James Lipton: Tonight's guest has appeared in more than 1,800 movies, including such memorable films as Terms of Endowment, Bone Alone, The Flintbones and Please Cum Inside Me 13. In 1983 he won the Adult Film Association of America's Best Supporting Actor Award for his indelible performance as Raoul in Suzie Superstar and in 1984 he won a second AFAA Best Supporting Actor Award for All the Way In!. For decades critics, professionals and audiences have wondered what would happen if, by some miracle, Lee Strasburg's method could be combined with the interior emotional power of the Stanislavski system. The miracle has happened. His name is Ron Jeremy.
Enter Ron Jeremy.
Audience gives him a standing ovation.
RJ [Clearing his throat]: Sorry. I was eating this girl's pussy back stage and I got her today sponge caught in my throat.
James Lipton looks confused.
RJ [Slapping him on the back]: Hey. I'm just joking with you.
Lipton immediately starts laughing hysterically.
JL [Struggling to control himself]: That's very funny. You're a very funny guy. Does that come from your Jewish background? Both of your parents were Jewish. How important is Judaism to you?
RJ: I'm like most Jews you'll talk to nowadays. I was basically a good Jew til I went to Synagogue and got Bar Mitzvahed and then I pretty much forgot all about it. Then I would go to Temple just for the Oneg Shabat where you get the wine and the Danish. I'd go for the Danish. I'd skip the service, you know? Who wants to hear that stuff? The Rabbi, the Cantor? Nice guys. Where's the Danish?
JL: How important is your childhood as a resource? A lot of great actors have told me they've found particular childhood experiences invaluable as a way of accessing their most deeply held emotions. Are there any experiences you draw on as an actor?
RJ: Well, there was the time I lost my virginity, my first actual devirginisation. It was funny because I put the rubber on backwards, so the lubricated side faces me, the dry side faces the girl. So I finally put it right in the edge of her vagina and I'm going back and forth. Basically, I screwed the rubber. I don't think I ever screwed the girl.
JL [Clutching his sides and laughing hysterically]: You're a very funny man. [To the audience]: Isn't he funny?
Shouts of "yes".
JL [To audience]: Would you like to see a clip of Ronnie doing his stand-up act?
More shouts of "yes".
We see footage of Ron in a tux performing at the Legz Diamond's All Nude club in New Jersey.
RJ: [Holding up the index finger of his right hand]: Why is this the best finger that a girl should masturbate with? [Beat.] Because it's mine.
This gag is met with stunned silence by the crowd at Legz Diamond.
We're back in the studio. James Lipton is doubled up with laughter.
JL [Fighting back the tears]: Clearly, you could have had a very successful career as a stand-up comedian. A very successful career. When did you decide to become an actor?
RJ: When I was at college I got my degree in theatre. I knew I wanted to be an actor, but I also wanted to get an education degree because I knew I had to have something to fall back on. My parents always said to me don't ever rely on an acting career. You've got to fall back on something. I did teach for two years, I student taught. Association of Blind and Retarded. AABR. I taught disturbed children, autistic kids, childhood schizophrenics. It was such torture because I knew I was not chasing my dream. So I quit pretty much abruptly.
JL: The AABR's loss was our gain.
JL: Like all great actors, Ronnie, you make it look easy. Let's take a look at a scene you did with Allyson Chaynes in a film you made in 2000 called Ally McFeal.
We see Allyson writhing around on top of Ron. A close up of Ron's face: eyes closed, lips pursed. Allyson starts screaming "Yes, yes, yes..." Ron just keeps thrusting away methodically until Allyson reaches orgasm.
JL [shaking his head, as if marveling at Ron's artistry]: How hard is it to stay focused when you're doing a scene like that?
RJ It's harder than you'd think, actually. Let's say you are too excited, let's say it's a gorgeous girl, there's no rubber, she's driving me nuts, she's riding on top of me which is the hardest position to control, she's bouncing like crazy and I'm going to let go with one more stroke. That takes such a hard mental concentration. You got to think so carefully about something in your mind disgusting, like I'll think of Vietnam War casualties, German Shepherds, farm animals, my grandma, dead relatives. That's a lot of concentration, you know, thinking so hard with your mind that what's going on is not even relevant, you're not even thinking about that, because if you do you're gonna EXPLODE. That's real concentration, and, in a way, you know, I'd love people to realize the fact that, in a way, it's a real pure, purest form of acting. It is really acting at its all-time best. It's the kind of acting that Lee Strasburg and Stanislavski used to teach, you know, that you're so immersed in your character, you're inside looking out, that the audience doesn't exist. You're inside your character looking out.
JL [To the audience]: Inside your character looking out. That's what it's all about. [To Ron]: I've been teaching acting all my life and you've just summed it up in one sentence: Inside the character looking out. But how do you do it? That's what we all want to know? How do you achieve that level of artistry?
