Uncensored

My Bizarre Night With James Deen, Libertarian Porn Star

An HIV scare, Rand Paul talking points, and a (maybe) proposition. A turbulent night in New York City with porn’s boy-next-door.

11.12.14 10:45 AM ET

As he munches on a parmigiano crostini, James Deen offers me an unsolicited answer to a question I never asked: “You’re pretty and nice,” he says, “but I wouldn’t have sex with you.”

Yes, the “nice guy of porn” has completely rebuffed a sexual advance I didn’t make, but it still stings a bit. He then backpedals, qualifying his answer to make it seem less personal. “I feel that would be unprofessional,” he says, which is deeply ironic coming from a man who’s made his living over the past decade shtupping women on camera. He proceeds to tease me, asking if our interview is “secretly a date?” I am both mortified and irritated. It is about an hour into our interview, but it is not the first sign of frat-boy cockiness veiled in jokes. Deen has been lost in his phone all night—and understandably so, since a potential HIV scare is breaking in the adult-film industry—and he has apologized profusely, but after the third, fourth time it just seems perfunctory, if not disingenuous. If this was a date, I’d have made an Irish exit and texted a friend to rendezvous for a stiff drink.

In full unprofessional disclosure, I have been fascinated by Deen ever since I first came across a photo of him on the set of The Canyons, the 2013 Bret Easton Ellis film that was supposed to be Lindsay Lohan’s comeback but, in the most generous terms, received highly mixed reviews (though Deen’s performance wasn’t the chief area of disapproval) and bombed at the box office. It’s known more than anything else for Lohan’s wacky on-set antics, which were chronicled in a damning New York Times feature on the film that ran prior to its release. But that article described Deen as calm and reliable, especially compared to LiLo.

He gives off the same impression when we meet, arriving at a Lower Manhattan restaurant and patiently waiting at the front for me like the nice Jewish boy he is, even though I am a few minutes early. Perhaps it isn’t surprising coming from a 28-year-old who can ejaculate on command, but Deen values punctuality. “My grandparents taught me if you’re 15 minutes early, you’re on time,” he tells me.

Deen is not only punctual, but also professionally courteous to his former co-stars. With several reports claiming Deen was the rock to the volcano that is Lindsay Lohan, he had ample opportunities to slam his well-heeled co-star. When the movie premiered in 2013, TMZ leaked audio of Lohan on set berating Deen, who calmly took it on the chin and returned to work. Well over a year past his mainstream adventure, Deen still won’t speak ill of Lohan. He blanches when I mention that Lohan was mean to him and leaps to her defense. “What?” he asks, shocked that I mention a possible beef between them. “You can play that audio, but you don’t know what happened before or after.” I ask if they’re friends, and he gives the most typical millennial male response. “Yeah... I mean, we text sometimes.”

He is nearly as charitable about Farrah Abraham, the ex-Teen Mom who initially—and very unconvincingly—claimed the two were dating when “home video” of them having choreographed sex “leaked” in 2013. Of course, anyone who watched the video could tell there was no way in hell the two were dating. Abraham’s attempts at coquettish “girlfriend” affection were bad acting even by adult-film standards. To his credit, Deen tries to ground the scenes in reality, but playing it real means making clear he thinks Abraham is phony at best and batshit at worst. Deen said all along that he signed on to make a porno and wouldn’t back up her bogus alibi. Abraham responded by claiming Deen has a small penis—a claim almost as silly as her “stolen home video” defense. 

IFC Films

A scene from the ‘The Canyons,’ starring Lindsay Lohan (right) and James Deen.

Despite Abraham’s antics, the closest Deen comes to saying something even slightly negative is when I ask him how he feels about Abraham telling the press lies about how their adult film was a leaked personal tape. “I’m glad you called it lies,” he says with a smile, refusing to elaborate further.

Deen is pretty adamant about not kissing and telling. I ask him a question about his rumored one-night stand with Salon reporter Tracy Clark-Flory. In a 2012 interview, Kelly Bourdet at Vice asked Deen if he’d ever slept with anyone who interviewed him. Turns out, yeah, he had. A shriek of glee briefly broke out across the Web as inquiring minds tried to deduce who was the lucky lady. The New York Observer claimed Clark-Flory was the chosen one (she vehemently denied it in an email to The Daily Beast). When I probe him about the interview-tryst, he looks at me dumbfounded, and even blushes a bit—one of the only times he does so during the course of our five-hour interview, which involves anecdotes about fans who’ve sent him boxes of semen, and a 16 Handles interlude. “I would never say anything about anyone else’s personal life,” he demurs.

Deen’s refusal to disclose specific details about others stands in sharp contrast to his own balls-out candor. When I try to throw him a curveball by asking how often women fake orgasms in porn films, he sighs. “I can’t fucking tell in real life. If I could, I would probably be better in bed.”

At one point, I refer to a fellow porn star, Stoya, as his girlfriend. “Oh, we’re not together anymore,” he says as if he were casually offering me more wine (which he does regularly during the interview). Deen and Stoya had earned the title of the power couple of porn, attending the AVN Awards (the “Porn Oscars”) and New York Times events together. Some in the porn world even referred to them as the Beyoncé and Jay Z of adult film. “I’m the Beyoncé,” Deen tells me with a laugh and a “Single Ladies” wave of his arm. But that’s it. “I would much rather be single than in a relationship I don’t like,” he says.

