Deathiversary of a super(sized) star

25 years ago today, the world lost one of its biggest “larger than life” personalities.

holmes02On March 13, 1988, porn star John Holmes succumbed to AIDS-related complications at the age of 43.

The guy with the scrawny body and plain features will forever be known in pop culture as the porn star with the gigantic…ego. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Holmes made a mittful of dirty films, winding up in over 2000 assorted releases, using his claim to fame–his abnormally large penis. Interestingly, no one knows for sure just HOW big it was, and estimates range from 9 to 13 inches or more.

But no matter how big the member was, John himself was undoubtedly a much bigger prick. He is the epitome of a legend overshadowing the reality, and “Johnny Wadd,” as he was known in many of his films, was in actuality a very small man.

The entrance to the Wonderland house, taken during my visit to the house in 2009.
The entrance to the Wonderland house, taken during my visit there in 2009.

Ask anyone around L.A. and they will no doubt equate the name John Holmes with one of the most notorious murder cases in the state’s history, the Wonderland murders.

By 1981, Holmes was maintaining a relationship with notorious gangster Eddie Nash, who supplied Holmes with cocaine and heroin, and also a ragtag group of drug dealers who lived on Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon. Holmes helped the Wonderland gang rob Nash’s house, then betrayed the group and told Nash who had committed the robbery. Nash, sending his thugs along with Holmes himself, is believed to have instigated a brutal massacre at the Wonderland house, killing four of the gang and leaving a fifth for dead (she lived, but never fully recovered). Blood spatter and brain particles covered the walls and ceilings, and the attack was so vicious that the victims’ heads were literally bashed open.

Click here for (warning: graphic) video of the crime scene.

Check out my friend Scott Michaels touring the Wonderland house here!

Holmes was not initially charged with murder due to lack of evidence, and he promptly fled L.A. The following year, he was charged with murder and acquitted, at which time he returned to the adult film business.

In 1985, Holmes found out he was HIV positive. True to character, he continued having unprotected sex in adult films, not telling any of the women of his status. He died of AIDS three years later.

His reputation as an informant stretches beyond the Wonderland affair, as it is widely believed that following busts related to his porn career, Holmes ratted out other actors he saw as “competition” in an attempt to have them arrested and run out of the business.
Even before he met Eddie Nash, Holmes was no stranger to crime, prostituting himself, pimping out his girlfriends, and dealing drugs to support his own cocaine habit. His 15-year-old girlfriend often was also “lent” out, with Holmes snorting her profits.

In the end, John Curtis Holmes’ death on this date in 1988 was pretty inconsequential. He was little more than a spineless drug addict, using everyone he could, remaining completely oblivious to the carnage he left behind.

On the other hand, porn legend John Holmes, aka Johnny Wadd, will live forever on film, thanks to the Internet age.

There is an excellent movie about Holmes and his connection with the murders called Wonderland (2003) featuring Val Kilmer and Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe from Friends) in terrific performances. Boogie Nights (1997) is a much lighter (and more fictionalized) account of Holmes and his foray into porn, starring Mark Wahlberg.

Oh…also today, the Catholic Church chose a new Pope. Instead of “Surrender Dorothy,” the smoke from the Vatican spelled out “Send more boys.”

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