Porn Star Ron (The Hedgehog) Jeremy Tries to Make It in Legit Movies

Ron Jeremy, the actor known for his appearances in such X-rated classics as Inside Seka , Deep Throat 2 and, more recently, World’s Biggest Anal Gang Bang , was riding across Central Park in the back of a black livery car one recent afternoon. The destination? Barney Greengrass, the Upper West Side restaurant famous for its smoked sturgeon and chopped liver, whose founding father, according to Jeremy family lore, is Mr. Jeremy’s great-great uncle. The Queens-born Mr. Jeremy, who by virtue of his round figure and hairy back has come to be known in the pornography business as “The Hedgehog,” wanted to introduce himself to a branch of the family he had never met.

After thousands, who knows, perhaps millions of money shots, Mr. Jeremy, hairy back, mustache and 9 3/4-inch penis are trying to make it in the world of legitimate films under his given name, Ron Hyatt. The crossover hasn’t been easy, exactly. He had a role in the new John Frankenheimer picture, Reindeer Games , but, alas, it got cut. He still gets parts in the raunchy stuff, like last year’s Still Insatiable and Black Cherry Coeds 3 , but it’s getting harder and harder to land the good roles he owned during his prime, when he could pull down $800 for just a few hours’ work.

“I’m heavy but I’m still very graceful, and I can still outrun, outjump, outkick, outswim kids half my age,” Mr. Jeremy said in the car. “People think I’m just talking. Just to prove it to you, go ahead, there, go ahead.” He removed his denim jacket and made a muscle. “Anyone can say, ‘Oh, yeah, I have lot of muscle,’ and you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, right, look at this fat fuck.’ Here.” Mr. Jeremy, who is 46, rolled up his bluejeans a few inches and displayed a bulging calf muscle. “I have a lot of muscle. It’s just covered by a lot of fat. I got careless with my weight. I was in Playgirl four times, but I got careless with the weight. I still get layouts in Cheri a lot, and Hustler uses me a lot because of the novelty–because I still have a big penis even though I am heavy, too heavy to be modeling, that’s for sure.”

Mr. Jeremy’s efforts to go legit haven’t been completely for naught. He was a male strip club emcee in the recent Detroit Rock City , the Kiss nostalgia film, and a gangster in The Boondock Saints , a Willem Dafoe ultra-violence flick. He was a concierge who gets shot in Killing Zoe and, in Sylvester Stallone’s Cobra , a masked bad guy. He played a cameraman in the Charlie Sheen film The Chase , a peeping Tom for one episode in the CBS show Nash Bridges and a monster in an ABC kids’ show, Bone Chillers .

Mr. Jeremy arrived at Barney Greengrass and took a seat at the back of the dining room. He was wearing a denim jacket, a blue T-shirt and white sneakers. He was unshaven and had forgotten to wear a belt. In the adjoining room, Moe Greengrass, the son of Barney Greengrass, was napping at a wooden table.

A waiter arrived. Mr. Jeremy ordered a sturgeon platter, chopped chicken liver and a cream soda. He instructed the waiter to announce to Mr. Greengrass that a relation had arrived at the restaurant.

The waiter returned a few minutes later.

“Did you tell him?” Mr. Jeremy said.

“He’s a little cranky now. He just woke up.”

“Tell him about Rose Greengrass, she’s my grandmother. Tell him that,” Mr. Jeremy said.

The waiter left. When he got back, he reported that Mr. Greengrass wasn’t sure he knew a Rose Greengrass.

“Ask him if he knows the gangster Ben Greengrass. That’s my great-uncle. Ask him about Gangster Ben. Just tell him that. That’ll be enough.”

The waiter left again and soon returned to say there had been some breakthrough with Mr. Greengrass.

“Ask him if he knows this. This will knock his socks off. Ask him if he remembers how we lost a great relative, Elliot Siegel. Ask him if he knows about how Elliot died in the war. He’s going to shit in his pants!”

While he waited for the waiter’s return, Mr. Jeremy plowed into his sturgeon platter and recounted the story of his life.

He was born and raised in Bayside, Queens, the son of an Army engineer father and a cryptographer mother. He first understood his own extraordinary endowment one day at summer camp: While bending over to tie his shoes, he found he was able to fellate himself. The gift remained sealed throughout his time at Benjamin Cardozo High School, where he appeared in a production of Oklahoma! and was known more as thespian than as a lover. Then came Queens College, where he studied theater and education.

