John Holmes (actor)

John Holmes (actor)

Male adult bio
name = John Holmes

birth= birth date|1944|08|08|mf=y
location= Ashville, Ohio, U.S.
birthname= John Curtis Estes
death= death date and age|1988|03|13|1944|08|08|mf=y
primary cause of death= cardiorespiratory arrest, encephalitis, acquired human immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
other medical conditions in the time of death= lymphadenopathy, esofageal candidiasis
height= 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
weight= 165 lb
eye color= blue
hair color= Brown
orientation = Bisexual
alias= John Duval, John Estes, Big John Fallus, Big John Holmes, John 'Johnny Wadd' Holmes, John C. Holmes, John Curtis Holmes, Johnny Holmes, Bigg John, Big John, John Rey, Johnny Wadd, John Sacre, Long John Wadd
imdb= 0001360
John Curtis Holmes (August 8, 1944March 13, 1988) better known as John C. Holmes or Johnny Wadd (after the lead character in a series of related films), was one of the most famous male adult film stars of all time, appearing in about 2,500 adult loops, stag films, and porno feature movies in the 1970s and 1980s, including at least one gay feature film and a handful of gay loops. He was best known for his exceptionally large penis, which was heavily promoted as being the longest in the porn industry; however, its exact dimensions are unknown. Holmes also attracted notoriety for his involvement in the brutal Wonderland Murders in 1981, and for his death from AIDS.

Holmes was the subject of a long article in "Rolling Stone" magazine in 1989 and a feature length documentary, and the inspiration for two Hollywood movies ("Boogie Nights" and "Wonderland").

Early life

Born in Ashville, Ohio, as John Curtis Estes, he knew very little of his father, Carl Estes, a railroad worker, who walked out on the family when John was three or four years old. John's mother Mary, a devout Southern Baptist, married Harold Holmes a few years later and changed her children's surname to Holmes. His new stepfather proved to be a violent alcoholic who would come home inebriated, stumble about the house, and even vomit on the children. Mary Holmes later divorced him and moved with her children to Columbus, Ohio, where they lived on welfare for a few years. When John was eight, his mother met and married her third husband, Harold Bowman. They moved from Columbus and settled in nearby Pataskala, Ohio. After a few years of marriage, Bowman frequently beat Holmes, the youngest of four children, according to Sharon Holmes, his first wife.Source: Sharon Holmes interview in the documentary " [ Wadd: The life and Times of John C. Holmes] "]

When John was 16, Bowman started beating him, but the strapping teenager instead struck back and decked Bowman, sending him down a staircase. John ran away from home and after a few days of living in the streets, he returned to his home and told his mother that if he stayed in the house much longer he would kill Bowman. After asking for the permission of his mother, Holmes enlisted in the United States Army and spent three years in Germany in the Signal Corps. Upon his discharge , Holmes moved to Los Angeles where he worked in a variety of jobs, including selling goods door to door and tending the vats at a Coffee-Nips factory. It was during his stint as an ambulance driver that he met a nurse named Sharon Gebenini in December 1964. They married in August 1965.cite book|last=Sager|first=Mike|title=Scary Monsters and Super Freaks: Stories of Sex, Drugs, Rock 'N' Roll and Murder|publisher=Da Capo Press|year=2003|pages=10|isbn=1-560-25563-3]

Porn career

For the next two years, Holmes and his wife, Sharon, lived quiet, uneventful lives. Holmes found work as a forklift driver at a meat packing warehouse in Cudahy, California. However, the rigors of driving the forklift truck in and out of a large walk-in freezer and repeated exposures to inhaling the sub-freezing air in the freezer after being outside inhaling the desert-hot air caused severe health problems, leading to a pneumothorax (lung collapse) of his right lung on three separate occasions within the period of seven to nine months during the two years he worked there.cite book|last=Sager|first=Mike|title=Scary Monsters and Super Freaks: Stories of Sex, Drugs, Rock 'N' Roll and Murder|publisher=Da Capo Press|year=2003|pages=10|isbn=1-560-25563-3] While recovering from his illness, Holmes frequented a men's card-playing club in Gardena, where one evening, a still photographer standing next to him at a restroom urinal, noticed his extraordinary penis size and encouraged him to do pornography. During the late 1960s, Holmes initially did magazine work and an occasional 8 mm loop, keeping his work in porn a secret from his wife. This was easier to do in those days; pornography production and distribution were semi-clandestine, there was no mass production of video cassettes or DVDs, and no Internet.

