Well, Steve, interesting that you should ask that.
I will tell you a little secret: the point at which you needed virtual memory was never. Virtual memory was an insanely incompetent idea created by a bunch of academics who knew zero about practical computing systems, and ANY computer will function vastly better if it can be made to run without VM.
Now, you might ask, if VM is useless and harmful, why do most big modern operating systems use it? The short answer to this question is that the people deciding whether to use VM or not at Microsoft, Apple and IBM were even more stupid and inexperienced than the academics who invented VM and wanted to adopt it based on the same, completely incorrect assumptions that the academics had when they invented it. We could start talking about those assumptions and misconceptions, but unfortunately, if they were easy to understand and describe we would not have the VM problem in the first place.
Getting back to you. Unfortunately, just like the aforementioned tardnoggins at Apple and Microsoft, you have your own misconceptions, namely the idea that you can turn off VM. Of course, you cannot turn it off, that would defeat the whole purpose of screwing you if you could just turn it off. When people do something really stupid, they always make sure it is irreversible. After all, if everybody could just turn off VM, they would, and that would make the bozos who created it look pretty stupid wouldn't it? They prevented this possibility by making it unremovable, kind of like Microsoft made Internet Explorer unremovable.
What you can do is limit the size of the page file, which of course should be set to whatever the minimum is, hopefully 0. Virtual Memory is still there, but at least you can reduce it from very very very slow to just very very slow by asking it to not involve the disk drive in the insanity.