by Rich Rosell
He's probably the best-known male adult film star of all-time, and until the documentary Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy came along, it's likely that most people didn't know much about the guy nicknamed The Hedgehog. With 25 years in the industry, and well over 1,600 films, Jeremy certainly deserves the tongue-in-cheek handle "the hardest working man in show business."
dOc recently had the chance to catch up with Ron Jeremy and find out a little more about the adult film industry and how the documentary came to be.
dOc: Let me get one thing out of the way upfront. Do you prefer the term "porn film" or "adult film"?
RJ: Either one is fine. When I go on a talk show, I try to say "adult film" or "adult film actor", but I don't really care.
dOc: Is there a difference between the two?
RJ: One just sounds a little classier: "adult film actor," "adult film performer." I think porn is saying, if you pardon the expression, "f***-film actor", and it's not quite as exciting. But I don't really care.
dOc: In terms of an adult film, is it in the editing, or is what we see all in real time as it happens?
RJ: They take the best out of whatever they shoot. They shoot for 45 minutes to an hour, and they'll cut back to a solid 15 minutes. If they have two cameras, they'll shoot for a half hour. An average adult movie runs [an hour and twenty minutes], and has five sex scenes in it. That's an hour and fifteen right there, and then that leaves about ten minutes for storyline. I can't stand when they overshoot. There's no reason for it.
dOc: When you were initially approached by Scott J. Gill about Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy, were you a little apprehensive?
RJ: Apprehensive? I said, "Hell no!" Apprehensive? I wasn't apprehensive at all about saying no. I was very comfortable saying no.
dOc: So what convinced you to say yes?
RJ: They pulled the old Jewish guilt. I had written a synopsis that was travelling around Hollywood. It's a great story about a serial killer and a social worker. I was shopping it to some major studios with some help from George Clooney's assistant, Ned Cosgrove—he's a big executive at Clooney's company, Section Eight. He had a lot of faith in it, and so did I. The synopsis was called Regards To Mom and Dad, about a killer who had a bad upbringing. It didn't really call on much of my experience in porn, but mostly my experience of being a teacher of Special Ed kids.
dOc: Is it going to get made?
RJ: These guys finally bought it. To even add to the mix, after paying me some pretty good money for it, they were going to have Joe Stefano, the guy who co-wrote Psycho, write it. So I'm all excited. But that never worked out, and then along comes, "You know, Ron, we really did buy your script." Oh no, the Jewish guilt. There were no real skeletons in my closet, so there wasn't really anything I was worried about. I don't have an alcohol or drug problem, I didn't beat anyone up, I don't have any kind of an arrest record. So I figured the worst thing that could be said about me is that I'm fat and hairy. What do I have to worry about? So I gave it a shot.
dOc: Aside from your somewhat unconventional career, you come across as a pretty normal guy in the documentary. Do you find people treat you any differently after seeing Porn Star?
RJ: A little. What I find is that they want to hug me. It's cute, but it kind of gets on my nerves. The movie did really well, theatrically, and it got great reviews. We took the film around the country, and I did Question & Answer at the end, and then went to the back and signed ticket stubs and maybe sell Polaroids and T-shirts. A lot of people would just walk by and say, "Can I get a hug?"
dOc: You're the new Leo Buscaglia.
RJ: It was really cute. I'd hug them, but if it was a girl I'd say it was clothing optional. Just kidding.
dOc: Did you have any idea if Gill was going to try to paint you a certain way?
RJ: No, because he seemed like a nice guy. It didn't seem like he was going to try to slam me. I felt pretty comfortable. There was also no pressure. They agreed that it would be two years in the making, and they would follow me around to some pretty important events. I figured it wouldn't be so terrible, so what the heck.
dOc: How was the TKE fraternity party that is featured in the film? It looked a little out of hand... You looked frightened.
RJ: It was funny. I looked scared in that...I kept expecting some weird cult thing, like "get on your knees we're going to spank you with a ruler." I didn't know what to expect. It was a bunch of fans, and it's a very well known fraternity, it's the biggest in the country. It has the owner of Hooters, Elvis Presley and Ronald Reagan as honorary members. I figured if it was good enough for them.
dOc: Were there any points in your film career where you thought, "Boy, I just can't do this anymore?"