While the ad copy for his first few dozen loops rarely named him, those that did usually gave him a name that was nowhere near what his real first name was. In fact, one early "Swedish Erotica" brochure from 1973 has five Holmes loops listed, each of which has a different name referring to Holmes even though it is obvious from his facial features that "Fred", "Dave", "Rudy", "Big Dick", and "Stan" are all the same person. In the early years of his porn career, Holmes was referred to as "The Sultan of Smut".

With the success of "Deep Throat" (1972), "The Devil in Miss Jones" (1973), and "Behind the Green Door" (1972), porn had become chic although its legality was still hotly contested. Holmes was arrested during this time for pimping and pandering, but he avoided prison time by becoming an informant for the LAPD.cite web|url=|title=John Holmes and the Wonderland Murders: Wadd the Informer ||accessdate=2008-05-20]

In 1973, Holmes' career began to rise with a porn series built around a private investigator named "Johnny Wadd". By 1978, Holmes was reputed to be earning as much as $3,000 a day as a porn actor. He starred at a time when personality could compensate for a lack of other aesthetic characteristics, and a certain amount of acting ability was still demanded of porn stars on a level that is not often necessary in today's porn films.Fact|date=April 2008

While his voice was arguably somewhat higher in pitch than one would expect for a "hard-boiled private dick," most film critics and fans agreed that Holmes did demonstrate enough acting ability to keep the character of "Johnny Wadd" from being merely a banal, one-dimensional parody of Raymond Chandler's creation, the tough and uncompromising private detective Philip Marlowe. By this time, his use of cocaine was becoming a problem, so much so that it was beginning to affect his ability to maintain an erection.

Penis size

Holmes' main asset in the porn business was his exceptional large penis. Holmes' first wife, Sharon Gebenini, recalled him claiming to be 10 inches (25.4 cm) when he first measured himself. However, at the start of his cinematic career, he was widely publicized as having a penis ranging from 12.5 to 16 inches (32–41 cm) long when fully erect. "It is the size of two and one half 6 inch rulers (15inches)," as John Holmes once claimed in a video shoot.

In 2007, it was discovered that the coroner who performed the autopsy on Holmes took "secret" measurements of Holmes' penis in a flaccid state and reported it as being approximately 8.75 inches in length. This information appeared in the form of handwritten notes (scrawled on the back of the third page of the official Holmes' autopsy report) discovered by investigative reporter John Beck who is currently working on a new book about the life of Holmes. The coroner also noted that the size of Holmes' testicles were approximately "the size of a pair of large hen eggs." Fact|date=April 2007. Ron Jeremy has stated that Holmes was actually 11½ inches and used to brag that he was 14 inches. [cite web
url=|title= Ron Jeremy|accessdate= 2008-07-14|author= Chris Neumer|publisher= Stumped Magazine

So celebrated was Holmes' reputed penis size that it was even used as a marketing tool for films in which he did not even appear. In the porn classic "Anyone But My Husband", the promotional tag line read "Tony The Hook Perez has a dick so big that he gives even John Holmes a run for his money." [Source:]

Different attempts to ascertain the actual length of his penis have led to varying results. An American study of video footage of Holmes' penis concluded his penis was 10–11 inches long (25–28cm), whereas another study comparing many pictures of his penis to the estimated measurements of other parts of his own body led to the conclusion of 8 3/4 inches (22cm). Holmes' longtime manager, Bill Amerson, that "I saw John measure himself several times, it was 13 and a half inches".Source: Bill Amerson interview in the documentary "Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes"] Holmes' last wife, Laurie "Misty Dawn" Rose claims that John Holmes himself claimed 10 inches.

Veteran porn actress Dorothiea "Seka" Patton has claimed Holmes' penis was the biggest in the industry [cite web|url=|title=Seka Interview|] , though not all who had sex with him agree.

Regardless of the actual length of Holmes' penis, some people question whether he ever achieved full erections on movie sets. Veteran porn actress Annette Haven, for instance, recalled in the documentary "Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes" that "as the joke goes, if John ever became fully erect, he'd lose consciousness from lack of blood to the brain because his dick was that big. And it's true that his cock was never hard. It [having onscreen sex] was like doing it with a big, soft kind of luffa."