RJ: The best thing to do is not to have sex a day or two before a sex scene, to be really extra good. If you do mess around, just don't have an orgasm. If you get much before that, that won't be any good because if you wait too much before having a sex scene, if you wait too long, then you're gonna be too excited and then one stroke and, 'Oh God.' You'll spend the entire scene trying to hold back and that's not good either.
JL: I have to say I'm just blown away by your generosity, coming here and sharing the secrets of your craft with us. I really appreciate it and I know the students do too.
JL: You've had a wonderful career, dating back to your first picture, Coed Teasers in 1978, and you've continued, at the very top of the profession, for 27 years. Do you ever worry about younger actors coming along and knocking you off your pedestal?
RJ: At any given time there are about 24 reliable woodsman, guys who keep good erections, in the American porn scene, you know, myself, Randy West, Peter North, Tom Byron. You know, you see a lot of the same guys over and over and over again because not a lot of guys can do it. A lot of guys try and the real confident ones strike out. 'Oh I can do this easily.' Phut. Gone.
JL: What are your feelings about how the industry has changed over the years? Do you ever look back through rose-tinted spectacles?
RJ: I was in a great era, the late 70s and 80s, it was the golden era of adult. We had, there was no Viagra, so not everyone could be a porn star. We had no HIV tests every single month. So I was around in a great, great era.
JL: This is a very competitive industry. There are literally thousands of people clamouring to get into this profession and yet you've not only broken through and survived, you're one of the few actors who can legitimately claim to be a living legend. What is it about a Ron Jeremy performance that makes it stand out?
RJ: You talking about my penis? It's two inches...from the floor!
JL [Laughing hysterically]: No, seriously, Ronnie, what makes you so good?
RJ: Years ago when we shot adult films there were real characterizations, there was good dialogue, good scripts, and a lot of the actors would do a really good dialogue scene and then screw like they always screw, you know? I would try and take the character right into my sex scene.
We see a clip of one of Ron's early films in which he's screwing a girl on some stairs:
Ron: Can you, can you do something for me?
Ron: I mean, er, can you do something my wife never does?
Ron: Can you talk dirty to me? Dirty? Come on, come on.
Girl: Oh brother.
Ron: Talk about your arsehole?
Girl: Why? You're in my cunt.
JL: That's truly amazing!
RJ: I'd like to see Richard Burton, or Sir John Gielgud, or Sir Laurence Olivier, do Macbeth, memorising all that dialogue, and have a boner.
James Lipton laughs so hard he falls off his chair.
JL: You're an incredible man. How did you get to be so talented? What drives you?
RJ: I just get this yearning just to go and be places, be seen, be the centre of attention, and that's part of that old ham thing that gets us into the industry in the first place, you know, the desire to be a ham, to be noticed, universal approval, you know? It's kind of a disease.
JL: We like to end these dialogues with Bernard Pivot's questionnaire. What's your favorite word?
JL: What's your least favourite word?
RJ: Viagra. I swear to God, I wish it had never been invented, you know? I would never take Viagra because then you rely on it, then, next time you have a really important date, you wanna impress a girl, you wanna have a good scene in a movie maybe, you'll have to pop the Viagra again. You'll come to rely on it. I wanna know that when the going gets tough I can rely on me. That I can do whatever I have to do and not count on some pill.
JL: What turns you on?
RJ: I love giving head, I really do. I think it's a nice thing to do because, you know, girls like it if you do a nice job with it. That gets them excited and that in turn gets me excited.
JL: What turns you off?
RJ: I once sucked my own cock in a movie and whenever mainstream people talk to me about doing porn they always bring up this one thing, 'Did you really suck your own dick?' Oh, goddamnit. You know, thousands of films I did and that's what you gotta remember, you know? I don't say I regret it, but that's certainly been used to give me a little hell.
JL: What sound or noise do you love?
RJ: I love to listen to a woman having an orgasm. To me, that's the sweetest music in the world.
JL: What sound or noise do you hate?
RJ: I don't like it when I'm doing a scene with a girl and she passes wind, you know, not when I'm going down on her anyway. If I'm fucking her and she can't help it, you know, because she's so excited or something, that's okay.
JL: What's your favourite curse word?
RJ: I try not to curse. That's not the way I was raised.
JL: What profession, other than yours, would you like?
RJ: I'd have to say gynecologist. There were a lot of doctors in my family, actually, and if I hadn't done a Masters in Special Ed I might have gone to Med School.
JL: What profession would you not like?
RJ: I think I would have had a hard time being a monk.
JL: Finally, if heaven exists, what would you like to hear god say when you arrive before him, naked, at the pearly gates?
RJ: 'I've seen some big ones in my time, but that's the biggest!'
JL [Weeping with laughter]: That's priceless. Priceless. Ronnie, you said you gave up a career in teaching to become an actor, but I think you've taught us all something tonight. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. [To audience.] Ladies and gentleman, Ron Jeremy.