Talking with Ron Jeremy doesn’t go how you think it might. The porn superstar and cult figure is funny, polite and incredibly well spoken. Even when he talks about sex—a major topic of conversation for him—he does so in a lighthearted, humorous way.
Talking with Ron Jeremy doesn’t go how you think it might. The porn superstar and cult figure is funny, polite and incredibly well spoken. Even when he talks about sex—a major topic of conversation for him—he does so in a lighthearted, humorous way. His tone seems to echo his feelings on the subject as something that should be enjoyed, free of guilt and shame.
Before making the move to adult entertainment, had earned his master’s in special education and was a teacher. He studied education at the undergraduate level, but also had a theater background.
Wanting to try his hand at acting, he left his job as a teacher and struck out into the New York theater scene. He quickly realized that it would be hard to make a living doing theater.
“I saw what the job market was like in New York. It was heinous,” Jeremy said. “To be in a stadium you gotta be in a union!”
In 1970s New York, to work even as an extra, you had to be part of the Screen Actor’s Guild. This cut Jeremy’s job prospects down significantly.
“Basically, actors are totally unemployed,” said Jeremy. “You’d be living in a cockroach-infested tenement house, reciting Shakespeare or auditioning with monologues. Even that was weird. In L.A. they auditioned with the script [for the part you were auditioning for]. “
Los Angeles, Calif., proved to hold a better job market. You didn’t have to belong to a union and the pay was far better. This reality became a deciding factor in Jeremy’s decision to work in the adult industry.
“In L.A. you can be an extra and make $50 or $60 a day,” Jeremy said. “In New York, you just can’t. So porn came along and I took it.”
Jeremy’s move into porn came after his girlfriend at the time sent a picture of him to Playgirl. From there, he started getting more work and was soon a big hit in the industry.
“I came into porn with more acting credentials than most actors on Broadway,” Jeremy said. “My goals were way higher than to just be a porn star.”
Back in the ’70s when he was starting out, Jeremy said the adult industry was far different than it is now. In many ways, it was more like mainstream cinema—just with more skin.
“It was a lot nicer, it was like any film industry,” Jeremy said. “Porn in those days was like any B-movie…a porn film was like a low-budget movie. You had the same kind of gaffer, electrician, best boy, cinematographer, camera loader, director, assistant director. It was a lot like being in a real movie back in the old days in the late ’70s because there’s no DVD, no VHS, no CD-ROMs, no computers, no Internet, just feature films, so you felt like an actor.”
The rise of computers and the Internet are two things Jeremy credits with changing the porn business forever—mostly, in his opinion, for the worse.
“The business is now in a fairly good place, except for the Internet is stealing everything,” Jeremy said. “In the beginning it was OK because every company had a Web site…then came the freebies. [The Internet] just killed the industry, sliced it in half and everybody went bankrupt.”
Jeremy has a reputation for not being a big fan of the Internet, going so far as to say that he even avoids e-mailing when he can. His dislike comes in part from his former role as an educator and what he has observed are the negative affects the Internet is having on children today.
“As a former school teacher, I think we’re creating a possible ‘era of idiots,'” Jeremy said. “We had to memorize our times tables, our dates. Kids [today] don’t have to memorize a fucking thing. I just think in general that the Internet is kind of like a big piece of crap. It’s like nuclear energy. You can do great things, [it’s] cheap, affordable and excellent heating, yet also causes an atom bomb.”
In addition to catching flack for his staunch views on Internet culture, Jeremy has dealt with obvious anti-pornography criticisms. He has famously compared pornography to violent video games, saying that the latter of the two is far more harmful to youth and could be responsible for a lot of violent behavior and poor conflict resolution skills.
“When you play a violent video game all day long as a kid, of course you’re going to punch your friends or get into a quarrel, not solve it peacefully,” he said. “Whereas we’re in porn—we deal with adults.”
As mentioned above, besides his porn career, Jeremy has enjoyed enormous success in many other areas of media and business. A bestselling author, entrepreneur and frequent guest speaker around the world—these are only a few of the accomplishments with which Jeremy has turned his career as an adult entertainer into an empire. Despite the criticism, however, he’s always tried to stay positive about his success and the pressure of being a public figure.
“Over the course of one’s career, to get famous, that’s always wonderful,” Jeremy said. “That’s why it usually doesn’t get on my nerves…so many people wish they had that, how could you ever get annoyed at it? Yes it can be annoying when guys go ‘Dude! Dude!’ They’re grabbing at your shirt, wrapping their arms around your neck…spilling beer on you. Of course it can be annoying, but then on the other part you also get to sign girls’ tits. If I have to go through four guys full of beer to get to your girlfriend’s boobies, it’s all worth it.”
One of Jeremy’s latest business ventures is a swingers club in Portland called Club Sesso. While Jeremy doesn’t own or run the club in any capacity, his name is attached to it and he is a strong proponent of the swinging lifestyle. He himself started swinging in the ’70s and was acquainted with many of the major club owners in New York at the time.
“I was friends of a lot of these owners and, being a porn star, they gave me really good treatment,” Jeremy said. “I just learned the fascinating lifestyle. It was just so interesting. I saw it as almost a way of beating monogamy.”
Jeremy’s own views on monogamy stem from a belief that the institution of marriage can be, in many cases, faulty.
“Marriage is not being done properly,” he said. “The institution of marriage is failing right now. The majority of marriages don’t last. That’s a shame all across the board. You talk to most people today and they use this horrible expression: ‘I love a good steak, but not every night.'”
He credits a lot of his concerns with marriage—and society’s view on matrimony—on how children are raised, citing differences in how we treat each gender as they mature sexually: Men are encouraged to chase after women, while women are told they need to stay pure, resulting in some very messy situations and a lot of confusion.
“We raise our children differently. We raise our sons to ‘go get em son! Make dad proud!’ and we raise the daughter [saying] ‘don’t you fucking dare!’ Therefore, you have a whole generation of guys who think it’s good to go get some and girls who say it’s not good to get some, but that’s changing…I’m seeing a very positive change, a serious one. Now girls aren’t just wanting good sex, they’re demanding it.”
The bottom line for Jeremy, though, is pleasure. If he advocates anything, it’s having a fun, safe and mutually pleasing sex life. He makes a specific point of pushing more men to make sure their ladies are being satisfied.
“Please your woman,” he said. “Because you’re going to get off anyway. We’re guys, it’s easy.”