If you listened to the Dirty Little Secret Podcast where we recaped the Porn Debate Tour we played an interview with Ron Jeremy and Paul from Willow Creek Association. The actual magazine just came out and the interview is below.
As we navigate the dark corridors of the backstage area, Ron spots an upright piano just outside the room where we will conduct our interview. He walks over to it and carefully and methodically places his fingers on the keys. What follows next is a beautifully-constructed mini-concerto that flows almost effortlessly from Ronâ€™s fingers. If you hadnâ€™t known better youâ€™d think he was a piano virtuoso, deeply steeped in the fine arts.
But piano playing is not the art that Ron Jeremy is most known for. Ron is considered the King of Porn, having made a staggering 1,800 movies in his career.
On this night, Ron isnâ€™t making a film. He just finished a debate in front of a live audience against Craig Gross, founder of xxxchurch.com, the anti-pornography Web site that aims to help those who struggle with pornography. Ron and Craig have taken The Porn Debate on the road, stopping in several cities across the country, each man doing his best each night to defend and discredit.
Because of pornâ€™s pervasive influence in our churches, we wanted to give church leaders a glimpse into the mind of one of pornâ€™s biggest advocates. Weâ€™re hoping that his thoughts and rationales will give us greater insight as we confront porn and try to understand its origins and motives. In the interview that follows, Ron shares his thoughts on Christ, Christians, the Church, and his views on pornâ€™s infiltration into the Church.
Paul: Ron, you were saying in your opening remarks that if Craig finds some girls who donâ€™t belong in porn and he helps pulls them out, great. My question to you is what girls do belong in porn?
Ron: The girls who are happy and healthy and sexual, maybe a bit of an exhibitionist, not doing it to rebel against their daddy. Theyâ€™re not getting into porn because theyâ€™ve got an emotional problem or were abused as kids. You can spot the ones that are doing fine with it, because they get into the business with a professional head on their shoulders, donâ€™t do lots of drugs, if any, and they get out of the business with a professional head. They come in and out of porn, make big bucks, invest in a business, and are doing just fine.
Paul: So, when the girls get out of the industry and they talk about the horrors of what it was like, are they all lying?
Ron: Theyâ€™ve really got some of the bottom rung. You canâ€™t blame porn for having girls who are on the bottom rung for making bad deals for themselves. Letâ€™s also face a very sad fact: I donâ€™t want to sound mean, but, we all have our good parts, bad parts, things that are marketable and not marketable. If a girlâ€™s breathtakingly gorgeous, sheâ€™ll probably get seduced by the major companies for the bigger bucks and become a millionaire. If a girlâ€™s not as good-looking, sheâ€™ll get maybe the bottom rung. These girls that you or Craig harp upon are the ones who are the bottom rung of the industry. Porn has the exact same problems that regular Hollywood has â€” just as many rehabs, just as much drugs. This is a problem of Hollywood â€” people getting exploited, misused, making bad decisions. You canâ€™t put the blame on porn for that. To try to tell the public in an auditorium that this is what the majority of porn is like, Iâ€™ll fight them tooth and nail on that, because theyâ€™re wrong. Iâ€™m in the business. I see how the girls are and where they go and what they do with themselves, and they go on to fairly decent lives. It doesnâ€™t haunt them for life.
Paul: But only a small percentage of them, to be fair.
Ron: A small percentage will make millions. And a very small percentage have your problem. But the vast majority in the middle are doing OK. They get into it, work a little bit, quit, or keep going. So your cases are the rare ones. [Referring to Craig] Iâ€™m glad you got a hold of them. Maybe you can help them out.
Paul: You said you actually like what Craig does.
Ron: I do.
Paul: What do you like about it when itâ€™s so contrary to what you do?
Ron: Because heâ€™s taking people who donâ€™t belong in the business. We donâ€™t want unhealthy people. I like what he does, because he can maybe help them. And Iâ€™m not saying Jesus Christ is for everyone,especially if youâ€™re Jewish or Muslim. But it certainly is for some people. And if Craig can help them and it works out for them, great. I donâ€™t know how good his success rate is. I donâ€™t know how many girls youâ€™ve tried to help are actually now having a nice, normal job. Itâ€™s a lot of work.
