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Anyone with even a passing interest in adult films has by now witnessed the ubiquitous Ron Jeremy grunting and sweating his way through scene after scene, with starlet after starlet, looking like a hirsute Jabba the Hutt as he displays his prodigious, um, talent. After 23 years in the business and 1700 films, Jeremy is the embodiment of excess, and he's hard to miss.
There's another side to Jeremy, however. Like a typecast B-movie actor, "the Hedgehog" on the inside is a real showman yearning to breathe free. Blue movies pay the bills, says the 48-year-old swordsman. "Porn is still a chance to portray crazy, goofy characters the mainstream won't let me do," he says from his Los Angeles home. "And the beautiful women are nice, and the money is still good."
But smut doesn't satisfy the soul. For that there's "The Ron Jeremy S&M Sideshow," a touring production equal parts titillation and Borscht Belt slapstick.
Fat, hairy guys everywhere may find this hard to believe, but Jeremy wants to make a living with his pants on. So two or three times a month he takes his show on the road, playing nightclubs and strip bars from California to New York. Despite the title, no real S&M is involved, spouts Jeremy at breakneck speed in his staccato Queens accent. "It's kind of like a fun thing. We often have some girl whipping a guy on the side during the breaks, but I don't do any real S&M."
What you will find is lowbrow humor that should play well in South Florida. Jeremy opens the show with 20 minutes of standup comedy, heavy on the dick jokes. Then there's a "spit and swallow" affair that tests the limits of what audience members -- mostly women -- will ingest. "People have their eyes closed and we put different things in their face," he says. "Should they spit or swallow? Stuff like pigs feet, ice cream, avocados, all kinds of stuff. It's very funny."
Next up is the banana-eating contest, wherein female audience members salaciously consume the fruit, presumably for its high potassium content. Good for the heart. Men get their shot with a cherry pie-eating contest. Everyone who comes to the show gets a Nut Roll candy bar. Get it?
The grand finale is an oil-wrestling extravaganza featuring women who tour with Jeremy. He wants New Times readers to know that he'll be available after the show to sign T-shirts, fliers, and other souvenirs. So noted.
One eye-popping freak-show act you won't see is Jeremy fellating himself. He's legendary in porn circles for the ability to pleasure his own member orally (and unlike Marilyn Manson he didn't have to remove a rib to make it possible), but the performance has its limits. "There's none of that in the show. We will be as risky as possible, it will always be whatever the law will allow, but no that."
You'll just have to settle for more dick jokes:
"I always wear a rubber because I have no idea where that thing has been."
"After I blew myself, I gave me the wrong phone number so I couldn't call anymore."
As an added bonus, you may get a dose of South Florida's favorite geriatric pornographer, Al Goldstein, at the S&M Sideshow. Jeremy and Goldstein are pals, and the Hedgehog insists that Big Al will open the show, just as he did at Studio 54 in New York earlier this summer after The New Yorker wrote a story about new burlesque versus old smut. Contacted at his Pompano Beach home, however, Goldstein says Jeremy's on his own. "Fuck him," says the churlish Goldstein. "I'm sick of him."
Jeremy, real name Ron Hyatt, graduated from Queens College in New York with a bachelor's degree in theater. He went on to get a master's degree in special education, and taught for a year at a school for autistic children in Jamaica. But his real love has always been show business. "I wanted to be an actor my whole life," he says. "It's a very difficult career. There are so few jobs."
He got into porn in 1978 after his girlfriend sent a nude picture of him to Playgirl magazine. He wasn't nearly as corpulent then as he is now, plus he had that God-given, er, attribute. The magazine published the shot in its "Guy Next Door" section, and soon thereafter his phone started ringing with porno movie offers. It was acting, they were movies, and any kind of work in the business would help him get started. Or so he thought.
It hasn't really worked out that way. Jeremy is quick to point out that he has 55 mainstream film, TV, and music-video appearances under his belt, but most are cameos in forgettable projects such as TV's Nash Bridges and Just Shoot Me, and movies including Detroit Rock City and Orgasmo. His role in Kid Rock's "Cowboy" video is typical Jeremy: He's a piano player who turns to the camera and winks knowingly, lending a sly insiderism to the clip.
Still, there's something refreshing about a guy as cheerfully sleazy as Jeremy, especially in this era of image consultants and carefully concocted spin. And the man is so busy we're lucky to get him in South Florida at all.