated for in the upcoming 2016 AVN Awards, quoted on Fleshbot (NSFW):
“The allegations that have been leveled against James Deen have no bearing on the AVN Awards nominations announced last month. Any nominations involving Deen himself or his production company are based on work produced over the eligibility period. They do not reflect an official position on any other matter involving James Deen.”
Following this, the furore has only continued to grow. Several more women leveled allegations about violent or non-consensual acts forced upon them in working with Deen. Porn actresses Amber Rayne and Kora Peters provided details in separate interviews with The Daily Beast.
Bloggers and columnists have been swift and decisive in delivering opinions and judgement. Twitter was filled with messages of support for Stoya, under the hashtag #standwithstoya. Others posted messages with a counter-narrative supporting Deen under the hashtag #IStandWithJames. Porn actress Casey Calvert wrote an entry in her blog in support of Deen.
What further allegations may emerge remains to be seen. Deen has not commented publicly about the matter other than his initial Twitter responses.
One blog purporting to be from a business partner and employee of Deen cast some light on his frame of mind about the situation:
“I can assure you that no one is taking these accusations lightly. James and I have both been literally vomiting over this.”