August 13th, 2011
Johnny Wadd: 1970-1978
The film noir character, private detective Johnny Wadd (made famous by John Holmes) was created by Bob Chinn in 1970. Chinn was a UCLA film school graduate who started directing adult pictures by default, in order to raise his young family when he was unable to find suitable employment on mainstream Hollywood sets. During his studies, Chinn became friendly with a couple of students (Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek) who would later become famous as the two main attractions in the renowned musical group, The Doors, in the late 1960s. The irony of having known two of the most notorious individuals in pop culture, Jim Morrison and John Holmes, is not lost on Bob Chinn. Interesting is the fact that Hollywood actor, Val Kilmer, portrayed both of these legendary males in The Doors (1991) and Wonderland (2003) respectively.
Chinn explains in the introduction for his first novel, Flesh of the Lotus (inspired by the second film of the nine-part series), how the the initial script for the first Johnny Wadd movie simply titled, Johnny Wadd, came to be:
“I had always wanted to make a film with a sort of film noir type theme so I thought that this might be a good time to try this out. John would play a private dick with a big dick. I dashed off a quick script on the back of a legal-sized envelope. I was still having trouble coming up with a name for the private detective. We had been talking about the girls we were going to cast in the film and then the conversation came around to how much we disliked shooting those pull out and visibly shoot it all over climax scenes that theater owners insisted on, and then we were discussing the guy we had just hired and Alain casually remarked, “God, the wad that guy must be able to shoot with a cock like that,” and then I knew that we had it. “Johnny Wadd,” I said. “With two d’s – we’ll call him Johnny Wadd.”
John Holmes is twenty six years old in the first Johnny Wadd (1970) movie that co-stars one of his real life girlfriends, the sexy, auburn-haired Sandy Dempsey. Dempsey is easily identified by the noticable butterfly tattoo on her left thigh. Detective Wadd (wearing a white brimmed hat) is hired by a woman (Andy Bellamy) who is looking for a missing girlfriend. He accepts a little “incentive” in the way of cash and sex for his efforts, and makes a startling discovery after interviewing the woman’s friend and the missing girl’s mother about her whereabouts. Bob Chinn has a brief cameo in the film as the drug dealer, and is seen only from a distance while conversing with John at Venice beach.
Johnny Wadd proved to be a success when it was released in select store front theatres and Chinn was commissioned to produce more Johnny Wadd movies. His second, Flesh of the Lotus (1971), was also made on a shoe string budget and once again it starred John Holmes as the lusty private detective. Wadd attempts to determine who killed his lover and discovers the involvement of The Lotus Gang, a Chinatown group of thugs. This film also introduces the very first fight scene between John and Bob Chinn, that would eventually become a trademark of many Johnny Wadd movies.
In the third film of the series: The Blonde in Black Lace (1971), Wadd is hired by a distressed wife who hopes to catch her husband involved in an extramarital affair so that she has grounds to divorce him. Johnny photographs the scoundrel in question, but quickly discovers that the bodyguard hired by the husband to keep tabs on his wife, has kidnaped the blonde and taken her to an undisclosed location. Wadd must find the locale and rescue his client before she is killed, while encountering many obstacles throughout his mission in this bare bones production.
In the fourth installment of the Johnny Wadd series, Tropic of Passion (1972), Chinn and Holmes, along with their camera man Alain Patrick, decided to take a little vacation to Hawaii as the police were starting to crack down on the production of pornographic films in Los Angeles. Johnny is hired by an heiress to track down the only print of a sex film she made that stands in the way of her securing her fortune. This is the first film where Johnny employs a secretary, who is also one of his main squeezes played by Chlorine Stillwater. During their stay in Hawaii, Chinn, Holmes and Patrick resided at a local hotel and John became friendly with the owners of the Risque Theatre, who hired him to work as an MC and exotic dancer for their club. John lived with his co-dancer Cassandra (who also makes an appearance in Tropic of Passion) until returning home to California 6 months later.
