John Holmes

July 23rd, 2011

Book Excerpts

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The following seven chapter excerpts contain quotes from the authors’ interviews with: John Holmes’ widow, Laurie Holmes; Johnny Wadd director, Bob Chinn; Holmes friend and colleague, Joel Sussman; former Holmes co-star, Don Fernando; former director, Alan Colberg; Holmes girlfriend and former director, Julia St. Vincent; former Detective Frank Tomlinson; Detective Tom Lange; Porn Renaissance Man, Bill Margold and the first chairman of the X-Rated Critic’s Organization, Jared Rutter.

Also included in these excerpts is material from John Holmes’ personal audiotapes (used with permission); quotes from Holmes girlfriend Dawn Schiller and from John Holmes’ ex-wife, Sharon Holmes derived from the original dialogue and script text for the motion picture, WADD: The Life & Times of John C. Holmes provided by Hustler Video (used with permission).  

John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches

© 2008 Jennifer Sugar and Jill C. Nelson. All Rights Reserved.

John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches
by Jennifer Sugar & Jill C. Nelson

Excerpt from Chapter One: johnchildjpeg

Before Johnny Wadd – Ohio, Nuremburg and Los Angeles:

Ohio Boy

John’s mother, Mary Holmes, gave birth to John Curtis Estes on the kitchen table of her parents’ country home in Pickaway County, Ohio, on Tuesday, August 8th, 1944. Mary and her husband, Edward Holmes, were separated on numerous occasions throughout their marriage and John never knew his biological father, Carl Estes, a railroad worker. Edward, a carpenter, was the father of John’s older siblings, Dale, Eddie and Anne. In order to help smooth over her indiscretion while the couple tried to reconcile following John’s birth, Mary changed John’s surname to Holmes.

Besides John’s first wife, Sharon, John also revealed secrets about his childhood to his widow, Laurie Holmes, with whom he shared the last five years of his life.

Laurie Holmes: John was to porn what Elvis was to rock and roll. He was also a novelty. I’ve heard Ron Jeremy claim that he’s the Porn King and I used with work with Ron Jeremy a whole lot, before I even met John. Ron couldn’t hold a candle to John.

John was a star without ever being an actor. He was a star right from the time that he was a little, tiny baby. He grew up after the time of the Depression and he had a manic-depressive stepfather. He was abused, but even through the toughest times, he could make that family laugh at the dinner table with just a smile or a look.

John was a very mysterious person. He was a very private person and drugs were his downfall, and yet, he did recover, but he spun his life around sex and relationships. It was like he was in the middle of this big sex web, that could span a million different directions and he could be a different person. Because he did have the stardom — people were fascinated with him — they thought they knew him. There were different factors to John, but at heart, he was really a very private person.

John wasn’t really a Holmes, but it was a secret that he didn’t know until a couple of years before he would die. The father, Edward Holmes, from whom Mary was estranged, used that over her and theatened to tell John. It’s kind of complicated, but he actually didn’t know that he wasn’t a Holmes until a couple of years before he died, when he went to Italy and had to get a new birth certificate. They sent him the original and he was like, “Whoa, what’s this?”

He tried to make his mom feel good. He brought it up to her. He was like, “Mom, I’ve known for years.” He really didn’t, but he wanted to make her feel good. It was very sweet.

Sharon Holmes: John was the fourth child. He grew up in rural farm country in Ohio. [Edward Holmes] was an alcoholic and John could only tell me he remembered arguments and yelling, his father falling across beds and vomiting all over the kids. I think John looked upon him as being the cause of all of the things that happened to the family. John wouldn’t touch alcohol until he was well into the porn business, because of thoughts of his father.

