“I believe in God, and it makes me want to do the right thing”: An interview with porn star Ron Jeremy

Ron Jeremy says sex and spirituality are completely separate issues — which is why swingers can be churchgoers, too.

Ron Jeremy is a very busy guy. I spent six weeks trying to track him down for an interview, and it was never a good time for him because he was always working.

And by “working,” I mean…well, you know what I mean.

While he set out to become a teacher, with dual degrees in education and special education, Ron’s vocational path was irrevocably altered as a young man when an appearance in Playgirl magazine, made at the behest of his girlfriend at the time, led to a prolific career in the world of adult film. Today, he might be the world’s most famous porn actor. This is not hyperbole: the Adult Video News ranked him as the number-one porn star of all time).

Late last year, I happened on an interview with Ron where he described his spirituality as being an “all-you-can-eat-buffet,” and thought, I must find out more. So I called and called and called, and finally we connected for a chat about sex and spirituality.

Sexuality today seems more rooted in sexual images than sexual experiences. What effect does this have on society?

It makes sex more objective sometimes. It’s so much more available. You used to have to work to see sexual images like pornography, but now you can go to a computer and push one button and watch it. It’s out there more.

I was born and raised a good Jewish boy.

It’s not like it was when I got into the business. Porn used to have a storyline. It was a movie! Films like that, you fill a slot and put a sex scene in where it fits. It was part of the storyline. Now, the business is so different — you can pick the specific sex you can want to see. So out goes the story — you just pick what you want to see and, boom, there it is. Any fetish you might have, you press a few buttons and you get anything you want to see.

And four-fifths of it is pirated. We’re not getting paid. Porn is going out of business here in America. Four major companies have gone out of business, because how can you compete with free?

Does that kind of availability of sexual images have any impact on so-called “normal” sexualities?

It’s both. It’s 50/50. Some people watch things and try to do it, while other people watch things and don’t try them out.

Is there any spiritual fallout from that sort of exposure or experimentation?

I think people look at spirituality as a separate thing than they do sex. I know people who are swingers. They’ll have couples’ parties and swing and do a lot of things that the Bible wouldn’t be crazy about, but then they go to church on Sunday and are raising great kids. (I should say that their kids are not around during the adult parties.) Sex and spirituality are two different things for them.

Christians say that if you don’t accept Jesus as your savior, you don’t go to heaven. That’s kind of mean.

I don’t think a lot of people put [sex and spirituality] together, unless maybe when you’re talking about your soul mate. But it’s like if you’re working on advanced calculus or quarks or Stephen Hawking’s theories on time, you’re not thinking about sex. They’re separate.

So you don’t think sex and spirituality are related?

There’s a huge difference. One concentrates on the physical and the other concentrates on the abstract.

If it’s with someone you love or your soul mate or someone you care about, sex can be surreal and spiritual. But there’s such a thing as recreational sex as well, where you’re just having fun. And religious folks don’t want to admit it, but it’s on the rise. It’s very hard today to find a girl who’s a virgin coming out of high school. And coming out of college? Not a prayer.

Sex can be physical and non-spiritual. But sex can be both. I’m a firm believer in the difference between recreational sex and making love. And often doing one helps you realize the other.

Where did your ideas on spirituality form? What was the spiritual atmosphere of your childhood?

I was born and raised a good Jewish boy. At that time, there were more Jews in New York than in Israel, so I was brought up in a Jewish neighborhood. Good people, good hard workers, and I had a pretty nice upbringing. But my parents were pretty liberal. For example, I could date a girl who was Christian, Jewish, black, polka-dotted — it didn’t matter to them.

I’m not a slave to my career. I can quit when I want.

I grew up going to synagogue, but after I turned 13 and got Bar Mitzvah’ed, I didn’t go back all that often. Once I became a man, I didn’t go back too much. Mostly for the coffee and Danish.

But you’ve abandoned that now?

Now I have what I call an “all-you-can-eat-buffet” approach.

Maybe the Jews were wrong; maybe Jesus was the Son of God. He’s a really special man, a son of a carpenter, a rabbi, a guru for that time. Maybe we [the Jews] were wrong, but God is way too nice and too benevolent to punish kids for being wrong.

Christians say that if you don’t accept Jesus as your savior, you don’t go to heaven. That’s kind of mean. What if God says, instead, “It’s not a kid’s fault that they were born into the wrong thing, so I’ll teach them about me when they get to heaven.”

So then I took that a step further to Buddha, Confucius, and other faiths, and thought, What if you pray to them diligently so that, on the day you die, at least somebody is going to be there [that you recognize].

I’m not really doing that by the way. I’m still a good Jewish boy.

When you want to know whether what you’re doing is right or wrong, you can sort of look to the sky and find out. It gives you a conscience.

Christians and Muslims and Jews are the only ones where, if you’re not one of them, they have an attitude. Other religions have a much more benevolent [approach]. We all believe in the same God. It’s all one God. There are so many nuances among religions, and a lot of Christians have an attitude, but it seems to be so unfair that if you don’t accept Christ as your savior, you won’t go to heaven.

There are millions of people who are highly intelligent who claim to be right. But maybe they’re wrong. In either case, I’ll find out when I’m dead — but there’s no rush to get there.

Does your chosen career path influence the way you think about faith or spirituality?

No. I’m not a slave to my career and I can quit when I want. I stand behind the things I’ve done, but it was a second choice. I’ve done it, and I’m proud of it.

So faith does have an impact on your daily life?

I like to think it does. I believe in God, that someone’s watching, and it makes me want to do the right thing. When you want to know whether what you’re doing is right or wrong, you can sort of look to the sky and find out. It gives you a conscience.

Adam Palmer
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  • Doug Wilkening

    This one reminds me of the story that Charles Colson used to tell about Mickey Cohen, an associate of the gangster “Bugsy” Seigel during the 1940′s. Supposedly, Cohen once attended a Billy Graham rally and, in the heat of the moment, was moved to come forward and dedicate his life to Jesus. After his “conversion”, when Graham’s team told Mickey that he would now have to give up gangstering, he was incredulous. “Why, there are are Christian movie stars, Christian businessmen, Christian everything,” he asked, “So why can’t I be a Christian gangster?” Needless to say, Mickey and Jesus soon parted ways.