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The Hedgehog Strikes Back 

Ron Jeremy, the "world's most unlikely sex star," in a penetrating documentary film

Wednesday, Dec 5 2001
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Whatever your girlfriend, wife, or mother says, don't believe her -- size does matter. How else can we explain the phenomenon that is Ron Jeremy, the "world's most unlikely sex star," who at 48 has spent the past 23 years showing off his 9-3/4-inch schlong, huffing and puffing his way through more than 1,600 X-rated films? Known fondly to his followers as "the Hedgehog," the short, heavyset icon (born Ron Hyatt), blessed with a gift for self-fellatio, may be living out every heterosexual male's dream, but he is also a man on a mission: He wants mainstream acceptance. Now the born entertainer is the subject of a documentary, Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy.

Shot over a period of 2 1/2 years, Porn Star chronicles Jeremy's prolific career, which took off when a girlfriend sent a nude photo of him to Playgirl. Unlike both WADD: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes and Sex: The Annabel Chong Story, which portray the blue movie actor as tragic figure, Porn Star is surprisingly upbeat and positive. For example, one of its most precious scenes shows Jeremy's dad, a retired physicist, and what seems to be his slight amusement (but genuine pride) at his son's unconventional career. A living paradox, Jeremy calls cunnilingus "just another meal," but he doesn't drink or do drugs. Apparently, his biggest vices are overeating and stinginess (he flies coach and uses garbage bags as luggage).

In a recent interview, Jeremy claimed he's "generally happy" with the finished product, but he would have liked "less fluff, more of [his] mother, and the celebrities." One of his "biggest beefs" is that several cameos by more conventional celebs like Eddie Murphy, Slash, and Trey Parker ended up on the cutting-room floor. Still, Jeremy managed to keep a rather forgettable clip of his appearance on Nash Bridges -- one of his 55 non-porn credits -- and hilarious footage of Al Lewis, aka Grandpa Munster from The Munsters. It's all part of Jeremy's quest to be taken seriously as an actor, a cause that he thinks will be helped by his association with regular stars. "I would not be here today if [the director] cut the Don Johnson scene," he says adamantly. Without it, he fears he would have come off as a "big, sad, sappy loser, a poor sap in capital letters, and I don't want that kind of image."

Behind the knowing grin, Jeremy's got a heart of gold. You'd almost feel sorry for the guy (he admits that a possible reason for making pornos is to "feel less lonely") if he wasn't so dang lovable. It remains a question as to whether he'll become, as he calls it, just another "porn star on his way to nowhere," or if he will attain his dream of crossing over. But for now, Jeremy is doing what he does best. When asked when he will quit the business, he replies without missing a beat: "When I wake up in the morning and find the genitalia under the pillow."

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Lisa Hom

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