Pornucopia

The Year in Porn: James Deen, Sunny Leone, Measure B, and More (PHOTOS)

Richard Abowitz rounds up the year in porn, from James Deen to California’s Measure B condom initiative.

AP for AIDS Healthcare Foundation; Getty; Sam Rudy Media Relations, via AP; AP

AP for AIDS Healthcare Foundation; Getty; Sam Rudy Media Relations, via AP; AP

Still suffering from the twin impacts of the recession and piracy, 2012 was a year much of the adult industry will be pleased to see reach an end. And, it wasn’t just the economy; the courts and the voters gave Pornland fresh anxieties to carry into the New Year. Not that all was dour: from Broadway to Bollywood, porn stars have never been so visible in mainstream culture. This year, James Deen became the first male performer since Ron Jeremy that your mom can actually name, while porn veteran Sunny Leone achieved intercontinental celebrity. The Daily Beast looks back on the highlights and lowlights of the year in porn.
By Richard Abowitz

Joe Kohen/AP for AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Measure B

A downside of mainstream acceptance is that the adult industry, in losing outlaw status, is now being treated like any other employer. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in efforts to make porn comply with the sort of workplace safety regulations that face other industries. Being that porn is like no other business, the battleground is currently over mandating companies to require employees to wear condoms while having sex on the job. Approved by the voters of L.A. County on Election Day, Measure B makes condoms the law in L.A. County, where the overwhelming majority of porn companies do business.

CDC via Corbis; Getty

Syphilis

In August, most porn companies briefly suspended production in the midst of a syphilis scare. “The Syphilis outbreak shows where the industry is at right now,” said porn star Kristina Rose. “It is a little seedy. Everyday, I hear another rumor or story about shadiness on set.” Soon, it emerged that veteran male performer Mr. Marcus altered the positive results of an STD test to easily outwit the industry’s testing protocol. This at a time when Pornland was arguing to the public that Measure B and similar efforts were unnecessary in the face of the industry’s foolproof self-regulation. Rose, however, blames the sour economy. “Sometimes in porn, your private parts get a cold,” she said. “A few years ago, when there was money around people were willing to take a week off. But in the bad economy, people are doing desperate things.”

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

James Deen

Once homeless, James Deen has been a big name in porn for a few years now. But these days, you can see Deen almost as often in mainstream magazines or being interviewed on television. “James had a historic year for a male performer in our business,” said Dan Miller, managing editor of industry publication XBIZ. “The way he has generated so much, and such a range of mainstream media attention is truly remarkable. The industry has never seen anything like this. James Deen is a phenomenon.” Much of this attention came in the wake of Deen being cast opposite Lindsay Lohan in Bret Easton Ellis’s film The Canyons. The film is due for release in 2013, so expect to see a lot more of James Deen.

Charles Norfleet/Getty

Octomom

A 30-something mother of 14 children is not an obvious candidate to embark on a career in porn. But that did not deter Nadya Suleman, a.k.a. Octomom, from making her porn debut. Amazingly no porn movie got more mainstream attention in 2012 than Octomom: Home Alone. “It was huge hit which is amazing for a solo movie,” said XBIZ’s Miller. “She looked great and this made a big splash.” That may say more about the public than the porn industry, however. A typical industry reaction came from a porn director who asked that his name not be used: “It is a freak show that I don’t want to talk about.” Porn star Kristina Rose was left in a rare state of speechlessness by the Octomom porn. “I really don’t know what to say about that,” she said. Still, in the porn industry no one argues with success; the effort was nominated for an AVN Award.

Getty

Fifty Shades of Grey

Unsurprisingly, the porn industry jumped onto the Fifty Shades of Grey bandwagon. Getting the most attention is Fifty Shades of Grey: A XXX Adaptation, which features well-known performers Allie Haze and Alexis Ford. But XBIZ’s Miller is having a hard time even counting the number of pornos so far inspired by the book. “There have been lower profile ones as well, at least three or four,” Miller said. Mainstream Hollywood is not pleased to have hardcore encroaching on this profitable franchise in softcore. Universal, which owns the rights, is suing the makers of Fifty Shades of Grey: A XXX Adaptation.

AP

Sunny Leone

For almost a decade, Sunny Leone has been one of the best-known porn stars in the United States. But this year she made the move from the other Hollywood to the other other Hollywood—Bollywood. The August release of Bollywood’s Jism 2 starring Leone was big news in India, where neither nudity nor sexual contact is allowed on screen. Despite terrible reviews and the huge controversy, Leone is set to make more Bollywood movies. As XBIZ’s Miller noted, “She was already pretty high-profile in the adult industry, but what she did overseas is amazing. She is now a superstar in Bollywood.”

AP; Getty

Presidents and Porn Stars

Porn stars used to not be known for their views on politics. But that was before the age of Twitter and Facebook made everyone a commentator, and the 2012 election found porn stars chiming in on the issues of the day. Jenna Jameson made headlines around the world with her endorsement of Mitt Romney. Though when The Daily Beast took the pulse of the porn community, we found that Obama was the overwhelming 2012 choice. Also attracting international notice was Brooklyn Lee with the porn star's Tweet of a photograph in which she is posing with former president Bill Clinton in Monaco. Lee told The Daily Beast of the brief encounter: “Everyone was taking pictures with him ... The Secret Service originally sent us away. But Bill went to the Secret Service and talked to them. He was very cool, very sweet, and very sexy. I squeezed his abs.”

Carol Rosegg/Sam Rudy Media Relations, via AP

The Performers

The annual AVN Awards, billed as porn’s Oscars, takes place every January in Las Vegas. This was the setting for David West Read’s Broadway play, The Performers. Sadly, The Performers attracted mediocre reviews including Ben Brantley’s in The New York Times, which noted “its heights, which are mostly foothills.” Despite featuring well-known stars like Alicia Silverstone and Henry Winkler, The Performers closed after seven performances.

Ric Francis/AP

Ira Isaacs

Comparing efforts like Hollywood Scat Amateurs #7 and Japanese Doggie 3 Way to Kafka and Duchamp, Ira Isaacs was an outlier even in an outlaw industry. In March, shortly before his case went to jurors, Isaacs offered a grammatically challenged open letter complaining how the adult industry had shunned his cause. Isaacs wrote, “I was fighting for you, but you the porn industry seem more concerned about you looked then any free speech rights.” It took five years and three trials, but Isaacs was convicted on federal obscenity charges in April. He is currently scheduled to be sentenced in January.