RJ: Whenever you do a movie, and you suck. There's occasionally those scenes where you have to do a lot of jerking, pardon the expression, where you're not a good performer that day. It could happen any time. There's just that one day when you're not doing good. Maybe you're in a bad mood, you got bad news from the family or it could be a million reasons. I've never once not done a scene. I've never needed a stand-in, or as we say "stunt c***." I've never needed that. But, there have certainly been times when it's been tough.
dOc: Were there ever days where you just didn't want to go to work to have sex?
RJ: It's funny. Adam Rifkin, who's featured in the documentary, directed Detroit Rock City and The Chase with Charlie Sheen, and he puts me in all his movies. He wrote Mouse Hunt for Steven Spielberg, and he wrote Small Soldiers with Spielberg, and Adam is a hotshot player. He made a joke when I said, "I don't feel like working today. I'm not in the mood." Adam says, "Shut up, Ronnie. Go f*** yourself. Hear what you're saying? Don't let the man get you down." That's really a funny line: Don't let the man get you down. I use that line in one of my routines. I do a joke where I say the worst thing about porn is that we can't cancel because of religious holidays or sickness. Picture me getting on the phone going, "Achoo, I can't go to work today. I've got a runny nose, watery eyes, stuffy face, blown-up cheeks. What? You want me to come in and get my d*** sucked? Okay, I'll be there." Don't let the man get you down. I do a joke about women who can't cancel because of religious holidays. Can you picture a girl who's about to work on Christmas, and she says, "I can't do an eight-man-interracial-anal-dwarf-gangbang today because Jesus was born." These are routines I actually use thanks to Adam's "Don't let the man get you down."
dOc: There are a lot of stories about actors and actresses that couldn't get along with each other, but had to appear that they were "in love" on film. Have you ever done a film where you had to do a sex scene with someone you couldn't stand, or vice-versa?
RJ: No. I always enjoy it. I always like it. It was never, ever a problem. I always liked working in porn. I've never worked with a girl that wasn't attractive or a sweet kid. They might have said it. "Oh God, Ron Jeremy. Isn't he kind of fat?" I am out of shape. If a girl wants a young, good-looking, rippled stud surfer dude, then they can't put me in there. The thing that many writers and critics find very interesting is that in America, the girls choose. One hundred percent. I don't care if she's brand new, or has been around for many, many years. They choose. Where as is Europe, Asia, Scandinavia, the men choose. The girl is chosen, told what kind of positions she has to be in. You won't find a girl in Europe who says "I won't do anal." It does not exist in Europe. Every girl does it, if required.
dOc: Which do you prefer? Does it matter to you?
RJ: I've done a lot of movies in Europe, and logically you would think it's more fun to do it like that. I don't mind it in America. I kind of like it. This way the girl is actually doing a scene with a guy she feels comfortable with, or maybe even likes. In Europe, you can work with a girl who might not be happy about it, and they'll do a great job of acting. But I don't mind the fact that the girls choose here, I would only mind it if nobody chose me. If my career suddenly ended, I might think it's better in Europe for me. If I keep going to the buffet, that might happen. If I look down and can't see the old schmeckel, I know it's time to quit or go to Europe.
dOc: You've branched out into the mainstream a lot more than most adult film stars. Do you find there is somewhat of a double standard out there? Traci Lords is always going to have the "former porn star" moniker attached to her.
