LOS ANGELES — James Deen makes his living in front of the camera, but he maintains that “I’m not good at being the star.” (photo gallery)
“I’m pretty good at being the co-star,” Deen says. “It’s one of the reasons why I can do adult so easily...because in adult, I’m just a prop.”
On this warm Wednesday morning at the Hustler Studio in Canoga Park, Calif., Deen is the reason there is a photo and video crew setting up in the next room and four porn starlets sitting in the makeup chairs a few feet away.
The 28-year-old, three-time XBIZ Male Performer of the Year came to the set to be the centerpiece of the 2015 XBIZ Awards ad campaign in a two-part shoot that includes still photos and video. In January, the 10-year industry veteran will be the first male performer to ever host the show, which will be entering its 13th year honoring adult entertainment’s finest.
Right now though, Deen is in producer mode. He reveals that what’s on his mind is how to shoot the final edition of his “7 Sins” series for JamesDeen.com this month.
“I need to figure out what to do for ‘Wrath,’” Deen says. “I’ve already done all the others — ‘Greed,’ ‘Gluttony,’ ‘Lust’...”
Not to mention, Deen admits he’s not looking forward to yet another visit to the dentist next week. He’s been there almost a dozen times during the past two months.
“They keep finding something else,” Deen laments. “Woe is me. Sex with beautiful girls every day and twice a month I have dental surgery.”
Today seems more promising for a few reasons, not the least of which is the presence of Jessa Rhodes, Maddy O’Reilly, Dani Daniels and Keisha Grey, who will join Deen in the shoot that is being orchestrated by veteran glamour photographer Dean Capture and XBIZ Awards Executive Producer Moe Helmy.
Even though each girl has been doing porn for a different amount of time, Deen already has had sex with all of them. Not surprising for a guy who has performed in more than 3400 scenes since 2004, averaging 20-something per month and winning dozens of accolades for the way he does it. During that time Deen also managed to become porn’s biggest crossover performer since Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy.
The two-time XBIZ Crossover Star of the Year last year starred in the mainstream film “The Canyons” opposite Lindsay Lohan after being hand-picked by screenwriter Brett Easton Ellis (“Less Than Zero,” “American Psycho”) and director Paul Schrader (“Taxi Driver,” “American Gigolo”). With the high-profile production team and notorious female co-star attached, the film generated worldwide attention leading up to its release, catapulting Deen into the media spotlight.
The Pasadena native since 2012 has been profiled by the likes of GQ, Rolling Stone, Esquire UK, New York Observer, Glamour and ABC’s “Nightline.” In October, he landed in Playboy for its iconic “20 Questions” interview.
But even after all the mainstream flirtations and international attention, Deen still calls porn home. So there is no need to break the ice as the quartet of naked porn stars snuggles up next to him on the makeshift bed for about four hundred still photos.
“I like what you’re doing with your legs. It’s like a hug,” Deen says to Grey, as Capture and his assistant Mike continue snapping test shots.
“Yes, pull his tie. That’s nice,” Capture tells the girls.
“So everybody’s looking at James. Arched backs, pointed toes. Give me your best seductive face.”
Deen says to no one in particular, “Have you ever seen ‘Leprechaun’? So good.”
By 11:25 a.m., Capture likes what he sees in the test frames and starts shooting for real. Swedish techno music fills the room and the mood is light.
“What are we listening to?” Deen blurts out. “Can we listen to Wu Tang Clan?”
“James, that was a good face!” Capture yells excitedly.
“I don’t know what I did!” Deen replies.
They break. The girls stretch. Groan. Holding the same pose for 20 minutes isn’t as easy as it looks, it turns out.
“I like how Maddy’s method of seduction is just grabbing my cock,” Deen jokes.
Rhodes says she wants to be cuddled, so Grey obliges. Daniels runs her nails down O’Reilly’s back.
Deen heads to the cafeteria to pour another cup of coffee. I ask him what happened to his black tuxedo. Why are there two safety pins in the back holding it together?
“The tailor couldn’t find my house, which is weird because my house is not hard to find,” he confesses. “So I told him my sizes. It fits, but it’s not fitted.”
Now Capture and his crew are working quickly to change the set for the video portion of the campaign.
“In 15 minutes we’re going to crank up some music and do some dancing,” he announces.
The good news for Deen is all four girls are still naked except for their high heels as they surround him against the all-white backdrop. There is no bad news other than Deen has no idea how to act once the house music starts.
“OK, whatever feels good, whatever feels natural!” Capture tells the girls, who start gyrating on and around Deen, who’s now sporting a sheepish grin.
“I don’t know what to do here,” Deen says. “I could drink coffee! I could do that!”
Rhodes shouts to Deen, “Keep it together!”
“Keep what together?” he replies.
The girls get out props as the dancing and general goofiness continues. O’Reilly and Grey put on cowboy hats, while Daniels and Rhodes fondle two plastic balls.
“Come to XBIZ, it’s not going to be weird at all,” Deen cracks. “Can I take off my pants?”
By the time Daniels and Rhodes start a pillow fight with Deen, Capture knows he has more than he needs. Afterward, the 11-year industry vet from Tennessee tells me he wanted the shoot to be festive.
“It wasn’t so much about being technical as it was about energy and creating a fun atmosphere,” Capture says. “I think they did great. I never met James before. It was my first time meeting him but I’ve worked with a lot of girls who’ve worked with him and they all had great things to say about him. They respect him. They enjoy being around him and working with him.
“So it was a pleasure to meet him. He’s just a very shy, humble guy. A very sweet man.”
Rhodes, a 2014 XBIZ Awards Trophy Girl who recently turned 21, says she wasn’t sure what to expect. “I thought, ‘Oh we’re going to snap a couple photos, whatever. And I had a blast, it was awesome,” says Rhodes, the Oregon native who started her porn career about two years ago. “So I’m really excited for how it’s going to turn out.”
The North Carolina-born O’Reilly tells me she’s been in porn about three years and has worked with Deen a few times.
“He’s really down to earth and you would never know meeting him that he can be as demented as he is sexually,” says the 24-year-old star.
Daniels, a four-year vet from Orange County, Calif., who is also 24, says her second boy/girl scene ever was with Deen.
“I did a scene with him and [Mick Blue] for my Elegant Angel movie, so yeah, he’s awesome,” Daniels says. “He can beat me up. He can be loving. He can be sweet, he can run lines. When he’s on set it’s an easy day.”
Grey, a Tampa, Fla., native who is the newest girl of the group after starting porn last August, tells me she got to meet some of her “idols” today.
“We got to do a bunch of fun stuff, just goofed off,” Grey says. “I’m really excited to see this because it’s all my favorite stars, and me.”
Meanwhile, Deen admits being the center of attention for a day wasn’t so bad. “It was very nice to spend the day with four people who are enjoyable to be around and have a good sense of humor and like to laugh,” he concludes. “Dani Daniels stuck her fingers in my nose, which is hilarious. If it was people who did not rock, it would not have rocked.”
Photo of Jessa Rhodes and Keisha Grey by Jeff Koga. For a full behind-the-scenes gallery, click here.