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Jan 16

Why The Adult Industry Can’t Stop Giving Trophies to Alleged Abusers


From James Deen to Roman Polanski: We Can’t Stop Giving Trophies to Alleged Abusers

January 26th, 2016

James Deen

But the AVN award audience’s chilly response to Deen’s wins might be a sign of things to come

salon.com – Why can’t we stop giving alleged abusers and rapists awards?

This weekend, the AVN Awards—who bill themselves on the website as the “Oscars of porn”—handed out two trophies to James Deen, the porn star who has been accused by nine women of sexually assaulting them. The allegations broke last November, when Deen’s ex-girlfriend Stoya (herself an adult performer) accused him of rape in a series of tweets. “James Deen held me down and fucked me while I said no, stop, used my safeword,” she wrote. Other accusers who have since come forward include Ashley Fires and Tori Lux, who allege a similar pattern of abuse—with Lux claiming that he also beat her during sex.

While James Deen has been dropped from his contract with Kink.com, as those in the porn industry have sought to distance themselves from Deen, the 29-year-old (neé Bryan Sevilla) brought home two awards on Sunday night—including “Best Double Penetration Sex Scene” and “Best Group Sex Scene.” While Mr. Deen failed to take home the evening’s top prize for a porn actor—“Male Performer of the Year”—it’s hardly the united front that the industry has been pushing in recent months.

It’s also far from the first time that a voting body has chosen to give an entertainer a major honor after being charged or accused of a heinous, unspeakable act. This reflects a dangerous mindset—as illustrated in the ongoing Bill Cosby sexual assault scandal—that it’s more important to recognize the legacy or the contributions of an alleged abuser than to stand with their victims.

In 1987, Barbara Walters interviewed Sean Connery about his previous statements on domestic violence, and Connery defended the idea that it’s OK to beat women. “As I remember, you said you don’t do it with a clenched fist,” Walters recalled. “It’s better to do it with an open hand. Remember that?” In his initial interview—given to Playboy in 1965—Connery said: “If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I’d do it.” Rather than walking back his remarks, the former James Bond stood by them. “I haven’t changed my opinion. … No, not at all,” he responded.

If these comments aren’t surprising coming from an actor who became famous for playing a character who enjoyed hitting women (like, a lot), Connery’s ex-wife alleged that those statements weren’t mere conjecture. Diane Cilento, the Scottish actor’s first wife, told Britain’s Daily Mail that the former James Bond beat her in the face and knocked her unconscious during a fight back in 1965. When she examined herself the next morning in the bathroom mirror, she told the Daily Mail, “I felt sure my face would never be the same again.”

Rather than taking a stand against his behavior—and refusal to apologize for it—the Oscars gave him his first trophy in 1988, just a year after the Walters interview aired. Sean Connery won Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Brian de Palma’s “The Untouchables.” He would later go onto be voted People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” the following year, as well as the magazine’s “Sexiest Man of the Century” a decade later. He was even knighted in 2000.

That’s hardly the first time the Academy Awards have looked the other way in regards to an actor’s violent past. In 2010, Michael Fassbender’s ex-girlfriend, Sunawin Andrews, filed a restraining order against the Irish actor (“Shame,” “X-Men First Class”). According to a TMZ report, Andrews alleged that Fassbender “threw me over a chair breaking my nose” after a night of heavy drinking. “Andrews also says [Fassbender] allegedly dragged her alongside their car one night after they had an argument about one of her ex-boyfriends … causing her to twist her left ankle, blow out her left knee cap and burst an ovarian cyst,” the order alleges.

Since that time, Fassbender has been nominated for two Oscars and is major contender in this year’s Best Actor race for his performance in Danny Boyle’s “Steve Jobs.” In addition, the ever in-demand leading man been shortlisted for three Golden Globes, two SAG awards, four BAFTAs, nine London Film Critics Circle awards, and an Indie Spirit award. It’s not just that the Oscars have refused to take a stand—but that no one else has either.