In Porn King, John’s posthumously published autobiography, he made references to Edward as “an unshaven, sloppy and slobbery man with a horrible stench on his breath, leaning over and kissing me.” Although his time with John was limited before his parents’ final separation, Edward seemed to have left a lasting impression. During John’s early years as an adult performer, costars recalled that he took vitamins and was a self-described “health-nut”. In interviews with John during that era, he would often say that he did not take aspirin or drink anything stronger than coffee. According to his associates from the dawn of his career, it was true – to the extent that he drank in moderation and never smoked marijuana, which was ubiquitous throughout late-‘60s and early-70s.

Liquidlips

Excerpt from Chapter 3:

John Holmes, Johnny Wadd – The Johnny Wadd Series: 1970-1978:

The Original, Johnny Wadd

At 25 or 26 years old, John looked very young in Johnny Wadd, which starred his real-life mistress, Sandy Dempsey. Suddenly, the porno genre had an identifiable anti-hero in Johnny Wadd – a lanky, lounge lizard, with curly hair (sometimes slicked back), a thin moustache and a three-piece suit – who fought crime as a sideline to seducing the countless women who crossed his path. Having no formal acting training, Holmes as Wadd exuded a friendly natural presence, with a gentle brand of finesse.

Joel Sussman: What set him apart from other people was he could actually act a little bit, and he was someone you could kind of like. He does some funny stuff in his films.

Bob Chinn: First of all, in those days there was nobody who could act and nobody who could carry it off. We did it as a sort of a spoof-type thing. I figured if I could pull it off, I’d pull it off with him.

You could put a script in front of him – you could write something on the set and put it in front of him. He’d look at it; he’d read it and take it in. Have it memorized.

He’d try to [adlib]. If he tried it and it wasn’t grammatically correct, sometimes I left it. I thought, well, it sort of works; it works better than what I wrote. If it works better than what I wrote, I kept it. Certainly, if an actor thinks that they have an idea, I always let them do it. I say, “Do it my way and I’ll do it your way, and we’ll see what works.”

In spite of his average, unassuming looks, Holmes as Wadd believably lured one lady after another into falling under his persuasive powers. In a blink of his bright blue eyes, he was transformed from a man on the street into The King of Enticement. Part of the appeal of his Johnny Wadd character was the fact that he was not a cardboard cut-out.

Bob Chinn: You look at people like Clint Eastwood, you look at people like John Wayne and you look at people that can just sort of come across. I think John [Holmes] was a couple of things. Men didn’t see him as a threat. Even though he had a huge cock, they didn’t see him as a threat because he seemed like a goofy, ordinary guy. He wasn’t that good-looking, for one thing. He was skinny. For some reason, men didn’t see him as a threat, so he was popular. He became a star. I don’t know how women see him – how do women see him?

It was good that once I could get his attention and tell him what we had to do, he could do it right away. I think he would do it so that he could do something else later. He’d usually get it done on the first take, but if I required other takes because somebody else was not good, he would do it and he wouldn’t get pissed off like some of those prima donnas do now.

If I told him to jump from building to building, he’d do it, just to prove he could.

Excerpts from Chapter 5:

Shooting Star – Drugs, Women and Hard Work

Family Life

Dawn Schiller: We went all over the place, but we never went anywhere that involved any kind of porno industry. We went to the Saugus swap meet almost every Sunday. We went to Malibu, to the beach, together. After our first night together, he started taking me to the nude beach. Sharon never went with us there. That was somewhere where he was just like my knight in shining armor. He just loved to pick me up, walk out into the water with me. It was a fatherly thing, in a way, but like I said, he treated me very precious, like a newborn child. It was intense. Few people get that experience, ever.

John was very, very fun. We got into challenges and games and things like that. He loved to challenge. “Who won best actress in 1974?’ and we had the same interests in art and decorating, animals and plants, nature and food. I would sum up John as incredible. He was amazing. He was intense on every level. He took things to the limit. He did things to their utmost. He never did anything that was boring or half-assed, whether it be a small thing, like looking for rocks, he would find something amazing. He taught me a lot; he was a teacher in a way, to me, on many levels — not just about my self, but about things.