After college, Mr. Jeremy tried to make it in New York as an actor. During the week, he taught at a high school in Queens. On weekends, he waited tables at Catskills resorts. He studied with the Dramatis Personis and La MaMa theater troupes and appeared in Oscar Wilde’s Salome (as King Herod) and Nikolai Gogol’s The Government Inspector (in the role of Osip). But, still, Mr. Jeremy couldn’t catch his big break, and he was low on money.

Then, it happened: Mr. Jeremy’s girlfriend sent his nude picture to Playgirl . The picture appeared in the October 1978 issue, and the offers started coming in, including the one for his first movie role in Tigresses and Other Man-Eaters .

Word spread quickly among filmmakers of the man with the prodigious member and unfailing ability to deliver the money shot on cue. Mr. Jeremy’s career soared. He received back-to-back Best Supporting Actor awards in 1983 and 1984 from the Adult Film Association of America for his work in Suzie Superstar and All the Way In .

Back at Barney Greengrass, Mr. Jeremy asked the waiter for some waxed paper to wrap up the remainder of his chopped chicken liver.

“What most actors do and what I do is I read a script over and over and over again, and I understand exactly where I fit in,” Mr. Jeremy said. “Then, once it’s ingrained into my head, I try to make the characters as exciting as I can. It’s the Stanislavsky technique, being inside your character and looking out. You bring characteristics and traits of your own personality within the framework of the character you’re playing. Because it’s like this … Inside all of us are many types of people. This is the basis of acting. You don’t take on a role and try to mug and try to make believe you’re something you’re not. You become it. I use the same technique in my adult work. In fact, I like to think that’s one of the reasons I got well known in adult films, was that I took my characters all the way. I try to play a role and continue that role right into the sex scenes. If I play a nerd, I want to fuck like a nerd. Too many actors in porn, when it comes time for the sex, they pop a Viagra and they fuck like themselves. If I’m playing some nerd I’ll say, ‘I am hurting you? Is this O.K.? How are you feeling? Can I bite your neck?’ You know, I’ll be like a putz. But if I’m playing a really confident guy, a tough guy, then I’ll fuck like a confident guy, like, ‘You like that, huh, baby. Feel good? You like that, don’t you? Oh, I know you’ll like this. Let me just do this. Why don’t you do this to me now.’ You see, it’s a whole different attitude, a whole different voice.”

Mr. Jeremy had finished wrapping his chopped liver. He gathered his bags together, stood up and hitched up his pants. “Let’s see what happens when I talk to this guy,” he said.

It was time to approach Mr. Greengrass.

“Hi, how ya doing?” Mr. Jeremy said, going over to him in the next room. Then he launched into the story about how Elliot Siegel was killed in the war. Maybe Mr. Greengrass was still sleepy, but Mr. Jeremy’s story didn’t seem to make much of an impression.

He tried a few more stories. Mr. Greengrass looked up blankly at the porn star, nodding his head occasionally. He recalled that Ben Green grass, the gangster, was strong enough to lift a car.

“Well, all right then,” Mr. Jeremy said finally. “It was nice to meet ya. I’ve never been here. I always thought I would someday.”

Mr. Jeremy shuffled out of Barney Greengrass onto Amsterdam Avenue and hitched up his pants again.

“Well, he didn’t give much of a fuck,” he said. “Basically, he didn’t give much of a fuck.”

Mr. Jeremy caught a cab and headed across Central Park to meet a lady named Venice, whom he described as “his best friend in the world.”

On Fifth Avenue, the cab got caught in traffic.

“Oh, this is the story of my life,” he said. “You know, I try to meet up with people, and I’m never on time.” Mr. Jeremy looked himself over. “I should have shaved to go to Greengrass. I just never have enough time, you know? I must have bags under my eyes. It’s my own fucked-up schedule … Well, I can’t blame anyone but myself. I never have time for anything, and it takes so long to get around. Oh, man. I’m trapped here.”

The traffic still wasn’t moving. Mr. Jeremy stared outside glumly and tapped the window with his fingers.

“I don’t know why I’m going where I’m going at this point. I blew it. This is a joke. That’s why you can’t make plans in this town. I hate to think I’m trapped here. That’s what makes me so sick. I’m literally trapped in the city now, and now I’m going to have to fight rush hour to get out of it. This is a nightmare. I should have stayed in Queens. I thought it would be a nice thing to go to Greengrass. It was a mistake.”