John Holmes, a Life Measured in Inches

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BearManor Media, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 581 pages
2 Reviews
"The tree of life represents the roots of man. The branches are the different directions a man can take, live or exist. When you're dead, those that you leave behind will put you in a part of that tree. It represents what was, what is and what will be. It's eternal." -- John Holmes Most people might, understandably, predict that the world s first porn star was a woman, but they would be wrong. John Curtis Holmes was just a simple country boy from Ohio when he moved to California in 1964. It was the infancy of hardcore, so in Holmes' wildest dreams, he could not have predicted the turbulent ride on which he had embarked by publicizing his private parts. With the fame he achieved by playing his most famous character - a gun toting detective named Johnny Wadd - came money. Holmes was pleased to spend it on his wife and mistresses, but soon was in over his head after he became addicted to cocaine. Unfortunately for Holmes, in the years that followed, his addiction led him into several desperate choices - including setting up a robbery at the home of Ed Nash, a powerful L.A. nightclub owner. The robbery resulted in one of the most gruesome, unsolved, multiple-murders in Hollywood history. Amazingly, before his untimely death in 1988, Holmes regained his momentum, remarried and rebuilt his life and career. However, the grave consequences of his addiction, his association with the Wonderland murders, and his AIDS-related death made him an infamous figure in pop culture. Digging past the stigmas, John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches - the first biography about John C. Holmes - unearths the human being behind the penis and proves that there was more to him than could be measured in inches. This biography includes material from the authors' new interviews with: Laurie Holmes, Bill Amerson, Bob Chinn, Julia St. Vincent, Detective Tom Lange, Detective Frank Tomlinson, Paul Thomas, Ron Jeremy, Seka, Marilyn Chambers, Candida Royalle, Rhonda Jo Petty, Dr. Sharon Mitchell, Bill Margold, and many others! John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches also includes 114 reviews of John's most notable feature films, 86 loops synopses, 3 photos sections with rare nudes, and a 21 page comprehensive filmography.

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"Porn Star John Holmes led a seedy and sordid life that included
drug addiction, the notorious Wonderland Murders and AIDS -- all of
which makes for a helluva read. The intricate and gory details
of the
master cocksman's existance are exposed in John Holmes: A Life
Measured
in Inches . Whether or not, you were a fan of Mr. Wadd, you won't be
able to put down this fascinating biography by Jennifer Sugar and Jill
C. Nelson." - By Keith Valcourt - Hustler Magazine.
"John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches is packed with
information
that even the closest student of the porn legend's life may not be
aware
of. It's the work of two non-professional writers who developed an
interest in the late stud bordering on obsession and tracked down just
about everyone who ever knew him. Holmes' life story, told primarily
in
the words of the interviewees, like an oral history, is endlessly
fascinating. The book has some terrific extras: an amazingly thorough
filmography (and loopography) as well as detailed reviews of the major
movies. This is no small achievement. Video stores would be well
advised
to stock it in their Classics section." By Jared Rutter - AVN
Magazine
"John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches is an almost ludicrously
well-researched biography of the first true superstar of adult cinema,
the legendary John Holmes (or Johnny Wadd as he was called in many of
his films), renowned for being extremely - some might say grotesquely
-
well-endowed. Despite barely touching alcohol and completely
abstaining
from using illicit drugs at the beginning of his career, Holmes, in
addition to eventually becoming addicted to cocaine, was also arrested
for his part in the brutal "Wonderland murders" in 1981 and eventually
died of AIDS.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the book is the very
thoroughness of the research, especially the extremely detailed and
comprehensive film and scene reviews at the back of the book." By
Geoffrey Brown - Ottawa X-Press
"John Holmes single-schlongedly embodied the American narrative
of
success, downfall, and redemption in its porn context, which means
something different from any other context. And his story as told in
a
new book by Jennifer Sugar and Jill Nelson, John Holmes, a Life
Measured
in Inches, unfolds that story as comprehensibly as possible. Holmes'
success roughly parallels the so-called Golden Age of Porn, in which
the
money was piled as high as the cocaine and "porno chic," a term that
arose from the fame of Deep Throat, made legitimate celebrities of
performers long before anyone bothered creating a Jenna Jameson
Crossover Star of the Year Award. Holmes was a boner-fide star.
Inches is an excellent companion piece to Cass Paley's and Rodger
Jacobs' 1998 documentary Wadd: The Life And Times of John C. Holmes.
Holmes is iconic in American and porn culture for many of the same
reasons rock stars are: unchecked fame and ego, low self esteem and an
addictive personality, a personal magnetism and, beneath it all, a
gift
that destroyed him in the end. If any single figure in the adult
industry past or present deserves a book, it is John Holmes." By Gram
Ponante - America's Beloved Porn Journalist
 

