How James Deen Rape Allegations Threaten Porn Star’s Mainstream Crossover

A web series and an online sex column both get the ax, TheWrap learns, complicating the actor’s commercial ambitions especially given his non-threatening onscreen persona

Adult film star James Deen’s plans to pursue a mainstream crossover career faces significant challenges following a series of sexual assault allegations by two colleagues, including a former girlfriend.

At least two different projects have been suspended: A sex column he wrote for female lifestyle site The Frisky was pulled on Sunday and a food-centric web series starring the actor was not renewed.

“We do not have any episodes of ‘James Deen Loves Food’ in production. We do not have plans for any future episodes,” a spokesperson for adult domain WoodRocket told TheWrap. The first series, featuring a nude Deen showing his culinary side, posted new clips as recently as September.

Representatives for Deen had no comment on the projects, and insist the actor is still pursuing other mainstream efforts, including an as-yet unannounced TV pilot and a documentary about his life to be aired on Showtime sometime in 2016. “Everything is moving forward as planned,” a Deen insider told TheWrap.

The performer has also staunchly denied rape the allegations via Twitter. “There have been some egregious claims made against me,” he wrote. “I want to assure my friends, fans and colleagues that these allegations are both false and defamatory.” Deen added that he respects women and knows “limits both professionally and privately.” He has not been charged with any crime.

But the assault allegations could be particularly damaging given Deen’s attempts to portray himself as an unthreatening, boy-next-door type in non-porn productions like director Paul Schrader‘s 2013 indie “The Canyons” opposite Lindsay Lohan and his turn on Showtime’s defunct series “Happyish.”

“Deen’s rise to fame had more to do with his status as an object of cultural fascination than anything else, particularly among women,” said Rajiv Menon, culture analyst at New York-based TruthCo.

“His most notable cultural moments — his GQ article, his film with Lindsey Lohan, and his ‘leaked’ sex tape with Farah Abraham — have demonstrated that his greatest strength is a sense of cultural allure,” Menon said. “That allure, especially with women, was based in a type of non-threatening boyish charisma that is directly contradicted by these allegations.”

Worse than alienating his key demographic, Menon said, is the current cultural precedent for such assault.

“In the fallout of the Bill Cosby scandal, dominant culture has grown especially vigilant about punishing those who commit sexual assault,” he said. “In particular, the Cosby scandal has drawn attention to the need for public shaming and collective justice in the face of institutional failure to punish.”

The result, Menon said, is that “any cultural goodwill James Deen had with women is likely now undermined.”

The Frisky detailed its decision to pull Deen’s sex column in an editor’s note: “It would be inappropriate to continue publishing sex advice from someone facing such serious allegations… The Frisky is firm in its commitment to believing and standing in solidarity with victims/survivors when they come forward.”

That exact sentiment could well echo in Hollywood production offices and network suites. Deen’s reps did not comment on the pilot the actor said was completed in October.

While the documentary landed Showtime as an exclusive cable partner, the film has an unknown production status. Production company Seven Sins LLC was handling multi-platform distribution rights, an individual familiar with the project said, and the movie would be directed by Maria Demopoulous (who helmed the 2012 SXSW film “The Source Family”).

Demopoulous did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment. Showtime declined to comment on the matter.

TheWrap profiled Deen’s commercial ambitions in October in a wide-ranging interview in which the 29-year-old discussed the pitfalls of breaking out of the porn genre.

“If I never get a job in mainstream I will be OK. I have a whole other job in a completely different entertaining field,” he said. “Porn is really honest and respectful and very professional, as opposed to mainstream where it’s all really manipulative and messed up.”