Number of partners

Penis length was not the only questionable statistic used in connection with Holmes. In 1981, he began to claim that he had sex with 14,000 women. To substantiate this number, and assuming Holmes' first experience with a woman occurred at 16 as he claimed, then he would have to have had sex with 700 different women a year—1.9 women a day—for the next 20 years. More realistic estimates, such as that of Luke Ford, put the figure at around 3,000. Based on the number of loops where Holmes did in fact perform a sexual act with at least one woman, allowing for off-camera sexual encounters, and counting each performing partner only once—some actresses, such as Seka, Connie "Little French Maid" Peterson, Eileen Welles, Victoria Waters, Linda McDowell, Juliet "Aunt Peg" Anderson, and Desireé Cousteau, made many loops with Holmes in the 1970s—Ford's estimate of 3,000 is closer to being realistic.Or|date=August 2008

According to Holmes' close friend Bill Amerson in the documentary "Wadd," Holmes lost track of the exact number of women with whom he had sex. According to Amerson, Holmes became so fervent in spreading false publicity about himself that he also eventually lost track of what stories were true and which were lies; at one point in "Wadd", Amerson recalls that early in his career Holmes told the press that a wealthy British socialite paid him to travel to England once a year and pleasure her for twenty-four hours. Later in life, Holmes fondly recalled to Amerson his adventures in England, which never occurred.

Holmes met fellow porn star Brandon Smith in 1974, and the two formed a friendship that lasted until Holmes was accused of involvement in the Wonderland murders.

Brandon Smith ended up being a huge influence on gay porn and was said to be one of the reasons Holmes ended up doing gay films.

The women in Holmes' private life

While estimates of his on-screen and professional sex partners range in the thousands, it appears that there were perhaps four or five women who actually were close to Holmes in his private life. Holmes was reputedly meticulous in keeping his professional and private lives separate.

* In 1965 he married a young nurse named Sharon Gebenini. He remained married to her until 1985.

* In 1975 he met Julia St. Vincent on the set of his blockbuster film, "Liquid Lips", which was being produced by her uncle, Armand Atamian. Holmes and St Vincent stayed close until 1981 and the Wonderland affair. St Vincent produced the ersatz biographical film of Holmes' life, "Exhausted". [Citation: "Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes"]

* In 1976 he met a 16-year-old, [ Dawn Schiller] , who was his girlfriend from 1976 through the Wonderland incident in 1981. She left Holmes in December 1981, when she turned him in to the police in Florida.

* In 1983 Holmes met his second wife, Laurie Rose. They were married in 1987.

Drugs and "Wonderland Murders"

Holmes' drug use began to seriously affect his ability to perform in porn and compromised his ability to secure work, so to support himself and his drug habit he ventured into crime, selling drugs for gangs, prostituting himself to both men and women, and committing credit card fraud and petty theft. In 1976, he met a 16-year old girl, Dawn Schiller, who became his girlfriend. After Holmes fell on hard times, he later prostituted both her and himself. Dawn, who appeared in news stories as "Jeana Sellers" [Source: LA Times Article "Holmes' Confession in Bathtub: Told Wife of Role in 4 Murders", April 14 1988 Source: Rolling Stone Article "The Devil in John Holmes", May 15 1989] after Holmes allegedly once publicly beat her in Florida, [Source: LA Weekly Article "In Too Deep" by Allan MacDonell] is not to be confused with Holmes' second wife, Laurie Rose, a porn actress and so-called anal sex queen who was sometimes called Misty Dawn.

Holmes developed a close friendship with drug dealer and nightclub owner Eddie Nash, who supplied Holmes with drugs he desired, principally cocaine. At the same time, Holmes was closely associated with the Wonderland Gang, so called for the location of their hideout: a rowhouse located on Wonderland Avenue in the wooded Laurel Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles. Holmes worked for the gang, frequently selling drugs for them. After stealing money during a couple of drug runs, Holmes found himself in trouble with the Wonderland Gang. Allegedly in exchange for his life, he told gang leaders in June 1981 about Nash and a very large stash of drugs, money and jewelry Nash had in his house, and helped to set up a robbery which was committed on the morning of June 29, 1981.

Although Holmes did not participate in the robbery, Nash apparently suspected that Holmes had a part in it. After getting Holmes to confess to his participation, Nash allegedly exacted revenge against the Wonderland Gang. Two days after the robbery, in the early hours of July 1, 1981, four of the gang's members were found murdered in their hideout. This incident is now known as the "Wonderland Murders". Holmes was allegedly present during the murders, but it is unclear if he participated in the killings.

