Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes | Chicago Reader

Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes

Fans of the famed porn star, who died of AIDS in 1988, will want to catch this exhaustive 1998 video biography. Holmes fabricated much of his life story—he and his agent propagated the tale that he also worked as a high-priced gigolo—but filmmaker Cass Paley documents his escape from an abusive stepfather, his years in the service, and his mundane life before starting in “the business.” The interview subjects complete each other's sentences and contradict each other, often via montage; the people who knew Holmes seem to have entirely contradictory memories, his second wife expressing affection while others recall having to free her after Holmes left her tied up. In the end Holmes seems like a typical cocaine addict, following a downhill path into crime, and most agree that only his mammoth schlong (seen but briefly in the film) made him notable—perhaps the saddest fact of all.

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