Porn Debate at LSU

Porn Studies > Porn in the News

2theadvocate.com, 9/29/05 - A Jewish porn star and an abstinent Christian debated pornography Wednesday night, exciting some 1,200 college students at the LSU Union Theater.

Fire marshal codes prevented hundreds of other students from entering the free event featuring celebrity Ron Jeremy, a 27-year veteran of the porn film industry, and Michael Leahy, a self-proclaimed recovering sex addict and author of "Porn Nation: The Naked Truth."

The twosome didn't bicker much, but the so-called debate summoned more laughs than the David Duke/Edwin Edwards debates of 1991.

Jeremy and Leahy both blamed sexual addiction on individual responsibility and parenting, saying some content is not X-rated but still can sexually arouse people.

"You cannot blame porn," Jeremy said. "When I was young, I used to masturbate to Gilligan's Island."

Leahy compared pornography to a gateway drug that destroyed his 13-year marriage. He said the corporate world should recognize that pornography inspires compulsive and addictive behaviors which insurance companies should cover.

"If you're cruising pornography on your lunch hour, that is immediate grounds for firing," Leahy said of the zero-tolerance policy in the workplace. Leahy said sexual porn addiction makes life unmanageable, and addicts just can't stop.

Jeremy said he felt sorry that Leahy had a sexual porn addiction, but that outlawing the porn industry because of a few addicts was as irrational as outlawing church because of a few abusive priests.

"I'm a big anti-censorship person," Leahy said, but porn "appears more normal in mainstream media," including the growing market of porn on the Internet and cell phones.

"Understand that this is an industry that doesn't have a plan for how to manage this or control new versions of porn that are sprouting everywhere," Leahy said. "The rules that worked 20 or 30 years ago when Ron started out just don't apply anymore."

Jeremy, however, argued that the mainstream porn industry, which always labels itself "XXX," needs the Internet because it can't use mediums such as billboards. He contended that soap operas and PG-13 movies sneak in sexually arousing content without warning. Jeremy even referred to a billboards along Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard -- one a Disney board shows a nude lady draped in material, and another features musician Tori Amos breastfeeding a pig.

"Why they chose to pick on us and not this I think is very unfair," Jeremy said.

The American porn industry is just "white bread sex," Jeremy said. Unlike Europe, which films anything from bestiality to cucumbers and feces, the American porn companies take control over content, identification and blood tests, and sometimes help prosecute criminal activity when it comes to children and animals.

Leahy agreed, saying minor filmmakers must compete with the major players in California by going to the extreme and tapping into a niche market of bizarre, high-risk content.

One LSU student asked how porn promotes family values. Jeremy scoffed, “I want you to do a sex scene, and give us some family values,” and the crowd exploded with laughter.

“If you want to laugh, go watch Monty Python … family values is not an assignment in the world of porn,” Jeremy said.

Leahy recommends parents talk to their children not only about sex, but about pornography. He blamed part of his sexual addiction on not having a strong dialogue with his parents.

“There are so many parents who are just not comfortable going there,” he said. “I think a lot of them are into it privately and they’ve kept it secret and haven’t dealt with it. But if you’re a parent and you have values, you need to communicate that early on.”

Another student was curious about the serious love relationships of Jeremy and Leahy. Both agreed it was tough on both ends of the spectrum, Jeremy being a porn star and Leahy being an eight-year, born-again virgin.

“Sometimes you miss it ... it’s the sacrifice you make,” Jeremy said, just before mentioning a flute player he loved who got away.

One curious student asked the obvious question to Jeremy: “How big is it?”

“It’s 2 inches from the floor,” Jeremy said, causing more outbursts. “Seriously, I’m telling you, I’m standing here, and my penis is parked in the car.”

After the audience calmed down a bit, Jeremy asked the student if he wanted both speakers to answer the question.

“Ron, if you want to find out, you have to marry me first,” Leahy said.

As students were shuffling out of the theater to step in line for autographs, a student asked Jeremy for a hug.

“Sure, I can sign autographs really fast. I can hug really fast, and I can insert really fast.”

After the debate, hundreds of students lined up to meet Jeremy, leaving Leahy off to the side by himself. He described his friendship with Jeremy that developed after the pair began touring American Universities a year ago. They talk on the phone, hang out in Jacuzzis and share their personal struggles.

“Being with Ron is off the charts… I really, really like him as a person,” Leahy said. “Ron is who he says he is. He doesn’t hide it. You know what you’re getting when you get Ron Jeremy.”

When women beg Jeremy to sign their breasts, Leahy says Jeremy turns the women from Leahy’s direction -- a sign of respect, he says.

Leahy plans to spend Thursday volunteering at a hurricane relief shelter in Baton Rouge while Jeremy returns to Los Angeles.

An LSU committee spent $10,000 for an appearance from Jeremy and Most of the funding came from LSU’s Leisure Learning profits and a small portion came from student tuition, according to Louis LaVie, who heads the Ideas and Issues Committee of LSU’s Union Program Council.

Ron Jeremy debates porn at other universities.

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