She was one-half of porn’s power couple before she accused her ex-boyfriend James Deen of rape. Now she’s trying to fix the industry from the inside.
As you might imagine, a porn star takes her lingerie drawer very seriously. “This is the working lingerie desk,” says Stoya, gesturing to a vintage-looking writing desk in her Brooklyn apartment. “It’s for sets that are special for me but haven’t been shot, things I haven’t worn on-camera. They live here.” Up the staircase in her loft bedroom there is a similar setup, organized by color, style, and texture. “You should see it when I’ve had time to go through and redo it,” she says, gazing at what appear to be immaculate rows of multicolored lace and tulle and mesh. “I’ve just had a lot going on.”
Stoya’s is one of the most well-known and in-demand names, faces, and bodies in porn. She got her start during the mid-aughts alt-porn boom — when sites like Suicide Girls and its competitors marketed arguably feminist, certainly subcultural porn to the Vice generation — and soon had a contract with one of the most prominent porn studios in America. Over the past ten years, her unusual blend of sexual candor, intellectualism (she speaks with equal eloquence on Foucault and anal play), and what most people would consider an unconventional look (she’s whippet-thin, small-breasted, and very pale) has made Stoya, who turned 30 this month, a pop-cultural force.
She became even more well known when, in 2012 (according to the social-media trail), she began dating fellow porn star James Deen, who, with his sensitive good-guy image, also represented a deviation from the porn norm. In part owing to a campaign waged by Bret Easton Ellis (Deen starred alongside Lindsay Lohan in the Ellis-penned, Paul Schrader-directed erotic drama The Canyons), Deen’s name was tossed around on Twitter as a possibility to play the lead in Fifty Shades of Grey. At a time when, thanks to the success of the book of the same name, the basics of BDSM were topics of mainstream conversation, Stoya and Deen became porn’s power couple. “The New York Post called them the Brangelina of porn, which fit,” recalls Amelia McDonell-Parry, former editor-in-chief of the Frisky, for whom Deen wrote a sex column. “Their relationship was highly romanticized by their fans. I mean, it was porn’s version of romantic — he would say things in the press like ‘Her asshole belongs to me’ — where it’s like, well, I wouldn’t put that on a card! But something about it really appealed to the public.” Even well after the couple ended their two-year-plus relationship and stopped filming scenes together, you’d still see heartbroken fans posting old photos of the pair and calling for a reunion.