In one of the most egregious examples ever, Rihanna had to lift her restraining order against ex-boyfriend Chris Brown in 2011 so that he could attend the Grammys. Two years after photos of Rihanna’s bloodied face went viral on the Internet, Brown was nominated for three awards—including Best Contemporary R&B Album. The following year, he received three more bids—and actually took home a trophy for Best Rap Album for “F.A.M.E.,” despite the fact that the record was universally reviled by critics. One reviewer called it a “vile, despicable album,” calling its “very existence is a frightening indictment of our times.” If that weren’t bad enough, the Grammys also invited him to perform five musical numbers.

Whether you choose to support any of these actors or musicians is a matter of personal discernment—if you believe it’s personally valid to separate the artist from their work. I know friends who still guiltily listen to R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix),” because it’s a catchy tune that recalls a time before Kelly was associated with numerous statutory rape allegations. Whether you’re OK with supporting his music is between you and your god. After all, even legendary music critic Jim DeRogatis (who personally testified in the musician’s 2008 trial) once called R. Kelly “a musical genius.”

But there’s little argument that Kelly deserved eight more Grammy noms after beating charges that he had sex with a 14-year-old on tape. (As Slate’s Josh Levin reported, “the state’s attorneys might have swayed the jury if Judge Vincent Gaughan had allowed them to present evidence of Kelly’s past transgressions, like the four known settlements he’s paid to underage girls who’ve accused him of sexual misconduct.”) Did Roman Polanski really need a Best Director Oscar for “The Pianist”—34 years after he fled the country on sexual assault charges? What about Woody Allen, who got honored with an honorary lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes in 2013, despite allegations Allen had molested Dylan Farrow, his former stepdaughter?

If awards groups like the Oscars, the Globes, and basically everyone else refuse to take a stand against those who have been accused or convicted of assault, one moment from the AVN Awards is encouraging. Maxim’s Ali Drucker noted that the crowd gave Deen the silent treatment all night. “When his photo was plastered on the monitor as the nominees were read, no one seemed to cheer for him the way they yelled and clapped for the other performer,” Drucker reported. “After all, who wants to applaud an alleged serial rapist?” Because Deen’s wins were in relatively lower categories, he didn’t even get to accept the awards he did win on stage.

Given James Deen’s chilly reception—and the fact that numerous other entertainers refused to pose with him or even mention Deen during interviews—it appears that the industry may do what its own version of the Oscars won’t: Support women. If there’s any justice in the world, Deen won’t have any performances to be nominated for next year.

28
Jan 16

James Deen Wins 2 AVN Awards Despite Sexual Assault Accusations


James Deen Wins 2 AVN Awards Despite Sexual Assault Accusations

January 25th, 2016 

James Deen

The controversial porn actor had 33 nominations for the AVN Awards in Las Vegas on Saturday 

thewrap.com – Embattled porn actor James Deen won two “Porn Oscars” at the Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas on Saturday despite the recent flurry of accusations that he had sexually assaulted female performers both on set and off.

Deen shared the award for best group sex scene and for best double penetration sex scene, according to the AVN, after receiving 33 nominations in all. He had won three trophies at last year’s AVN Awards, one of the main events in adult entertainment.

Earlier this month, Deen was completely shut out at the rival XBiz Awards at a ceremony hosted by Stoya, Deen’s ex-girlfriend and a fellow porn performer who first accused the boyish actor of rape late last year.

Stoya was scheduled to appear at a panel about consent issues on porn sets Wednesday at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, but that event was quietly cancelled, Fusion reported.

Titled, “Consent Degrees: Yes, No and Everything in Between,” the panel was intended to discuss ways to make the porn industry safer for actors.

“Adult performers of all gender orientations operate in a world where they must create the illusion of ecstasy even though sometimes they may not always be having a good time,” the panel’s description read. “We’ll bring together a group of experts and industry veterans to discuss how the adult community can work to make sure performers particularly young newcomers are comfortable about speaking up if they’re not really down with what’s happening on and off set.”

