James Deen Breaks His Silence: ‘I Am Completely Baffled’ by Rape Allegations
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, the adult-film superstar, who stands accused of sexual assault by nine women, opens up about the allegations against him.
After a lengthy back-and-forth with James Deen’s publicist and lawyer, the embattled porn star agreed to an interview by email with Aurora Snow of The Daily Beast—and only on the condition that the interview be published in its entirety.
Nine women so far have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse and/or assault at the hands of Deen. Stoya, a fellow adult film star and ex-girlfriend of Deen’s, was the first to accuse him publicly, tweeting on Nov. 28: “James Deen held me down and fucked me while I said no, stop, used my safeword. I just can’t nod and smile when people bring him up anymore.”
In the wake of Stoya’s reveal, porn star Tori Lux came forward with her own allegation of sexual assault against Deen in an essay first published at The Daily Beast. Ashley Fires, Amber Rayne, and Kora Peters then came forward, sharing their stories of alleged sexual assault by Deen to The Daily Beast. An unnamed woman who went by T.M., and Nicki Blue followed suit, claiming they were sexually assaulted by Deen, while his ex Deen’s ex Joanna Angel detailed a cycle of abusive behavior.
The ninth—and most recent—allegation comes from former MTV reality star Farrah Abraham (Teen Mom), who released a sex tape co-starring Deen. Abraham told the Daily Mail, “James Deen raped me for his benefit of fame. He conspired against me with others that I thought were my friends at the time and that was very hurtful.” As the Abraham story ran late Monday, we were unable to address it in our interview with Deen, though we have requested his reaction to the allegation and will update the story accordingly.
Many in the adult film industry reacted swiftly to the allegations, cutting ties with the bankable male star. Others distanced themselves from Deen and waited to hear the facts, should any arise. Some performers I’ve spoken with cannot imagine this side of Deen, knowing him only as a respectful yet arrogant performer. Others claim they’ve seen this darker side of Deen—the side they say knows no boundaries. A number of these allegations involve Kink, a BDSM company that pays adult performers to push their limits, frequently filming scenes in which performers ignore the word “no,” only stopping for safe words.
Here, James Deen breaks his silence.
GQ once labeled you “the well-hung boy next door” and you’ve had a squeaky clean public image until now. Personally speaking, you’ve always been very kind and professional to me on set. I was shocked by the allegations against you, but as you know these kinds of allegations are difficult to dismiss.
I honestly am shocked as well. I am extremely happy to hear that you have always had good and respectful experiences with me.
Let’s start right from the beginning. On Nov. 28, Stoya tweeted: “James Deen held me down and fucked me while I said no, stop, used my safeword. I just can’t nod and smile when people bring him up anymore.” Why would your ex and former scene partner claim such a thing?
I do not know at all. I am completely baffled. I also can’t speak to her motivations. There are public articles all over the internet, written by her, that make the exact opposite claims. She discusses how we communicated and how we were very careful with consent especially when involved with rough sex. What I do know is that Stoya and I did not have a clean break up. It was pretty messy, full of a lot of emotions and both Stoya and I are to blame for that. She made threats towards me and harassed one of my employees. She spit at this employee as well as sending very inappropriate texts. I have spent this past week terrified and confused so I can’t help but run through the details of our relationship in my head. The reason Stoya made this claim could be as simple as her finding out that my current girlfriend and I are moving in together. We have mutual friends, one of our friends notified Stoya of this information. It could be as calculated as Stoya trying to drive traffic to her website. Which I have to say is very well done and I am proud to have the movie I produced for her up on the site, but the same day this happened she pinned a tweet about her site that just so happened to have an update with me in it right above this madness. I can’t speak to her reasoning or motivations.
After Stoya made her shocking allegations on Twitter, Tori Lux issued a written statement claiming you assaulted her. Tori claims she gave a firm “no” and then “[James Deen] proceeded to straddle my chest, pinning down my arms with his knees. Then, he raised his hand high above his head, swinging it down and hitting me in the face and head with an open palm. He did this five or six times—hard—before finally getting off of me.” What happened on that set?