Holmes was incarcerated in connection with the murders, but released due to lack of evidence. He spent six months on the run with Dawn Schiller, his girlfriend, but was arrested in Florida and returned to Los Angeles. Holmes refused to co-operate with the investigation and was eventually charged by the authorities with committing all four murders in connection with the robbery, but was acquitted.

Holmes then sought to reunite with Dawn Schiller, but she had gone with her father to Thailand, where she lived for nearly seven years. She did not return to Los Angeles until several weeks before Holmes' death in 1988. [Source: Dawn Schiller interview in the documentary "Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes"] [Source: Dawn Schiller Official Web Site,]

When Holmes resumed work in porn in November 1982, the industry had already begun the transition from film to videotape. Work was still plentiful, but less lucrative and Holmes was no longer the premier male star. His drug use continued, as did the inconsistent performances on set. His inability to maintain an erection was a serious issue, and employers began opting for younger and more attractive talent—who could perform.

Business activities

In 1979, Holmes and his younger half-brother, David Bowman, opened a combination locksmith service and antique shop called the Just Looking Emporium. However, Holmes' drug usage soon took precedence over business matters and the company went out of business before the year was over.

Later, after his 1982 murder trial and acquittal, Holmes began a business partnership with his manager Bill Amerson, as they founded and operated a production company "Penquin Productions", where Holmes could be a triple-threat: writing, directing, and performing. [ "Citations from "The Devil in John Holmes", Rolling Stone Magazine" 1989]

Charitable endeavors

Despite the notoriety and infamy associated with Holmes, he also devoted much time to charities involving the environment. He was known to campaign and collect door-to-door for charities such as Save The Whales. [Rolling Stone article "The Devil in John Holmes", May 1989.]

Holmes mythology

Holmes' career was promoted with a series of outrageous claims that he had made over the years (many made up on the spur of the moment by Holmes himself). The most outrageous ones include:

* Holmes lost his virginity at the age of 6 to his Swedish nursemaid, Freida. [Rolling Stone magazine article "The Devil in John Holmes", My 15, 1989]
* Holmes spent his childhood traveling the world with his rich aunt, who saw to it that he learned the fine arts, including "nude modern jazz ballet."
* Holmes' penis was so big that he had to stop wearing underwear because "I was getting erections and snapping the elastic waist band 4 or 5 times a month." [Source: John Holmes interview in the ersatz biographical documentary "Exhausted"]
* Holmes had sex with over 14,000 women.
* Holmes had degrees in physical therapy, medicine, and political science from UCLA. [cite web|url=|title=John Holmes and the Wonderland Murders: 12.5 Inches ||accessdate=2008-05-20]
* Holmes inadvertently killed two men by performing anal sex on them, was tried and convicted of manslaughter, and was sentenced by the judge to never have anal sex again.Fact|date=July 2008
* A teenage Holmes played the role of Eddie Haskell in the TV series "Leave it to Beaver". (The character was portrayed by actor Ken Osmond, who bore a resemblance to Holmes). [cite news|url=,9171,925676-2,00.html|title=When Eden Was in Suburbia|last=Stengel|first=Richard|date=1982-08-09|publisher="Time"|accessdate=2008-05-20]

Later years

In 1985 he met his future girlfriend and wife, Laurie Rose, a.k.a. Misty Dawn, a porn actress whose sexual specialty was anal sex. Rose and Holmes met on the set of the film "Marathon". Holmes chronicler and confidante Bill Amerson states that Rose commented, "I want to have all that up my butt" (referring to Holmes' penis) and, in fact, off-camera that did happen and Holmes and Rose became a couple from that point forward.

In February 1986, Holmes was diagnosed as HIV positive. According to Laurie Rose, Holmes claimed that he never used needles and was deeply afraid of them.

