DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
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PORNSTAR: THE LEGEND OF RON JEREMY (director/writer/editor: Scott J. Gill; cinematographer: Ralph King; music: Garcin Knowles; cast: Ron Jeremy, Venice Adrian, Anita Cannibal, Al Goldstein, Tanya Lawson; Runtime: 80; Maelstrom; 2001)

 
"A sympathetic look at a regular guy who reached the peak of his profession."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Ron Jeremy was born in 1953. He's a nice Jewish boy from Queens, the son of a now-retired physicist, who gave up a career as a Special Ed teacher to become a legendary porn star, appearing in close to two thousand porn flicks and has been in the business for the last 21 years. He got into porn when his girlfriend submitted a nude photo of him to Playgirl, and after that the star tells us his phone kept ringing and the porn industry was one of those calls. Upon his father's insistence, he dropped the family name of Hyatt and kept his first and middle name. Dad is bemused at his son's career choice but cheerfully accepted it, and even has a few good-natured quips about his son's equipment. Even his sister talks proudly of him as if he were a saintly figure and how he wants to be taken as a serious actor. Ron's mom died in his childhood from Parkinson's.

The porn star is short, fat, hairy, unkempt looking, and ugly, and because of his appearance goes by the nickname of the Hedgehog. The reason for this clean living (doesn't drink or do drugs) and unlikely sex symbol's legendary popularity is because he has an enormous penis, he's an everyman type, he's always self-promoting, and he's personable. He reasons why he's a frat-boy favorite is that if he can get laid so frequently with some of the sexiest women -- so can anyone. Scott J. Gill's superficial documentary on the porn legend is a sympathetic look at a regular guy who reached the peak of his profession, an ideal job to many envious males. But he still is not completely happy with such a fulfilling sensual life, as he suffers from loneliness. He reached the top through an overactive drive to achieve fame, but he still thirsts for fame as a legitimate mainstream actor. That has been denied him so far, except for many bit parts in B-films where he usually gets killed off right away or his part gets cut out in the editing room. His mainstream movie highlights were — as a security guard in "Detroit Rock City" and as an office man who is shot in "Killing Zoe."

The porn star is depicted as a sensitive, charming, narcissistic, bright and witty guy, whose porn fame seems to agree with the need he has to be the center of attention. He's really a natural clown, who enjoys to joke around even in the middle of sex scenes. He playfully tells us, the two things he enjoys more than sex are fame and food. He's also rumored to be one of the wealthiest male stars in the business. There are several scenes showing him making his way through airports while carrying his belongings in garbage bags instead of using luggage as he's also rumored to be very frugal, saving every dime he makes. The scene of him lost in the airport is used as a metaphor to show how trapped he's in life and can't find a way out of the porn industry.

By the film's conclusion his porn star image is debunked. Ron learns sex doesn't necessarily lead to happiness, and he has a forlorn look indicating that he has not only missed out on Hollywood fame but in finding love. There is one relationship he had in the early '80s with porn star Tanya Lawson that lasted a few years, that seemed to really mean something to him, but he sadly comments in a hushed tone that she left him when she got religion and quit the porn business. It's hard to feel sorry for someone who has the stamina to have sex with 14 gorgeous women, half his age, in a few hours and never has trouble getting an erection; but, it is revealed that he might not be the luckiest guy in the world as some idol worshiping fans imagine.

REVIEWED ON 4/19/2002     GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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