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Overview (3)

Born in Detroit, Michigan, USA
Birth NameDarren Keith Edwards
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

The youngest of six children, Darren James (birth name Darren Keith Edwards) was born on February 25, 1964 in Detroit, Michigan, where he and his siblings were raised by their divorced mother in what was then the West Side's Herman Gardens housing project. Known to family and friends for his amiable and somewhat shy personality, the young Edwards would spend much of his free time at the local gymnasium lifting weights, boxing and exercising rigorously in an effort to find an escape from the hardships of poverty that he faced during his difficult youth. After graduating from high school, he sought a new direction in his life by enlisting in the navy, during which time he was able to travel throughout much of Asia before docking at Port Hueneme in Ventura County, California in 1989. He settled in nearby Oxnard where, in 1992, he tried to join the police force, but was rejected due to a bad knee and back. Not wishing to return to Detroit, he would eventually spend the next few years (sometimes homeless) struggling to find work. Then his luck changed.

In 1997 he was referred by a friend to what Darren was told would be a modeling job in the San Fernando Valley (it was, in fact, an adult video shoot). Despite finding out the truth, he accepted the job as he was in need of money. During the shoot he had no problems performing in front of the cameras, and was soon offered to appear in more videos. After years of aimlessness and failure, Darren now felt confident that he may have finally found a line of work where he would actually have the opportunity to prosper and make good money if he worked hard enough. But success in the multi-billion-dollar-a-year porn industry would not come quickly for him, in spite of his reputation for being easy-going and responsible. And though well endowed and extremely muscular for his slender frame, his "average guy's" looks hindered him from achieving the kind of star status that other African-American male performers like Sean Michaels, for example, had acquired before him, and to his frustration he found himself forced to appear throughout most of his career merely in supporting roles, oftentimes in highly crude and cheaply made "gonzo"-style videos, as well as a good number of stereotypical "black on white" flicks, many with racially offensive and exploitative titles.

Shortly after the death of his brother in 2000, Darren James (as he was now being credited in his videos) left the adult entertainment industry and his home in the Valley and returned to Detroit with the intention of starting a new life with his family (who were still unaware of his career as a "porn star"). But things outside of the industry he had finally come to feel so comfortable working in would prove to be more difficult than expected. After vain efforts to find work as a either a personal fitness trainer or bouncer, he landed a job, instead, as a hospital aide. Unhappy in his new workplace and unsure if he would ever really be able to adapt to living a "normal" life again, he eventually flew back to Los Angeles after spending only a few months in Michigan and jumped right back into the porn scene.

By the end of 2003, after much difficulty in trying to make a name for himself in the business and already a veteran of more than 250 video productions, James finally began to receive the recognition he had struggled so hard to attain, and not only from directors and producers whom he had collaborated with in previous projects but also from a new generation of adult entertainment fans who had made interracial porn the new rage in the industry. In early 2004 actor-producer and friend T.T. Boy convinced him to sign a contract with Evasive Angles, the production company Boy was associated with, which would at last guarantee James the kind of pay and work he had so wanted to have from the very start. As a result of this new contract he would now appear in "starring" roles in bigger productions, and soon found himself traveling outside of the country to work with foreign stars, often being accompanied by fellow actor and close friend close friend Mark Anthony. It was after returning to Los Angeles from one such shoot in Brazil, where James had engaged in unprotected intercourse with a native actress, that the youthful-looking 40 year-old performer was diagnosed with the HIV virus.

A health and fitness fanatic who would visit the Adult Industry Medical Care Foundation (AIM) clinic more frequently than the monthly requirement for contract performers, James was devastated when told of the news. He asked the clinic's officials not to release his name publicly for fear that his family would discover how he had been making his living (his mother would later learn of his career and medical condition while watching television at her church), but they did so nonetheless. James responded by immediately secluding himself and refusing to speak to the media, choosing instead to share his distress only with those few friends in the industry who were closest to him. Distraught and wishing to disappear, he secretly purchased a bus ticket to Tijuana, where he later attempted to take his own life.

In the meantime most of the major Los Angeles-based adult film studios

  • under fire from health officials - agreed to halt production for 60
days until all performers could be tested and re-tested for the virus. Three actresses who had worked with James shortly after his return from his Brazilian assignment were also found to be infected. The outbreak received worldwide media coverage and brought James more attention - and notoriety - than he had ever hoped or expected to gain. A week later he turned up at a San Diego County hospital, recovering from his suicide attempt.

The following year he sued AIM and several of the clinic's officials for "medical negligence and invasion of privacy". The case was eventually settled out of court under terms that the amount not be disclosed. For years James kept quiet about the entire ordeal. Not until 2009, following the news of another possible HIV outbreak in the industry, did he finally decide to speak publicly with the hope of bringing more public awareness of HIV and the dangers of having unprotected sex.

Now directing on occasion, Darren James was undoubtedly one of the most active African-American male performers to emerge from the adult entertainment industry in recent years, and it is sad to see that fame came to him in the form of tragedy rather than by having achieved it through other means as he surely would have preferred. Though not exactly blessed with the most handsome face in porn, he nevertheless managed to display a genuine and friendly smile in most of his work that was truly pleasant to see, as well as a powerfully built body that was both very attractive and well suited for his chosen profession. All who've come in contact with him - whether they be family members, colleagues, close friends or simply just acquaintances - describe him as one of the kindest and gentlest human beings they have ever known or met. And for those fans who recognized his potential for becoming a true celebrity in the business, his presence will be sorely missed.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Trade Mark (1)

Slender but muscular physique and clean-cut look

Trivia (13)

Tested positive for HIV; this led to a 60-day shutdown of the porn industry [April 2004]
Good friends with adult performers Mark Anthony and T.T. Boy.
Is very health conscious and does not drink or smoke.
Was so grief-stricken by the news of his medical condition that when he disappeared his friends broke into his apartment fearing that he took his own life.
A veteran of over 250 video titles, he only became in high demand a few months prior to his illness.
Is an avid collector of model remote-controlled airplanes.
By 2004 he was making $400-$600 a scene, and was appearing in five scenes or more a week.
Shares a birthday with fellow African-American performer Mandingo.
Worked nights at a Hollywood boxing gym when he began his career in porn.
Was a roommate of English-born performer Flick Shagwell for six months.
Is the first male veteran performer to contract HIV since Tony Montana in 1999.
Frustrated by the low-grade roles he was only offered, he had seriously considered the possibility of abandoning his pursuit of a career in porn well before his brief departure following his brother's demise.
(2004 - present) No longer able to perform, he now directs and hosts the popular "Big Butt Smashdown" DVD series.

Personal Quotes (1)

"I don't want to talk to the press. They've done enough damage already." - When asked by staff writers for The Los Angeles Times to do an interview regarding the 2004 HIV outbreak in the porn industry.

See also

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