OBERLIN — Ron Jeremy, whose claim to fame is having sex with as many as 4,000 women on camera, may not have been an obvious choice for an Oberlin College speaker. But he was the perfect person to discuss the laws surrounding the adult film industry, said Taylor Reiners, president of the Oberlin College Republicans and Libertarians.
The group, which sponsored the event as part of the Ronald Reagan Political Lectureship Series, asked Jeremy to speak about his experiences in the industry. Jeremy, who said the Republican Party hasn’t generally been supportive of porn, was happy to oblige.
Reiners, along with a group of students, met with Jeremy at Weia Teia restaurant prior to his speech at Finney Chapel on Thursday night. He said Jeremy has been at the forefront of multiple legal battles involving obscenity laws and public health, which are of interest to many students.
“Adult entertainment as a legitimate form of free expression is a very libertarian issue, and the Oberlin College Republicans and Libertarians have been interested in hosting a lecture on the topic of adult entertainment and law for quite some time,” he said.
Reiners said he felt that Jeremy’s discussion was a success.
“It was what we expected. We wanted him to entertain the crowd, to have some humor, as well as cover serious issues,” he said. “We think he did that.”
Jeremy, who took the stage playing a harmonica, quickly jumped into adult humor involving his most-famous appendage. But he also touched on issues affecting the porn industry, such as the Los Angeles’ condom law, approved by nearly 56 percent of Los Angeles County voters in November 2012.
The law requires porn stars to use condoms while filming sex scenes and to receive training on sexually transmitted diseases. It also requires producers of X-rated films to pay a permitting fee to the county Department of Public Health to help pay for inspectors.
Jeremy said the law is an attack on the adult film industry, which he said has had very few problems with sexually transmitted diseases due to testing requirements. He said he believes the condom law will cause outsourcing of porn, because other countries, like those in Europe, have no condom requirements.
“They’re just going to other locations and shooting … so they didn’t really accomplish anything but take some of the business dollars out of Los Angeles proper,” he said.
Jeremy said the Internet is also changing the adult film industry. Now anyone can film pornography and put it online.
“How do you compete with free? Not just us; the three biggest magazines are suffering — Hustler, Penthouse and Playboy,” he said. “Playboy sold everything they have. Hefner doesn’t even own his own name. Hugh Hefner belongs to somebody else.”
The changing times have been a surprise to Jeremy, who’s made a name for himself in the business.
Now 60, Jeremy has appeared in more than 1,700 films. He was ranked No. 1 on the Adult Video News Magazine’s “100 Top Porn Stars of All Time” list.
His unlikely success in porn led to crossover success, with roles in major motion pictures such as “Boondock Saints” and in “Reindeer Games,” alongside Ben Affleck. He holds the world-record for most appearances in a music video with 48, and he has appeared in VH1’s “The Surreal Life,” a reality television show that put “fading celebrities” into a Los Angeles mansion together and recorded their day-to-day lives.
Jeremy, who received a master’s degree in special education, fell into porn. His main interest was acting, and he studied theater in college.
But Jeremy has no regrets, he told students at Oberlin College. He’s embraced his “porn star” status.
“Porn actually helped me get a job,” he said.
Jeremy tours college campuses to serve as a spokesman for the industry, supporting regulations like the Child Pornography Protection Act, which makes it illegal to have a minor in any films or an adult pretending to be a child in sexual acts, while he calls for less-stringent regulations on consensual adult films.
Reiners, who said he hoped students walked away from the event with an “appreciation for free expression,” such as porn, said he enjoyed Jeremy’s visit and that he took the time to meet with all of the students.
“He’s a good guy,” he said.