Porn King: The Rise & Fall of Ron Jeremy, review: an unsettling portrayal of porn's 'average Joe'

·2 min read
Porn actor Ron Jeremy - Getty
Porn actor Ron Jeremy - Getty

Sex industry insiders used to joke that there are just three things a porn star should never do: animals, underage actors and Ron Jeremy. That punchline carries a much darker tone, now that the walrus king of the 1980s porn scene has been charged in California with over 30 counts of sexual assault (including 12 of rape) dating back to 1996. He denies the charges and the trial has been suspended pending a mental health evaluation for Jeremy.

In the first, unsettling episode of Porn King: The Rise & Fall of Ron Jeremy (Channel 4), viewers were introduced to what performers now call the “Golden Age” of pornography. The rise of home video in the Eighties delivered a game changing influx of money. “We had big budgets, big scripts, big actors,” gushed one star.

For younger viewers (acclimatised to the six-pack studs of Love Island), the stars explained the appeal of the hirsute and chubby Jeremy (known to complete close-up “pop shots” while eating). “He’s the average Joe at home who can’t get a girl like Christy Canyon or Ginger Lynn. But when they saw Ron Jeremy f---ing them it gave men confidence.” Plus, he had a nine-and-three-quarter-inch penis which he would swing around as part of his goofy “comic” schtick.

We heard a (female) childhood friend describe him as the funniest kid she knew and also “innocent, very innocent”. In an old interview we heard him explain how he had found “love is painful, sex is simple”.

Lynn claimed he raped her on her 21st birthday in 1983. Like other alleged victims, she claims Jeremy assaulted her, violently and unexpectedly, from behind. The next day she was contractually obliged to have sex with him on camera. Nobody asked why she punched him in the face mid-scene.

At times, the allegations were agonising to hear. Lynn said she did not go to the police because she thought that nobody would believe a woman paid to have sex could be raped. But as her colleague Alana Evans states: “You rape a porn star the way you rape anyone else. By violating our consent.”