Stoya kicked off the controversy surrounding Deen when she tweeted out allegations of rape against him last November. Her accusation was soon followed by at least eight other women, with some claiming that the alleged assaults took place on set.

The adult video actor has adamantly denied the accusations on his Twitter account, and has previously said he is “completely baffled” by them.

In one alleged instance, porn actress Amber Rayne claimed that she was filming a scene with Deen when she called him a “son of a bitch,” which allegedly angered Deen, who Rayne claims punched her in the face twice and raped her.

Several porn companies, including Kink.com, cut their ties with Deen in the wake of the accusations.

In addition, the state of California launched its own investigation into “serious workplace health and safety violations” by his company, James Deen Productions. The investigation was launched following a complaint by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The AHF complaint alleged that Deen’s company repeatedly violated Measure B, which requires condoms be used in porn films shot in Los Angeles County. Voters passed the ballot measure in 2012.

28
Jan 16

One Month Later James Deen Appears at AVN and Doesn’t Seem Fazed


James Deen’s Friends and Accusers Speak About Rape Allegations, 1 Month Later

January 23rd, 2016

Joanna Angel

cosmopolitan.com – In the past month, adult performer James Deen has been accused of sexual assault by at least nine women. He denied the allegations and the scandal pretty much disappeared from the news immediately. Cosmopolitan.com spoke with one of Deen’s accusers, Joanna Angel, at the 2016 AVN Adult Video Expo in Las Vegas about how she feels to have her accusations dismissed to quickly.

“I blocked James Deen many years ago, so I don’t see him and I don’t see anyone who tweets about him. I don’t care about him at all,” she told Cosmopolitan.com.

I also spoke with Tasha Reign, a former scene partner of James Deen who worked with him frequently. “Here’s the thing: I loved performing with James Deen. I had many scenes with him and only have good things to say about working with him,” she said. “But the truth is, I can’t perform with him anymore. Women very rarely lie about these kinds of things, the statistics show, and I believe them and I just can’t work with him anymore.”

James Deen declined to comment and it appears he’s not doing any interviews at this year’s AVNs, but after a short hiatus from social media, he’s back to tweeting and Instagramming up a storm, and doesn’t seem too fazed.

28
Jan 16

Kink.com Issues a New ‘Model Bill of Rights’


After the James Deen Scandal, the Porn Industry is Rethinking Sexual Violence

January 22nd, 2016

Ashley Fires

The pornographic industry faces a set of unique problems when it comes to sexual violence – it needs unique solutions.

the-newshub.com – Kink.com, apparently inspired by the series of serious allegations made against their former star performer James Deen, have issued a new model bill of rights. This venture has been met with derision by some who see it less an empowering statement and more as a glorified exercise in PR and legal arse covering. Looking at some of the new guidelines, there appears to be truth in this criticism. One new rule in particular, that performers must be accompanied to the bathroom and changing areas by a supervisor, appears to be directly inspired by the allegation made by Ashley Fires that she was assaulted by Deen in the shared changing area in the Armory, the building where kink.com is based.

This new rule has been made on a kneejerk and is likely to prove more invasive and irritating to performers than it is to prevent harm. A better solution, one might have thought, would be to ensure sexually entitled arseholes aren’t wandering around the halls sticking their dicks where they aren’t wanted. According to Ashely Fires, this could have been an option. She herself was very open for a long time about the reason she wouldn’t work with Deen. Other women have also reported that they spoke to people in this industry prior to the scandal breaking but it appears nothing was done. Allowing someone to continue working in a sensitive industry with this kind of question mark is a serious failure in duty of care. This has not been addressed properly.

