What is the magic surrounding porn legend Ron Jeremy? The fat, greasy, deliveryman mystique? Or, as one dinky blond fan puts it in Porn Star, “that Pizzeria Uno look”? Nicknamed “the Hedgehog,” he appeals to the average porn-consuming, Sunday-football-watching kinda guy. And the message: If Jeremy can fuck 14 beautiful girls at once, well, you can too.
“He’s proof that someone forgot birth control” is how Screw publisher Al Goldstein describes the sex industry’s most prolific star in rookie director Scott Gill’s new pornumentary. Scored to the pump of a late-’70s adult-film soundtrack, the film flips through the chronology of Jeremy’s paradoxical persona, stopping for reflection at the major milestones in his life (like the early death of his mother) and the biggest notches in his bedroom career (like sucking his own dick on camera).
The Queens-born teacher has starred in over 1,600 porn films, but Jeremy’s life—depicted via comical cuts between vintage Hedgehog footage and new interviews—doesn’t only confront the challenges of living in a world of fake moans, pants, and plastic titties. He is presented as an American dream story: the man who searches for stardom and fame, desires everything sweet and sinful, gets all the pussy in the world, and still feels unsatisfied. Unappreciated too. “Porn’s the purest form of acting,” he says. “I’d like to see Sir Laurence Olivier perform Macbeth, in its entirety, with all that dialogue—and a boner. It’s not that easy.”
In a way, the porn legend seems to have cut a tragic Faustian deal. He’s always wanted to be a mainstream actor, he says, and has been waiting 20 years for his big part, and not in Butt Munch 6 or Ally McFeel. He does do mainstream flicks, playing extraneous characters like bouncers or “the guy who gets shot,” but his reputation often leaves his takes on the cutting room floor. He’s been typecast in Hollywood, forever hedged in as the Hedgehog.