We all love him, right? I mean, what’s not to love. He’s cute, sexy, and he fucks like nobody’s business. I wrote about him once before, but it’s time to revisit him. GQ just wrote a great big profile of him, and I figure, if GQ’s writing about him, I probably should too. Even if, instead of writing about him, I write about the GQ piece.
The author of the article, Wells Tower (not a porn star, in spite of his name), has a simple point: James Deen is miserable, and has a terrible life. He is confused. What he means is, “I wouldn’t want James Deen’s life.” These seem to me two very different points, the one making a concrete claim of objective truth, and the other being simply a statement of personal preference. (Incidentally, the article opens with the phrase, “It is a clement spring day in greater Los Angeles.” Now, I don’t know what a “clement spring” day is, and I’m a pretty well read fella. I’m surprised his editor let that stand.)
Personally? I don’t think I’d like James Deen’s life. As much as I like sex (and I do), I also really value connection, rarity, specialness, and the chase – all of which seem essentially absent from his life. But that doesn’t mean his life sucks. It means I’m grateful that mine is the life I have, and not his.
This passage from the article demonstrates both the disconnect between me and Deen (I mean, other than that he’s sexier than I am, his cock is bigger than mine and he has sex with several women every day). And it demonstrates what frustrates me most about the profile – the author’s sense of his own cleverness, and his intent-ness on judging Deen.
“I always say sex is like soccer: It’s fun and athletic, and you should do it with your friends.”
Yes, I think. Right. Certainly. Here is a simple statement that Deen means pretty much as it sounds, but it also pithily expresses yet another reason why you or I will never be the sort of soccer player James Deen is. It’s not just that he’s got bigger, you know, feet than we do. It’s that for you, on that night of enduring awkwardness when you went out for drinks with the woman in the adjacent cubicle and achieved your long-cherished fantasy of playing soccer with her, you did so not because you thought she was going to be this tremendously good soccer player. It was that you were thrilled that she found you sufficiently nonrevolting that she was willing to get on the field with you, which was a big consideration, because as you both knew, what makes the game so very, very exciting isn’t its competitive physics but the conceit that the game is actually a high-velocity delivery system for privileged emotional knowledge of the other player’s secret self. And that even if you’re the sort of freebooting venereal Olympian who tries to play soccer with absolutely everything that moves, your compulsion to play is still ultimately grounded in the marrow-level conviction that the game matters in some way a good deal more complex and high-stakes than simple athletic fun.
I mean, sure. Sex is fun and athletic, but the unreflective sense that you should “do it with your friends” might work well in your early 20s (and the truth is, it did, for the most part, for me in mine). But as a bona fide grown-up? Nah. Even a confirmed slut such as I wouldn’t say it that way. I mean, if it works for Deen, more power to him, but not for me.
For me, it’s precisely the hunger for the connection – the “privileged emotional knowledge of the other player’s secret self” – that marks the difference between “meh” sex* and really great sex. If I go to Le Trapeze, and I fuck the tiny girl there, that’s fun. And it’s fun in the way that playing soccer is fun (only, you know, with the pleasure being located primarily in my cock). But when I have an encounter like the one I had at lunch a couple of weeks ago, or with my wife on the boat the other night, well shit – that’s great sex.
The author of the profile posits the two extremes as a sort of binary choice – either you’re like Deen, and sex is like soccer, or you’re like Wells Tower, and sex is all about that privileged emotional knowledge. For me, it’s much more of a spectrum, and those are the two extremes. I tend to be happier closer to the more emotionally intimate of the two extremes. It’s what appeals to me about the “distant buddy” type relationship – it’s the gradual unfolding of a privileged emotional relationship with a heavy patina of sex.
For me, the emotional relationship is nice, helpful, and necessary – for me to have a sustained fucking or sucking relationship with someone. But once or twice? I’m capable of having a great time in the complete absence of it – without even, say, knowing my partner’s name, let alone what her childhood wounds were. Come to Le Trapeze, or Chemistry, or OneLegUp with me – or meet me at the Liberty Inn – and I’ll happily play soccer with you. Because while not all sex is like soccer, soccer is fun.
* Of course, the thing about “meh” sex is that it’s still sex, so it’s pretty fucking awesome.
Postscript: Stoya subsequently accused James Deen of having raped her. Deen didn’t handle it well. There were ways he might could have handled it that would have left me a fan, notwithstanding the accusation. He didn’t manage to find any of them. I don’t like James Deen anywhere. I don’t watch his porn. And I won’t patronize web sites that continue to feature his porn. I encourage you to do the same.