PORN STAR: THE LEGEND OF RON JEREMY written and directed by Scott J. Gill, produced by Kirk Eftekhar, with Ron Jeremy, Al Goldstein and Al Lewis. A Mongrel Media release. 79 minutes. Opens Friday (February 8) at the Royal. For times, see Rep Cinemas, page 87.
ron jeremy wants to be taken seriouslyas an actor. But can porn's biggest star play the guy next door? This is the man who's made over 1,600 adult films in 23 years, has had a dildo moulded from his member and was voted the most influential porn star in history by the Adult Video News.
He's called the hedgehog because he's short, fat and hairy, attributes that usually work against a guy getting laid.
But that's the key to Jeremy's porn success: he represents all the real-life Joe Schmos who look more like Ernest Borgnine than Brad Pitt and still long to get lucky.
In director Scott J. Gill's documentary Porn Star: The Legend Of Ron Jeremy, we get a peek at the real-life Jeremy, a single guy who wishes for true love but doesn't believe in monogamy.
He dreams of mainstream acting success even though he continues to act in porn. He's a media whore, a shameless self-promoter and still an incredibly likeable person. Basically, he's an insecure guy with a 9-inch dick.
"If I was going to get enough work in the mainstream, why would I do porn?" asks Jeremy on the line from his home in L.A.
"I do porn not for the money but because I like to keep busy. I like to work. I don't want to feel like an ex-actor or has-been or once-was. That's the problem -- I don't want to be a retired porn star."
Hmm, I guess a retired porn star would be stuck attending porn conventions, touring strip clubs and opening tittie bars? Oh wait, that's what active porn stars do.
Jeremy's a blast to talk to. He spends the first 20 minutes of our conversation rhyming off his list of credits in straight movies.
"My name is on the credits for Boogie Nights, 91/2 Weeks, I shot footage for 52 Pick-up with Roy Scheider, I'm the fourth male lead in Orgazmo, which was a very big film in Canada," and on and on it goes. He's trying to convince me he's a legit actor already, especially with the line "I was on Nash Bridges. How many porn actors get on CBS? That was a very solid acting role. I was one of the co-stars of that episode."
"Ron's the biggest cheerleader for the porn industry and himself," says Mickey Skee, a friend of Jeremy's who's spent the last 15 years working as a columnist for the Adult Video News, the bible of the porn industry. I ask Mickey if he thinks Jeremy has a chance at crossing over to the mainstream.
"As far as I'm concerned he has -- he's done it. I'll come home late at night and turn on the TV and see Ron in a crappy movie playing a bit part as a thug, and I'll think, "Jeez, I didn't know he was in that.'"
"But you have to remember that Ron's doing this because the women in the porn industry don't want to have sex with him any more. He's become a character actor in porn as well, coming in to play the weird uncle or someone like that.
"Also, the industry's changed due to the fact that more and more straight women are picking up porn, and they want to see buff men. They don't want to see a warthog onscreen."
Even Jeremy concedes that he's a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.
"It really can't happen again, the market is so saturated now. Back in the 70s, you'd make a feature film, it would cost $150,000 and take five days to shoot. Now you do a film a day for $5,000. Back then we'd have a big premiere at the World Cinema. All the actors would get out of limos, walk down the red carpet. It was classy, and you'd create stars -- John Holmes, Harry Reems and myself. Nowadays, no one knows who's who."
He prides himself on his longevity, and credits part of his staying power to his acting ability. In one wonderful scene in the documentary, Jeremy bitches about how hard it is to act and stay aroused.
"Like Lee Strasburg and Stella Adler say, you have to be inside your character looking out. You are concentrating on what you're doing, so the audience does not exist," says Jeremy. "What do you think porno is? You have to be so immersed looking into a beautiful girl's face and not notice there's a cameraman, gaffer, grip and electrician standing there.
"I think Shakespeare would approve. Let me see Sir John Gielgud do Hamlet with a boner, let's see him do a soliloquy with an erection. It's not easy."
What's also not easy for Jeremy is staying in relationships. We see that in this film, and if you ask anyone familiar with the biz, you'll hear endless stories about how porn stars fuck up real-life love. However, after the documentary finished shooting, Jeremy did meet someone who's not involved in porn.
"It's tough to have a relationship and be in the business, that's true. The one thing you miss is that steady woman. My girlfriend Natalie and I have been living together for two years in a non-monogamous relationship.
"You know, I'd rather have her fuck a guy than tell me she's going for a walk with him, or having a candlelit dinner, or how about this one -- "We cuddled all night long. We didn't have sex, we just held each other'?
"Oh my god, that would drive me crazy! Put the penis in, take it out and never see him again. That's fine with me."firstname.lastname@example.orgFilm review
PORN STAR: THE LEGEND OF RON JEREMY Rating: NNN
Director Scott J. Gill almost falls into the trap of feeling sorry for Ron Jeremy. The world's most famous male porn star is lonely and wants to be a mainstream actor, but nobody's buying it. But Gill holds off on the pity so we can appreciate the fact that Jeremy's problems are his own fault. He's a partier, a limited actor and an annoying stand-up comic. It's by sheer willpower and self-promotion that he's gotten as far as he has, and, to his credit, he's likeable and works way harder than your average movie star. I'd like to have seen more of Jeremy's personal life and his interaction with his loving Jewish family in Queens, New York, but that would have worked against the more titillating aspects of this very watchable documentary.IRRon Jeremy