I can safely say that did not happen. All of the accusations are from either ex-girlfriends or events that happened on set. I always try to take responsibility for my actions and apologize when needed. As far as these other claims, at a certain point I feel like people have to step back and analyze this stuff in context. Most of these are descriptions of things on BDSM or rough sex sets. When I am on set I am under instruction of the company who is paying me. I could describe the events of the scene I was in the other day and it could be just as dramatic. I have no desire to blame people who consider themselves victims or throw stones. I will just say this: my job as a performer for rough sex companies is to engage in certain acts. If at any point I pushed boundaries past the point of comfort, I am sorry. I have always tried to respect peoples’ limits and safe words and operated within that space. If someone expressed anything to me I honored the request with the fullest care.
Coming from the world of porn, I know life on set can feel very different from life outside of a porn set. Do you think consent is handled differently on porn sets between performers than, say, off-set with non-porn performers?
It is very hard to discuss the intricacies of a porn set with people who have not experienced being on a porn set—particularly a BDSM or rough sex set. You, however, know the subtle differences between an outside porn sex experience and an on set porn sex experience. On every set I have been on the thing that stops everything is: “I don’t feel comfortable.” There are third parties and supervision. There is a disconnect because the person who is having the sex is oftentimes doing it under instruction from a director. It’s simply not that simple to explain to an outsider.
Where do you draw the line between an aggressive violent sex performance and reality? Does that line ever become difficult to define?
Not at all. Please see the below download link.
[AUTHOR NOTE: It’s against policy for The Daily Beast to host the hardcore pornographic content Deen provided. The link contained a video in which Deen and Stoya are having sex in a dungeon-like setting, as Deen aggressively slaps Stoya’s face during intercourse. Stoya says, “Stop.” Deen immediately stops and then asks, “Stop what?” to which she replies, “I don’t want to do that.” James replies, “We absolutely don’t have to do that,” as Stoya sobs in his arms. “I’m sorry,” she says, to which Deen replies, “All you have to say is that you don’t want to do it, then we won’t do it.”]
Please bear in mind this is unreleased raw footage from a scene Stoya hired me for far after this incident supposedly occurred. In it I feel you can see it is very clear when someone expresses discomfort or needs to enter back into reality. When that happens, everything stops and before sex can continue everyone’s comfort must be reestablished.
Ashley Fires said, “I was getting out of the shower of the communal bathroom at Kink, I reach for my towel to dry off, and [James Deen] comes up from behind me and pushes himself and his erection into my butt.” She goes on to say, “I didn’t even know this guy, he was so out of line and entitled with my body.” As a male porn performer do you feel a sense of entitlement to women’s bodies while on set, and is that common?
In no way at all do I feel entitled to anyone’s body on set. Productions try to maintain a delicate balance of professionalism and fun. Most directors don’t want to document sterile intercourse—they want to create erotic material. This cannot be achieved without comfortable models who have sexual desires for one another. However, like I previously said, what stops everything is when someone objects or states discomfort.
Does your environment change how you behave towards women? For example, what’s it like to work at the Armory for Kink.com, which is treated like one big porn set?
I’ve shot over 200 scenes for Kink.com. It was primarily over a 5-year period and there was a time in my early 20’s where I practically lived in their building. Kink.com is a very unique and specific example. They are the only company that I have worked for who puts all the models in one building on one floor unsupervised with access to alcohol and various sex toys, as well as a communal bathroom. It creates a very non-stop sexual environment which is very conducive to producing great content. On most sets there is a natural safety net because you know that there is a walk-on location that changes depending on the day, and there is no blurry line as to when the day starts and ends. I don’t think you can blame an environment for someone’s actions. I can say that the type of content desired by the person who is paying me changes the types of performances I create, and the type of performance desired would be enhanced by the environment, so a smart producer/director would ensure to create the right environment to dictate the type of performance they want.
You’ve posted several jokes making light of rape on your Twitter feed. What, for you, is the appeal of these jokes?
I think that finding humor in horror is a coping mechanism I use to accept that terrible things happen in the world. It doesn’t mean I condone negative behavior. I have always had a dark sense of humor as I think a lot of people in my circle do as well—dead baby jokes, Holocaust jokes, rape jokes, no arm/no legs jokes, racist jokes. I don’t condone prejudice. I operate outside of the overly-PC public world we live in. I’m not PC. But making a rape joke does not make one a rapist.