Keeping quiet about sexual assault is common among all victims, but in the porn industry, this silence is especially pernicious. This industry is one which has been serially demonised and hailed as a harbinger of many of society’s ills, particularly gendered crime. This is a zombie theory. It doesn’t matter how many times it’s smacked in the face with a shovel, it refuses to die. It doesn’t seem to matter that there is no concrete evidence connecting violent sexual crime and pornography consumption. It doesn’t matter that there is evidence to the contrary. There are flimsy anecdotes in support of the theory that porn causes rape, and a handful of Texas sharpshooting studies. Unfortunately, this is the evidence that informs media commentators and policy makers.

When it comes to porn, even the vaguest connection to violent sexual crime is enough to usher in draconian, unnecessary legislation. This is incentive for women assaulted at work to keep quiet about what happened. It is also incentive for people working in the industry to keep these issues ‘in-house’ and not give any indication to the outside world that this is problem. One of the worst things about this attitude is that it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. If society is intent on characterising the pornographic industry as sleazy, debased and exploitative then it shouldn’t be a surprise when sleazy, debased and exploitative individuals are attracted to it. The cycle continues.

Serious sexual assault and rape are the extreme edge of the problems facing the pornographic industry but more common, and just as necessary to deal with are the lower-level sexual problems performers have to deal with. An issue amplified by the conditions of the pornographic industry is the grey area of consent where women say that they want to do something but they really, really don’t. Women in the porn industry do things on camera that they don’t want to for the same reason that women do things they don’t want to in their private lives; they want to please, they want to show willing, they don’t want to be thought of as prudish and they want to make someone else happy. For pornography performers, this pressure is heightened because there’s a financial element too. They don’t want to turn things down because they want to make names for themselves and they don’t want to attract attention for being difficult and refusing to do things. This could be a career killer. Some women are perfectly comfortable asserting their bodily autonomy, come what may, but many are not. The industry is not known for being up on the concept of the ‘enthusiastic yes’.

The issue of consent in porn is blurred further when significant others are making up part of a performer’s ‘management team’. Suitcase pimps tend to be the boyfriend or husband of a porn performer. The stereotype of these men is that they do the bare minimum of work, collect 20% of their partner’s earnings and push women into accepting roles that they are just not comfortable with. Chuck Traynor, Linda Lovelace’s ‘manager’ was the exemplification of the worst type of suitcase pimp. While people may quibble on the details, it’s hard to deny that he was anything other than an abusive parasite. He exerted total ownership of Lovelace’s body. He ‘loaned her out’ to secure her film deals, for cash and, in the case of Hugh Hefner – just because he wanted to be friends. He was possessive and violent (something he claimed she ‘got off on’) and he forced her to do things that she did not want to. Lovelace even alleged that he violently forced her to have sex with a dog on camera.

Not all suitcase pimps fit this mould. In fact, many would baulk at the term itself given its connotations. There are, of course, men who act as their partner’s managers who are nothing but supportive. Very few will be as extreme as Traynor. But there are many who employ low-scale emotional and even physical pressure on their partners to have them undermine their own bodily autonomy to make their boyfriends a bit of extra cash.

But there is positivity on the horizon. One issue being banded about by Kink and others in the industry is the presence of on-set advocates which could work if it’s done right. The on-set advocate should be paid a flat fee. If they have a financial incentive tied up in the performer’s choices, then they are likely to just be an additional layer of pressure. Other ideas about abuse – high and low level – in the industry have been put forward by former porn star, Jenna Jameson, who advocated unionisation and taking more powerful roles in the industry into female hands. While it is true that the gender ratio of writers, directors and producers in the porn industry is much more equal than Hollywood, women in the porn industry are in a far more sensitive position than women in Hollywood. There is a much stronger imperative in pornography to have women in the top positions.

Sexual violence is obviously not an issue that can be sorted out by one company, or even the pornographic industry as a whole. If there is a problem with sexual violence in pornography it’s because there is a problem with sexual violence in society. Moving towards rectifying that is a slow and torturous battle but after the James Deen scandal, pornography creators have no more excuses for not radically changing how they deal with the unique issues facing their industry.