Can Porn Star James Deen Teach You How to Make a Decent Meal?

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July 22 2013 10:45 AM

Can a Porn Star Teach You How to Cook?

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Hungry?

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

James Deen, a man who is famous for being able to have sex with a woman on camera without looking as though he wants to kill her, has quietly been making short videos about food for porn site Wood Rocket since the beginning of the year. (Though the rest of the site is NSFW, "James Deen Loves Food" never exceeds PG-13 levels of suggestiveness.) Jezebel discovered the series last week and deemed it "A-Fucking-Dorable." But can Deen show you how to make a decent meal?

Absolutely not. Despite being repeatedly described in the media as a “cooking show,” “James Deen Loves Food” involves almost no cooking whatsoever. Of the 18 episodes Deen has released, only three involve preparing food in a kitchen, and zero involve what might be called practical cooking. In the first cooking episode, Deen watches Ben Fernebok, the owner of a company called Nitro Dreams, make ice cream and a frozen cocktail using liquid nitrogen. (This episode opens with a disclaimer: “Please don’t try what you’re about to see at home”—unusual for a cooking show.) In the second cooking episode, Deen makes “the most expensive burrito in the world,” containing brie, caviar, lobster, filet mignon, and Alaskan king crab legs, among other ingredients, all doused in copious amounts of scotch. (“The caviar was a terrible idea,” Deen reports after removing his shirt to dig into the overstuffed burrito.) In the third cooking episode—easily the most useful and innovative of the three—Deen and a friend make “the turducken dog of independence,” a Fourth of July riff on the turducken, consisting of a turkey hot dog encased in a chicken sausage wrapped in a duck paillard, all of which is then breaded and deep-fried.

Deen takes off his shirt in that episode, too. (Also his pants.) He also frequently curses, belches, smears food all over his face, and talks with his mouth full. The self-confidence that serves him so well in his day job reads as arrogance here. In several episodes, Deen visits restaurants, orders far more food than he can eat by himself, and bluntly critiques it in front of the proprietor; this shtick comes across as simply ungracious. (At a Las Vegas establishment, he complains repeatedly about not having received an oyster fork.) Worse, in a couple of episodes, Deen visits drive-through fast-food joints and orders everything on the menu, which is not only excruciatingly boring but also makes one feel sorry for the minimum-wage drudges tasked with executing his order. Not a-fucking-dorable. “James Deen Loves Food” seems predicated on the idea that all of its viewers love Deen and would happily watch him do anything at all, including spilling chili on the ground in front of a dumpster, sticking out his tongue and squeezing ketchup onto it, and dissecting a McRib sandwich. (Of course, it’s not a coincidence that these exploits echo the mess and vulgarity of mainstream porn—but porn aesthetics don’t necessarily translate well in the kitchen.)

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There is one segment that succeeds, though, and happily, it’s one of the most frequently occurring features of the show. In “Hungry for Justice,” Deen appears in a set made to look like a prison cell, complete with a bare-bones cot and a toilet, and re-enacts the last meals of famous death row inmates like John Wayne Gacy, Timothy McVeigh, and Ted Bundy. Deen rates each meal’s deliciousness on a scale ranging from tort to felony. This sounds tasteless, and it is—but there’s something perversely compelling about watching a porn star sitting on a toilet while talking about violent crime and stuffing his face.

L.V. Anderson is a Slate assistant editor. She edits Slate's food and drink sections and writes Brow Beat's recipe column, You're Doing It Wrong. 

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