It was a gathering of friends last night for Jim Holliday, a man who made an impact on the adult industry that will be felt for years to come, at the elegant Empire Room in the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel in Studio City.
Holliday was an AVN Award-winning producer and Hall of Famer, historian, founding father of the X-Rated Critics Organization (XRCO) and author of such inside industry tomes as Only the Best and The Adult Movie Almanac. He passed away due to complications brought on by Type II Diabetes complications Dec. 15.
Holliday’s close friend Bill Margold, who organized the event, said Holliday “refused to pay any attention to” the condition.
The memorial, attended by approximately 150 people, was organized by Margold, who less than a week ago organized the Legends of Erotica show in Las Vegas during the Adult Entertainment Expo. A trustee on the Protecting Adult Welfare Foundation, he took on the task of keeping the event rolling.
It was a night filled with as many cheers as tears.
Margold dubbed the evening “A Gathering of Angels,” a reference to how Holliday used to refer to his favorite female talent.
At 6:30 p.m., the doors opened. Margold called the dozens of closely knit insiders together for testimonials, bringing longtime friend and Babenet founder Jack Gallagher to the podium.
Gallagher talked of Holliday’s various exploits and career paths, which included carnival work, teaching and ultimately sales of porn movies (as well as hitchhiking for one year). “He bet sports every day and he always paid me back, always made money,” Gallagher offered.
Gallagher talked of how Holliday would fight over the pay for the nearly two dozen girls he would feature in his epic features. He and Russ Hampshire (former owner of VCA, who was in attendance) would always go along with Holliday’s way because his movies always made money, “probably because he put 20 girls in the movies and on the box – all of which were in the movies – most of the time,” Gallagher joked.
Referring to Russ Hampshire and himself, Gallagher added, “Two guys wouldn’t put up with a guy like him unless he was a stand-up kind of guy, and Holliday was always a stand-up guy,” adding that being the father of seven children made it easy to deal with Holliday’s penchant for lengthy conversations by refusing to talk to him any longer when he would beg to discuss “one more thing.” He added that Holliday was like an eighth child to him.
Gallagher closed out his tribute by saying that Holliday was loved and appreciated and he did a lot for the business and nobody could say otherwise.
Next up, Margold came to the stage, thanked Gallagher and a few others for serving Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer and lunchmeat, because that’s what Holliday would have eaten at one point. Margold, in his typically oblique fashion, talked of Holliday as a man who had a clown inside him and a man who hid behind facades.
Margold detailed his own performance in Eternal Virgins, playing Holliday himself and reminiscing about their commonality as phone salesmen, adding that Holliday was indeed a unique individual and when he turned 50 years old, he gave up, adding that Holliday never thought he would live past 40, let alone 50 years of age.
Ron Jeremy was called to the stage next to talk about Holliday’s competitive attitude and how his inside jokes in scripts and costuming were lost even on Jeremy, who quipped that he himself couldn’t make sense of Holliday’s references, and he had the script.
Margold then took the stage again quoting David Fraser of the Kinsey Institute, whom Holliday had helped in the 1980s, as well as Sam Stetson, one of the pioneers of porn history, and Kalton Lahue, one of the great writers of early porn journalism. Lahue, a technical writer who turned his talents to erotica in the 1960s, was one of the deep influences in the careers of the founders of the XRCO, and passed on some 15 years ago.
Margold also mentioned that Holliday’s last public appearance was for the Car Wash held to raise money for the adult industry in May at the offices of VCA Pictures before introducing porn performer Evan Stone as “the son he never had.”
Kylie Ireland, Shayla LaVeaux, Felecia and Katie Morgan took the stage at the same time and told stories of some of their more interesting times with Holliday, both on- and off-camera. Morgan recalled a pirate ship shoot in the desert (High Desert Pirates). Months later, Holliday called the Angel to tell her how pleased he was with it. “‘You were all screaming and sounded so into it!’” she recalled him saying. “We were screaming because we were scared!” she explained, but all on hand agreed that the scene did work, no matter the circumstances.
The desert was an oft-mentioned topic as a favorite place of Holliday’s and he and his casts and crews often got sand between their toes during his shoots. He loved taking his Angels out to the desert and use it as backdrop.
Some who couldn’t make the event, such as Gloria Leonard, Marilyn Chambers and Selena Steele had their remembrances read by friends.
Jill Kelly, who said she couldn’t bear to even speak was eventually lured onto the stage and managed to squeeze out a few kind words through her tears. She ended by saying that on the day Holliday died there was a beautiful sunset and that he would have liked that. Holliday often referred to Kelly as his favorite girl in the industry, and was considered one of his best friends.
AVN and XRCO Hall of Fame director Henri Pachard, who was inducted into the Legends of Erotica last Friday, said that the only time in his career he ever got to talk to Holliday about his own (Pachard’s) titles was the first time they met, at the 1986 XRCO Awards. “After that I had many, many conversations with Jim Holliday, and they were always about Jim Holliday, which I really loved, because I admired Holliday so much.” He added that he would never admit it before, but he was always jealous that Holliday could always get 20 girls for a shoot when Pachard could only get three.
Holliday was also well known for making calls at any time of night and talking endlessly about a wide range of subjects.
