Friday, November 14, 2008

Michigan Mittenlit Book Review & Podcast interview!

A New Biography of the Top Gun in the Porno Industry

This past week the two authors of a new biography on John C. Holmes did a book signing and discussion in Lansing. It was their first mainstream appearance. Here’s a look at this controversial new book.
Pornography, drugs, and murder; who wouldn’t want to read a biography that is absolutely saturated in sex, cocaine, and a mass murder? From Mark Wahlberg’s portrayal as Dirk Diggler, a physically talented but drug addled porn-star in “Boogie Nights,” to Val Kilmer’s graphic yet stunningly vivid and accurate characterization in “Wonderland” John C. Holmes legend has grown in proportion to his legendary appendage.

In “John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches,” authors Jennifer Sugar of Michigan and Jill C. Nelson of Canada provide the first and more than likely the most detailed biography ever of porn superstar John Curtis Estes, aka John C. Holmes, aka Johnny Wadd.

John C. Holmes became an instant celebrity during the 1970s after the American culture had undergone an extended sexual revolution which allowed pornography to sneak right into the mainstream and the living rooms of millions of Americans.

To be completely honest, John C. Holmes’s rise to celebrity status was primarily because of his un-naturally large penis which according to John himself was, “…14 inches long and as round as my forearm, six inches above the wrist,” After years of starring in hundreds of films and hiding his marriage to a conservative girl, Holmes eventually began his downward spiral of excessive drug use that plagued so many celebrities and average Joe’s in the 1970s-80s. After leading a substance-abuse free life for numerous years (Holmes even abstained from tobacco and alcohol), Holmes jumped into the life of cocaine with such intensity that his string of hit porn movies would soon come to an end, not to mention his freedom.

After befriending Los Angeles drug kingpin Ed Nash, John became entwined with nefarious characters that eventually led to quadruple homicide charges against him that would become embedded into the history of Hollywood and soon on the big screen as the “Wonderland murders”. John would emerge a free man, but no way whatsoever vindicated. After contracting HIV, Holmes with, knowledge of his illness, continued to film porno movies and possibly exposed many female co-stars to the disease. He succumbed to AIDS in 1988 leaving behind a legacy with enough unanswered questions to make many wonder who was this man?

In a book that utilizes years of research including hundreds of hours of interviews with friends, family, co-stars, police officers (essentially those who knew Holmes at his most intimate moments), John C. Holmes’ life before, during and after porn is described and chronicled with painfully hard memories.

These two first-time authors (one actually went to a filming of a XXX movie to interview a director who was extremely close to Holmes during his extended run in the pornography game) put together a 582 page biography that reads like a college textbook on speed with a side of steroids. In addition, to pages upon pages that recount a fascinating life that coincided with the criminalization and then legitimization of pornography, Jennifer Sugar and Jill Nelson provide the reader with hundreds of synopsis’ of Holmes’ films including little-known reels from the earliest days of pornography that conclude with brazenly poignant reviews such as “…John gets the girls prepped for a shared facial—a personal memento from Mr. Big.”

“John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches,” is a narrative similar to other star biographies with one major exception; the pages and pages of quotes and personal accounts of nearly every major figure in John’s life. Instead of unverified accounts given by outsiders with no obvious connection to Holmes, these authors included the personal accounts of many of his peers which allow readers an inside view into Johnny Wadd’s troubled life.

Throughout the book the reader is given objective information combined with subjective accounts from many former friends, lovers, wives, co-stars, etc. The reader essentially is allowed to come to their own verdict on whether this man was bigger than life or was he just a degenerate and sexual deviant who orchestrated the murder of four fellow druggies.


Click on link to listen to podcast interview with "Inches" biographer Jennifer Sugar - on Impact 89FM:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"John Holmes is Back" by Jared Rutter

Upon returning home from a terrific presentation of the book, followed by a spirited Q&A on Monday evening at Schuler's Books, Music and Cafe in Michigan (thanks again to Events co-ordinator, Whitney Spotts!) we have another great review to post!