Sharon and John were becoming a family unit for me, which I didn’t have. My father had, by this time, departed to go off and find another girlfriend and travel around the world. The holidays would come and Sharon, she was just really thoughtful and observant of you. She liked to give little gifts that made you reflect who you were, so a part of developing my teen years, she was the one to help me. You know, either floundering on the streets or smoking pot and making cookies with John.

The Real California Gigolo

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Alan Colberg: John had a huge amount of respect for [Bob Chinn]. He trusted Bob to do it right. John respected me too, but sometimes he would disagree with something I was doing and one time, he walked off the set. John would have made a great director on any level. John would take over the set. If John were alive today, he would definitely be directing.

Joel Sussman and Serena have also commented on how John would take responsibility for his scenes in subtle ways to control the directing. In many of his films, John appears to angle his and the woman’s bodies for the best shot and oftentimes, he brushes aside their hair to afford the cameraman a clear shot of their expressions of ecstacy. Sussman believes that John’s onscreen sexual performances were, “sensuous, erotic and never vulgar.”

Don Fernando: The only side of John Holmes that he ever showed me was that he was always respectful of me, always. He was definitely a porn diva, especially if there was a star on the set, like Seka. He would puff his chest out. If there wasn’t a famous star on the set, he would be so casual, almost meek, but if there was a real star on the set, he wanted their attention. He wanted to impress them. He’d put on the macho act, puff his chest out. He had no muscles, you know, but he would just stick his chest out. He’d grow two inches and I’m not talking about his cock.

I can remember we’d be sitting around on the set, having lunch and he would always sit at the head of the table. Nobody would say anything because he would command them. He told some incredible stories. Some of them were such bullshit, I just dismissed them. As an aside, he was a little bit of a walking encyclopedia with facts and trivia. He did know a lot about a lot of things. He would start telling his stories and then people at the table — especially Bob — would question the validity of what he was saying. Then he would blush and say, “Yeah, but I almost had you guys, didn’t I?”

He was an incredible storyteller.  I think some of his stories were true — he said he was a Hollywood gigolo.  We did a whole thing about that; California Gigolo was based on him. It was a story by Bob Chinn.

In a case of life imitating art, Holmes’ reputation as a gigolo preceded him, and rumours swirled that he serviced rich women for money — or diamonds, as in the case of his dragonfly ring.  At the time, mainstream celebrities rubbed elbows with the porn stars at parties.  Like everyone flocking to adult theaters, celebrities were also fascinated with the sex performers and sometimes visited adult film sets to meet their X-rated counterparts. John claimed to have mingled with many famous personalities and he continued to demonstrate his machismo and virility on and off camera.

Don Fernando: As far as I knew, he was a swinging single.  Cuckholds would pay him to fuck their wives in front of them. Rich guys and some Hollywood celebrities would contact him through Bob Chinn and they would sometimes pay him thousands of dollars to fuck someone’s wife.

I believe that because I know that in those days, at places like the Playboy Mansion, they had some crazy sex parties. Not just at the Playboy Mansion, but also at swing clubs around the Hollywood area and in San Francisco — one of the houses that Bob Chinn used to book for a lot of films was a swing house in San Francisco. It was in Pacific Heights. Just to go to a swing party was around $100; that was a lot of money in those days.

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Excerpts from Chapter 6:

Prisoner of Paradise – Chemical Dependence

Waikiki Wadd

Bob Chinn: John and I had just finished a shoot. We were tired – we’d just finished two films back-to-back and so we were sitting in the hotel room with this film man, Joel Sussman, and I said, “Why don’t we take a vacation and go to Hawaii?”

When Chinn, Sussman and Holmes went on a working vacation to Hawaii to film scenes that were used in Prisoner of Paradise (1980), Chinn also shot footage for Waikiki Wadd, a title which Holmes had mistakenly used when referring to Tropic of Passion (1973) in his autobiography, Porn King.