Occasionally, Deen’s train of thought will run off the rails, like when he talks about how personality drives his attraction to a person. “Who is the prettiest woman in the world? Kim Kardashian? She may be, but if I meet her and she’s a cunt, I’m not going to want to fuck her,” he says. “I mean, I’m not going to fuck someone with a swastika on their arm or a tattoo that says Fuck Kikes.” My eyes quickly dart over to a couple on what is clearly a first date, seated about two feet from us (we’re in New York City, after all).

While the man formerly known as Bryan Matthew Sevilla has acted in close to 2,000 porn flicks, he might have been better suited to be a politician. The most surprising thing that comes from Deen’s mouth has nothing to do with the women who have been inside it. He is a raging, hard-core libertarian, even if he doesn’t quite know it.

The first hints of his “don’t tread on me” attitude come when we discuss the issue of mandatory condoms on porn sets. Deen has long been an outspoken activist against condom laws, and like many in the adult-film community, he grounds his rationale in an aggressive interpretation of First Amendment rights. “I believe in freedom of speech,” he says, arguing that mandating condoms and mandating testing, as the heterosexual porn industry does, “both moderate what you’re doing with your genitals” and, therefore, are “equivalent to violating performers’ civil rights.”

But Deen doesn’t just want the government to stay out of his pants; he wants it to stay out, period. When I mention he’s good at texting and holding eye contact, he launches into an unexpected tirade against texting and driving laws.

“We live in a terrorist country. I text and drive looking over my shoulder, not because I think it is morally wrong. It’s because I don’t want to get in trouble,” Deen says.

James Deen stars in a scene from "The Canyons."
screengrab from the trailer

James Deen stars in a scene from 'The Canyons.' (IFC Films)

I remind Deen that his namesake died in an infamously horrible car crash, so he may want to cool it on texting and driving. He is undeterred. “You shouldn’t see cops giving out speeding tickets. That’s stepping on civil liberties. I want to see cops stopping burglaries and rapes.”

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Deen speaks as if Ayn Rand (or Rand Paul) was feeding him his lines; if only The Fountainhead had a porn parody. “Big government leads to corruption,” he says. “I think it’s more important to vote in state elections and even more important to vote in local ones.”

Despite his desire to throw the government off his back, Deen isn’t exactly gung ho about Rand Paul 2016. “I won’t vote for [Rand Paul] because I don’t vote for absurd people,” he tells me.

Sometimes, however, Deen’s political vitriol can veer into the absurd. Despite his reputation as the female-friendly face of porn, his views on “Yes Means Yes” consent laws would likely piss off a boatload of feminists. “That is the dumbest fucking law I’ve ever heard of. We already have a law against rape. Just don’t fucking rape people,” he says, in full-on rant mode. “My mom tried to persuade me on it and told me about the coverups on college campuses,” he explains. But in typical libertarian fashion, he doesn’t think legislation is the answer. “We can’t throw a law at it and think it’s going to solve it.”

Deen is unwilling to embrace the label of libertarian, but then again, he’s unwilling to be boxed into any category—political or otherwise. “Bret [Easton Ellis] called me a wuss for not identifying as heterosexual,” he tells me. “I am attracted to women, but if I saw a dude I was attracted to, I would fuck him.”

But there is something undeniably libertarian about the compact porn star. Hell, Deen is even fiscally conservative in his personal life. You would imagine an adult-film star who shared the screen with Lohan would be partying at the Soho Grand in a suite littered with booze and babes, but when he offers to let me use his hotel bathroom, I discover that Deen is staying at a decidedly basic Holiday Inn in a room that’s spic-and-span but can barely fit him and his luggage.

I assume some personal assistant’s made a terrible mistake or he’s a massive Chingy fan, but the hotel choice was purposely economical. “Everything downtown was at least $500 a night. This was the only place that was under $250,” he says.

To be fair, Deen may be more wary of excess expenses not out of financial conservatism but paranoia that his days are numbered as a porn darling. “I’m in the downfall of my 15 minutes,” he says, remembering the early buzz. “‘He is the nice guy the girls like. Oh wait, who is this guy who is just a dude?’ That’s the thing. He is just a dude. I’m a normal guy who was raised well and had a good upbringing.”

Deen’s refrain that he’s boring and yesterday’s news is something he repeats as often as his claim that he has a medium-size penis. Both reek of false modesty, but Deen does appear jumpy and genuinely anxious at times. “I was nervous meeting you. I’m nervous generally. I’m Jewish, neurotic.” So how often is he not nervous? “Very little. I’m usually OK when I’m alone by myself.”

He’s fidgety enough that I believe him—but he turns on the charm just as fast, so quickly that he should probably consider a career in politics if he gets bored having sex with striking women for money. As I exit the hotel room after using the bathroom, he asks if I’ve had fun. I turn the question back on him. “Hell yeah,” he says with a smile and a piercing, blue-eyed stare.