CHATSWORTH, Calif. – Twenty years after his death, porn icon John Holmes is back in the spotlight thanks to the re-release of two of his landmark movies and the publication of his first full-length biography.
The re-releases, Johnny Wadd, (1970) from VCX, and The Return of Johnny Wadd (1986), from Adam & Eve, neatly bookend the star’s career. They were his first and last incarnations of the private eye character who became his on-screen alter ego.
Johnny Wadd was made in 1970 in the porn industry’s fledgling years. Director Bob Chinn made it in one day for $500 from a script he wrote on the back of an envelope. It was the first of many Wadd movies with Chinn at the helm. The director recently unearthed a pristine first-run answer print from which VCX made its DVD. Extras include an interview and commentary with him.
The Return of Johnny Wadd was one of Holmes’ last features, produced by his friend Bill Amerson for Penguin Productions. Written by Raven Touchstone and directed by Patti Rhodes, it co-stars Kimberly Carson, Sheri St. Clair, Mai Lin and Billy Dee.
According to Jennifer Sugar and Jill C. Nelson in their biography John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches, The Return of Johnny Wadd was made after Holmes' release from jail (in connection with the drug-related Wonderland murders) but before he tested positive for HIV. The actor was 41 and had not made a Wadd movie for eight years. He wanted to revive the franchise and got permission from Chinn, then living in Hawaii, to give it a try.
Touchstone says in the book that she thought her script would be the first of a new Wadd series, but it turned out to be the last. Not long after its release in early 1986, Holmes came down with the first symptoms of the AIDS-related illness that would kill him two years later.
Fans of the original should be alerted that Adam & Eve’s version starts off with a wholly unrelated sex scene that appears to have been incorporated into the movie some years after the movie’s initial release. It features an unidentified woman and a young Tony Tedeschi, who did not enter the business until the early 1990s.
Otherwise, the movie plays just as it did when shot on video 22 years ago.
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. Copies can be ordered from www.bearmanormedia.com or from www.johnholmesinches.com.