Bob Chinn:  When we went to Hawaii to shoot Prisoner of Paradise, we were in Honolulu for a few days before going on to Kauai, so I decided to shoot some background footage with John for a new Wadd project there. If we had completed this film, it probably would have been the best Johnny Wadd film of the whole series.

There is a long story as to why this film was never completed. I believe this project is mentioned briefly in Julia St. Vincent’s film, Exhausted and the footage that we staged of me directing John in her film was supposedly for this project – we put Waikiki Wadd as the title on the clapper-board.

The Hawaii working vacation which produced the location footage for Prisoner of Paradise and the footage for the unfinished Waikiki Wadd was one of the best times in both of our lives. For once we were at peace with each other and the world, it seemed, in the tropical location where I had spent my childhood. We were on the rural Hawaiian island of Kauai and immediately went to work on the project; first, by having him keep track of props and costumes, scheduling, transportation, and constructing whatever sets were needed. By making these things his responsibility, it ensured that things would go smoothly with him because any problems that might possibly arise would generally be his fault. I knew that if he had too much spare time on his hands, he could become bored and difficult, so I prevented this. Everything ran rather smoothly.

Some of the locations were in remote areas – we would have to go through jungle undergrowth to get to the beaches, in some places, and I left it to John to either find or make a trail. He loved doing this. I spent much of my early childhood on Kauai, which is where my mother was originally from. This was the first time John had ever been there and he fell in love with the island. We were walking along the beach, not far from our hotel – just the two of us, enjoying the sunset – and John said, “Bob, someday when you don’t know where I am, if you can’t find me, look here. This is where I’ll be.”

What Laurie Holmes said about John wanting to make $1,000,000 and just disappear was enlightening. I believe that was truly what was on his mind when we were standing on the beach on Kauai that day. He had finally discovered his paradise – the place where he could truly disappear and be reborn. If only he could have convinced himself to forget about those million dollars he wanted to earn. If only he had just stayed, he would probably still be alive today. Instead, he went in the pursuit of an unattainable dream that quickly turned into a tragic and fatal nightmare.

Two Girls and a Guy

Dawn Schiller:  There were messages from a [Julia] that came almost all of the time, and they were love messages.  They were different from any other message.  Sharon didn’t know about them, because this wasn’t one of her things that she did for John. 

I believe I asked John about that, and he did some denying.  “Just to say I love you,” I mean it was pretty blatant, the kinds of messages that she left with the service.  They were in a relationship, and they were in love, I came to find out.  John was supposed to come home and he didn’t then those messages would be there right after he came home.  If he did have this other love relationship, why was he letting me pick up the messages?  I think I was old enough to understand.  I had enough balls to realize that I didn’t like that.

His outbursts had become rough already.  This was one of the things, other than the items being missing from the house — these messages were on top of the more violent attitude, on top of shoving and pushing, on top of cruelty.  Emotional cruelty was coming out of him that was not there before.  Probably there all along, but the drug brought it out.”

Julia St. Vincent:  When my uncle died, John spent three straight days with me and that is when I think she went, “What the fuck is going on?” because he wasn’t at home, so she called about three or four weeks after my uncle died and said, “Is Armand there?” 

My secretary picked the phone up and said, “Somebody is asking for Armand.”  I said, “Shit, I’ll take it.” I would have informed someone that Armand had died.  I got on the phone and said, “Are you a friend of Armand’s?” 

She said, “Are you John’s girlfriend?”  And I thought, first of all, I’m not going to tell you if I’m his girlfriend — I don’t do that, I’m in the business and have producers and people that I associate with and I certainly don’t want them all to know that I’m screwing people and most of all, that I’m in love with this guy.  So I said, “I’m his friend; why?”

Dawn Schiller:  I said, “Did you know that I’m his girlfriend?”  I did a very childish thing.  But I had no choice.  Nothing was changing and I couldn’t stand it.”

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Loss of a Friend

John Holmes:  Just like sex, no matter where I turned, someone was offering me a silver spoonful.  It took a few years, but I was on my way to losing everything to finance my addiction.  Because my attitude had changed, I even lost friends and associates.

