Some words on Bret Easton Ellis, James Deen and The Canyons

Friday June 15th 2012


It’s cool to be ahead of the curve but it’s no so cool to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the world’s porn stars, so I was faced with an interesting dilemma when James Deen (pictured above with Picasso’s Le Moulin de la Galette) was catapulted into the mainstream towards the end of last year. The 26-year-old Californian, and star of over 1000 movies, only began terrifying Christian pressure groups after interviews with him started popping up on ABC News, Slate and The Guardian, but to me (and millions of others with even the slightest interest in pornography) he was already a familiar face.

Luckily for Deen, one of those millions was Mr. Publicity himself, Bret Easton Ellis, who tweeted the following back in January:

Nine days later, this followed:

And finally:

News agencies were quick to jump on the story, even though believing everything Bret Easton Ellis writes on Twitter would paint a picture of a film industry that revolves entirely around a 48-year-old novelist with one IMDb credit. Just a few days ago he decided he wanted to adapt Fifty Shades of Grey for Focus Features, and not only livetweeted most of his proposal but also announced his ideal choices for director (David Cronenberg) and cast (Alexander Skarsgård, Scarlet Johansson), which were then picked up by major news sites as something close to fact. This is a guy who refers to himself as ‘BEE’, his boyfriend as ‘the 25-year-old’, and Hall Pass as the ‘the best American comedy of 2011’. A pinch of salt is definitely required.

Nonetheless, he was true to his word on the LA noir, and one zeitgeisty Kickstarter campaign later, The Canyons went into pre-production. BEE confirmed Deen’s involvement, as well as the casting of his co-star: Lindsay Lohan. Of course, all independent movies are required by law to falsely announce Lohan’s participation at some point or other during their production, but if this comes true it’s a big step towards the destigmatisation of porn performers in Hollywood.

I know her last movie was Machete, and I know at this point there’s little short of a bestiality conviction that could worsen her industry reputation, but for all the Playboy shoots and probation violations, Lindsay Lohan is still the girl from The Parent Trap, and a Bret Easton Ellis movie in which a porn star ‘bangs [her] realistically’ is still pretty out there.

The more interesting question is whether or not James Deen can weather the storm of his own popularity. Despite the blaze of hype and media coverage that preceded The Girlfriend Experience, Sasha Grey — hitherto the most high profile porn performer to make the leap into the mainstream — hasn’t exactly been fighting off the roles recently. Then again, Deen doesn’t take himself quite as monumentally seriously as Grey. His super-NSFW blog is a heady mix of SEO-friendly filth, restaurant reviews and brilliantly inventive similes (a bottle of wine was recently labelled ‘as decadent as glitter coming out of my penis while I ejaculate’). He also seems genuinely unruffled, if a little bemused, by his newfound Hollywood credibility, tweeting the following shortly after Ellis first expressed interest in him:

Filming starts on The Canyons next month, which will presumably bring Deen’s 20-shoots-a-month batting average down somewhere closer to Lohan’s work rate. Unless of course — and this is a very real possibility — this entire story is taking place within the confines of Bret Easton Ellis’s coke-addled mind. And we are all merely players, ready to bang realistically for his infinite pleasure.