Porn star James Deen has not yet been formally charged with any crimes, much less convicted, but with three named accusers and a fourth anonymous one already stepping forward with allegations of rape and assault, the adult industry has largely turned its back on him.

(As has my and Made Man EIC Steve Mazzucchi’s old Maxim colleague Amelia McDonnell-Parry, who canceled Deen’s sex advice column for The Frisky after Deen’s ex-girlfriend and former co-star Stoya tweeted: “That thing where you log in to the internet for a second and see people idolizing the guy who raped you as a feminist. That thing sucks.”)

James Deen is porn’s most famous leading man since John Holmes. He inspired an ABC News segment titled “James Deen: Wholesome-Looking, Boy-Next-Door Is Porn’s Hottest Star” about how women found him “so appealing,” and he made a (failed) bid for mainstream stardom by co-starring with Lindsay Lohan in 2013’s The Canyons. Meanwhile Holmes inspired movies like Boogie Nights and Wonderland through his drug addiction and antics that included at least some involvement in the murder of four people, pimping out an underage girlfriend, and knowingly exposing to HIV the porn star/former member of Italian parliament/ex-wife of celebrated artist Jeff Koons, Cicciolina. (She did not contract it—and yes, she has led a remarkably full life.)

Was at least one horrific incident well known in the adult industry, only to be ignored, so as not to cut the cord with a proven male star who had so many productive years ahead of him?

Now Deen, the “feminist hero”, may have his own deeply dark side.

I learned a good deal about the porn industry working on an article about Jersey Shore-themed porn as well as through friends from The Civilians investigative theater company when they were researching the porn musical Pretty Filthy. (Which is equal parts fascinating and, er, filthy.)

(Full disclosure: I also discovered a fair amount about porn by virtue of being an American male with Internet access.)

Here is a brief summary of how the business works and what the Deen allegations could mean for the adult industry and the people watching it.

1. Women are the big stars in straight porn.
Quite simply, they’re the ones people want to see, which is why they get paid more and are featured on the covers (or, in our increasingly DVD-free world, screen grabs). This means…

2. Women can have power in porn.
Again, they’re the headliners: It’s the rare industry where an uneducated young female not only can make a solid living, but actually out-earn her male counterparts. (Particularly if she decides to cash in on her notoriety by working the strip club circuit or doing escort work on the side: one of these is more legal than the other, but both are potentially lucrative.) That said…

3. It’s a tough job.
Having sex is great: having professional sex often isn’t. Think of the difference between playing football with your friends and suiting up in the NFL: in one you might twist an ankle, in the other you might get brain damage. Porn isn’t about having sex on camera: It’s about having sex on camera in weird positions for weirdly long amounts of time with weirdly large genitals in orifices most of us neglect while a crew watches. Also…

4. There’s always someone new.
She will likely be younger and willing to work for less money, which is a bad combination. Speaking of which…

5. There’s less money in porn than there used to be.
For a glorious moment, porn was making money off videocassettes and DVDs and the Internet (hell, there might have even still been a few porn theaters in operation back then). Now the theaters and videocassettes are gone and the DVDs are going and, through piracy and tube sites and people posting free stuff just for the hell of it, even the Internet isn’t the moneymaker it once was. All of which means…

6. Women tend not to last long.
A 2013 analysis of 10,000 profiles on the Internet Adult Film Database found that the average porn actress entered the industry at 22… and was out at 25. (In case the youth focus wasn’t intense enough, the study found the most common role for actresses was playing a “teen.”)

7. How much do you know as a teenager?
Needless to say, many women join younger than 22. (Yes, the industry occasionally casts actual teens in those teen roles.) Some young women are ready, some are… Let’s use the sports analogy again. LeBron James had the presence of a Fortune 500 CEO when he joined the NBA straight out of high school, while 19-year-old 76ers rookie Jahlil Okafor seemingly can’t cross the street without winding up on a police blotter. Of course, Okafor has time to grow into a star, while the average porn actress is out in three years. On the other hand… 

8. Men stick around.
If you watch any professionally made porn, you’ll see some faces over and over again. (Well, you might not see their faces, but they’re there.) These men have consistently demonstrated the ability both to become aroused and to climax on cue, with the result being they can do their thing and the day’s budget won’t go to waste. The men able to do this are rare and the opportunities to prove themselves reliable are equally limited.

9. Seriously, men stick around.
The German porn star Steve Holmes is one of the most employed gents in the industry at age 54. Meanwhile that IAFD survey found the average age of an actress playing a “MILF” was 33. 

10. Some men get a following.
Scroll James Deen’s credits. Besides discovering works like Nutz About Butts 2, you’ll find his name appears in a large number of titles. All these films still feature attractive women—James Deen Home Alone won’t be a moneymaker—but he’s enough of a brand that companies believe his name can move product.

11. How much does a male porn star matter?
James Deen has porn credits stretching back to 2004. Only 29 now, he could potentially be in the industry for decades to come. Now there are two allegations that Deen attacked porn actresses on porn sets. (In both cases, he wasn’t performing with them.) Neither woman reported it at the time, feeling they wouldn’t be believed.

For context, keep in mind that the attorney for former porn star/mixed martial artist War Machine (yes, that is the legal name of the former Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver) recently argued that the brutal assault on ex Christy Mack—which left her with a ruptured liver and roughly two dozen broken bones—was partly excused by her own porn career and its demonstration of the “desire, the preference, the acceptability towards a particular form of sex activities that were outside of the norm.”

One of Deen’s accusers, Ashley Fires, asserts about a year after the incident, Deen told her to stop telling others why she wouldn’t work with him, ultimately instructing her to substitute in the reason, “I remind you of your brother.” The question: Was at least one horrific incident known and discussed in the adult industry, only to be ignored, rather than cutting the cord with an established male star who moves product and has so many years ahead of him?

12. Concerns about consent.
Part of porn’s appeal comes from featuring acts that, while intriguing to watch, aren’t much fun to actually do. (To quote the Australian comic Jim Jeffries: “You can’t smell porn.”) Enjoying watching an actress perform feats that seem less erotic than traumatic can be rationalized with the notion that “this is her job: she is only doing what she agreed to do.” The charges against Deen suggest this is not always the case: Actresses can be threatened and attacked, even while on an allegedly safe set.

13. How this changes what you watch.
OK, here’s where it fully hits the viewer. So far none of the allegations against Deen involve videos released to the public. That said, what if some do? What if there were scenes where actresses were pushed beyond their comfort zones, not because they chose to do so, but because they felt they had no choice?

What if that insane clip of a man (or a group of men—heaven knows there are enough gangbang videos out there) testing the limits of a woman’s body is even more brutal than it appears to be?

These are the questions James Deen raises. I’m scared to see the answers.