New York- HarperCollins’s Book Expo cocktail party Saturday night, on the Fox film lot (thanks, Rupert Murdoch), was designed to make every last bookseller feel like a star, its red carpet lined with thirties-style stock-character paparazzi.
There were a few genuine quasi-celebrities in attendance: Audra McDonald, Muriel Hemingway, Kevin Nealon, and. … Ron Jeremy? Wearing a black blazer, a T-shirt reading “Pay to Play,” dark-gray jeans, and blue Crocs over bare feet, the world’s most famous male porn star was deep in conversation with a couple of Borders sales reps when we caught up with him.
Jeremy was at BEA for his book, Hardest (Working) Man in Show Business, now in paperback, which “didn’t get a single bad review,” and, he frequently reminded us, is a best seller. “Call me anything on the planet but you have to add on ‘and … a best-selling author,'” he said, insisting it’ll be in his obituary. “‘He was this, this, this, this, a lot of dick jokes, now he’s really stiff, and best-selling author.'”
That epithet was so important to him that he didn’t do promotions in Larry Flynt’s shops, which don’t track sales. “I’ve gotta say this, publishing’s a very hard business to understand, even more than adult movies. Porn was famous years ago for not keeping accurate accounts of how tickets are selling. This reminds you of that. You can only tell how a book is doing by comparison to others.”
He and Jenna Jamison have a friendly book-selling rivalry. “She beat me in America, but I beat her in Europe and Asia and Scandinavia,” and this despite the fact he feels he got shafted on his co-writer. “She gets Neil Strauss, and I get Eric Spitznagel. He got a lot of stuff wrong. We were delayed by one year, the things he got wrong.”
Jeremy was awed by the sales of fellow Harper author John Grogan’s Marley and Me. We wondered aloud what the coming sequel will be about, as Marley, the bad dog in question, is put to sleep at the end of the book (instead of getting expensive surgery). Jeremy hadn’t read that far, but the revelation perturbed him. He suggested the sequel be titled Marley’s Back, and He’s Pissed. “I didn’t know that!” he said of Grogan’s ending. “That cocksucking piece of shit! And best-selling author. He earned that fair and square.”