Why the ‘Oscars for porn’ quietly canceled its first-ever panel on sexual assault

Feb 3, 2016
Adult Business News
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james deen

When done right, pornography creates the illusion that its stars exist in a state of perpetual fantasy. But what may look like great sex to viewers is often a series of carefully negotiated agreements between professional actors and their directors—and as some of the recent assault allegations against adult film megastar James Deen reveal, things don’t always go as planned.

Which is why, in the wake of these charges, industry insiders and observers alike are putting a spotlight on the question of consent: What does “yes means yes” look like when the cameras are rolling—and when they stop?

In what would have been a surprisingly proactive move to address this question, Adult Video News, the organizers of what are widely known as the “Oscars for porn,” announced in December that they would be hosting a panel on consent at the popular adult expo leading up to the awards—mere hours before prizes were to be handed out at a ceremony in Las Vegas.

Not only that, but a spokesperson told me that the panel would feature Stoya herself—the writer, adult film performer, and ex-girlfriend of Deen, who publicly accused the actor of rape and inspired at least eight other women to come forward with their own allegations of assault. Even before accusing Deen, Stoya wrote about the importance of consent in pornography in a first-person column for Fusion, arguing that it is “absolutely necessary.”

So why was the event quietly cancelled, without so much as a tweet? Why was it swept under the rug at a time when public pressure to confront the issue both in adult film and the wider world has never been greater? The event’s organizers told me it came down to “a lack of participation,” but interviews with adult industry insiders paint a more complex picture of what might have happened.

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