FRIDAY, JUNE 19 marks the opening day for Ron Jeremy's Club Sesso, the new downtown club for swingers and non-swinging folks alike. I spoke with the former porn star and so-called "hardest working man in show business" over the phone last week. Besides the finer details of his new establishment in downtown Portland, we discussed his love of classical piano, the future of the porn business, and the time Rodney Dangerfield accidentally exposed himself to Jeremy backstage in Las Vegas.
MERCURY: So what's your official role in Club Sesso?
RON JEREMY: I'm not the owner. I like the club and want it to do well, so I lent my name to it. Kind of like an honorary publisher will do with a magazine, but it's really more pleasure than business. I'm a figurehead.
What do you want people to get out of the club?
I'd like them to know that a night out at Ron Jeremy's Club Sesso is much cheaper than a night on the town—what with the price of dinner, drinks, cover charges, and a motel room being what they are. You can save a lot of money by just bringing your date to my club. You don't have to have sex. You can just come to dance or enjoy the buffet.
You've said that you like Portland's open attitude to "sexual diversity." Can you explain?
When I first visited Portland and Seattle I noticed that everyone had these really great piercings and tattoos. And not just the strippers either. Now everyone's got tattoos of course, but back then it kind of stuck out to me. I thought it was really cool. Plus the women are curvy in the Northwest. It's not like California where all the women are anorexic and the guys walk around with washboard abs. People here have natural physiques. I like that.
Thanks. Can you talk about why there's still a bit of a stigma against swingers?
Oh please. It's the same old story. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of any opposition to porn or sexual freedom is usually religiously backed. I've been very vocal on this subject. I've debated Craig Gross [of the XXX Church, whose mission is to "help those struggling with pornography"] in front of audiences of 5,000 people.
You published a book in 2008 that included some stories about your friendships with guys like Sam Kinison and Rodney Dangerfield. Any amusing anecdotes?
I was good friends with Rodney Dangerfield. We used to meet up in Las Vegas. He always walked around backstage wearing just a short-cut robe. One time I brought some friends backstage to meet him, and when [Rodney] lifted his arms to greet us, his robe lifted, exposing both testicles. Rodney didn't realize he was exposing himself, of course. I got a picture of it somewhere.
Yeah, well that's show business.
I read that you're a classically trained pianist.
A lot of people hear that and they think pianist is spelled wrong [laughs]. But yes, it's true. All good Jewish boys are raised learning how to play classical piano. I had seven years of lessons. I used to play with Axl Rose, Poison, Kid Rock. In fact I was in Kid Rock's music video for his song "Cowboy" along with Gary Coleman. I also took kung fu lessons. You know playing piano is very similar to kung fu—if you don't keep up the practice you'll eventually forget everything you ever learned.
How is the pornography business being affected by the amount of free porn available online? I mean, no one pays for porn anymore—or so I've heard.
Are you kidding me? It's horrible. The porn business and the music recording business are just being decimated. Adult DVDs are on their way out the door—in a few years they'll be obsolete. Kids these days could give a rat's ass about Hustler and Playboy and Adult Video News. It's ironic—porn is being put out of business by the very thing [the internet] that so many anti-porn types blame for proliferating it. I can't understand how all these free websites make money. Who pays attention to advertising when they look at porn?
No one that knows what they're doing, that's for sure.
Kids these days are much more computer literate than anyone my age ever was. When I was growing up, boys took shop class and learned how to fix cars. In fact any male that knew how to type was considered to be like, a practicing homosexual. If you wanted something typed you'd give it to a stenographer or have your girlfriend do it. It's not like that anymore. Now everyone knows how to type.