John Holmes Is Back

20 years after his death, the porn icon is spotlighted in new bio, DVD reissues
By: Jared Rutter

Posted: 10/31/2008 CHATSWORTH, Calif. – Twenty years after his death, porn icon John Holmes is back in the spotlight thanks to the re-release of two of his landmark movies and the publication of his first full-length biography.

The re-releases, Johnny Wadd, (1970) from VCX, and The Return of Johnny Wadd (1986), from Adam & Eve, neatly bookend the star’s career. They were his first and last incarnations of the private eye character who became his on-screen alter ego.

Johnny Wadd was made in 1970 in the porn industry’s fledgling years. Director Bob Chinn made it in one day for $500 from a script he wrote on the back of an envelope. It was the first of many Wadd movies with Chinn at the helm. The director recently unearthed a pristine first-run answer print from which VCX made its DVD. Extras include an interview and commentary with him.

The Return of Johnny Wadd was one of Holmes’ last features, produced by his friend Bill Amerson for Penguin Productions. Written by Raven Touchstone and directed by Patti Rhodes, it co-stars Kimberly Carson, Sheri St. Clair, Mai Lin and Billy Dee.

According to Jennifer Sugar and Jill C. Nelson in their biography John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches, The Return of Johnny Wadd was made after Holmes' release from jail (in connection with the drug-related Wonderland murders) but before he tested positive for HIV. The actor was 41 and had not made a Wadd movie for eight years. He wanted to revive the franchise and got permission from Chinn, then living in Hawaii, to give it a try.

Touchstone says in the book that she thought her script would be the first of a new Wadd series, but it turned out to be the last. Not long after its release in early 1986, Holmes came down with the first symptoms of the AIDS-related illness that would kill him two years later.

Fans of the original should be alerted that Adam & Eve’s version starts off with a wholly unrelated sex scene that appears to have been incorporated into the movie some years after the movie’s initial release. It features an unidentified woman and a young Tony Tedeschi, who did not enter the business until the early 1990s. Otherwise, the movie plays just as it did when shot on video 22 years ago.

John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches is packed with information that even the closest student of the porn legend’s life may not be aware of. It’s the work of two non-professional writers who developed an interest in the late stud bordering on obsession and tracked down just about everyone who ever knew him. Holmes’ life story, told primarily in the words of the interviewees, like an oral history, is endlessly fascinating.

The book has some terrific extras: an amazingly thorough filmography (and loopography) as well as detailed reviews of the major movies. This is no small achievement. Video stores would be well advised to stock it in their Classics section. Copies can be ordered from or from

****Copies can also be ordered at,, Barnes and and

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Review by Ian Jane at AV Maniacs and "Inches" contest!

Clocking in at a whopping 581 pages and including many photos from throughout Holmes’ life and career, this ridiculously well researched book features interviews with Holmes’ family and friends such as Sharon Holmes and Dawn Schiller as well as co-workers like Bob Chinn, Jamie Gillis, Bill Margold, Annette Haven and many, many, many more. Careful not to choose sides over the various controversial aspects of Holmes’ life, the book starts with a look at Holmes’ early years and follows him throughout the early days of his adult career in the sixties through to his rise to stardom as porndom’s main marquee star in the seventies with the advent of the Johnny Wadd films. From there we learn of his struggles with substance abuse which lead to the controversial ‘Wonderland Murders’ and his subsequent legal troubles. Of course, from there we learn of his comeback and ultimately his battle with HIV.

The book manages to paint a portrait of a man both troubled and proud. At times sincerely nice and kind, and at other times completely full of shit, Holmes makes for a fascinating subject and the care and attention to detail put into this project, the obvious desire to paint an honest portrait of his life rather than to simply focus on the more sensationlist aspects of it, makes this a book very much worth reading.

Anyone with a passing interest in the adult film industry or who just enjoys a good biography in and of itself owes it to themselves to check out this meticulous and fascinating study of one of the most infamous and recognizeable adult film icons of all time.

For details to win your free copy of the book at AVManiacs, please click on this link: