Monday, November 2, 2009

John Holmes Book Review & "The First Crime Scene"

The following book review is written by Bill Castanier, an award-wining weekly newspaper editor, advertising and public relations executive in his 40 year career. Castanier writes a weekly newspaper feature on Michigan authors and is on the Board of the Kerrytown BookFest and the Michigan Notable Book Awards. He has the only daily blog on Michigan literature. (Mittenlit)

New Book Co-authored by MSU Grad Takes An Intimate Look at Porn Star John C. Holmes

It’s time to boogie with big (584 pages) John C. Holmes Book

I remember my first “blue movie”. It made a big impression on me. For one, I learned you should take off your socks. I don’t remember the stars or the name and the plot is a little blurry. I think it was the classic door-to-door salesman routine and a pretty, but bored housewife. The movie was shown at what was called a “smoker” in a dusty basement on an 8mm projector. And I think it was projected on a bed sheet.

Porno movies have come a long way since then and we can thank John C. Holmes for a lot of the improvement. Holmes who was called the “King” for a variety of reasons did for the porno industry what Elvis did for rock. He elevated it.

Now, two authors, Jill Nelson of the Toronto area and Jennifer Sugar from Michigan and MSU graduate, have written the definitive biography of John C. Holmes titled, “John C. Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches”. Sugar decided on writing a book on Holmes after seeing the movie “Wonderland” starring Val Kilmer. The movie is an abbreviated look at the porn star, focusing mostly on a gruesome, drug-related, robbery-mass murder in which Holmes was involved in 1981.

From start to finish, this is the most comprehensive and really the only biography of the “King”. Holmes had authored the autobiography, “Porn King” before his 1988 death from AIDS.

In addition, to some of the most detailed looks at more than 200 Holmes’ video and loops, the two have written a remarkable piece of film history using oral histories of the participants to carry the narrative. For most readers, the first thing they do is turn to the photographs to see “it” and yes it’s there in all its glory. This is one of the first, if not the first mainstream books on the porno industry to include full-frontal nudity. Maybe Iggy Pops’ biography published last year covered new ground.

The only comment that I have heard which isn't even close to a criticism and actually may be the book’s strongest point is that the book is too detailed.

This book is perfect for anyone involved in the film industry “blue” or otherwise. It is destined to become a basic text for film classes across the country. In the meantime, for us amateurs it is a great read and a stimulating look at the growth of the porn industry.

I was curious where you would go to see all these videos and loops so I asked co-author Jill Nelson. It wasn’t easy. It’s not like the public library has them. She said they rented films (probably got some raised eyebrows after the fifth one); they bought some on e-bay and other porn-related websites; and used a pay as you go website In addition, numerous directors in the business loaned them copies of Holmes’ work.

One real coup was that their research was the impetus for the release on DVD of the first Johnny Wadd movie, filmed in 1970. According to Jill, it was only one of the nine-part series that hadn’t seen light of day or in this case, dimly lit rooms.

The two authors asked around the industry for the availability of the film and one director ("Johnny Wadd" creator Bob Chinn) had one in storage. It turned out to be pristine and once again Johnny was able to fill the screen. Jill says the film has broken all sales records for the distributorship.

You can bet this isn’t the last we’ll see or read of these two authors.

The following look at “Measured In Inches” appeared in the Lansing City Pulse: link to;see-a47R6c6×1H2n6b2C#page-7;c-92660

News Item:

We would like to share the news that our friend and former LAPD homicide detective, Frank Tomlinson, is a published author of his first effort, "The First Crime Scene".

The book is based on a 1970s true crime story, when seasoned veterans relied upon gut instinct and leads during a time when there were "no computers, no DNA, no internet and no cell phones."

Along with fellow former L.A.P.D. homicide detective, Tom Lange, Tomlinson was responsible for tracking down and finally apprehending John Holmes in Florida, in December 1981, after he had been on the run for a period of five months. He was eventually turned over to the police by one of his girlfriends, Dawn Schiller. Tomlinson and Lange were interviewed extensively for "A Life Measured in Inches".

Frank Tomlinson is a man of integrity, faith and true grit. For what promises to be a riveting and engrossing read, check out his new book at

Please also visit our website for chapter excerpts, film excerpts, photo galleries and more!

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