Considering the recent chain of events, do you harbor any regrets for posting rape humor on your Twitter feed?
None. I have never claimed to be a “feminist” or “the boy next door.” As always, I have claimed to be nothing other than a simple guy who likes to eat, sleep, and watch TV, who also bangs chicks for a living. I am not politically correct nor do I particularly care if people disagree with me. I live by the mission of wanting to change the way people think about each other’s opinions, and I adhere to it. I fully promote the mentality that people can say anything they want and do anything they want as long as they are not violating the rights of others. It is OK for people to have different opinions or senses of humor or thoughts. That’s what makes humanity great. We should respect each other’s opinions and just say, “I disagree with you (or don’t find that funny), but encourage and accept that you are allowed to think differently.” Freedom of speech is about standing up and protecting the rights of the person who is saying or doing the most offensive thing to you, not just your own desired form of expression. I may disagree with a lot of people but I will fight for their rights to express themselves forever.
A woman going by the initials T.M. told the LAist that in 2009 at an AVN party at the Venetian Hotel you sexually assaulted her. “[James Deen] grabbed me in front of the entire party and took me into a side room. I definitely said no, but I was also super scared. There was a crowd of his friends and fans [in the room]. He forced me to [perform oral sex on him] and had sex with me.” Do you recall the incident, and can you tell us what happened?
This party mentioned is an invitation-only BDSM swinger’s party in Vegas. I don’t want to go into specifics but I can assure you that this description is not a true reflection of the events in question.
What sexual situations have you been involved in where the word “no” is used in a manner that means you should not stop?
Almost every Kink.com scene or rough sex scene involving safe words. If there is a frape (fake rape/fantasy rape) scene there are pre-discussed safe words that mean stop. They are communication tools and we always try to encourage people to use them to express when things are too rough or if their arm is uncomfortable or they have an itch on their nose and anything in between. If the premise of the scene is a forced sex fantasy then it is important to have established limits and safe words in order to maintain the integrity of the project while still honoring peoples’ boundaries.
Amber Rayne, who still considers you a friend, talked to me about one of her first on-camera experiences with you. She claims she said something to the effect of, “‘Yeah fuck me like that you son of a bitch.’ [Deen’s] face twisted and he came down on my face two times—close-fisted. I was punched in the face while he was still in my ass and then he starts going crazy on my butt—extreme, brutally fucking it. He just starts shoving things in to the point where he ripped it and I bled everywhere. There was so much blood I couldn’t finish the scene.” Can you tell me how something like this could happen?
I cannot, actually. It sounds pretty extreme but I can assure you, as someone who has also been on sets before, this situation was grossly distorted by the press, and as someone who came to my defense stated, this video exists. You can clearly see it not happening the way it is represented in the media.
What kinds of pressures have you felt from producers or directors to push your scene partner’s physical limitations or boundaries? How do you know what those boundaries and limitations are?
I think I addressed this earlier. Directors/producers shoot different types of scenes. Some of them, the very nature is to dance on boundaries and create extreme sex. It isn’t really pressure; it is the actual job. When I show up on set it doesn’t matter what type of sex I feel like having that day, it only matters what type of sex the company hiring me dictates me to have. I am not trying to push blame on others—I am trying to explain the subtle details of making adult films that only people within the industry truly understand.
Kora Peters claims you sexually assaulted her during an on-camera scene. According to Kora, anal was one of her “no’s.” In her statement she says, “James [Deen] kept trying to get inside my ass but I kept pushing him away, so he choked me, then he slammed my face down into the couch and forced himself in my ass anyway. The crew all high-fived him and told him what a great job he did getting an anal scene for the price of a boy/girl scene.” What are your memories of this scene?
This did not happen the way it was retold. There have been tweets pulled up from her very own twitter feed that dispute her claims. She claimed to never have worked with me again but months after the scene in question was shot she performed in an anal scene with me for my company. She has made previous public comments to inner adult industry people that contradict what she is saying now. If she regrets shooting the scene with me I am sorry to hear this. However, in no way did this event transpire anything like what is described in the media.