In 1975, Chinn signed an unexclusive contract with Freeway Films (based in L.A. and owned by Armand Atamian) that would produce five Johnny Wadd feature movies. This partnership enabled Chinn a greater budget and 35 millimeter film stock to create and develop better quality pictures. The first, Tell Them Johnny Wadd is Here (1976) boasts a $13,000 budget and was shot jointly in Mexico and Los Angeles. Johnny Wadd travels from San Francisco to Ensenada to help out his buddy, Sam Kelly (Dick Aldrich), whose ex-wife Doreen has become a heroin addict and living with the lord of a drug cartel. This film introduces the beautiful brunette, Annette Haven, in the opening scene as the first official “Wadd” girl before Johnny enjoys several other sexual conquests. Tell Them Johnny Wadd is Here was a hugely popular film that received two nominations at the annual AFAA awards show in 1976. Carlos Tobalina won a Best Supporting Actor award in a non-sex role.
Liquid Lips (1976) is the sixth film of the Johnny Wadd series and was actually released before TTJWIH, even though it was shot immediately afterwards. It is the second story of a two-part script written by Chinn that was originally titled, White Gold. Johnny Wadd has rescued Doreen during his Mexico adventure and returned to San Francisco, where he is hired by a special drug investigation unit to bust up a group importing cocaine from south of the border. Wadd enjoys two heated sexual liasons while keeping his nose to the grindstone for information about the drug smugglers. Holmes and Chinn faceoff again in fisticuffs as Wadd puts the finishing touches on solving the case.
In The Jade Pussycat (1977) things have definitely gone from the absurd to the (almost) sublime as Johnny Wadd is situated in an office complete with his name on the door, a private secretary and free coffee. Johnny’s female friend enlists his help in locating her missing brother, suspecting that foul play is involved. Wadd seduces one femme fatale after another, including the mysterious “Alexandra” played by the talented thespian, Georgina Spelvin, who tries to outsmart the crafty detective. A valuable pussycat made of rare jade, is the real star of the film as Wadd and the crooks try to prevent one another from making off with it. The Jade Pussycat is clearly a cut above the first two Johnny Wadd films made by Freeway Films. It is also on the top ten film list of Boogie Nights (1997) director, Paul Thomas Anderson.
China Cat (1977), the 8th film of the series, is a continuation of the storyline from The Jade Pussycat. Wadd has the priceless jade in his possession, but he must protect it from falling into the hands of some unsavory people, including a group of four beautiful women who call themselves ‘Charlie’s Devils’ in this parody of the popular 1970s TV series, Charlie’s Angels. In classic Wadd fashion, Johnny beds each lady in succession, as they attempt to steal away the priceless piece. Wadd certainly has his hands full in this entertaining and fun adventure that aptly depicts how the detective series has evolved in all facets since its humble beginnings. Sporting his infamous porn “stache” and three-piece checkered suit, Holmes is clearly relaxed and comfortable in the tailor-made role of Johnny Wadd.
The final Johnny Wadd feature, Blonde Fire (1978), is considered by many critics of the genre to be the best of the series as it contains style and some legendary moments. One of porn’s most distinguished leading ladies, ‘The Platinum Princess’ Seka, is featured as Wadd’s girl in two memorable appearances. Her beauty and sex appeal don’t deter Wadd from surveying other gorgeous women however, during his trek to South Africa where he is in hot pursuit of the blonde fire diamond. True to character, Johnny doesn’t neglect his girl once his detective work is done, as he reunites with Seka’s character back in San Francsico in an outstanding love scene that is filmed on blue crushed velvet, shot from above the couple. In this fitting farewell to the series, John wears the same wide brimmed white hat that was part of his basic costume ensemble in the first Johnny Wadd film.
Footage for what would have been the last film of the series, Waikiki Wadd, was shot on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, in 1979/80 while Chinn, Holmes and cameraman Joel Sussman were vacationing there. Some of the footage was used for the John Holmes feature movie Prisoner of Paradise (1980) that was co-directed by Bob Chinn and Gail Palmer. In the Holmes documentary Exhausted (1981) a clapboard with the title, Waikiki Wadd, is shown in a short faux scene depicting John as the private dick.
Chinn describes what he hopes to accomplish with the release of his first Johnny Wadd novel:
“In this book I have tried to depict the character as more or less as I had originally envisioned him and would have liked him to be, and the story is set in the very era in which he was created. It was the era of the Vietnam War when both our country and our society were in the beginning stages of undergoing a radical transformation.
Johnny Wadd, the private detective character that I have depicted in this book was a part of that revolutionary era and he should not be confused with John Holmes the man, even though somehow they seem to have become almost inextricably linked by history into a single person.” ~ Copyright 2010 by Robert C. Chinn
John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches contains fully detailed reviews of more than 200 select feature films and loops.