John often spent time with Amerson and continued to maintain a connection with his godchildren.  By all accounts, John’s relationships with the Amerson children were mutually caring.

Sean Amerson:  At the time, John was really fucked up.  He was a nutcase even more so than normal.  You take a hyper kid and you put him on crack — he bounces off the walls.  Essentially that’s what John was at the time.  He looked really bad.  He looked like shit.

Denise Amerson:  I was really kept away from a lot of that.  Of course, I knew that he was high a lot, [but] I didn’t know to the extent.  I never saw John doing drugs, but I definitely saw John high.  I definitely saw that he lost a lot of money to drugs and that he lost a lot of his soul to drugs, but I think that was inevitable in the business.

Julia St. Vincent:  The same time frame, my $20 gold piece, a money clip that was given to me when my uncle was in the hospital, dying, was stolen out of my jewel box.  John knew about it because he was there.  It was a liberty eagle [$20 Liberty Double Eagle gold coins were made from 1850 to 1907]. It’s very rare and it’s supposed to be worth a grand, or some huge amount of money.  When I said, “Oh, my God, I can’t find my money clip, ” John told me, “I bet your apartment manager stole it.”  Now mind you, my locks were re-keyed by John’s brother, David.  They put in [what] are supposed to be the most fool-proof locks.  That was the lock that was in place when this happened.

I told John, “You’re going down and I’m not going down with you.”  That’s why John lost me.  He didn’t lose me because he gave up his desire for me.  He was going to fucking hell and I wasn’t doing it.

Sharon Holmes:  In 1980, he couldn’t get work or he couldn’t get enough money to support his habit; he began robberies.  He began pilfering out of our house.  I’d come home and I hadn’t seen him in months and realize half the china cabinet was gone.  When I would ask if he knew were Dawn was he would say, “No, she’s gone back to her mother’s in Oregon.”

After John and Dawn left Julia St. Vincent’s home in shambles and had worn out their welcome at Sharon’s, the couple stayed with people John knew.  In parellel with his problems with freebase cocaine, John had grown more controlling and abusive with Dawn.

Dawn Schiller:  A lady that he worked with in a movie was turning tricks in her home.  She had a little condo unit in a massive apartment complex alongside the freeway in the Valley somewhere.  Her name was Michelle, and that’s all I remember.  He walked me in and announced to me that I was going to be — you know — um, she had a list of clients that I was to see. 

On January 14th, John stole a computer out of a car’s trunk while Dawn and Michelle visited an apartment in Marina Del Ray.  When John and Dawn were later arrested in a parking lot, Ed Nash bailed them out.

Dawn Schiller:  I had an issue and I complained while we were out driving one day.  The fucker, he just pulled off the freeway and threw me in the trunk and wouldn’t let me out until I agreed to go back there.  But, this was another point where it was intolerable for me because I didn’t love anybody else but him.

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June 29, 1981

John Holmes: They were really frantic and everybody was getting sick from withdrawl, so they wanted to make the big plan to rob Eddie Nash’s house. They said, “We’re gonna put a gun to your head and you’re gonna go to the front door of Eddie Nash’s house. We’re gonna hide in the bushes and when Eddie Nash opens the front door for you, we’re gonna rush the door.”

Well, you don’t do that at Eddie Nash’s because Greg Diles and one of the other bodyguards would open the door. No one opens that door without a gun in their hand, so there was going to be a shootout. I said, “That’s not gonna work, you’re gonna have a bloody shoot-out on a cul-de-sac in the Hollywood Hills and the cops [will be] there in 30 seconds. The only way to get into that place is to sneak into it.”

They said, “You figure out a way to sneak us into that goddamn house or we’re gonna blow your head off.”

So, I said, “I’ll see what I can do.”