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John Holmes: a Life Measured in Inches - Book Review by Robert Cettl.
(This excerpted book review/essay was written by Australian writer and critic, Robert Cettl. It appeared July 2009 at www
.widerscreenings.com)
********
John Holmes: a Life Measured in Inches is the first book by authors Jennifer Sugar and Jill C. Nelson and is a work of considerable scope, ambition and importance in its chosen field. Indeed Sugar and Nelson have taken a subject inherently problematic – the history and scholarship of the adult film – and rendered it lucidly accessible to all, whether fans of adult material or not and whether male or female.
Sugar and Nelson have researched their subject considerably and it is evident on every page – John Holmes: a Life Measured in Inches is the distinctive Holmes biography, sorting through Holmes’ tendency to fabricate the truth in his own accounts of his life with actual biographical fact and first-hand accounts of the man and his life presented uncut in the actual words of those who knew and interacted with him – from Sharon Holmes (the wife he kept secret to his adult industry business partners) to Bob Chinn (the Chinese-American UCLA graduate turned pornographer who in tandem with Holmes would birth West Coast US porn in the Johnny Wadd series of films, meticulously described in the comprehensive filmography which closes this remarkable book).
Nelson and Sugar arrange their book chronologically in the manner of a traditional biography but with unedited interview extracts punctuating the factual account to give a portrayal of both Holmes the man himself, his developing legend and the way in which he was seen, considered and judged by those who knew him best. This demythologizing journey through the life of porndom’s most famous male star (with apologies to Ron “the Hedgehog” Jeremy it is Holmes who will be forever known as “the King”) begins with Holmes’ troubled childhood (he was neglected and brutalized). Here, authors Nelson and Sugar devote just enough time and targeted interview extracts to suggest the psychological pressures – including the need for attention – which would shape the adult Holmes’ dealings with and attitude to women. However, the authors do not attempt a full psycho-analytical portrait of Holmes – their intent is fact-based oral history and they present both the necessary information and a variety of first-hand accounts to enable the reader to assess the behavioural factors that shaped the humanity of porn’s biggest (literally in terms of penis size – how big was it?) icon.
Holmes’ early relationships, friendships and business contracts soon segue into an account of his life with wife Sharon Holmes (a frequent contributor to the extracted interview material) and his developing working relationship with Bob Chinn. Indeed, Nelson & Sugar have here done the astonishing (and even taboo) thing – interviewing a pornographer and rendering his perspective with both the authority and intelligence it deserves. What emerges is a fully detailed account of the birth of the porn industry, the methods, distribution and business structure of the industry and Holmes’ relationship to it. Importantly, this exploration of the industry that he helped popularize and establish is balanced with the continuing and evolving biographical account of Holmes as a person. Thus, the book frankly describes his relationships with his co-workers, with his wife (whom he tried to keep as separate from his work as possible) and his relationships with younger women – from Dawn Schiller through to Laurie Holmes in the latter stages of his life. Contributions from such adult industry veterans as Candida Royalle, Bill Margold, reporter Jim Holliday and Paul Thomas coalesce for a distinctive picture of the man, fully representative of the adult industry that grew up around him. As such, John Holmes: a Life Measured in Inches is both a biography and a valid social document exploring an
 

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