John Holmes

September 17th, 2010

Into the Light

Out of the Dark
The following entry is an adaptation of an post that appeared on the blog for John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches (John Holmes-The Book!) on December 1st, 2009, after the Chapters Mississauga, Ontario, Book Event in late November.  A follow-up will be forthcoming.
washing-dishes On Saturday November 28th, from 11-7pm, I had the good fortune of being the special guest author at this very busy Chapters location that borders Oakville, Ontario. The day passed quickly as I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone (including women!) who crossed paths with me to chat about John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches and its origins – thanks to the book’s originator and my co-author, Jennifer.

As always, people are curious to notice a 50-something woman talking with the public about the late porn star and they generally inquire as to what had inspired me to join Jennifer in telling this very in-depth story about one man’s turbulent, but also fascinating, high voltage, and, at times, heartbreaking life.  It is my personal belief, especially since our book was published, that Jennifer and I were not only ideal candidates to take on such a monstrous amount of research and hard work, but also, there was a sense of destiny to our endeavor.

My husband had repeatedly questioned me when we were up to our eyeballs in interviews, narrative composition, and watching mountains of John Holmes DVDs, VOD, and VHS tapes containing vintage, but grainy black and white loops, why a complete biography on John Holmes had not been written prior to 2008. I would always smile at him and answer, ‘Because Jennifer and I are supposed to write it.’  That wasn’t arrogance on my part, it was a completely genuine response.

I’d like to take a moment to remind readers that John did attempt to document his life through audiotapes throughout the early to mid-1980s, but he passed away prior to its full completion.  His widow Laurie pieced together much of the information that John had imparted and published Porn King ten years after his death in 1998.  Laurie wrote a beautiful epilogue in John’s memory to conclude the book.

On Saturday (November 28th), a significant connection occured that reinforced my intuition.  A store customer and his wife stopped by to talk about the book and the motivation behind writing about a legendary and tragic figure like Holmes. They were both familiar with John Holmes, “porn star”, but I was surprised to learn that they were also knowledgable of John’s traumatic and abusive childhood.  I was truly impressed as that component is as tangible a part of John’s life journey as is his infamy as an adult film star; his connection to the Laurel Canyon murders and his eventual death from AIDS.

After engaging in conversation for a while, the gentleman introduced himself as Richard Perry, Director of Operations for The Gatehouse, a Child Abuse Support Investigation site located in Toronto, Ontario. I was not familiar with The Gatehouse, but I was very interested in learning what Richard Perry and his wife had to say about this special home and the people there.

Perry’s main area of interest is with the men’s program called Into the Light.  He works with male survivors of childhood physical and sexual abuse and he explained that there are not enough support programs available for male survivors.  He also confirmed a fact that I had always suspected to be true: an alarming majority of males incarcerated in medium to maximum security prisons are victims of various forms of child brutality.  Not surprisingly, many of these boys eventually act-out when they reach puberty and also adulthood, by perpetrating their self-loathing, hurt and anger against friends, co-workers, loved ones - and ultimately society.  After taking a self-guided tour of the former Alcatraz prison last July and becoming educated about the lives of some of its notorious inmates, I understood what Perry was saying.  (I’d like to recommend the excellent book, “Bird Man: The Many Faces of Robert Stroud” by Jolene Babyak.)

At the conclusion of our rather enlightening discussion, Richard invited me to come out in the New Year to meet some of the men who are currently participating in the Into the Light program.  I accepted his offer and was honoured and touched when he asked me if I would be interested in contemplating writing a book that would help male survivors share their stories.  Please check out this website link to Into the Light: The Gatehouse-Into the Light

You never know where life will lead you, and at this point I seriously consider all opportunities.  It is especially nice to have another idea on the back burner as we have already begun research and interviews for a new book that will highlight the women of the Golden Age of Erotic Films.

Thank you, Richard.”  – Jill C. Nelson

John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches © 2008 Jennifer Sugar and Jill C. Nelson. All Rights Reserved.
John Holmes