JOHN HOLMES: A LIFE MEASURED IN INCHES by Jennifer Sugar and Jill C. Nelson

Pub. Info: BearManor Media, August 2008.
Genre: Biography
Grade: A-

FROM AMAZON: 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! Also included is additional source material containing extensive interviews with: Sharon Holmes, Dawn Schiller, Dr. Vonda Pelto, Ph.D., and L.A. Times film critic, Kenneth Turan. With 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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This is a large, heavy paperback that is almost 600 pages long and weighs about 1 1/2 pounds. It contains many black and white photographs of John and his co-workers along with a lot of photos that were taken from his adult films. There are a couple nudes of just John by himself with his 'member' on full display.

MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed this book and thought it was well put together. I didn't know much of him before reading this, except that he was a porn star, famous because of the size of his penis (there are more than a few photos of it in this book), and that he'd died from an AIDS related illness. The highlight of the book was hearing from his ex-wife, Sharon. I'd been curious about her since hearing of her in another book and was more than delighted that this book included many, many excerpts that she'd given to others in the past. My second favorite part was reading all the interviews from people who knew him, including other porn actors, some of which I've seen in action before or had heard of.


This was really just a sad story of a sex addicted man (a real whoremonger) who later became addicted to drugs. What some think may have caused him to get HIV is having sex with a male porn actor who died from AIDS three years later, which was the same year, 1986, that John was diagnosed with HIV. Personally, I think that if John had sex with a gay man on-screen, for pay, what in the world makes people think he wasn't doing it in private off-screen? I feel he was bi-sexual and wasn't comfortable with it, at least with people knowing about it, so he didn't let anyone know, including the people he was close to. So really, if indeed he did have sex with other gay men, he could have contracted HIV from any one of them. 

My two complaints about this book is that I'd like to have heard from his mother and siblings about what they thought of him becoming an adult actor and I wanted to hear more about his abusive childhood. It was only mentioned that he had an abusive step-father. But most off all, I really wanted/want to know more about something that a man named Mike Sager said. He wrote an article about John in Rolling Stone magazine in 1988 though he'd never met John. Here's the quote from Mike that is in the book, "The main explanation was- he wasn't gay, but he did at a time, make money for sex- there were wealthy men that would pay to be with him." I want to know more about that. Who are these men and who knew about them? Have any of them ever been interviewed anywhere?

At the front of the book is a list of some of the people who were interviewed for the book or had been interviewed about John for other films and book publications. That is very handy. I have that section marked with a tab so I can filp to it faster when I need to. Pages 437-581 is a detailed filmography of John's adult films and there are some photos, some with nudity, throughout that section. I really like that the authors thought to add a filmography. It was a nice, helpful touch that I appreciate.

To read more, please visit the author's website. There you'll find photos, some of which weren't in the book and can only be found online.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.



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