I interviewed Ron Jeremy in 2010 for a documentary about well-adjusted women in the business. The interview went into my On the Couch with Lydia Lee series (here), in part, because I was told repeatedly that no one would care about a complimentary documentary about porn stars. The list of eventual problems and tragedies are long, but that one theme kept entering my mind while reading Ron Jeremy: The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbiz. Ron’s biography sadly chronicles American society’s ‘do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’ separation between what is considered art and what is considered tasteless exploitation.
Deep Throat was the first crossover success for porn production in America. Ron talks about turning down a job in a porn movie sometime after Deep Throat’s 1972 opening:
“I spent the rest of the week telling myself that I’d made the right decision. But all around me was mounting evidence that I had made a mistake. Since the mainstream success of Deep Throat, adult films had achieved a legitimacy that would have been unthinkable just years earlier. Porn directors were no longer stringing together unrelated sex scenes with flimsy or nonexistent story lines; they were creating actual plots with compelling characters. Gone was the silly hamming of Deep Throat. The new breed of adult actors performed, in some ways, with the intensity and commitment of a trained Broadway player.”
Personally, this has been a fun read for me. I, too, talked myself into porn for the acting aspect of it and do not watch porn for personal recreation. Sex is great, but there has to be more to it for me than body parts touching. I need more mental stimulation than physical, and if anything, the lack of production value and intensity of character development caused me to not take most of the work very seriously. Still, it is interesting to find a male’s perspective fraught with the same nervous questions women have admitted to asking themselves for years now before making the leap into porn.
The similarities pretty much end there. Ron’s sexual appetite is as big as his “schmekel”. He is into just about everything sexual (and legal), that you could possibly imagine: swinging, live sex shows, gang bangs, group sex, sex with an eighty-year-old woman, a sex doll. [There's an interesting list in the back of the book entitled Appendix A: Ron Jeremy Fun Facts.] Despite such an overt sexuality, he never let the “lowly pornographer” stereotype hold him back from pursuing comedy, making friends in industries across the board, and throwing himself into any and every publicity endeavor. I’m happy to have facilitated his meeting a producer in 2010, that cast him in a sizable role as the lead’s antagonist in a yet-to-be-released indie movie–March, I’m told. Doug and I played extras and the scenes we saw were very funny… of course. [We missed a scene where Ron gets his head dunked in a toilet, but our producer friend nearly split his gut telling us about it. I'll post links once the movie's available.]
Probably any famous or semi-famous person you could run into has a Ron Jeremy story. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he is charming, kindhearted and eager to please. I can personally thank Ron for introducing me to the frontman of my second favorite band of all time, Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots. I’m too shy to initiate meeting people whose work I love, though I think Ron was surprised that I didn’t try to have sex with anybody. At any rate, Thanks, Ron!
Ron Jeremy: The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbiz is full of stories, historical information about the 70s and 80s porn era, practical sex advice for men, celebrity photos, a funny rebuff to Jenna Jameson’s book title How to Make Love Like a Porn Star (“[P]orn stars don’t make love. We make like.”), and lots of campy commentary from The Hedgehog, himself!
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