In Depth

James Deen: the porn star battling to save his reputation

The porn industry's 'feminist icon' has been accused of rape and sexual assault

Porn star James Deen burst onto the adult entertainment scene in 2004, aged just 18. Now, over a decade later, his reputation as a "feminist porn star" is under threat after accusations of rape and assault.

Who is James Deen?

James Deen – real name Bryan Sevilla – is a 29-year-old porn star and director from Los Angeles. He joined the industry at the age of 18 and went on to win Adult Video News's Male Performer of the Year award at 22, the youngest winner so far. To date, Deen has appeared in more than 2,000 films and directed 51.

What makes him special?

Deen has been held up as both a feminist and a pioneer in the adult film industry. Slender, and just 5ft7in, he has offered a boy-next-door alternative to the hyper-masculine men so often seen in porn.

Described as the "Ryan Gosling of porn", Deen gained favour in the media for espousing equality and pro-consent messages alongside his work – although one interviewer last year said Deen appeared "repulsed by the word 'feminist'".

What allegations does he face?

On Saturday, Deen's ex-girlfriend Stoya – also a porn star – took to Twitter to accuse Deen of raping her. She said it "sucks" to see people "idolising the guy who raped you as a feminist".

She then added: "James Deen held me down and f***ed me while I said no, stop, used my safe-word. I just can't nod and smile when people bring him up anymore." Days later, two other adult film actresses made assault allegations against Deen.

Talking to the Daily Beast, Tori Lux accused him of assaulting her at a "major porn studio" in 2011, while Ashley Fires claimed Deen "almost raped her" when she was coming out of a shower in communal bathrooms at a film studio.

How has Deen reacted?

Deen denied the claims, describing them as "egregious" in a series of tweets. Writing online, he said: "I want to assure my friends, fans and colleagues that these allegations are both false and defamatory. I respect women and I know and respect limits both professionally and privately."

So what happens now?

Deen's career appears to be on hold. On Monday, adult film production company Kink said it would sever ties with the actor immediately and other media partners have followed suit, reports The Independent. The Adult Performer Advocacy Committee also announced that Deen had voluntarily resigned from its board of directors.

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