The other day, the Angry Czeck was watching television at a friend’s home when the Remote Master settled on an episode of The Surreal Life, a show I’d never intended to watch because I’m a big snob. Yet, I was immediately intrigued with the cast of characters. There was Vanilla Ice trying hard not to say “Word to your mother!” There was…some buxom girl who used to be on Baywatch! There was CC Something who played guitar for one of those big hair bands. And hey! Mini-Me! Driving himself around on a scooter. What a nice show!
But I only came to understand The Surreal Life’s ultimate greatness when I witnessed the masterstroke of casting: Ron Jeremy! Look at him! Wearing a majestic terrycloth robe that mercifully stretched wide enough to encompass is prodigious belly girth! Ron Jeremy! The Mustache Man himself, trading biting insults with Peppa (of Salt n’ Peppa “fame”). Wow.
And I say “wow” because seeing the great Ron Jeremy reminded me of two things: (1) Viewing Ron Jeremy in tremendous VHS action while attending a dorm room party in college, and (2) that I had just read Ron Jeremy’s penetrating autobiography, The Hardest (working) Man in Show Business.
Watching a porno featuring Ron Jeremy is always a treat because you know you’re going to be exposed to some great dialogue (“Did anybody page Dr. Ben Dover?”) and a number of sexual positions that’d break the dick off a lesser man. But it’s not Ron Jeremy’s dick that makes him a star. It’s his gut. Every short and fat guy who has ever witnessed Ron Jeremy taking on ten surgically enhanced bimbos at once nods his head with brand new confidence and privately whispers, “Now I know what to do!”
Except, short and fat guys never really knew how to be Ron Jeremy until he unleashed his gift to the world, Ron Jeremy: The Hardest (working) Man in Show Business.
It’s kind of funny how I bought the book. Mrs. Angry and I were perusing our favorite bookstore – Square Books of Oxford, MS – in search of new volumes to add to our library of unquestionably fine literature. It was while hoping to find a biography on…er…Voltaire…when I came upon Ron Jeremy’s magnum opus.
“Check it out, Mrs. Angry!” I announced with the top-volume only three cups of coffee can afford. “Ron Jeremy!”
“Who’s Ron Jeremy?” asked Mrs. Angry, incredibly. That’s like asking, “Who’s Jesus?”
I briefly summed Ron Jeremy’s magnificent career using a stable of words that employed surprisingly few syllables. Amazingly, Mrs. Angry did not share my admiration for one of our finer Americans.
“Put that away!” she hissed, as if I just removed a set of anal beads from my pocket.
“What? No! This is good!”
“Don’t let anybody see you looking at that!” declared Mrs. Angry, before desperately diving behind a stack of novels written by Emily Bronte. I couldn’t understand it! If I had picked up a book about Al Capone, I’d only be improving upon an already first class reservoir of knowledge. But now that I’d ventured to insert Ron Jeremy’s life story in the mix, my scholarly reputation was sullied! Defiantly, I groped the slim volume in my hand and took it someplace private.
I expected to discover a morally corrupt man hopelessly seduced by vice and greed. Instead, I unearthed a Ron Jeremy that was not only a pretty good guy, but was a certified dork to boot. Ron makes no bones about the illegitimacy of his lifestyle. He doesn’t make excuses or bore us with the tragedies of his life. Rather, Ron goes to great (and boring) lengths to remind us that he comes from an intelligent Jewish family. His revelation that he holds a Master’s degree in education might have been deft and subtle had he not failed to mention it no less than half a dozen times. Ron wants us to know that Ron wasn’t some runaway grabbed off a Greyhound bus and conscripted into a life of prostitution. Pornography is Ron’s choice.
And as far as choices go, there are worse, I guess. Ron clearly loves his job, but he doesn’t hesitate to remind us that pornography is hard work requiring a number of special talents. For example, you have to be a contortionist to perform positions suitable for a narrow menu of camera angles. You have to “act” interested even if it’s the end of a long day and your working on your seventh partner and your privates are black and blue. And don’t get Ron started about getting hard on a director’s cue. That ain’t easy!
Nor is getting a picture produced when the vice squad keeps busting up the sets (apparently a real problem in the 1980s). And guess what else you have to worry about? AIDS! Yes, and other STDs, too (an area of expertise for which Ron claims to hold an unsanctioned doctorate).
Ron also gives us some insight into a world that most of us only considers in twenty minute clips or less. Like, I didn’t know how many disposable douches were required on a porno set. And Ron offers some nice advice to women considering first-time anal sex.
Clearly, Ron Jeremy doesn’t take Ron Jeremy very seriously. His legendary ability to self-satisfy himself orally is not a source of pride for him. But he is proud of eschewing illegal drugs, limiting alcohol, and never telling a lie – he is the George Washington of pornography. Oh, and lest I forget, Ron also wants us to know that he has never touched Viagra.
In the end, it’s tough to isolate Ron’s central message, but you do come to understand that Ron Jeremy has a secret desire to be known as more than just Ron Jeremy. He’s a Renaissance man skilled in classic piano and the violin. He’s an amateur comedian with a weakness for hokey punch lines. He’s a legitimate actor who’s appeared in a number of real movies. He’s a film director who knows how to manage a thin script, a tight budget, and a quick deadline. He’s a lecturer, a former high-school teacher, a novelist, an animal rights activist, and – if he can ever convince a partner to accept his three-woman-a-day lifestyle – an aspiring father.
It’s true. Ron Jeremy, now nearly 60 years old and star of Snatch Masters 8 and Big Boobs in Buttsville, wants to have a kid. Yearns, really.
In the end, The Hardest (working) Man feels a little like a porno movie: brief bursts of excitement followed by tedious periods of plot that makes you instinctively reach for the fast-forward button. But I feel like a better man for reading it, an experience most noticeably absent upon any reading of Bronte.