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Ron Jeremy is one of the most prolific porn stars of all time, with more than 1,600 dirty movies to his credit. Round, dark and hairy, known far and wide as the "Hedgehog," he is not the typical buffed stud. "I was in Playgirl four times," says Jeremy, 46. "Now all I can get in is Field & Stream."
Jeremy, though, is not letting his lack of pretty-boy looks get in the way of his ultimate money shot: mainstream success. It's no easy task, considering that no male star of adult films has ever successfully made the transition.
Adam Rifkin, the Hollywood screenwriter and director who has used Jeremy in five of his films, cast him in Detroit Rock City, the Kiss homage feature in which he plays a bar owner who tells bad jokes. He has appeared in 30 legit films, a bunch of music videos and recorded "Freak of the Week," which made Billboard's rap singles chart. And now a big-time movie company wants to make him a household name beyond the video world: Dan Sullivan, an executive for Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment, is shooting a documentary on the man the New Yorker deemed a man who "lives, it seems, to gross people out."
Producer Rich Zinman, a Flushing native, says Jeremy is earning high marks for his performance in Boondock Saints, an upcoming Franchise Pictures feature about two Irish-American brothers who become vigilante crime fighters in South Boston. Jeremy plays a villainous Elvis wannabe.
"He is terrific," Zinman says. "He plays it tough, creepy and intimidating, all with a comedic touch."
Long before Hollywood called, Jeremy was just another Bayside kid who enjoyed afternoons playing on his favorite tree outside his home on Bell Boulevard. He attended Benjamin Cardozo High School, where he appeared in theatrical productions like Oklahoma. One of his fellow cast members was Reginald Vel Johnson, who went on to fame in the Die Hard movie series and TV's Family Matters.
As a teenager, Jeremy frequented Joe's Pizza in Bayside. "I could buy a slice there for 15 cents," he recalls. "I took my first girlfriend there." Now, he makes it a point to stop by whenever he's in town.
"He used to be my best customer," says owner Chris Theodore. "He comes in and has a couple of slices. If he comes in with friends, he has a whole pie."
Jeremy returns to his home turf to visit his father, Arnold Hyatt, a retired physicist and engineer who resides in Flushing, and to inhale some crispy pizza and garner a little adulation.
"He's my idol," a Joe's delivery boy says reverentially.
Like his late mother, who was a cryptographer, Jeremy attended Queens College, where he completed a double major in theater and elementary education. After graduation, he struggled to launch an acting career. During the week, he taught special-ed classes, including a stint as a substitute teacher at a BOCES center in Dix Hills. Evenings, he did off-Broadway and on weekends, he waited tables in the Catskills.
He got his break when his then girlfriend submitted a photo of his prodigious privates to Playgirl. Subsequently, a director offered Jeremy a part in The Guy Next Door, a porn flick shot at Adventure Film Studios in Corona.
Endowed with a nine-and-three-quarters-inch penis, Jeremy soon became an adult sensation. His ability to produce a money shot on cue was second to none. Restaurant owners feted him with free meals, guys envied his ability to perform auto-fellatio and women leered at his fuzzy frame.
At Plato's Retreat, the legendary Manhattan swingers club, Jeremy recalls servicing a horde in the orgy room. "One night I had sex with nine girls in a row, back to back to back," he recalls. "It was the funniest thing."
By the early '80s, the adult industry had moved en masse to Los Angeles and Jeremy followed. He continued to fuck on film but he never lost his desire for mainstream success. However, that did not come as easily as a pop shot.
Bill Margold, who has costarred with Jeremy and directed him during his own 30-year adult film industry career, remembers attending a screening of Sylvester Stallone's Cobra.Jeremy had a small part make that a very small part as a masked guy chasing Stallone.
"He points at the screen and says, 'There I am!' " Margold recalls. "I said, 'Ronnie that's the back of your head.' "
These days, Jeremy works constantly, traveling the country to appear at strip clubs and sign autographs. He's under contract with Metro Home Video, playing a director in the just released Skin Flick, which Hustler's critic describes as a "quasi-documentary that lays bare the world of XXX porn videos in a self-mocking yet celebratory style."
Despite the promise of big-time success, Ron Jeremy doesn't foresee giving up his life in smut.
"It's too fun to quit," he says, smiling.