Saturday, March 28, 2009
First-time author focuses on life of late porn star - Colourful world of John Holmes turned into biography
By Melanie Cummings, Special To Burlington Post
Arts & Entertainment
Mar 27, 2009
Jill Nelson, 51, is an unlikely porn star biographer. Yet she is. The hearing aid specialist has also never tackled writing before, except in her high school days at Central. Yet she did. Chalk up her achievement in getting her first book about the well-endowed adult film actor John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches to sheer fascination mixed with unending, dogged determination.
Her partner in penning this 584-page story is also an unlikely match. At 26, Jennifer Sugar is a generation younger than Nelson and lives a country away, in Michigan.
The pair did have a seemingly unquenchable curiosity about Holmes after watching the movie Wonderland. Intrigued by the main character, the women met while chatting on an Internet website about the porn star, who was addicted to drugs and implicated in 1981 drug-related murders of four people in Los Angeles. “I’ve always been drawn to people on the fringe and their stories,” said Nelson. “(Holmes) wasn’t polished or well educated but he was charismatic.”
It took Nelson and Sugar four years to write Holmes’s biography and, after finding an agent, the book was appropriately launched on what would have been his 64th birthday, last Aug. 8. “A lot of things fell into place with this project,” said Nelson from her home in Aldershot.
She and Sugar made contact in the adult film world that led to the bevy of interviews with key people in his life such as Holmes’s widow, a long-time girlfriend (who hadn’t gone on record before), adult film directors he worked with in the industry’s golden age, two police officers who arrested him in Los Angeles (one was Tom Lange, made famous through the investigation into O. J. Simpson’s murder charge), friends, co-stars and co-workers.
“People entrusted us because we weren’t jaded media nor were we immersed in the porn world,” said Nelson. “It was a life-changing experience.”
The biography is told in a first person story-telling format with some narrative written by Nelson and Sugar, as well as the comprehensive filmography synopses. The pair watched about 114 full-length movies and another 86 loops (silent shorts that are light on plot and long on hard-core action) to put together the film review section.
Holmes’s life story seems to be one filled with contradiction, Nelson discovered. While porn films in his time were illegal to make, watching such films weren’t. Therefore, Holmes’s entire career in the 1970s and ’80s was against the law. Ironically, porn films were legalized in 1988, the year he died of AIDS at age 44.
He was also a man who wrote beautiful poems about love, yet had unprotected intercourse even though he knew he was HIV positive. “There’s no question he did despicable things,” said Nelson.
While he gained fame for his lengthy appendage (the book boldly includes a full frontal nudity photo of Holmes in all of his glory) his short life had good, bad and ugly in it too, added Nelson.
Before writing the book, Nelson would have deemed pornography immoral. But in the context of the time, the men and women in this industry were also part of the sexual revolution era of the 1960s. “They were educated people who wanted to buck the system and while I wouldn’t want my kids to be porn actors, or me, I don’t pass judgment on them,” said Nelson.
Online sales through amazon.com , chapters.com or johnholmesinches.com — currently the only way to buy John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches — have been steady to date.
The biography will also be sold locally on Saturday, April 18 at Chapters on Fairview Street from noon-2 p. m. Nelson and possibly Sugar will be on hand for book signings.
“It’ll be interesting to see who shows up,” said Nelson. http://www.burlingtonpost.com/arts_and_entertainment/article/244457
Talk Radio: "Booking It"
Last evening, Jennifer and I participated in an hour long interview and discussed the book in depth on "Booking It" with host, Loie. To listen to a full podcast of the interview, or download the program, please click on this link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/SeriousBusiness/2009/03/27/Booking-it-John-Holmes-a-Life-Measured-in-Inches
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Today marks the 21st anniversary of the death of John Holmes.
Hot ... Off the Press: Erotica in Print
March 11 2009, by marq - XX Factor
John Holmes was the world's first porn star and the only straight male performer whose name had greater box office value than any female star.
When I was 22, Jack, a friend of mine, insisted we drive to New York City (we were living near New Haven at the time) to see a porno film starring some guy named "Johnny Wadd." I had never heard of Johnny Wadd", but neither had I ever seen hardcore porn in a public theater, so I was in. This friend was "straight," but he didn't have any problems with me being gay.
On the way home from the movie — I don't remember the title — Jack insisted we stop at a rest stop and jack off. I was pretty terrified to jack off in a public area with a straight friend, and I don't think I came, but Jack did. (Years later, I'd learn that the definition of straight could have as many curves as the trail left behind by a slalom skier.)
That was my introduction to John Holmes, a man whose legend has finally, and deservedly, eclipsed the size of his 14-inch penis.
John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches is a massive (600 oversized pages) biography and memoir of Holmes, as told by the people who participated in his life — his wives, lovers, friends and business partners. It is an unusual book in that its authors, Jennifer Sugar and Jill C. Nelson, do not so much write about Holmes as they collect and edit the words of others, including Holmes himself.
