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The Prince of Porn 

by Leah Sottile


Sure, it's a small world - but saying that the world seemed small when Ron Jeremy said he remembered my father doesn't even begin to explain how I felt.


Suddenly I had a strange link to a porn star, and the world seemed extremely weird. Yes, I'm referring to that Ron Jeremy, the star of films like Gluteus to the Maximus, Truckstop Trixie and San Fernando and the Temple of Poon. And no, my father was never an adult film star. At least I sure as hell hope not.


Turns out Jeremy attended Benjamin N. Cardozo High School alongside my father in Bayside, Queens, N.Y., graduating a year after my dad. Jeremy remembers him as the "tall, good-looking Italian guy" on the soccer team. We laughed, discussed the streets where our families were from -- just a fond discussion between two proud New Yorkers. Jeremy even gave me a Web site to pass along to my dad -- one with links to their high school and forums about "the old neighborhood."


"Your dad is gonna sh** his pants when he sees this Web site," he says, repeating the address and carefully ensuring that I've written it down correctly.


It didn't hit me until I got off the phone that not only had I just spoken with the top porn star of all time, but that I had just broken the ice with him by talking about my father.


Weird.





That's the kind of guy Ron Jeremy is. He's personable, enthusiastic and charming. For the first 10 minutes we talked, the words "porn," "penis" or "penetration" were never uttered. He acts like a normal guy, and that's the gist of Jeremy's entire bewildering success in the porn industry. He's not what you expect. He's average. He's round, short and hairy -- and he's made millions because of it.


You might not expect that he has a master's degree in special education, either. Or that he used to be a high school teacher. Or that he's slept with more than 4,000 women. There's nothing clearly dynamic about him -- well, except for one thing. After all, that's what got him noticed by Playgirl in a 1978 "Boy Next Door" feature.


Perhaps it's that ability of Jeremy's to have lived both a normal, guy-next-door kind of life and that of a well-endowed, rich, pop culture icon that makes him such an authority on the topic of his upcoming lecture at EWU, "Sex and the Law." Unexpectedly, he's been on both sides of that, too.


When Jeremy got his start in the business in the late '70s, making pornographic films was illegal -- and he served a jail sentence before being pardoned due to Supreme Court decisions that deemed pornography legal under the First Amendment. Speaking from his Los Angeles home, he describes his speech as "a lecture on the law -- how the porn business has shaped the law, and how the law has shaped porn."


Jeremy's lecture is one that he delivers all over the country (often in a debate format), but his appearance at EWU will be centered around a moderated Q & amp;A format, with audience questions at the end. He says he's amazed how he is consistently blamed for every kind of pornography that people have ever seen. In reality, there are many genres of porn that Jeremy doesn't condone and refuses to support.


"[Audience members] always try to have me defend this amateur, Internet crap -- and I cannot. I represent the Adult Video Association: We're the big dogs," Jeremy says. "I can only defend those things that are governed. I'll defend kinky, crazy, goofy stuff. I'll defend some of the films that I even don't like. But there's no way that I can defend those things that I don't agree with."


Jeremy defends legal pornography, saying it's more up-front about sex than any other industry.


"We're the honest industry. We're letting you know from the very beginning where we are," he says. "The activists shouldn't be against it. They sneak sex into advertising, into R-rated films. If you want to see [pornography], fine. If you don't want to see it, fine."


And from the successes he's had in the past few years, pornography is clearly becoming more and more "fine" to everyday people. Jeremy was a star in the reality TV show, The Surreal Life 2 and emerged from the season with a friend in former televangelist Tammy Faye Messner.


Maybe it's that everyday, average Joe side of Jeremy that makes people so willing to embrace him as a pop culture icon.


"You stick with any career long enough, you go from being a legend to an icon. Because you become a part of pop culture," he says.


Maybe it's the fact that people can chuckle in astonishment about Jeremy's seismic proportions and bushy body. Or that he's slept with more women than the entire population of Ritzville. Or that given his particular image and line of work, any attempt to lose weight or take care of his body can mean fewer opportunities for employment. He's a novelty, an inspiring any guy who sees through one of his films that he, too, can get laid. And for women, he's just that normal, polite, nice guy next door whom you've always known.


He's that one who knows your dad from high school.





Publication date: 2/10/05

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