Craig: Yeah, itâ€™s a lot of work.
Paul: So, just so that I understand: You like what Craig does because heâ€™s ferreting out the undesirables in your industry?
Ron: Gosh, no. Theyâ€™re very desirable! Thereâ€™s pretty girls getting a lot of work. Heâ€™s taking girls who arenâ€™t mentally suited for it, who really are on a dangerous path who shouldnâ€™t be doing this. For example, rebelling against their dads. They donâ€™t want to be in porn. Theyâ€™re not exhibitionists. Theyâ€™re not sexually free, fun women. Theyâ€™re trying to get their dad [ticked] off. Thatâ€™s a dangerous mode. If Craig can weed that out, itâ€™s good.
Craig: Ron said this to me several times: â€œIf I do come around and come to this Jesus thing and quit, we couldnâ€™t debate anymore.â€ [laughs] But Ron could find many opportunities if he chooses a life beyond debate.
Paul: Ron, who is Jesus Christ to you?
Ron: Jesus Christ to me was an incredibly special person, like a modern-day guru of sorts. He was a carpenterâ€™s son and a rabbi, a leader of his people. Very decent, benevolent man, which is why I think he gets a lot of idiots speaking on his behalf We [Jewish people] think Christ was a very special person. But Lord? Just not sure. But Iâ€™m the first one to say, â€œLook, Iâ€™m open to anything.â€ If somebody wants to be smart while theyâ€™re on this Earth, they should pray to Buddha, Islam, Muhammad,they should pray to Jesus, pray to Moses, cover all your bases. So when you go to heaven, somebody you prayed to is going to be there. Now, if I go to heaven, and I see Jesus Christ up there, Iâ€™m going to go, â€œPlease, let me go back to Earth so I can kick my rabbiâ€™s [butt], because he was wrong. It really is you!â€
Paul: Do you think youâ€™re going to heaven?
Ron: Why not? I never hurt anybody.
Paul: Well, Iâ€™m asking.
Ron: Of course Iâ€™m going to go to heaven. I think that Christians have a very chauvinistic attitude, and I donâ€™t think Jesus would go for that; â€œIf you donâ€™t accept Him as your Savior, you donâ€™t go to heaven.â€ I think thatâ€™s really mean.
Paul: But those were His words. We didnâ€™t put them there.
Ron: I donâ€™t buy it. I just donâ€™t buy. I think disciples wrote that. I donâ€™t buy it in a heartbeat. Jesus, if He was a decent guy, would never be that chauvinistic. How disgusting. â€œIf you donâ€™t believe in me while youâ€™re on Earth, Iâ€™m not bringing you up here.â€ What He would say is, â€œYou were a good guy that wasnâ€™t born and raised to believe in me. Iâ€™ll teach you about me when you get here.â€ Heâ€™s going to penalize you because you were born a Jew, a Muslim, Buddhist, or Confucianist? Heâ€™s going to blame you for it? You spent your whole life working with kids and being a good person and being a teacher in the Peace Corps, but because your parents didnâ€™t teach you about Christ heâ€™ll say, â€œSorry, you ainâ€™t coming up here?â€ He wouldnâ€™t be that much of a [censored]. Whoâ€™d think like that? Ted Bundy, the serial killer, never once mentioned violent porn. Then, 10 minutes before heâ€™s going to die by lethal injection, he says â€œViolent porn made me do it.â€ Oh, isnâ€™t that great? So we took a hit on that one. And then somebody accepts Christ as his Savior, and, guess what? Heâ€™s going to go to heaven! So youâ€™re going to sit there and tell me that Jesus Christ wants it like that â€” where you can be a serial killer and slice peopleâ€™s throats, but accept Him as your Savior five minutes before you die, youâ€™re going to go to heaven?
Paul: What about the thief on the cross? Do you know that story?
Ron: Um â€”
Paul: He was the guy dying next to Jesus. He was a thief. He deserved to go to hell. He looks over at Jesus, and says, â€œHey, Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.â€ Jesus looks at him and says, â€œToday, you will be with me in paradise.â€
Ron: Did it actually work out for him?
Paul: According to the Bible, yeah.
Paul: I know you were friends with Tammy Faye Messner. Did she ever talk to you about God?