At first, this makes for frustrating reading. It is too episodic, playing in the mind's eye more like an extended script for an episode of television's This Is Your Life. But soon you realize that the commentary isn't going to segue into traditional biography, and you get used to it. Who, in fact, is more qualified to speak about John Holmes than the man himself and those who knew and loved (or hated) him?
Holmes' life is truly laid bare for the reader, with no details withheld about his marriages, his lovers, his movies, his involvement with the horrific so-called Wonderland Murders, his AIDS diagnosis in 1986 and his death less than a year later. John's few gay films are duly noted, as is the fact that, as a hustler, he accommodated gay clients.
My most serious criticism of John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches is that the authors do not step in at the end to provide a summary or overview of any kind. Holmes' life may have been measured in inches, as J. Alfred Prufrock's life was measured in coffee spoons, but a tome of such heft as this one seems obligated to provide a larger view of the Holmes legacy, rather than leaving that job up to the readers.
There are numerous black and white photographs interspersed with the text (some breasts and penises but nothing hardcore). There is also a "Film and Loop ography" of Holmes" more than 1,000 on camera appearances, and nearly 125 pages of selected reviews of Holmes' feature films.
John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches has the great good fortune that its authors were able to assemble their biography while the people best able to tell the story are still alive to speak. It merits the attention of any porn fan, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
"Johnny Wadd" was a fictional detective that Holmes played in a number of different porn films, and many fans came to think of that as his name.
*** On Tuesday March 10th, we were invited guests on Internet Voices Radio with host, Lillian Cauldwell. Unfortunately, Jennifer was ill and unable to participate, but you can listen to a podcast of Lillian's 30 minute interview with me at this link: http://www.internetvoicesradio.com/Arch-Denise.htm (Scroll down to "Previous shows".)
For the first time on the air, I read an excerpt from our first chapter, Before Johnny Wadd. The excerpt is titled, Lengthy Credentials.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Book Signing Event:
Saturday April 18th 2009 from 12:00-2:00pm.
Co-authors Jennifer Sugar and Jill Nelson been invited to this exclusive engagement presented by Chapters-Indigo Book Store in Burlington, Ontario Canada. The authors will discuss John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches, engage in a Q&A and sign copies of their book. Chapters book store is located at Woodview Place, 3315 Fairview Avenue, Burlington. (905) 681-2410. Stay posted for more details.
Review of John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches
March 9, 2009 by Christina @ AIPdaily.com.
There is only one word to describe John Curtis Holmes and that word is legend. I n this book from first time authors Jennifer Sugar and Jill C. Nelson (that’s right, they are both women), we get to hear first hand from the people that knew the man the best. Some contributors include such legends as Buck Adams (who unfortunately died in 2008), Dr. Sharon Mitchell, Marilyn Chambers, Mike Horner and Ron Jeremy.
This book is one of the most in depth biographies on John Holmes. It does focus mainly on his career in the adult industry, his trouble with the law and especially, his alleged involvement in one of the worst crimes in California history: The Wonderland Murders. More important than anything in the book is that the authors go beyond the stigma that John was just a porn star, arguably the most famous male porn star ever, maybe even the biggest porn star period. They delve into what the man was really like by interviewing friends and colleagues.
Some of the most interesting parts, I found anyway, were the sections about his heavy drug use. How he was still able to perform and how it ultimately caused his demise is quite fascinating. Of course, no book about the legend would be complete without talking about his death. I’m sure most of you reading this know already that John died due to complications from AIDS, due mostly to his reckless sex life off camera, as well as the practice of not using condoms in movies at that time.
His life was short lived, dying at the age of 44, but it was a life well lived, and the fact is he lived his life to the fullest. I obviously recommend this book to anyone that wants to know more about the man who played “Johnny Wadd” or for anyone that is interested in the adult industry. The book, on top of having many excerpts from interviews, also includes many photos from many stages of his life. Some are nudes, but I suspect if you are reading a book about John Holmes, you are ok with nudity. I would like to end this review with a quote from John himself. It is really quite deep and it shows you that not only was he physically gifted but he was gifted in thought, as well.
“The tree of life represents the roots of man. The branches are the different directions a man can take, live or exist. When you’re dead, those that you leave behind will put you in a part of that tree. It represents what was, what is and what will be. It’s eternal.” – John Holmes
You may be able to find this book at a book store if you want to check it out, but I do know that they have it at Amazon.
Monday, March 2, 2009
* Reporter Bill Hennesey from Internet adult film database (iafd) interviewed myself and Laurie Holmes on January 8th, at the Adult Entertainment Expo 2009 about John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches. It is now available at: http://www.iafd.com/ Just highlight "IAFD Services" at the top of the page and click on "Interviews" to listen.
* Hamilton Ontario's 900 CMHL radio posted the podcast to a recent local interview with hosts, Shiona Thompson and Bob Bratina, at the following link: http://www.900chml.com/CHMLMorningNews.aspx Scroll down to "audio" to find the March 2nd interview with Jill Nelson.
* Listen to 2 hour podcast interview with host "Destiny" Debbie Kiley on March 4th at this link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Destinydebbie