John Holmes

September 17th, 2010

Farewell to the King – 1988

The following excerpts are from an article that was published in the Hollywood Press on March 17th, 1988, a few days after John Holmes’ death. This tribute to Holmes is written by the “Renaissance Man” of adult movies, film historian, William Margold.


Farewell to The King of XXX – by William Margold

Appropriately, I was watching a movie about big weapons (The Guns of Navarone) when the inevitable call came. It was from Jim Holliday, the historian of hardcore. His statement, uttering from a throat that was attempting not to tremble, was simple — “The King is dead.” It should be noted that Master Holliday didn’t say “John Holmes is dead” — he said, “The King”. And Jim didn’t need to eleborate…

And now he is gone. And now it is time to acknowledge the single most important person in X-rated entertainment industry. Indeed. “The King” was a performer and a personality, whose carnal cinema career literally spanned the length and strength of the entire mainstream Porn phenomenom.

As mentioned, his passing was not a surprise. In fact, I had been acutely aware of “The King’s” impending demise (colon cancer and severe cocaine addiction eventually weakened his system sufficiently for AIDS to crawl in and finish him off), as early as August, 1986.

But, this piece is not going to be one of lamentation. It is going to be one of reflection by one who was honored to have known “The King”, if not well, at least professionally on an assortment of levels.

And now, while I could discuss screwing my ex-wife Drea with “The King”, Ron (“The Hedgehog”) Jeremy, and Jamie Gillis in the famous “40 Inches of Meat” scene in the film Marathon; recall him directing being sucked off by four starlets in California Valley Girls, explain how I set him up to devirginate (sinematically) Seka in Lust at First Bite (aka Dracula Sucks); reveal that John was a proponent of Greenpeace (interesting to think that one semi-extinct, extra-large creature was truly concerned by other semi-extinct extremely large creatures, isn’t it?); remember sharing his sorrow at not winning Best Actor Erotica for his fine performance in Eruption; or sharing his joy over being the first performer to be inducted in the X-Rated Critics Hall of Fame, I prefer to relate a couple of more private moments with the man who searingly proved that “All Men Were Not Created Equal!”

Around the time of the Casanova premiere, a rumour that John Holmes was dead descended upon the Sexual Sinema Sindustry. This rumour was particularly distressing to me, as within invitations to the “luxuriant, ultra-gala World Premiere”, I had promised that “The King” would be in attendance. The rumour, emanating from San Francisco, had suggested that Holmes had died in a hang-gliding accident. Of course, the death notice was unconfirmed, but as the days passes and the pile of unanswered messages grew at John’s service, I became obsessed with the “what ifs?”


What if “The King” were no longer with us? Immediately, I wanted to write a remembrance, lest someone else beat me to the prosean punch. But first, I jotted down an idea for a sex film (sort of a demented Donovan’s Brain) about a struggling hardcore actor who grafts on John’s Jumbo Joint (Donovan’s Dick?) and becomes a really “big” success in the bare-balling-business. Next, I begin to contemplate the market value of Holmes expiration at the box office. I envisioned milking the publicity cow of Casanova as “Holmes’ Last Luster” for all it was worth.

However, a few days after the rumour had been excreted, John called to announce that he was in the Midwest doing public appearances — for another film! Darn, there went my film idea … and my marketing slant! But, I still wanted to write that remembrance. I figured that one day “The King” would pass on, so why not “be prepared”. So:

John Holmes has been called many things, but I wonder if anyone has ever said that he was “honorable”? During the casting of Fantasm Comes Again, John was given the part of a lusty lifeguard. Due to his “busy schedule”, I, in my capacity as office manager of Reb Sunset International (a nude-theatrical modeling agency in Hollywood) had agreed to pay Holmes his wages before he played the part. When John showed up at my office, which was eccentrically decorated with pictures of X-rated celebrities as well as Hollywood notables, he was extremely impressed with one shot – of Warren Oates on the machine gun from The Wild Bunch. Sensing that he would be delighted if he could have the shot, I took it down from the wall and handed it to him. He was ecstatic. He left my office, clutching the photo elatedly. Of course, he also took his payment for the part he would play, which I’m sure must have added to his elation, because it was a considerable amount of cash – my cash -as I, feeling that I could trust John, had advanced his payment out of my pocket.

The next morning, figuring out how to fill the space on my wall, I received a call from the set. It was John. “Billy” he said, “I can’t go in the water”. For reasons pertaining to his health and the endangerment of his future, he couldn’t risk entering an unheated pool. It was a “very cold day” and a “very cold pool”. By way of closing, I offhandedly asked him if he put his picture of Oats on the gun up yet. There was a moment of silence. Then John said, “Not yet.” And then he thanked me again for the shot. And then he said goodbye and hung up.  


As a sidelight postscript to this tale, I, in the role of substitute lifeguard, would end up taking John’s place in the pool and it was sooo cold that my cock still shivers whenever I still think about it.

And for the more important postscript to this tale, a few days later, I received the following note:


“Dear Bill,

Again I thank you for the foto and am very sorry about the shooting.

All my best always.

Live long and prosper.

John C. Holmes”

And with the note was a money order for the full amount of cash that I had given him. I was impressed and in fact, quite moved by John’s gesture. Indeed, it was the act of a very “honorable” man. And honor in the adult entertainment community is as rare an entity as virginity. But then, that’s another story.

As for my final image of Mr. Holmes, let’s just say that within “the Playpen for the Damned” (my nickname for the X-rated business), where recess is 24 hours a day, I prefer to remember John as a little boy with a big dick who found a pot of gold at the end of his zipper and became “The King.


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