Inside the Mind of a Porn Star
by Madeline Haller February 19, 2013, 06:00 am EDT
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Think porn stars have all the fun in the sack? You may be right.
James Deen, on the set of The Canyons
Not only do male porn stars have a higher enjoyment of sex, they also have higher levels of self-esteem, says a new report published in the International Journal of Sexual Health. Researchers analyzed over 200 men—half were porn actors, half were not—to compare sexual activity, drug use, self-esteem, quality of life, and their attitudes toward sex.
Although the male porn actors were more likely to have used drugs and lose their virginity at an earlier age, the data still showed those in porn had higher quality-of-life indicators.
But the life of a porn star may not be as bizarre and out of control as the rest of us assume it is. So Men’s Health decided to catch up with James Deen, porn star and male lead in the 2013 film The Canyons, to get a better idea of what goes on behind the scenes when someone has sex for a living.
MH: For starters, how does a guy get into porn? What brought you to the industry?
James Deen: I entered the industry when I was 18. [Ed note: Deen is 27 now.] But for as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to do porn. Not kidding, when I was in elementary school, we were going around the classroom talking about what we wanted to do when we grew up—and I said I wanted to do porn. Back then my teachers just thought I was being disruptive, not kidding, they sent me to the principal’s office! But that’s actually what I wanted to do. Once I discovered it, porn was always my aspiration.
MH: So now that your dreams have come true, how often do you have sex?
Deen: At least once a day, usually more.
MH: We’ll need a bit more detail than that. What’s your average day look like?
Deen: I wake up around 6:30 in the morning, and typically get straight to work on answering emails, writing blog posts, and responding to comments on my site. After a few hours of that, I usually run around the kitchen like a mad man because, thanks to sitting in front of my computer all morning, I forgot to eat food. After that, I jump in the shower and then go to the set.
Once I’m there, I do some paperwork, meet my partner—and usually the partners already know each other because it’s a small industry. I discuss the scene with the director, and then head to the studio. The girls get done up to shoot their promo photos, I get my wardrobe on, and once we’re done with all that, we start doing the scene.
MH: It’s that simple?
Deen: Pretty much. Once the director tells you what type of scene you’re doing, they just film you doing your thing. After the scene we shower off, hang out for a bit, maybe grab some food. I usually get home between the hours of 6 and 9 p.m. Once I’m home, I’ll try to get some of my side projects done if I have the time. I pretty much go all day until I’m out of steam and literally have to lie down for the night.
MH: So what’s one of the biggest misconceptions people have about porn?
Deen: People need to realize, porn is not real. Porn is entertainment. It’s a movie being made to arouse the viewer. Therefore, people should not be having sex the way people have sex in pornos. Well, I suppose if you want to have insane, porno-style sex that’s fine. But the length of time that we have sex, the amount of positions we go through, the way we pose for the camera—stuff like that—it all happens a specific way for film. So porn shouldn’t be the model that you mold your sex life after.
James Deen, porn star
MH: And why do you say that?
Deen: Honestly if you’re using it as a comparative to “real life” sex, it’s probably just going to make you sad. In fact, it’s probably going to make your partner sad, too. Clearly you can still have that rough, passionate, porno-style sex—but it’s going to be a different experience. Those whacky positions are hard to do, and not normal.
MH: So you’re telling me having sex for a living is harder than it looks?
Deen: Definitely. It basically feels like I’m doing an hour of cardio every time I’m on set.
MH: So do people often seek your tips when it comes to lasting longer in bed?
Deen: All of the time. But my first bit of advice for any guy is to not take medical advice from people who are not medical professionals. There’s a big difference between a self-proclaimed sex expert and someone with a Ph.D. And just because you’re horny and like sex, that doesn’t make you an expert. For me, I’m just someone who’s done a lot of porn—and I don’t pretend to be anything else.
MH: Fair enough. You’re not an expert, but you’re still human. And sex is still sex, so is it hard to stave off the urge to climax during your scenes?
Deen: Honestly, not really. I’m always just able to do it when I need to do it. For me, I just like sex. And ejaculating for me really isn’t that interesting. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it feels good. But it’s a lot less interesting to me than the actual act of having sex.
And usually when I do get off, it’s because the girl I’m having sex is asking for it. But other than that, I’d rather just not come and have sex for hours and hours and hours. Then take a break, eat a bagel, and then have some more sex—you know?
MH: So it appears it takes a certain breed to be a porn star.
Deen: At a certain point, natural ability comes into play. And you have to really like sex to be in this industry. It’s the same for women, too. If she’s not interested in having a lot of sex and having a lot of orgasms, she’s not going to get a huge kick out of porn. Think of it this way, if you hate fast food, you’re probably not going to get a job working at McDonalds.
MH: Speaking of orgasms, are the women actually getting off?
Deen: Well I hope they’re getting off. Ha, I suppose they could be lying to me. But I don’t think they have any real reason to. It’s not like it’s going to change our “relationship.” If we’re not sexually compatible, at least the scene will still be cool.
MH: And as a porn star, is it hard to maintain a relationship?
Deen: Not really. I definitely date. And usually when there’s an issue in the relationship, it’s not the porn. It often has more to do with personal issues with me, my character, my personal quirks—it’s rarely the whole business thing. But being a relationship is a whole different ball game. That desire for emotional intimacy and affection does not dissipate just because you’re getting regular physical intimacy. They’re very different and you cannot exchange one for the other.
MH: And lastly, if you could offer one bit of sex advice to the readers, what would it be?
Deen: The one thing I always preach is this: You cannot have sex with everyone the same way. You have to change your sexual style to complement your partner’s, and you need to figure out what they’re into. Remember: You don’t have sex to somebody—you have sex with somebody. So if you’re not willing to communicate with her about sex, then you might as well just masturbate