Despite losing lucrative relationships with porn production companies and sex toy outfitters, James Deen's career does not appear to be greatly damaged by the accusations of sexual assault that surround him. Indeed, he continues to thrive: Deen has actually been working more since the assault allegations came out in November of last year.
Besides filming for his own production company, Deen has been shooting films with Vouyer Media, Reality Junkies, Girlfriends Films, and New Sensations. (These companies did not respond to Broadly's request for comment.) "If someone is getting mainstream attention, good or bad, people want to film them," says adult performer Alana Evans, who has worked with Deen in the past.
According to Evans, Deen's notoriety has even helped the careers of some of his accusers. "They're getting searched, and production companies want their films coming up in those results," Evan says.
"Things are basically back to normal, as if it never happened," she adds.
Evans is also the vice-chair of the Adult Performers Actors Guild, and she's leading the charge to get performers whose boundaries have been violated to file complaints with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). "Girls really need to speak out," she says. "You're not just getting justice for yourself—you're saving someone else."
In November of 2015, Deen's ex-girlfriend and fellow adult performer Stoya came forward with the first accusation of sexual abuse on Twitter:
After Stoya's tweet, more accusers came forward. Ashley Fires accused Deen of assaulting her off-camera in Kink.com's showers. The late Amber Rayne told the Daily Beast of a harrowing encounter with Deen on set:
"We were in a piledriver, he was fucking me in the ass and I said something like, 'Yeah fuck me like that you son of a bitch.' His face twisted and he came down on my face two times—close-fisted," says Rayne. "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."
More performers came out against Deen. Joanna Angel, another ex of Deen's, told a radio show host, "There were times that I did fear for my safety, but I felt trapped." Performer Lily LaBeau recounted two ugly stories about Deen, both of which involved him steamrolling over her boundaries. At an event that was live streamed on Kink's Upper Floor series, Deen, who was not scheduled to appear in the scene, joined in and attempted to engage LaBeau in several acts that appeared on her "no list"—an agreement between a performer and production staff about which acts are off limits. LeBeau described another terrible encounter with Deen like this: "The first thing he does is he walks over, I'm tied up, and he spits in my eye. It just went from zero to 60, just degrading."
After several production companies severed ties with Deen and his longtime champions at Doc Johnson announced they would discontinue their popular dildo line modeled on his penis, Deen took to Twitter to call the accusations against him "false and defamatory."
Read More: What Does Consent Look Like on a Porn Set?
It looked like his career was about to crash. It's clear now, six months later, that assessment was premature.
Just last week, Deen announced an increase in membership to his pay site. And, while Kink and Evil Angel have not renewed their work with Deen, they have kept their previous films with Deen on their sites. In the case of Kink, Deen's videos stay up mainly because other performers still want to be associated with him, says Kink spokesman Michael Stabile. "There were a number of performers who liked having James on their resume, so pulling them down didn't seem to be accomplishing anything in particular," Stabile says.
Further, few other men in pornography have the money-making reputation as Deen, and even fewer (if any) have his mainstream name recognition. Since not every guy can live up to porn's rigorous performance demands, Evans says, "the women come and go, but the men are the backbone of the industry." As larger production companies see their DVD sales and online subscriber base diminish in the wake of free sites like PornHub and YouPorn, they are more likely to stick with the people who have brought them money before.
There were a number of performers who liked having James on their resume.
Then there are people who continue to work with Deen not just because of his mainstream fame, but because they still like and trust him. "I trust him 100 percent," says adult actress Aubrey Star, who starred in Tight Ass Teen with Deen.
Evans says she believes Deen's victims but she also trusts her own experience with Deen as a good friend. "I had people surprised that I didn't put James on the chopping block," Evans says. "I don't think he should be blacklisted or anything. I've been friends with James for many years, but it's not my place to judge."
While it's unclear what Deen has done to address the accusations against him short of denials (Deen did not respond to Broadly's request for comment), the industry has tried to address men like Deen in their midst. Kink, for instance, has revised their Model Bill of Rights to put a greater emphasis on consent. Kink now guarantees that a model will still be paid if they stop filming because their boundaries were crossed. They also clearly state that on-set consent does not transfer off-set. "We have to be about affirmative consent," says Stabile. "It can't be up to the person being assaulted to say, 'No.'"
Ashley Fires declined to speak specifically about working with Deen, but when asked about Kink's new policies, she tells Broadly, "It should not have taken multiple accounts of assault to create such a bill of rights. These ideas of model rights should have always been in place."
Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified Alana Evans as being the Vice-Chair of Adult Performers Advocacy Committee (APAC). Evans is the Vice Chair for the Adult Performers Actors Guild (APAG). We regret the error.