Legend has it that Gene Simmons once said a great guitarist doesn't play with his mind, but with his dick. Ron Jeremy—porn icon, cameo king, and classically trained musician—took this unbelievably far beyond the realm of metaphor on his first single, pounding his "schmeckle" on the keys of his piano while playing "1812 Overture." You can take Ron Jeremy into the studio, but the studio will be subject to the whole Ron Jeremy experience as soon as he crosses its threshold. And that experience involves his penis.
Ever the pop culture juggernaut, Jeremy's talents shine far beyond the spotlight that's been trained on his bedroom exploits since 1979. In addition to his illustrious porn career, he's appeared in mainstream movies by the score (Detroit Rock City, Boondock Saints, Orgazmo!, etc.) and cannonballed into reality television. His music video cameos involve everyone from Kid Rock to LMFAO, and his take on Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" is almost as famous as the original. Jeremy stood me up at one of the most iconic dives on the Sunset Strip to talk about his latest endeavor, but what kept him from our date at the Rainbow—his home away from home, the kind of place with red vinyl booths and a plaque detailing the affair of Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis above the cash register—wasn't a video shoot or a recording session. It was plane trouble, and it had everything to do with Understanding and Appreciating Classical Music with Ron Jeremy, the seven-inch he's releasing on Black Country Rock, Shooter Jennings' new record label. We are premiering the audio from the single below, but you should absolutely pick it up on Record Store Day.
Noisey: You kind of broke my heart a little bit, Ron. I'm not used to getting stood up.
Ron Jeremy: I'm sorry, honey. I'm sorry I screwed it up. I was at the ACMs, I just couldn't turn it down. The next day there were all these parties and everything. I was promoting the hell out of the record! Everyone knew Shooter Jennings, so that was good.
Did you get to talk to Taylor Swift about your recent foray into music?
No! (laughs) I met Garth Brooks, though.
Chewbacca, Gary Coleman, and Ron Jeremy
What was the general reaction when you told people you were releasing something on Record Store Day? This isn't your typical jam.
They thought it was great. I'll tell you something funny. I hold two world records: Most Adult Films Ever Made and Most Music Videos Ever Made. I'm in 48 music videos, between MTV, VH1 and YouTube. Matt LeBlanc, from Friends? He's second, and he's in 7. Some of the videos are really high profile, like LMFAO's "I'm Sexy And I Know It." One Guns N' Roses, two Kid Rocks—I'm playing the piano in Kid Rock's "Cowboy" video. In "American Badass" I salute the flag. Moby, Everclear, Sublime, I helped produce that one, I can go on and on. I was approached to do a song as a performer with DJ Polo. Polo did this split called Polo's Playhouse, with Biz Markie and all of these big names. They had me do a song called "Freak Of The Week," and we lasted for 27 weeks on the Billboard chart. So I did a hit song! I really suck at rapping. I think it went gold, "Freak Of The Week." We did a gangsta version and the record label sort of pinched us on the cheeks and said, "Rooooon! You're not a gangsta. You don't sing songs like that, you sing songs about getting girls and parties, sex, that's what you sing about!" I said, "They're right." So we changed all the rhymes all around to make it a booty-based song. We had DJ Laz in Florida do one of the tracks. Coincidentally, when I was down there working with DJ Laz, he actually had me introduce some unknown singers at the American Airlines Pavilion. One of them was Jay Z. Isn't that something? I've been involved with rap music and introducing bands from Metallica to Jay Z. I still do the Warped Tour, the Kansas City Rock Fest, the Gathering of the Juggalos—I got the chance to introduce a lot of bands.
Jay Z and the Juggalos?!
I've hung out with Funkadelic, MC Hammer, Ice Cube … I also made that video with Wanda Jackson, and this is my very, very first country western music video, Wanda's "Tore Down." I was the guy eating a sandwich when two girls were steal my bike in the video, and I go running out of there. It was really fun.
So, technically, this is your first foray into classical music—this is definitely on Shooter's Black Country Rock, but there's nothing country about your Record Store Day release, here.
Yes, I played classical music all throughout high school and college, and I'm pretty good at it. A lot of Jewish boys in New York, our parents made us learn the piano, so I'm very good at it, and I'm also pretty good at the harmonica and violin. If you type in "Ron Jeremy Ireland" or "Ron Jeremy Trinity College" into YouTube, I got to play with a Celtic band once, and that just made my day. I love that kind of music.
Do you always travel with a harmonica? Is this a common party trick for you?
Yes. Always. Whenever I hear a young, good-looking couple is getting married in a restaurant or something, I'll play the Wedding March, and then I'll say, "Here's your honeymoon song! She rides you like a Harley, rolls you like a carpet, flips you like a cheese omelette, and leaves you in a cloud of dust, dead! Now, here's your new song after your honeymoon" and then I'll play "Taps." The kids love it, too. It's a nice thing to carry around.
And if you come across a piano in a bar or something, do you approach it the same way?
No, that I don't do. That's kind of silly. I don't play the piano that much. It's not like you can carry a piano in your pocket. And also, people don't always have them, but if someone has a piano at their home, they'll ask me to play for them. We used to make a joke about me being an Actor/Pianist, and that it's not misspelled.
Ah, I get it. Can I tell you a horrible dick joke?
