It began with a tweet. On November 28, 2015, the porn actress Stoya took to Twitter to accuse her former boyfriend and scene partner, James Deen, of rape.
Several other porn stars subsequently came forward to The Daily Beast with similar stories of sexual assault at the hands of Deen, including Ashley Fires, Amber Rayne, Kora Peters, Tori Lux, and Nicki Blue.
“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,” Rayne told The Daily Beast. “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.”
As many as nine women—including Deen’s ex Joanna Angel—have come forward accusing Deen of sexual assault. Deen, who has a penchant for making light of rape online, denied the allegations in an interview with The Daily Beast, saying he was “completely baffled” by them.
Deen grew up idolizing Rocco Siffredi, the well-endowed Italian porn star who popularized a more aggressive style of porn, including slapping, spitting, and in one case, taking a woman from behind while stuffing her head in a toilet bowl. The two have worked together as co-stars on several occasions, including in a pivotal scene featured in an impressive new documentary on Siffredi, Rocco, that made its premiere at the 2016 Venice Film Festival.
I sat down with Siffredi in Venice for a longer profile pegged to the film when our talk veered to Deen, who’s somehow seemed to weather the litany of sexual assault allegations (he has yet to be formally charged with a crime).
“With all his problems…” Rocco said of Deen, drifting off. “I can tell you one problem, my point of view: James, he’s worked for me, and the reason he’s in [Rocco] is because I like him. The only problem with James is that he has no private life. He was 18 and has worked 10 years on the road without stopping, at the level of today. I’ve been in the industry for 32 years, and back then, we were fucking two times per week, or when you wanted to fuck. Today, which is the last 15 years, there’s no big storyline. It’s just sex, sex, sex. So, he started to mix work with life. He doesn’t understand that when you are home, you need to have a real break. He brings ‘James Deen’ home, and it’s not good. All of what he does in front of the camera is exactly what he was doing at home, but in front of the camera, it’s legal, because the two people are there and they are agreeing to it.”
Siffredi recalled a scene he shot with Deen in America that got particularly tense. “James, he worked for me in America, and he tells the girl, ‘Now you are here! Stop! I do it to you!’” he said, before impersonating Deen slapping the woman’s face repeatedly. “If he does this at home, it’s violent; when we do it in front of the camera, we’re making a movie. I think he got confused… I don’t think he’s a raper, I think he got confused. Now, if he has a black soul, I’m not sure.”
One person who does believe Deen has “a black soul” is Kelly Stafford, a former porn actress and longtime co-star and pal of Siffredi’s. In Rocco, the two reunite for Siffredi’s alleged final porn film—also featuring Deen, and shot in the controversial Kink dungeon in San Francisco. Whereas Siffredi, aka the “Italian Stallion,” is indeed a friend of Deen’s, Stafford is not, and can therefore offer a more unbiased opinion of the accused serial rapist.
“I can tell you something that Kelly said, when she worked with James,” Siffredi told me. “I asked her, ‘How was it working with James?’ ‘He hates women. That’s in your soul,’ she said. I said, ‘Why do you say this?’ Right after she said this, the big news came that James Deen got [accused]. I’m like, ‘What the fuck is going on, Kelly?’ She said, ‘I told you, this guy, in his eyes, I saw that he hates women.’”