James Deen Cut From Porn Film Titled Consent

James Deen in 2013.
Photo: AP

This week, Evil Angel published its docu-porn Consent, which was originally slated to co-star James Deen, who has been accused of abuse by multiple women. Years back, following the numerous allegations against Deen, the company decided to stop working with him, but earlier this year, owner John Stagliano told Jezebel that Evil Angel was welcoming Deen back—and in a film titled Consent. The idea for the film, he explained, was to feature explicit sex alongside documentary-style footage exploring women’s agency within rough porn scenes. Deen was cast after a woman performer asked to work with him for the film and, as Stagliano put it at the time, “I believe that a girl should be able to choose who she works with.”

After Jezebel reported on the planned film, there was outrage among many performers, including Lena Paul, who tweeted that she would no longer work with the company and asked, “Have you no empathy? No concern for the women you employ & the message this sends?” All these many months later, though, when the film finally hit the company’s site on Monday, there was no James Deen to be found.

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Instead, the film features four scenes that are focused on themes of “stronger, rougher sex,” as the film description puts it. Originally, Evil Angel filmed a scene between Deen and Casey Calvert, the performer who requested to work with him, as well as an interview with Lily LaBeau, one of Deen’s accusers, for Consent. (Jezebel was present for LaBeau’s interview, during which she said of Deen’s alleged on-set boundary violation, “It was very scary. Very, very scary.” Deen has denied the allegations against him.) Ultimately, all that footage was left on the cutting room floor. (The film does, however, feature two other male performers who have been accused of on-set boundary violations.) In an interview with the blog Adult Empire, director Dana Vespoli explained:

In the end, we had to pull the scene because we felt like the negative attention that was being given to the scene and to the company was a disservice to the rest of the movie and what the movie is actually about, which is women’s stories and their experience with rough sex and their attitudes about consent and agency. So unfortunately we had to pull that scene.

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Earlier this year, Stagliano—who was himself accused of violating performers’ consent, although he has denied the claims—described the genesis of the film like so: “I’d been reading that some feminists say that a woman can’t actually consent to be in a pornographic movie because ‘she doesn’t really know what she’s getting into.’” He added, “Showing people saying, ‘No, you shouldn’t stop me from doing what I wanna do’ is basically what [this film is] all about.” Beyond the decision to allow Calvert to freely choose her co-star, Stagliano lifted the broader ban on working with Deen because he felt it had lasted long enough. (He also alleged that what happened to Deen around the abuse allegations was “unfair” and a “social media piling on.”)

The film’s synopsis on the Evil Angel site begins, “Is society trying to protect porn performers by vilifying porn producers, and trying to restrict the ability of those performers to freely express their sexuality? This movie lets actual performers and producers speak for themselves.” Now, though, the film treads on much less controversial territory than welcoming back a performer accused of multiple instances of on-set abuse. Instead, it features defenses of rough sex and critiques of slut-shaming. Still, the box cover features a quote from Stagliano that was included in Jezebel’s original article on the film: “I don’t like to run away from controversial subjects. I like to run toward them.”

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