John Holmes Porn Star Biography

"John Holmes was to the adult film industry what Elvis Presley 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 was not only one of the biggest, but one of the first pornographic stars of all time. Thanks to his legendarily long member and sheer amount of films shot during the Golden Age of Porn, he has been posthumously included in the industries most prestigious hall of fames.

Early Life

John Curtis Holmes was born on August 8, 1944 in Ashville, Ohio, as the youngest of four children. When his mother and stepfather divorced when he was three (he considered the man his father, only finding out later in life he was the product of a fling between his mother and a man named Carl Estes, whom he never met), they moved 25 miles south to Columbus, Ohio. At the age of 16, with his mother's permission, he left home and joined the U.S. Army. During his three years of enlistment he was stationed in West Germany with the Signal Corps. After receiving an honorable discharge, he moved to Los Angeles where he worked odd jobs. While working as an ambulance driver he met his future first wife, Sharon Gebenini. They would marry nine months later, in August of 1965.

Adult Film Career

Facing hard times in 1968 and taking into account his massive penis, Holmes decided to try his hand as a pornographic actor. While it is believed he would eventually film around 2500 films and loops in his career, it is impossible to know for certain. In pornography's early outlaw days (despite the films themselves being in a gray area of legality, the performers were still considered criminals due to prostitution laws) it was unusual for any of the actors to be credited, and if they were, it was typically only the female actress. Already gaining popularity for his massive penis, Holmes shot to stardom after taking the titular role of the private investigator in the "Johnny Wadd" film series. Between 1970 and 1987, Holmes would play the role of Wadd eleven times. The series led to so much demand for the popular actor that he reportedly made $3000 per day at his peak.

Personal Life

Holmes was known as a flagrant but charming self promoter. When questioned by fans just how long his penis was, he was fond of joking, "Bigger than a payphone; smaller than a Cadillac". While his penis was never officially measured, stories and anecdotes from friends and co-stars have placed it somewhere in the range of 10-13 inches. At his peak, he had his penis insured by world-renowned insurance company Lloyd's of London for $14 million. He claimed to have slept with 10,000 women in his life, though this was most likely an exaggeration. He was also known as a philanthropist who often gave to charity, particularly causes related to the environment. He was known to occasionally collect donations door-to-door for "Save the Whales". Though it is unclear when he divorced his first wife, it is known married again to Laurie Rose in 1987.

Later Career and Death

Holmes developed a legendary cocaine habit in the late 70's which unfortunately hurt his standing in the industry. In July 1981, he was arrested and charged for his involvement in the notorious "Wonderland Murders", a drug related gang murder of several dealers in the Wonderland gang. Though never suspected of actual violence, he was charged as an accomplice. He was eventually clear of all charges. In the mid 80's he was diagnosed with AIDS (whether via his personal or professional life is not known). He succumbed to the disease in 1988, at the age of 43.

Legacy and Awards

*1985 - Inaugural Inductee of the XRCO Hall of Fame

*2008 - XBIZ Award - Lifetime Achievment

He was known as the "Sultan of Smut", an allusion to the great Babe Ruth, for his importance to the industry. He has had two mainstream films loosely based on his life (Mark Wahlberg's Dirk Diggler in the film Boogie Nights and Val Kilmer as John Holmes in Wonderland based on his involvement in the Wonderland Killings). In 2001, the Johnny Wadd series he was so well known for was re-booted, with Joel Lawrence taking on the role of "Johnny Wadd Jr.".

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