The Legend of Ron Jeremy

This 2001 documentary examines the life and times of the man who has been one of the biggest stars in the porn film industry for over two decades.

Ron Jeremy is an unlikely hero, for he's no hunky muscleman, oh no; he's fat, he's Jewish, and he's so hairy that he's nicknamed "The Hedgehog". Yes, he has a very large penis, impressive endurance (without chemical assistance), and reputedly great skill at giving face, but still, he's just a very ordinary man who gets paid to have sex with gorgeous willing girls, and lots of them. You've gotta wonder who this guy really is.

The film helps us to know Ron a bit better. We get introduced to Ron's dad, a physicist who loves him dearly and doesn't mind about what he does for a living. We meet his sister, who tells us that Ron was always a ham, always the centre of attention, and we see the home movies to prove it. We watch his sister's eyes fill with tears as she talks about their mother coming down with Parkinson's disease; she died while they were still in their teens. We see the photo that launched Ron's career: it shows a young, naked, and supine Ron with impressive member at the ready, smiling into the camera. A girlfriend sent it to Playgirl magazine where it was published in the "boy next door" section and brought Ron to the attention of women and porn producers across the nation. After his family was deluged with calls from girls wanting to meet him, his father told him to adopt an alias (his real name's Ron Hyatt), and thus was Ron Jeremy, porn star, born.

Ron confides that all he has ever really wanted to do was be an actor. He studied theatre in university but also got a Masters in Special Education at his parents' urging, for they wanted him to have a backup in case acting didn't work out. He even taught troubled schizophrenic kids for two years before giving it all up for porn. But porn is just something Ron's been doing while he waits to make it big in mainstream cinema. As he waits for his big break, Ron has kept busy: he's acted in over 1600 adult movies and directed more than a hundred more. He has had small parts in more tame offerings (okay, I'm thinking "Orgazmo" and "Detroit Rock City", so they ain't your art house cinema, but neither are they "Ally McFeal" or "Frankenpenis", other Ron Jeremy vehicles) and was a consultant on "Boogie Nights" and "9 1/2 Weeks". But he still hasn't had the breakthrough he's been waiting for.

We learn lots of other interesting things about Ron Jeremy too. For example, he plays classical piano quite well. He doesn't drink or do drugs. Every month he goes for a blood test and waits anxiously till they confirm that, once again, he's dodged the bullet, as the nurse puts it. He used to be quite thin as a young man, but he really likes to eat, and he's become fat over the years (he was 48 when the movie was made). He has a brown belt in karate and can still do a twirling backwards kick, impressive for a fat man. He's legendarily tight with his money, saving it, he says, for the kids he hopes to have one day. He strikes me as quite lonely: he wants to marry and have a family, but doesn't seem able to slow down and connect with someone, and gets quite sad when he talks about the love of his life who quit the business and got away.

To drown out his solitary sadness Ron travels incessantly, appearing wherever they'll have him; he's always on the go. Everywhere he goes he's flocked by women wanting him to autograph their breasts and men hailing him as living proof that ordinary guys like themselves can get laid too. In these milieux he can lose himself, as he seems to need to do. One of the outtakes is about what one of his friends reckons is "low-grade narcolepsy", but I think is just a chronic lack of sleep. One friend (I think it was Al Lewis, who played "Grandpa" on "The Munsters" but is a crass old coot now, and a good friend of Ron's) predicts that Ron will end up dead in a fiery car crash, and if you see this movie you'll believe it, too. It doesn't seem possible that he can attain the normal Hollywood stardom he craves.

I may be one of the few who have never seen Ron Jeremy in any of those 1600 porn flicks, but I love a good documentary, and this is one worth seeing. Recommended.

See http://www.ronjeremy-themovie.com/ for more.

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