John Curtis Holmes, better known as John C. Holmes or Johnny Wadd, was one of the most prolific male porn stars of all time, appearing in about 2,500 adult loops, stag films, and pornographic feature movies in the 1970s and 1980s. He was best known for his giant penis, which was heavily promoted as being the longest, thickest, and hardest in porn.
Holmes was the subject of a lengthy essay in Rolling Stone magazine and several books:
- John Holmes, A Life Measured in Inches, by Jennifer Sugar and Jill C. Nelson. 2008, BearManor Media.
- Porn King: Autobiography of John C. Holmes (1998). re-released 2012
- The Road Through Wonderland: Surviving John Holmes, by Dawn Schiller
- XXXL: The John Holmes Story (2000 documentary)
- John Holmes: The Man, the Myth, the Legend (2004 documentary)
- Exhausted: John C. Holmes, the Real Story (1981 documentary)
- Wadd – The Life and Times of John C. Holmes (1998 documentary)
“John Holmes was to the adult film industry what Elvis was to rock ‘n’ roll. He simply was The King.”
-Cinematographer Bob Vosse in the documentary Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes.
John Holmes frequented a men’s card-playing club in Gardena, California, where one evening a still photographer, standing next to him at a urinal, noticed his huge penis and encouraged him to do porn. 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.
With the success of Deep Throat (1972), The Devil in Miss Jones (1973), and Behind the Green Door (1972), porn became chic, although its legality was still hotly contested. John Holmes was arrested during this time for pimping and pandering, but he avoided prison time by becoming an informant for the LAPD.
In 1971, Holmes’ career began to take off 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.
John Holmes’ main asset in the porn business was his exceptionally large penis. No definitive measurement or documentation verifying this exists, leaving its exact size unknown.
Veteran porn actress Dorothea “Seka” Patton has stated that Holmes’ penis was the biggest in the industry. John Holmes’ first wife recalled him claiming to be 10 inches when he first measured himself. Holmes himself once claimed his penis to be fifteen inches long. John Holmes’ longtime manager, Bill Amerson, said that “I saw John measure himself several times, it was 13 and a half inches.” Reviewing Holmes’ films over the course of his career shows that most of his early co-stars tended to be short and slender, whereas women with whom he engaged in onscreen sex later in his career were much taller and had proportionately larger bodies. This caused John Holmes’ penis size to seem different compared to each of his co-stars.
So celebrated was Holmes’ penis size it was used as a marketing tool for films he wasn’t even in. Anybody but My Husband had the promotional tag line “Tony The Hook Perez has a dick so big that he gives even John Holmes a run for his money.” After his death the length of Holmes’ penis continued to be used to market Holmes-related material. At the premier of the film Wonderland, patrons were given thirteen-and-a-half inch rulers as gag gifts.
In 1981, John Holmes 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 had to have sex with 666 different women a year-1.8 women a day-for the next 21 years.Pornography historian Luke Ford calculated the number of John Holmes’ sexual partners over the course of his lifetime to be roughly 3,000.
John Holmes developed a close friendship with drug dealer and nightclub owner Eddie Nash. At the same time, Holmes was closely associated with the Wonderland Gang, a group of heroin-addicted cocaine dealers, so named for the location of their hideout; a row-house located on Wonderland Avenue in Los Angeles. Holmes frequently sold drugs for the gang. After stealing money during a couple of drug runs, Holmes found himself in trouble with the Wonderland drug ring. In 1981, allegedly in exchange for his life, he told gang leaders about a large stash of drugs, money and jewelry Nash had in his house. Holmes helped to set up a robbery that was committed on the morning of June 29, 1981.
Although John Holmes did not participate in the robbery, Nash suspected that Holmes had a part in it. After getting Holmes to confess to his participation, Nash exacted revenge against the Wonderland Gang. In the early hours of July 1, 1981, four of the gang’s members were found murdered on Wonderland Avenue. John Holmes was allegedly present during the murders, but it is unclear if he participated in the killings.
John Holmes was incarcerated in connection with the murders, but released due to lack of evidence. After spending six months on the run with Dawn Schiller, he was arrested in Florida and returned to Los Angeles. Holmes refused to co-operate with the investigation. He was eventually charged with committing all four murders, but was acquitted of all charges except contempt of court.
When John Holmes resumed work in porn in 1982, the adult 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, and not surprisingly had a negative impact on his performances.
In December 1982, John met his future girlfriend and wife, Laurie Rose, a.k.a. Misty Dawn, on the set of the film Marathon. Laurie’s beautiful youthful appearance and zest for life infatuated Holmes. The two immediately hit it off and enjoyed sex on and off-set.
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. His first wife, Sharon, as well as Bill Amerson, separately confirmed later that Holmes could not have contracted HIV from intravenous drug use because Holmes never used needles.
During the summer of 1986, unable to find work in America, Holmes traveled to Italy where he filmed his last porno movies, including The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empress, which co-starred the later Italian Parliament member Ilona ‘Cicciolina’ Staller. His final film was The Devil In Mr. Holmes. He continued to make public appearances at autograph signings as well as hosting video clips during 1986 and 1987, during which time the gaunt physical appearance resulting from his health problems became increasingly evident.
Not wanting to reveal the true nature of his failing health, Holmes claimed to the press that he was suffering from colon cancer. John Holmes married Laurie Rose on January 23, 1987 in Las Vegas, confiding to her that he had AIDS.
During the last four months of his life, he was essentially bed-ridden, constantly going to hospitals for treatment. John Holmes died from AIDS-related complications on March 13, 1988 at the age of 43.
We have the largest collection of John Holmes videos and stag films on the planet. Including movies from John’s private collection.