As a pre-teen, Scotty Schwartz appeared in more than a hundred TV commercials. In 1982, at the age of thirteen, he starred as Richard Pryor's cherub-faced foil in the box-office smash The Toy. The next year, in A Christmas Story, Schwartz anchored the film's famous scene as the schoolboy named Flick who unwisely applies his tongue to a frozen flagpole on a triple-dog dare. The film is still played relentlessly on network TV every December.
Thirteen years after making A Christmas Story, Schwartz co-starred in an adult film called Scotty's X-Rated Adventure, in which he would fail to maintain an erection opposite porn star Juli Ashton. Today, he works at his father's collectables store in Southern California.
Now thirty-seven, Schwartz is trying to break back into acting. "I think that's where my talent lies," he says. "That's where I should be." He spoke to Nerve about his strange trip through the adult-film industry and what it's like to experience your professional peak before puberty. — Susannah Breslin
What was it like starring in your first film, The Toy, at such a young age?
[Co-star Jackie] Gleason was really good to me. He told me a lot of things about the business, about comedy. He taught me how to shoot pool. Mr. Gleason was
known not to like working with kids and animals; even with that, he was very kind. Richard Pryor was wonderfully compassionate. We played video games in his room. He took me to the movies. The first time I was on set, I was intimidated. They made me feel at ease.
You're most famous for your role in A Christmas Story. Was making that film a good experience?
It was just so tremendously cold. It was a climate none of us were used to. For the pole scene, there was a plastic pole with suction in it. The first time we did it, it took eleven and a half hours. It was almost tedious.
After that, in your teens, you made a few appearances on TV, but no more major films. What were these years like for you?
I guess it wasn't easy. Had I moved out to California at that time, I'm sure there would have been many more opportunities. But my parents were based in New Jersey, and there was just no way to give it a whirl. When I hit puberty, my face changed. It was a time in my life when I would look into the mirror and think, "Who is that guy?" As far as height goes, I didn't grow more than a couple of inches.
How did you end up in your first adult film, Beauty and the Beast 2?
I got dragged kicking and screaming to The Comedy Store with Corey Feldman to meet Ginger Lynn, Christy Canyon and Ron Jeremy. [Adult-film director] Paul Thomas called me up and said, "Hey, I got this role, and I thought you'd be great at it." And I said, "Paul, look, I'm not going to do this." He said, "We got these great girls, and John Leslie." I had seen John Leslie in movies before, and I thought, "This guy's cool." I played the jester in the king's court, and John Leslie played the king. And John Leslie said, "I'm glad you said yes. I've always wanted to work with you since I met you."
You began working in Porn Valley, taking non-sex roles in other adult films. How did this happen?
Certain directors would say, "Hey, why don't you come over and do this part?" It wasn't about being in an adult movie. It was about doing a job and being in front of the camera. I tried to make the movie a little bit better, or make the other actors perform a little bit better, because I was the only true professional actor.
How did you feel about working in adult films? Did you get used to it?
The first party I went to, all I did was observe. When you come from a small town in New Jersey, and here you are at a Hollywood party with a bunch of porn stars having sex, you think, how did I get here? Being a twenty-one-year-old single heterosexual male, it's like you stepped into the chocolate factory. They treated me with kindness and respect. The people in the industry in the late '80s and early '90s were a much more friendly and enjoyable group to be around. Now, every Tom, Dick and Harry has a camera, and everybody's a porn star. It's like, give me a break.
|In 1996, Schwartz appeared in a sex scene with Juli Ashton and failed to deliver.
Scotty's X-Rated Adventure was the first adult film in which you actually acted in a sex scene. Why did you decide to make the leap?
[Wicked Pictures owner] Steve Orenstein came to me and said, "Why don't you do something for me?" He said, "I want you to do a scene." And I said, "No, I don't think so." He said, "Let's talk about it." At the time, financially, I wasn't doing very well. Royalties from movies don't pay a lot. It was something I looked at as off-the-norm for someone of my background. But rather than buy some coke and do eighty down Sunset with a sign that said "Arrest me," I decided to take that path.
Did you tell friends or family about your decision?
I spoke to all of my friends. I spoke to my family. It was something I mulled over for several months. And everyone said, "You gotta do what you gotta do." My mom said, "I'm not going to love you any less." My eighty-something-year-old grandfather only wanted to know how much money I was making. At the time, I was the second-highest-paid male [adult-film] actor after John Wayne Bobbitt.
How did the scene go?
I gave it the cold college try. Juli [Ashton] originally was not even in my top five people I wanted to do it with. I wanted to do it with someone I had more chemistry with. They said, "What about Juli?" I said, "Okaaay." I said, "Can I talk to her?" We went out to lunch with her, and people will probably criticize me for saying this, but there was no sexual vibe that made me think I want to do this project with this person.
[During the scene], I sank just about as fast as the Titanic. The only time in my life I could not get sexually excited. We tried. She tried. It just didn't work. I give Juli all the praise in the world. There's no real hardcore sex in the scene. It's just a lot of fluff. There was no finale. It was completely ridiculous. As a man, at twenty-seven, for that to happen is really demoralizing, so to say it was a great disappointment is an understatement.
In 1997, you won an AVN acting award.
I won Best Non-Sex Performance for Silver Screen Confidential with Jenna Jameson. I played an old Jewish movie mogul. The film was set in the '40s, and Jenna was calling me to set up an interview with our star.
You continued to make adult films until 1999. Then what happened?
I had worked for World Modeling booking [adult-film] talent, and couple of the girls said, "I need someone to tell me where I'm going, to negotiate for me." I was doing nothing that a Hollywood agent doesn't do. There was no casting couch. They went out, did the job — whatever that entailed — and I would get a percentage. I got tired of it. It was too many hours, too much drama. A few of the girls had their own problems, and they wanted to include me in them. I'd tell them, "I'm not your daddy. I'm not your guardian angel. I'm your agent."
|Above, Schwartz as Richard Pryor's costar in The Toy. Below, working in Porn Valley.
Why did you decide to leave the adult-film business?
At the end of 1999, I left. I'd had enough. I'd put in my time. I had to go find my path, what I'm supposed to be doing.
Do you have any regrets about it?
Well, yeah, the failure [in Scotty's X-Rated Adventure] was a regret. I think we all have our lives to lead. We all make decisions; some are good, and some are bad. Do I regret hanging out with those people for all those years? No. I was treated with a lot of respect.
More recently, in 2004, you appeared in Skin Walker, a campy horror movie.
I think I end up getting killed in a garbage truck. I worked with Joey Buttafuoco. For all that's been said about him, when you break it all down, he's a regular guy.
You've been married and divorced. What's it like to date as a former porn star?
It's just a part of my life, something I did. I tell them, "It was way before you got here." Half the time, it's like, "Really? You did that? I gotta see it!" I get more laughter out of it than anything else when I tell them how it went down.
What do you want to do next?
My dad and I have the store, and I'm happy doing what I'm doing. I'd like to get back into TV and movies again, but it's going to take someone with a big set of cojones to put me back on TV or in a movie because of what I did eight years ago. But it's like Robert Downey Jr. and Leif Garrett and Todd Bridges — it's like, you know, we should give him a shot. n°
©2005 Susannah Breslin and Nerve.com