I went down to Eddie Nash’s house and for the last three days, I’d been going to Eddie Nash’s house and saying, “These guys are getting crazy, Ed. These guys want to come here and hold you up. They are serious, and they have guns, and they’re pissed off.”

Well, Eddie’s on a ten-day freebase jag; hadn’t slept for ten days and he was half out of his fucking mind. He’d say, “Fuck you; you get out of here. I told you, these guns are mine now and the jewelry’s mine. Fuck you.”

It was a matter of finding a way to get them into that house, because Ed Nash wouldn’t do anything about it and these people wanted the guns back. They considered them their guns and Nash considered them his guns. I just wanted out. If I could raise the money, buy the guns and jewelry back from Ed Nash, I could take the goddamn guns and jewelry back to the Wonderland house, give them the guns, give ‘em the jewelry, and keep the cash, that would be the end of it.

Nash jacked the price up and he wouldn’t back down. We had these two armed camps; I was the only one in between. So I had a choice; open warfare or somebody was going to get killed and I was going to be implicated in the murder, heroin and drugs.

I’d been there all night long, two or three times, trying to figure out a way to get those guys into the house without a shootout. I was locked into a real bad position. Finally, just about dawn, Ed Nash said, “I’m going to bed.”

While trying to convince Nash to give back the goods for a cheaper price, John had inadvertently smoked up $400 worth of freebase with Nash. It was dawn by the time John left Dona Lola for the Wonderland house.

Excerpt from Chapter 9:

Atonement – The State of California vs. John Holmes

Good Guys, Bad Guys

Frank Tomlinson: This was not my case. It belonged to Lange and Souza and I respected their authority to handle their case however they wished. My partner and I had successfully prosecuted a number of cases with prosecutors from Coen’s office and they all respected our work.

My partner and I solved more murder cases than anyone else at R.H.D. [robbery homicide division] and we handled major cases that resulted in contracts being placed on our lives. My partner and I always developed informants. That’s how we solved so many murder cases.

I developed information from a woman in Bakersfield when I was looking for Holmes. She knew Eddie Nash and she said, “The reason nobody’s ever going to talk to you is because he tells everybody that he pays off the police. So, they’ll never, ever touch him on these murder cases.” Holmes told me the same thing, that Nash would say that nobody will ever mess with him for murder.

I made an agreement with him. I said, “I will go book him for murder first and then you better trust me and give me the information. If I can’t book him for murder and something does happen where I can’t accomplish that, then you’re not on the hook for telling me anything at all.”

This was towards the end of my time as a homicide detective. All the freedom that I had to solve murder cases, which was the freedom to go anywhere and do anything – my partner and I went to South America, Canada, everywhere – had changed. The guys who had brought us into that division to solve murders retired and new guys came in to manage the office. They had the authority to decide what we were going to do, so I sat down with the captain and said, “This was the deal. I’ve got all the evidence that I need to go grab Nash and I’m going to get him for murder.” And I was ordered not to do that; first time in my career I was ordered not to arrest somebody.

Tom Lange: The political climate was such that they didn’t want us making precipitous arrests. It pissed us off.

Frank Tomlinson: Politics. It happened at election time, must have been around the fall of the year and the police chief was running for mayor, the mayor was running for governor, somebody else was running for attorney general. It’s like, let’s not mess with this thing. Those things were adding up for me to realize the clock’s ticking for my career.

So I went back to Holmes and told him that I was ordered not to do this and I’m keeping the agreement; he didn’t have to tell me anything and then, I was out of the whole thing.

Understandably, Prosecutor Ron Coen wanted to have someone charged with the multiple murders in Laurel Canyon and maybe he had ulterior motives for desiring to pin Holmes for the murders. Perhaps at that time, he thought a guilty verdict implicating the most famous adult performer would help his career; today he is a judge in the San Fernando Valley.

Tom Lange: What we had were knowing his intentions to the killer by letting him in and not alerting the victims. We had the palm print. We went with these things and tried to convict him. If we had convicted John Holmes, he would have become a witness, real quick.