RJ: Oh come on, of course. She had to bad mouth the industry to get her work, too. She had to really slam it. At least Jenna Jameson hasn't had to resort to that kind of garbage. She's getting a lot of good work, without having to insult the business. There's a lot of hypocrisy. A lot. It gets very annoying. I'm getting more annoyed at it as I get older. It didn't used to bother me in the old days, but now it's starting to piss me off. I see the kind of films that Hollywood is making. I have a little cameo in a film called Spun, I play the bartender and I've got a couple lines. In that movie, there's an actual hardcore photograph of a c*** in an a**, and in that same movie there's an actual scene of Mena Suvari taking a dump. They actually show the turd pop into the bowl. Why they shot that I have no idea. What kills me is that Paramount did a film called Jackass: The Movie, which did well. There's actual scenes of feces three times, and urine one time, where a guy takes a pee on a snowcone and eats it. I cannot even do that in a porno film. I can't even show that in a XXX hardcore film, because it won't get distributed in America. It will however, go overseas, but I cannot show it here. They [Paramount] do that in a film that's rated R. I have not been rejected by Paramount, as yet, but if I do somebody is going to wear my fist. If I get some executive at Paramount who says, "Ron Jeremy has a little quirky role in a quirky film with his clothes on, I have a moral problem with this," I'm going to punch him right in the nose. No dialogue. No appointment. He's going to get my fist right in his face in his office. He wants to call the cops and I go to jail, it's going to be worth every second I spend there. You get to a point where you see these guys releasing films like that, they do not have a problem with me. I cannot show feces and urine in my movies. They released it, are proud of it, and it made a lot of money for them.
dOc: Seems like a double standard.
RJ: That's a pathetic one. There comes a time when you just get tired of it.
dOc: You were a consultant on Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights. You were obviously picked because of your background. How extensively did he pick your brain for accuracy?
RJ: A lot. He came to a lot of my sets. He watched me act, he watched me direct. I took him to high-budget porn sets, low-budget porn sets, I did location scouting with him. I took him to awards shows, both in Las Vegas and in France. My work with him came during the writing stage.
dOc: Were you happy with the way he made the industry look?
RJ: He did a nice job, as a director, and he made a good, accurate attitude as to the L.A. crowd. It by no means paints a picture of the business in general. It just paints a very accurate picture [of] the L.A. crowd.
dOc: In the documentary, you talk about the "golden era" of the adult film industry. This was pre-Viagra, pre-HIV, when there were full-blown plots (no pun intended).
RJ: These were feature films, there was no video. We went all over the world to make them. We had no Viagra, no HIV, no herpes. We're talking about the "old days," in the late 1970s, early 1980s. Then along came all these diseases, and the market goes right to video. I work with Metro, and they still make a lot of classy movies, but the majority of the business is "Hi honey, here's a cup of coffee. B*** me." There's your dialogue. I kind of liked it when I could feel more like an actor.
dOc: You look back at some of the older films, and there were long scenes of dialogue.
RJ: There were real storylines back then. I liked that, as an actor. Of course, I had sex with pretty girls, too, but it was nice.
dOc: What's your take on celebrities who speak out on volatile issues?
RJ: I don't really mind. But I don't think they should be taken ultra-seriously. I think that Martin Sheen has studied a lot of political events, and has studied the paper, and has an educated point of view. I don't mind so much. Who's to say they know any more or less than a politician knows? I find the same urge, that when you hit a certain age or make a certain amount of money, you just have this feeling that you want to help humanity. You get this little inkling. You don't have to listen to everything they say, if they're ditzy or a little bit uninformed. But if they've got an educated comment, and show they've studied, I don't mind. I get very vocal on some issues myself. I have a Master's Degree in Special Education, so I can speak from an authoritative point of view sometime. Unless I don't know the subject.
dOc: Action figures are pretty popular. There's a Jenna Jameson action figure, a Houston action figure. Is there a Ron Jeremy action figure on the horizon?
RJ: Yes, and I didn't go with the same company they went with. I like to go with the ones that are more unique....I like to go with more mainstream groups. I have a video game coming out, with Anna Nicole Smith, Tommy Lee, Busta Rhymes, and Carmen Electra, called Celebrity Death Match, coming out this summer. My model, the Ron Jeremy action figure, was made as a deal a year ago, way before theirs. It's the same company that has Snoop Dogg, it's called Coxman Toys, and they're a division of Vital Toys. I also have Ron Jeremy rolling papers, greeting cards, the mold, T-shirts, and there's even a new pipe that came out.
dOc: You're a merchandising machine.
RJ: Well, it's just there. If someone wants to give you a check without getting out of bed, why not?