If you showed a picture of Ron Jeremy to a group of people who know nothing about the adult-film industry and told them that he’s the most famous – and most prolific - porn star in history, they’d laugh you out of the room. After all, he bears a striking resemblance to former Miami Heat coach Stan Van Gundy (not that Stan’s not sexy, of course).
But the numbers don’t lie, and it’s not even close: The man affectionately known as “The Hedgehog” has performed in more than 2,000 films, according to the Internet Adult Film Database. The next closest? The notorious John Holmes, with a comparatively limp 384 appearances.
Porn isn’t Jeremy’s only claim to fame, however. He’s also appeared in many “legit” films, including “Orgazmo” (not porn, believe it or not), “The Boondock Saints,” “The Chase,” “They Bite,” “54,” “Crank: High Voltage” and “Girls Gone Dead.”
And who could forget his turn on the second season of “The Surreal Life,” during which he became close friends with devout Christian Tammy Faye Bakker, of all people. Jeremy has also appeared on “Chappelle’s Show,” “Penn and Teller’s Bulls---!” and the cooking show “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” plus dozens of rock videos. He even has a rum named after him: Ron de Jeremy.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Jeremy boasts a sharp sense of humor. And you can witness his impressive wit Tuesday night at Ricochet Lounge in Miami, where he’ll do a stand-up comedy show as part of the Midtown hotspot’s one-year anniversary celebration.
Jeremy talked to Miami.com about his roots in stand-up, how he got his nickname, and his strangest experience on the set of a porn flick.
Your career path has taken you many places. How did stand-up comedy come into the picture?
Well, first of all, my latest career path is that my name is on a rum in Florida, Ron de Jeremy, for Southern Wine and Spirits. So that’s the latest in my crazy career. And the reason they chose me was for two reasons: 1), Ron means “rum” in Spanish; and 2), we can go up against Captain Morgan with the slogan “He’s on one leg; I’m on three.”
And there’s the answer to my stand-up question!
Oh, I did that years ago, at the very beginning of my career even before I got into adult movies. I was going for a master’s degree at Queens College to teach kids. I worked my way through high school, college and graduate school being a waiter and a maitre d’ up in the Catskills. I also started comedy there, late-night at the Paramount Hotel, and it was very schtick-y. And I got a very, very nice honor - and this is one of my greatest comedy claims to fame - from Penn Jillette from Penn and Teller. I was doing some college gigs and Jillette and Paul Provenza did a movie called “The Aristocrats,” not to be confused with the Disney movie “The Aristocats.” And they asked 100 comedians to do this one dirty joke – people like George Carlin, Robin Williams, Gilbert Gottfried, Sarah Silverman. I mean, the crème de la crème, and they included me, so that was very sweet.
What advice would you give to a young actor starting out in porn?
Don’t take it too seriously, and have a good time. Like in all professions, you don’t know how long your career is gonna go, or when it’s gonna end. Just have a good time with it, and it’ll become a part of your life history, or hysterectomy. But to really become a hard-working adult-film actor is very, very difficult, because the market’s getting smaller and they’re shooting less because of all the free sites that are out there. Most adult filmmakers can’t make a living out of it anymore, you know? It’s a really, really tough industry. The women make the lion’s share of the money, like $1,000 a scene, roughly, while men make two to three hundred a scene, roughly. The men make the bigger bucks in the gay films, but I’m not really part of that world. One look at my ugly ass and somebody would fix that problem [laughs].
You must have seen just about everything in your career. What’s the strangest thing to happen to you on the set of a porn film?
I was shooting in Majorca, Spain, with Rocco [Siffredi] and all the big stars of Europe, and I was on a boat. And everyone on the boat was vomiting, including the crew. I wasn’t, because I took [an anti-nausea pill] and I was fine. And the girl I was having sex with was vomiting over the edge of the boat, and I said to the director, “This is deeeees-gusting!” and he said, “Well, we gotta get the shot – we’re losing daylight.” And I make the joke that rather than blowing me, she was blowing chunks.
So we gotta do the scene, and I’m doing her and she says I’m fine, just drill me good. And she’s vomiting but nobody sees that because the camera’s always shooting the lower half. You see this beautiful tush, and that belongs to me. And then we got to shore. The beauty of seasickness is that it really goes away as soon as you get to shore – it’s over. So everyone felt great, and then we shot our faces going “Oh baby, oh baby,” and with the magic of editing, no one will know that during that scene, she’s throwing up.
Do you ever get bored of sex?
No, no. You get a little, little bit if it’s with the same person a lot. I mean, we all want the same thing – we all want new faces. The one you want the most is the one you haven’t had a thing with yet.
How did you get the nickname “The Hedgehog”?
I always thought California was hot. I didn’t know that up in the mountains it’s freezing and there’s snow. So I went out to Lake Arrowhead thinking it’s gonna be all sunny, and it was roasting hot down by the beaches. And I’m riding up to Arrowhead, which is a ski resort, and I’m on a motorcycle and I’m so cold. We’re shooting Seka’s first movie, called “Olympic Fever,” and it was my first film all with big-name actors, so it was pretty exciting. And I get up there and I literally have icicles under my chin and my moustache was frozen solid. So Bill Margold, a very good guy in the biz, says, “Look at this guy – he’s one big frozen ice cube.” So I get into this hot shower with a girl named Connie Peterson and we had sex, which was wonderful – my first experience with off-camera sex. So then I come out of the shower, and the static electricity made every hair I had stand straight up. And Bill goes, “That’s not a human – that’s a godd--- hedgehog! A pink, furry hedgehog!” And it stuck.
How did you end up friends with Tammy Faye Bakker?
First of all, lemme say that hedgehogs are actually very cute creatures. They really are adorable, so I need to say that in the hedgehog’s defense. They also can blow themselves, so we have this kind of connection now.
Oh, Tammy. We were on “The Surreal Life” together. I never knew her – she’s an evangelist. We had huge ratings. We had the highest-rated show for Warner Brothers on a Sunday night, and Variety said me and Tammy were the main reasons. And then TV Guide had the 100 Craziest Moments in TV History, with people like Johnny Carson and Jay Leno. They had me and Tammy at No. 85, and they said that the two of these guys becoming friends is so bizarre. They even said, “How does a porn star and an evangelist become friends? Only God knows.”
You get down to Miami fairly often. What are some of your favorite things to do here?
Yeah, I do the Miami Exxxotica every year. I started it with Jenna Jameson, and she’s here with me right now, having pizza. Me and Jenna Jameson and Tera Patrick started it, and now it’s a steady thing, a packed house. So I go to Miami maybe four or five times a year.
It’s got interesting shops and interesting fashion, a lot of fashion. I like to see the things that girls wear, and the sexy behinds on the Cuban girls. And I like the comedy clubs, rock ‘n’ roll clubs, the colorful buildings, seeing friends. I just enjoy the environment – it’s something different. You can’t be in L.A. all the time.
See Ron Jeremy at 9 p.m. Tuesday at Ricochet Bar & Lounge, 3250 Buena Vista Blvd., Miami; it’s free, but you must RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.