Frank Tomlinson: The D.A. went ahead and filed the murder charges against Holmes. I was not privy to any of that. I was called in to Coen and he told me what he wanted me to testify to.

I told him that I didn’t believe that Holmes had committed these murders, but that I could not go any further with my investigation. But he said he was going to put me on the stand to testify. In my cases, my partner and I never took a case to a D.A. unless we knew it was the right guy. We had cases where the D.A.s we worked with would have filed murder cases and we said, “No,” until we’re convinced. This was one of those cases where I was not convinced that he killed anybody, so I would have never filed that case.

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Excerpt from Chapter 11:

The Climax – King Penguin

Accolades

Bill Margold: Without the presence of John Holmes – without the personality, without the enigma of John Holmes – this industry would not have gained the sociological prominence that it did in the 1970s.

After two decades in the business, Holmes was inducted into the X-Rated Critic’s Organization Hall of Fame in 1985, the year after it was founded by Bill Margold and Jim Holliday. The XRCO Hall of Fame was unique because it enabled writers and editors from the adult entertainment industry to partake in the annual voting process. Holmes’ recognition for his unrivaled contribution to the adult industry was long overdue.

Jared Rutter: John Holmes was the first actor inducted into the XRCO Hall of Fame on February 14th, 1985 at Gazzari’s on Sunset Strip, now the site of the Key Club.

That first night was a long one. The show was interrupted by a power blackout and delayed about two hours. Most of the guests, including Holmes, stuck around until the lights came back on. It was the video coverage of the event that caused the blackout. The big lights blew out the circuits in the ramshackle club. They were still shooting videos like films in the mid-’80s, a long time before small, handheld cameras.

Fortunately, we were in the midst of a February heat wave and the warm weather allowed guests to mingle in the parking lot and street during those two long hours.

After the circuit was repaired and everyone went back inside Gazzari’s club, Jim Holliday announced Holmes’ induction with a short, but passionate speech from his heart.

Jim Holliday – 2/14/1985 XRCO Induction Speech: Our first inductee into the Hall of Fame began in 1964. The man was the first to carry a continuing character into several films. The character was Johnny Wadd. In 1976, he showed the world – and something I’m tired of hearing, “He can’t act.” I’m tired of that! Look at Eruption, 1976! He’s still at it, ladies and gentlemen. Our first inductee is The King, John Curtis Holmes!

Applause and cheers permeated the room when Holliday announced John’s name. Holmes was dressed casually in cowboy boots, jeans, a short sleeved white shirt and a brown vest. From the small, round table where he sat, John flashed a broad grin and butted out his cigarette in the ashtray in front of him. Slowly, he rose from his chair and began to stride toward the podium.

Along his path, he touched the hands of those reaching out to him. John’s comrades were genuinely proud of their industry’s hero and continued to clap and shout after he and his long legs took the stage. John planted a kiss on the cheek of the blonde who handed him his award and for a few moments, The King stood before the crowd of his peers, obviously bashful, with flushed cheeks. Truly humbled, he offered a few words of thanks.

John Holmes – 2/14/1985 XRCO Award Acceptance Speech: I’d like to thank the people who stood by me when I was down and the people who helped me to get back on my feet.

Jared Rutter: Holmes seemed to be deeply moved by the honor. There’s a photo of him on stage, holding the award with tears in his eyes. He seemed to be even more moved, when John Leslie, who was the fifth actor inducted, paid tribute to him. Leslie, at the time, was the hottest male performer in the industry and when he praised Holmes as a role model who opened the door for all the actors who followed him, John leaped on stage and embraced him. I believe it was the most memorable moment of the evening.

Bill Margold: Leslie said, “I’m not going to accept this unless the man who is the most important of all comes back up here.” Holmes, like the little boy he always was, sort of shrugged shyly, came across the stage and they hugged.

I turned to Holliday and I said, “Now, we are history.” John was ecstatic.

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