Holmes married Laurie Rose in January 1987. He died from AIDS-related complications (according to his death certificate, cardiorespiratory arrest and encephalitis due to AIDS, associated with lymphadenopathy and esophageal candidiasis) on March 13, 1988 at the age of forty three. [cite web|url=|title=John Holmes and the Wonderland Murders: AIDS and Misty Dawn ||accessdate=2008-05-20] His body was cremated, and his ashes were scattered at sea off the coast of Oxnard, California. [cite book|last=McNeil|first=Legs|coauthors=Osbourne, Jennifer|others=Pavia, Peter|title=The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film|publisher=HarperCollins|year=2005|pages=451|isbn=0-060-09659-4] Laurie Rose took the name Laurie Holmes and later published the book "Porn King: Autobiography of John C. Holmes" in 1998. [cite web|url=|title=Holmes shares story of her famous husband in book `Porn King'|last=Patterson|first=Joan|date=1998-07-12||accessdate=2008-05-20]

Holmes' legacy has become more renowned and publicly acceptable. A documentary on his wild life ("Wadd—The Life and Times of John C. Holmes") has achieved cult status among certain late-night college campus independent film houses, and some elements of the film "Boogie Nights" were based on Holmes' life, including the Laurel Canyon "Wonderland" murders. That aspect of his life was presented in a biographical movie called "Wonderland", starring Val Kilmer and released on October 17, 2003.

Elio e le Storie Tese paid homage to Holmes with one of their first hits titled "John Holmes (Life Devoted To The Cinema)," included on their debut album "Elio Samaga Hukapan Kariyana Turu", released in 1989.

After his death, Holmes was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award by the Adult industry. It was accepted posthumously by his godson Sean Amerson, the son of Holmes' career-long manager Bill Amerson, who also delivered the eulogy at Holmes' funeral services.

Finally, since the majority of Holmes' loops have gone into public domain following the collapse of Caballero Control Corporation in 1990, there are efforts underway to locate all surviving 8 mm loops starring Holmes and convert them to DVD for posterity. However, since the life expectancy of most 8 mm films is very brief (due to the nature of the film stock used at that time), it is believed that many of Holmes' loops are lost.

elected adult feature films

*"Sex and the Single Vampire" (1970)
*"Johnny Wadd" (1971)
*"Flesh of the Lotus" (1971)
*"Blonde in Black Lace" (1972)
*"Tropic of Passion" (1973)
*"The Danish Connection" (1974)
*"Oriental Sex Kitten" (1975)
*"Tell Them Johnny Wadd Is Here" (1976)
*"Liquid Lips" (1976)
*"Fantasm" ('Fruit Salad' segment) (1976)
*"The Autobiography of a Flea" (1976)
*"Hard Soap, Hard Soap" (1977)
*"Eruption" (1977)
*"The Jade Pussycat" (1977)
*"Pizza Girls" (1978)
*"The China Cat" (1978)
*"Blonde Fire" (1978)
*"The Erotic Adventures of Candy" (1978)
*"The Senator's Daughter" (1979)
*"Taxi Girls" (1979)
*"California Gigolo" (1979)
*"Sweet Captive" (1979)
*"Insatiable" (1980)
*"Prisoner of Paradise" (1980)
*"Aunt Peg" (1980)
*"Up 'n Coming" (1983)
*"Nasty Nurses" (1983)
*"Girls on Fire" (1984)
*"Looking for Mr. Goodsex" (1985)
*"The Grafenberg Spot" (1985)
*"Rockey X" (1986)
*"The Return of Johnny Wadd" (1986)
*"Saturday Night Beaver" (1986)
*"The Rise of the Roman Empress" (1986)
*"The Devil in Mr. Holmes" (1986)


* "Exhausted: John C. Holmes, the Real Story" (1981 documentary)
* "John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches" (2008 bio by Jennifer Sugar and Jill Nelson, Bear Manor Media)
* "Wadd - The Life and Times of John C. Holmes" (1998 documentary)
* "The Devil and John Holmes" by Mike Sager, "Rolling Stone", June 15, 1989; reprinted in "Scary Monsters and Super Freaks" (2004).
* "Porn King: Autobiography of John C. Holmes" (1998).
* "XXXL: The John Holmes Story" (2000 documentary) [ [ "XXXL: The John Holmes Story"] ]
* "John Holmes: The Man, the Myth, the Legend" (2004 documentary) [ [ "John Holmes: The Man, the Myth, the Legend" (2004)] ]


External links

*imdb name|0001360|John Holmes
*iafd name|JHolmes|M|John Holmes
*amg name|2:32991|John Holmes
* [ Interview with the maker of the 1998 documentary]
*Find A Grave|id=22347|name=John Holmes
* [ Discussion of "Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes", by Gary Morris, 2001]

NAME= Holmes, John
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Porngraphic actor
DATE OF BIRTH=August 8, 1944
PLACE OF BIRTH=Ashville, Ohio
DATE OF DEATH= March 13, 1988
PLACE OF DEATH= Sepulveda, California

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