DCypher, who runs hardcoregossip.com, told how he once tried to get off the phone with Holliday by telling him that his house was on fire. “‘Yeah, yeah, just one more thing,’” Holliday reportedly told DCypher. When he tried yet again, Holliday said only, “It’ll be okay,” and kept on talking.
Holliday was remembered as a director, porn historian and a personality unlike any other. A recurring theme was people saying that they’d had fallouts with Holliday over the years, but eventually most made up.
Jared Rutter, who started the X-Rated Critics Association with Holliday and Margold in1984 and served as its chairman until he became a senior editor at AVNlastyear, said he had a falling out with Holliday last year, but that working closely together on the 2004 XRCO Award Show healed old wounds and Rutter said that recently they had spoken on a regular basis, and it was “much like old times, and I’m really glad that happened before he left.” Rutter said they last spoke the weekend before he died.
Sharon Mitchell, who performed for 25 years (and is a member of both the AVN and XRCO Hall of Fames) and founded the AIM Healthcare Foundation, told AVN.com that Holliday, “didn’t seem to be happy or kind, but he was a great raconteur for the industry and I hope that wherever he is or wherever he is going or if he is coming back here, he will be happy.”
Holliday had his surly side. VCA, the company he spent many years shooting for, once asked him for a bio and got this response: “Too many people confuse honesty, intelligence and self-confidence with massive ego and arrogance. The fact that I could care less about a bio should prove to many pinheads that the ego is not what they may choose to assume.”
The company did put together a public relations biographical sketch of Holliday that read in part: “Jim Holliday is mostly known for his trademark all-white, the moccasins he wears, the designer shades, his chain smoking habit and for his fun, and fluff and raunchy sex flicks. His movies are laced with historical, pop culture and trivia references but the primary emphasis is on originality and consistently HOT sex. VCA once called him the ‘High Priest of cheerleaders, sorority babes and nurses.’”
Even this reporter got a small taste of Holliday’s surly side. After leaving a voice mail for Holliday at VCA just over a year ago after being assigned to cover one of his shoots, Holliday’s response was left on voice mail as well, and left no question to whether or not he wanted this AVN writer on his set. “Uggggggggh,” the message began, followed by a gruff, “I don’t think so.” Then he hung up. The call was taped, played to various AVN staffers, and there was no question it was Holliday. Nobody ever scored so many points saying denying an on-set request.
Still, Holliday earned vast respect in the industry not only for his directing skills, but also as one of the adult industry’s premier historians – if not the premier historian. As Margold once put it, “Jim Holliday has forgotten more about porn film history than any pretender will ever know.”
While Holliday spent his last days out of the public eye, it was only the summer of 2003 that fans lined up to greet him and his “Ice Cream Angels” at Hustler Hollywood. He was launching Jim Holliday's Anal Angels, the first compilation DVD of Holliday’s work in an adult industry career that had (at the time) spanned 27 years. He was joined by Kylie Wilde, Taylor Rain, Serena South, Amber Rain, Becca Bratt and Shayla LaVeaux as he signed autographs and regaled them with stories of times past, memories forgotten (by most) and legends from his lengthy career as an adult auteur.
While many of the speeches at the memorial were tearjerkers, there were lighter moments, too. Mr. Marcus began his speech by saying, “Jim, he was crazy as fuck!” to great laughter and applause. He discussed a shoot where there was a ton of blondes and he was thinking, “I like blondes, too, but shit!”
“He didn’t give a fuck, man,” Mr. Marcus said in his closing line, “and I can relate.”
Holliday’s producer in recent years, Rob Spallone followed, threatening a man at a table near the front that he would make him eat his glass if he tapped it (as a form of applause) one more time. Spallone said he and Holliday spoke frequently and that recently he would be in mid-sentence and all of the sudden he would hear him snoring. “I told Bill and a lot of people that something was wrong, but nobody knew where this guy lived,” Spallone said. “That’s it. I think he was a crazy bastard and I got along with him when nobody thought I would.”
As one speaker put it, “His ego was as big as his body, and his heart was as big as his body, too.”
Evan Stone ended the memorial by walking on the stage with a tape recorder and played a recording of Holliday’s outgoing message on his voice mail: “No one is currently available to deal with your call, leave a message, your call will be returned.”
“We love you, Jim,” Stone said before walking off stage.
Notables amongst the 150 or so attendees were Kylie Ireland, Syren, F.J. Lincoln, Ed Kail, Marty Turkel, Mark Davis, Jim Malibu, Dick Nasty, Rob Spallone, Jim Kohls, Jennifer James, Mark Hamilton, Felecia, Russ Hampshire, Jack Gallagher, photographer Ken Tara, Jon Dough and Monique DeMoan, Steven Hirsch, Christian Mann, Wit Maverick, Wankus, Cytherea, Clyde DeWitt and girlfriend Cherie Wilson, Wally Wharton, Jeff Coldwater, Ron Jeremy, Toby Dammit, Don Hollywood, Brooke Hunter, Monica Mayhem and many more.
After the tribute, dozens stuck around to chat and drink Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, Holliday’s drink of choice and the only alcohol served at the event.
Walking off stage after the memorial was over, Margold was approached and told what a great job he did, especially only days after most of the industry was in Vegas, as he was, both with the PAW booth at AEE and putting on his Legends of Erotica show.
“It hurts,” an obviously exhausted Margold said. “It hurts.”