So, this guy walks into a bar and says to the bartender, "If I show you something cool, can I get a free beer?" The bartender's skeptical but nods. The guy pulls out a little piano, like one you'd see in a dollhouse, and puts it on the bar. The bartender walks away unimpressed. "Wait, I'm not done!" says the guy, and he pulls out a little Ken-type doll in a tuxedo, and the guy walks over to the piano and starts to play. The bartender's amazed and pours the free beer. The guy's not finished, though: "If I give you something cool, can I get another free beer?" The bartender's convinced, now, so he pours the beer and agrees. The guy hands him a magic lamp, tells him that he can make one wish. The bartender says, "I want a million bucks!" And not ten seconds later, tons and tons of ducks—quacking, flapping ducks—come barging into the bar. "What the hell?!" says the bartender. "I asked for a million bucks, not a million ducks." The guy rolls his eyes. "Honestly, you think I asked for a 12" pianist?"
Haaaaaaaaa. That's pretty cute. There are a bunch of jokes that are very similar to that: a gay guy goes up to the bartender. "I'll bet you ten bucks my dog can unzip your fly, pull out your cock and suck on it." The dog just sits there. "Come on Rover, go!" The dog sits there. "Jeez, Rover. This is the last time I'm gonna show you!"
You get it, right? He's gay, he wanted to do it. How is a pizza man a lot like a gynecologist?
They're both close enough to the box but they're not allowed to eat it.
I was expecting dirty jokes from you at some point, and I guess I got the ball rolling, but—
I've got clean ones, too! So, this nun was fucking a donkey—
THAT'S NOT CLEAN.
These are killers! They get good laughs.
Well, back to Understanding and Appreciating Classical Music: you're pretty cheeky on both sides of this 7". I can't believe you played "The 1812 Overture" with, uh, more than your two hands.
Yeah, some songs are dick songs. Some songs were meant for the dick. "Song of the Volga Boatmen" is perfect. I wore my pants when we recorded it, but it was still my schlong bouncing on the keys. I mean, all rock stars use classical music. There's nothing wrong with that, by the way—it's all public domain; their estates are long gone and these guys are dead. There's a song by Rod Stewart, "Rhythm of My Heart," that's just like an old Scottish song called "The Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond." Shooter and I, we talked about that. A lot of bands take from classical music and it's beautiful. There's nothing wrong with that.
A portrait of the artist as a young pornographic actor
When we’re talking about bridging the gap between your career and music—or specifically, the connections you've made between music and porn—what's a common thread between the two?
You have to be a performer. You want to be the best there is. You want to be entertaining. You want to be good. Whatever you do, whether it's an adult film, a comedy, sad music, happy music, you just want to be entertaining. You can have a nice erection, give a good scene, make everybody happy, moan and groan properly and take your paycheck and leave. When you move into mainstream film, you do the same thing without the moaning and groaning. The things they do on the internet get a lot of attention too. I did this video based on Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball," which got 16 million hits in two weeks. One band's hoping to hit 1 million; I get 16 making an ass of myself. This is a perfect example of pop culture, and I hope to have the same kind of success with this. It's something different, and it's something new, and it's fun. You've got to reinvent yourself once in awhile.
How does this particular project reveal a side of Ron Jeremy that we haven't seen before?
Me and Shooter were clowning around one day on the piano and the violin, and we thought, "We gotta put this on an album. This is great stuff, we should use this." Next thing you know, bingo, I'm sitting in a different place playing musical instruments. I'm a little rusty. I'm not gonna say it comes out perfectly.
Hey, anyone who can use additional body parts to play the piano is doing okay.
I'm not a one-tricky pony.
How important is it to understand and appreciate classical music today?
With schools cutting back on their budgets, they don't understand that it isn't just music, it's an attitude of life. It chews you up. It's something you can practice and learn. Science, geometry, algebra, gym class, economics, whatever: you have to have music in there, too, someplace. You don't have to have it as often, but you have to have an appreciation for it. From personalities and angst comes art, from pent up energy and hostility. John Waters said if he wasn't directing movies that he would've continued to be a thief, when he and Divine were stealing TVs from peoples' homes. He was giving lectures in prisons, saying that he would've been in there had he not had a creative outlet. If it weren't for music, there might be a lot of people out there committing serious crimes. Charles Manson was a good friend of one of the Beach Boys, and he always wanted to become a famous musician. In fact, Axl Rose put one of his songs on his punk album, I believe. Some of his music I've heard. It's not that terrible, really. Had he gotten a break and a record contract, maybe that stuff never would've happened, those crimes. Music really works, you know? I did a very funny commercial for European MTV. It takes place in the '70s, and I knock on this door, and I'm delivering a pizza, and I say, "Hey, who ordered a large sausage?" And the girls go, "I did! But I haven't got the money to pay for it …" And I go, "Well …" and I'm looking at the director off-camera, and the "Bom-chicka-bom-chicka-bom" starts, and then the commercial says: "MTV: The Power of Music." Without the "bom-chicka-bom," it doesn't work.
I wasn't expecting that analogy, but I should be less surprised.
You know who loves that? The "bom-chicka-bom"? George Clooney! I gave him one of my CDs of bom-chicka-bom music. I'm sure he's not gonna mind that I said that.
That was going to be my final question for you, actually: what's your recommendation for background music in the bedroom?
Good old-fashioned porn music is always fine, because you played it when you were a young man watching porn. I like things like "Bolero," which they played during the softcore sex scenes in 10, that Bo Derek and Dudley Moore movie. And of course, classical music is really nice. I love Baroque music: Bach, Handl, Chopin, woodwinds, it's all great stuff. Enya is great to listen to when you're having sex, but only listen to Enya if it's a romantic thing, if you're having sex with someone you have feelings for. If it's a one night stand, it could be heavy metal, or rap, something with a good beat.
Hilary Hughes lives in New York and does this sort of thing all the time. She's on Twitter - @hilmonstah
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