Whatever the real total of John Holmes' female sex partners was, it's got to be a bare minimum of at least 3000. Considering how many films he made and all the action before he was an impotent addict of an X- rated icon, it was an enormous number of women. His claim of 14,000 is somewhat realistic, only if he never got into drugs and did nothing but have sex round the clock!
The boy born John Curtis Estes was the youngest of four children, grew up in rural Ohio and had by most accounts an unhappy childhood. His namesake (if in surname only) stepfather was a drunk and John as an adult blamed a large portion of his family's hardships on him. Stepfather number two was a manic depressive who took most of his frustrations out on the now second youngest in the house (John's half brother David was born several years later) and his physical abuse eventually reached the point where sixteen year old John decided to enlist in the Army.
However much of the legends about the first half of his life are concerned, by his early twenties, he'd left the military, moved out to California and met and married straitlaced Sharon. It's more than fair to assume this lady, who was a nurse by profession and a virgin when they wed, brought him the only real stability he'd ever had. She describes a private, insecure man who had a very low self esteem, before that term was a pop psychology cliché.
The 8mm loop porn industry in those mid/late 60s era was a fly by night operation, with con artists expecting to pay one with a bum cheque. His first experience with this kind of hustler taught young John to demand payment in cash from then on. He gradually became better known and earned more and more in fees. His endowment is always the matter of speculation, but it's safe to declare he was at least twice the length of the average North American male.
Director Bob Chinn wrote the story for "Johnny Wadd" after meeting him and seeing his "credentials" in the flesh. The soon to be series gave Holmes his most famous role ever and the nickname that summed up his anatomy in a rather crude marketing tool. Exhibitors saw the popularity of this new hardcore emphasis on a star system and wanted more "Wadd".
The descent into cocaine and all that followed are a matter of disturbing fact now. His posthumously published autobiography "Porn King" is equal parts truth and fantasy. The recent "John Holmes: A Life Measured In Inches" by Jennifer Sugar and Jill Nelson, is a much more grounded in reality explanation of his life from all those who knew him best.
What would have happened if John hadn't gotten messed up on freebase? That's the unanswerable question. Instead, his life degenerated into full time crime and ever sleazier and dangerous characters as he struggled to maintain his out of control habit. And with the early days of AIDS rearing it's lethal head, Holmes became the second most notorious figure (after the outed Rock Hudson) to die from AIDS related illness.
"Wadd" gives both the heartfelt testimonial of friends and less than flattering accounts from other associates equal time (my comment for "Wonderland" elaborates on his later years). His life was a sad display of both a lonely, overwhelmed man and the society that could only treat him like some "refugee from a freak show" (Al Goldstein's words). A must see for those who want to look at the authentic tragedy of drugs and the end results of a career in an essentially insane business. Everyone is dispensable in porn, even the king.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?