Your ex-girlfriend Joanna Angel spoke about some of her experiences with you. She said, “He started dunking my head in the water while he was fucking me.” She says she was okay with this at first, but then “it started to feel like forever.” She went on to say, “I thought, I’m going to die here.” Do you recall this incident and do you feel things went too far? Was this common behavior in your relationship or an extreme incident?
There are certain exaggerations and inaccuracies in these stories. For instance, if everything said was accurate it would mean I started doing porn at the age of 17. However, I will absolutely admit to being an emotionally insensitive boyfriend. I will admit to being immature. I will admit to being an overall jerk. I have publicly apologized many times and I will continue to do so. Joanna Angel is one of the smartest and most creative people I have ever had the chance to know. She is a great person who deserves a great boyfriend. I don’t get to be forgiven by Joanna and that is not anyone’s problem but mine. My punishment is that one of the coolest people on the planet dislikes me and I don’t get to have her friendship. I have to deal with that. No one else. I will absolutely continue to apologize to her for being a shitty boyfriend.
You’ve said on Twitter that you “respect women” and “know and respect limits both professionally and privately.” While that has been my own experience with you, it does beg the question: why are so many women now claiming that you did not respect their limits?
Until recently, I had no knowledge that any limits or boundaries were considered violated. Some of these women and I have remained friends with no mention of this until now. As far as why they are coming forward, I have heard many stories from many different performers who have engaged in all sorts of various acts and then after either retiring, taking a break, or slowing down in the adult industry, change their desires and perceptions about things that have happened in the past. I HATE the idea that something a performer experienced would ever be a thing they regretted or that they considered a violation after the fact. I don’t want to blame other people, especially the victim, but if people don’t communicate things when they’re happening then it is not possible to honor retroactive boundaries.
A number of women claim they’ve said “no” and you continued anyway. What kind of misunderstanding is happening?
The claims are inaccurate or out of context.
The most recent allegation is from Nicki Blue. She told the Daily Mail, “I started giving him [oral sex]. It was nice at first, then it got really rough. I kept trying to pull my head up to say something, it was too rough… he would just push my head back in so I was choking and I couldn’t say anything… As he was doing it—this is the embarrassing part and why I didn’t say anything—he said, ‘Oh my God, I have to go to the bathroom,’ and he pissed in my mouth.” Will you give me your account of this?
There is photographic evidence that was posted on her own Tumblr page showing other employees of Kink.com performing these acts on her. Specifically, a director/pro dom and the former head of their marketing department. I know I sound like a broken record saying over and over again that things are inaccurate or untrue, but when there is photo or video evidence contradicting this stuff it is hard to not be a little defensive.
If any type of sexual encounter feels consensual in the beginning, have you ever felt the need to check consent as it progresses? How can a woman alert you to stop in the midst of a sexual interaction if she no longer wants to participate? In the incident Nicki describes, she says she couldn’t say anything because she was choking. In those cases, how could the need to stop be communicated to you?
I would recommend the word “stop.” On Kink.com sets there are three safe words. For stop you say “red” or if you can’t speak you shake your head no and say “uh uh uh.” When this happens everything stops. The director checks in and then is supposed to fix any issue that is creating the need for a stop. It could be that things are too rough, it could be that the performer has an itch on their face, and it could be anything in between or beyond. If the performer wants to continue then the scene starts again once they say they are ready. If a performer is fine to continue but want things to ease up you say “mercy.” If there is rough sex stuff happening there needs to be predetermined communication tools.
Do you think there is a misunderstanding happening somewhere, a breakdown in communication between you and the accusers? And what are those misunderstandings, if any?
From everything I am reading it seems as if things are being distorted by the press or are inaccurate. I do believe there is pressure on sets for people to perform in certain ways that they may later regret. I do believe the adult industry needs a better structure for preventing and reporting on set misconduct. I do also believe that people need to take responsibility for their own actions. There was a site I did multiple scenes for that was extremely rough. I started to hear a lot of negative comments from a lot of people about their feelings after the scenes. I felt the site gave the wrong message and was handled incorrectly. It was extremely violent sex dictated by the company. I felt uncomfortable, so I quit working for the site. I don’t remember communication breakdowns.