Ron: All the time. She was a little doll, too. She really cared about people. She was a bit radical and she wasnâ€™t basically accepted by the Church.
Paul: So what would you say back to Tammy when she would talk to you about Christ and about God?
Ron: She said that thatâ€™s her choice to live by the Bible, and it kept her straight, and it kept her through the hardships that she encountered. She was always a very good lady and really, really cared about people.
Paul: What do you think God will say to you on the day that you stand before Him?
Ron: â€œWhat the heck were you thinking? You really went on a tour bus with Craig ?â€ [laughter] Seriously, I donâ€™t think He has a problem with what I do, I really donâ€™t. I know that you and I are going to disagree on this.
Ron: Well, taking the letter of the law, if you have had sex outside of marriage at least once in your entire life, then you and I are going to face the same music, arenâ€™t we?
Paul: I donâ€™t think we are.
Ron: Because you repented, right?
Ron: Boy, wasnâ€™t that easy! Okay, now Iâ€™ll just do the same thing youâ€™re doing. When Iâ€™m ready to die, Iâ€™ll say, â€œI repent of my entire career in porn.â€ I think itâ€™s kind of a cheap shot that a lot of Christians seem to think they can just do that, live life any way you want it, as screwed up as you want, go to confessional, commit the same crime the next day â€¦
Paul: But weâ€™re not doing the same thing the next day â€¦
Ron: Look, I donâ€™t think God has a problem with porn. Again, like I said before, itâ€™s consenting adults, consenting sex. Whatever I do, you do, just not in front of a camera. So am I bad guy? If I really thought that the Lord would have a problem with it, or society was being damaged by it, I really wouldnâ€™t do it. I have all these findings and different reports in there [pointing to a large stack of rubber-banded papers that he continually referenced throughout the debate] and I havenâ€™t seen any statistics or any kind of findings from any psychiatrist saying that watching porn is bad or leads to bad behavior, you know?
Craig: What about you saying to me a couple months ago, â€œI wish my parents would have raised me more religious?â€
Ron: There are times Iâ€™ll think that because Iâ€™m scared stiff of dying. I always had this fear of death. It never escapes me. Iâ€™m always afraid of that. Thatâ€™s one thing that I notice that religious Jews and religious Christians donâ€™t really fear as much because they really believe so strongly in heaven or hell.
Paul: What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?
Ron: A guy who lived his life pretty much on his own terms, didnâ€™t step on too many heads to get where he wanted to go, was a decent guy, good guy, tried to create a little humor in the world.
Paul: Craig, what are you hoping will be the ultimate result of this series of debates?
Craig: To me, in this format, for both of us to be able to engage in each otherâ€™s crowds and in each otherâ€™s worlds, I think, puts a new perspective on this thing. Beyond what our stances are on porn, for people to see what we do on stage and then also see us carrying on afterwards, I think itâ€™s good for both sides, so they see that thereâ€™s not this ongoing tension and battle between us. I think that is part of this new face of Christianity that I want to show to people that, hey, heâ€™s not the enemy.
Paul: Ron, what about you?
Ron: I donâ€™t want people who are totally into religion and want to believe in Christ to watch porn. I want to see them just be accepting of people of those who do. I want those who do like watching porn to say itâ€™s OK to watch porn. I love the fact that Craig is very open-minded. I love debating. Sometimes with religious fanatics I just canâ€™t get a point across. They say, â€œWell, Christ doesnâ€™t like it.â€ Great, then the argumentâ€™s over, isnâ€™t it? How am I going to argue that? They just throw the Bible at you. At least Craig is more open-minded and listens to what I have to say. You know whatâ€™s funny? Craig said earlier today that heâ€™s accepted much more in my industry than I would be accepted in the church. If we tried to have our debate in a church, I would be booed and tarred and feathered.
Paul: Depends on the church.
Ron: But you know something? Tonight, I take it back, because there was a tremendous amount of the church group here, and they all said, â€œGreat debate. We loved seeing your points.â€ And they were very sweet. Many of your followers there were very nice.
Craig: Ron, you can now say on your rÃ©sumÃ© that youâ€™ve been covered by Willow magazine.
Ron: And how would this rÃ©sumÃ© help me get a job?
Paul: Well, quit porn, and then weâ€™ll talk about it.