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Ron Jeremy: People Call Me a Lucky Bastard

United Kingdom- IT WASN’T quite what they’d hoped for. But when Ron Jeremy told his high-flying Jewish family he was going to be a porn star they took it in their stride.

“They were very cool about it,” he says, shaking his head.

“My mom just said: ‘Ronnie dances to a different drummer.'”

Twenty-five years and more than 1,700 films later, Ron is the world’s most famous porn actor.

With the help of his 9 3/4in manhood, the New York-born star – known as The Hedgehog because of his body shape – has made a multi-million-pound fortune.

British viewers are still reeling from his bizarre duet with Mo Mowlam on Frank Skinner’s chat show on Monday, when the ex-Cabinet minister, in bandanna and hippie top, joined Ron in a weird rendition of I Got You Babe.

Ron has got 5,000 babes into bed during his astonishing 25-year career. But today, as he trudges towards me in his crumpled sweatpants and hotel slippers, he looks an unlikely Lothario.

Short, pot-bellied and pushing 51, his black moustache and straggly mullet give him all the sex appeal of a used-car salesman. And the only place where his polyester tracksuit top would look at home is in a charity shop window.

But as the sneaky smirks of the businessmen sitting near us show, to those in the know, Ron Jeremy is a huge celebrity. This week he is launching an album of dialogue and music from his films – a CD for people “to have sex to” – and a stand-up comedy show about his extraordinary life.

He was a teacher turned actor with a masters degree when he broke into the industry by chance in 1978.

He explains: “An ex-girlfriend sent a picture of me to Playgirl magazine, thinking it might help me get some more work.

“The job market was bad for actors at that time. There were hundreds and hundreds of kids chasing every job.

“I was working as a waiter to get by, and it was hard. So sending off the picture seemed like a good idea. Little did I know it would be the start of a whole new career.”

As soon as people saw 23-year-old Ron in the buff, offers of porn work flooded in. “People started approaching me to do movies,” he says. “I turned down the first offer because it seemed kind of sleazy.

“Then I thought about it and went: ‘Hey, I AM sleazy – OK, I’ll do it.'”

But first he asked his parents what they thought of the idea. His dad, a physicist, and his mom, a former spy with the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA, told him to go ahead.

Despite the family’s professional pedigree – Ron says: “We’re all teachers, lawyers and doctors, a typical Jewish family where education is really important” – they were happy, as long as he didn’t use the family surname.

He explains: “When my picture was in the magazine first time, they used my real name, Ron Hyatt – Jeremy is my middle name – and it caused a lot of problems. My grandmother had the same initials as me, so when people were trying to look me up they kept ringing her.

“A lot of gay guys were calling and she couldn’t understand it. She kept saying to my father: ‘Why are all these sissies calling me?’

“But my parents were OK with the whole thing. My mom had Parkinson’s disease and died, so she didn’t see my big fame. But she saw me start and was fine.

“My dad saw me in some films already, but his face was covered during the sex scenes.

“We’d be sitting in the theatre with him and my sister and I covered them up – not that I think they’d want to watch. I took them because I wanted them to judge my acting.”

But it wasn’t his acting the directors loved. In the days before Viagra, Ron could perform on set for hours at a time. And his guy-next-door looks meant viewers loved to watch him.

As he says: “Not many men make it. For one reason: it’s difficult. Before Vigrx and Viagra were taken on sets, only a handful of men could do that.

“The director would be like: ‘Come on, we’re losing daylight’ and if you can’t perform you’re no good. And my looks helped me a lot. People see me and think: ‘There’s an average guy getting lucky.

“They’re used to seeing the good-looking guy get the good-looking girl, but with me they think: ‘If he can get laid maybe I have a chance too.'”

As they found fame in the 70s and 80s, many of Ron’s co-stars fell into drink and drug abuse. But somehow he managed to avoid the excesses and lead a more “normal” life.

He says: “I was always offered drugs. But I never did them – I enjoyed life enough already. I don’t need substances to make it better.

“I have a good family and parents who brought me up well. No one in my family does drugs, none of my family even smokes and we only drink too much at bar mitzvahs and weddings.

“Most of us have tried pot, but that’s as far as it went.”

Ron lives in Hollywood and enjoys going to comedy and rock-and-roll clubs. He says: “Things have changed so much since I started. It’s trendy now. Porn is fashionable. People talk about it a lot more, which is all down to the internet and movies like Boogie Nights.

“Even President Clinton had his highest approval rating when he was talking about his oral nookie in the White House.

“The industry is a lot less sleazy and a lot more sanitized than people think. It’s not men in raincoats trying to persuade girls to come and be in movies any more.

“There are more people chasing the job than there are jobs. The average girl makes $120,000 a year – you can make a million – while a man might make $40,000. Men come up to me in the street, shake my hand and call me a ‘lucky bastard’. And in some ways I am.

“If you’d told me the way my life was going to turn out when I was a teenager I would have thought you were smoking the drapes or getting high on something.”

But while Ron always gets the girls on film, in real life he hasn’t been so lucky.

His current relationship is, at four years, his longest. And though he admits the idea of a big Jewish wedding and children does appeal, he has an unconventional approach to coupledom.

“We’re trying to work through various problems at the moment,” he says, looking temporarily glum. “We had an open relationship and that seemed to work.

“As long as you’re honest and upfront about it and you both agree to it, it’s OK. Or do it as a team if there’s someone you both like. Do a swap one day – you know?”

“But wouldn’t that make you jealous?” I ask.

Leaning closer, he says: “You’ve got a husband, right? OK, then let me tell you something. Everyone I talk to says after five or six years of marriage it’s hard to keep the sex electric – you go on to auto-pilot.

“You still love each other but it’s not passionate, so you need to find ways to keep that going. So I don’t get jealous about sex.

“I’d get jealous if my girl said to me she just had a candle-lit dinner or went for a walk hand-in-hand with somebody in the forest or cuddled overnight, or sat by the fireplace and had a glass of wine. That would definitely p*** me off.

“But if she let some guy put his p**** in her mouth for 20 minutes, then sends him home, that’s fine.

“If she puts a rubber on the guy, has sex with him for an hour, then gives him his walking papers, so what? That’s not as big a threat as hearing about a date to see a movie. What would make you feel worse? People make a big deal out of the wrong things.”

Feeling rather a prude, I sit wide-eyed as he adds: “My dad was monogamous for 35 years. I was like: ‘How did you do that?’ He told me: ‘It’s basic. Don’t do it every now and then. Maybe take time apart, only have sex every few weeks… you know.’

“I’ve been with my girl for four years, but it is difficult. All the travelling I do makes it difficult.”

But does he not want to settle down eventually? “I might,” he says smiling. “I really might.”

Until then, will he carry on making adult films?

Scratching his moustache, he thinks for a moment then says: “Put it this way, if I wake up one morning and find my penis under the pillow, then I’ll retire.

“Until then, we’ll see.”

There’s not really much you can say to that, is there?
 

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