What is the attitude of sex on set? In other words, how do porn performers deal with sexual encounters on set, on and off-camera? Are there any sexual behaviors normalized or encouraged on set that people outside of the porn industry would categorize differently?
That is a lot to unpack. Sex on set is usually seen as fun… I think. I can’t speak for the entire collection of performers. I imagine they deal with sexual encounters the same way anyone else in the world does. We are still people. I think the best thing I can do to help people understand is a football analogy. If you are on the field you need to expect there to be people running at you trying to tackle you. There is a warm-up period. There is practice. There is horseplay in the locker room. But if someone takes off their helmet and starts to hit someone in the head with it in a violent manner, it is unacceptable. Performers have sex in front of the camera in ways they for the most part are either comfortable with or enjoy. Performers will continue this type of sex when the camera is not rolling to keep the sexual energy present. And oftentimes, the performers will meet off-set and engage in similar types of sex. The rules always still apply. Things can get extreme, but when things are called to a halt or someone is being disrespected, it is seen the same as anywhere else in the world.
Amongst porn performers what kind of consents are there? And is there a sense of entitlement amongst co-workers or potential co-workers?
Again, we are people like any other people in the world—our sex is still sex. The consent is still the same. There is just a different level of understanding. If you have not experienced it then it is hard for me to describe, but I will try. Let’s say a director is choosing a performer’s wardrobe for a scene. If the director tells the performer, “Your ass looks great in that outfit,” outside the understanding of the adult industry, that sounds like a violation, however in porn it is not. If that performer says “can you not do that” or “that makes me uncomfortable” and the director disregards or continues, then it is a violation. It’s not that people are entitled to each other’s bodies, there is just a certain comfort level that is consistent. There is no way to properly discuss it unless you’ve been on set and experienced it. You don’t get to do whatever you want but at the same time you need to accept a certain level of sexual interaction with almost everyone you encounter on set, until you express that you do not desire it.
Why do you think all of these allegations are just now coming to light?
Multiple women have told me journalists have offered them up to five thousand dollars for stories about me. Any description of a porn scene can be made to sound sensational. Again, I’m not blaming the victim and if anything ever happened that was over the line I want to apologize and ensure that when communicated these things DO NOT HAPPEN. At this point I am just waiting for everyone who has ever disliked me ever from my entire life to come out with some extreme story or interpretation of how horrible I am. Like I said, I have never claimed to be a feminist or a nice guy, or the boy next door or anything like that. I am a pornographer. It’s all I ever wanted to be. I believe in respect and equality and doing unto others but that does not make me anything more than a pornographer who believes in these values.
Several companies were quick to sever ties with you when these allegations surfaced. How do you feel about that?
I hate to throw stones but at this point, fuck it. I fired Evil Angel over a year ago. I had to have my lawyer contact them multiple times to stop them from distributing my product. The idea that they stopped doing anything is ridiculous. As far as Kink.com goes, there are plenty of issues there that have been well-documented in the media. I am an easy place to place the blame for their own issues.
Considering the allegations, what are your regrets?
I have very few regrets. I love my job and I pride myself in what I do. I won’t throw my ex-girlfriends under a metaphorical bus because I made the choice to date them. I know what I did and what I didn’t do. My family and the people who know me don’t care about this because they know it is untrue and ridiculous. I started in this business when I was 18 years old. People have watched me grow up in it. They have seen me change from an irresponsible arrogant child to a more responsible, less arrogant man-child, to an ideological still-kinda-arrogant almost 30-year-old man-type person. I admit I was an immature jerk. I admit I pissed off a lot of people.
On Twitter, you’ve claimed, “These allegations are both false and defamatory.” How do you intend to try and set the record straight?
Well, to begin with, I’m answering your questions. Secondly, I’m not going to play whack-a-mole with every accusation and do to their reputations what they are trying to do to mine. I know some people will understand me and what I’m saying, and some may be offended by it and say even worse things as a result. We live in a world where accusations get great attention and no one really seems to want to get the truth. I’m in porn, and when you take porn activity into polite society it sounds really twisted. The media needs stories and I can see how this is one hell of a story. And finally, I want to remind people that I am not the subject of any lawsuits, I am not under criminal investigation, and at this moment I have no intention of filing defamation suits against false accusations.