Penthouse Retrospective

by Legs McNeil Originally Published: April, 2000

Johnny Wadd | 20 Years Ago This Month

John Holmes’s 13-inch cock made him an X-rated legend. Then a wicked cocaine habit made him a prime suspect in a shocking multiple murder.

Born to be Wadd

Penthouse Magazine - April, 2000Herewith, the true story of “Johnny Wadd” from the people who Knew, loved, and prosecuted him.

He claimed to have slept with 14,000 women, been a hired call boy of the rich and famous, and the best fuck in Hollywood. His name was John Curtis Holmes; he was a skinny Ohio farm boy who, appearing under the nom du porn “Johnny Wadd,” wielded his 13-inch penis to become the Elvis Presley of X-rated films-and the envy of every man on the planet during the “Golden Age of Porn” in the seventies. “John Holmes was nothing less than the first pop icon from pornography,” observed director Paul Thomas Anderson, who loosely based his 1997 Oscar-nominated film Boogie Nights on Holmes’s life. “You can mention a lot of porn stars from today’s world, and a lot of housewives in the middle of America wouldn’t know what the hell you were talking about, but say ’John Holmes’ and everyone knows.” In many respects, Anderson’s story of Dirk Diggler, a young loser from the San Fernando Valley who has nothing going for him except a huge cock, which he whips out before the camera and finds fame and fortune, was the John Holmes story, the X-rated equivalent of A Star Is Born and as American as apple pie. But for the real-life man with the monster dick, the denouement was violent and ugly, and far from entertaining.

With overnight success also came a wicked free-base cocaine habit that rendered Holmes unable to get it up on camera, the only true sin in the world of pornography. By the early 1980s, his porn career in shambles, Holmes turned to drug dealing and petty theft with a gang of low-life junkies who lived at 8763 Wonderland Avenue in the Hollywood Hills. But even among the bottom feeders of the Wonderland Avenue Gang, Holmes was considered a joke, until he suggested the gang rob his good friend, Hollywood nightclub owner Eddie Nash (real name: Adel Nasrallah).

After spending the night freebasing with Nash, Holmes departed, but not before leaving a sliding door unlocked. An hour later the gang burst into the house with guns drawn, beat up Nash and his bodyguard, Gregory Diles, and made off with $100,000 in cocaine and tens of thousands in cash and jewelry.

The Wonderland Avenue Gang made only one mistake: They left Nash and Diles alive. A few nights later, on July 1, 1981, according to the testimony of L.A. P. D. detectives who investigated the case, Nash forced Holmes to lead a group of unknown assailants to the Wonderland Avenue house, where Holmes watched as four of the gang were beaten to death while they slept. It was the most brutal multiple homicide in Los Angeles since the Sharon Tate slayings in 1969.

The Wonderland Avenue Murders remain unsolved to this day. In his upcoming book, Pop Shots: The Uncensored Oral History of the Adult Film Industry, Legs McNeil ( coauthor with Gillian McCain of the best-seller Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk) sheds new light on the murders and how they were instigated by John Holmes’s fatal quest for drugs. With the help of documentary filmmaker Cass Paley (Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes, VCA Pictures), McNeil interviewed many of the major figures in Holmes’s life and the adult-film industry of the seventies, drawing upon their recollections of the King of Porn in order to present his tragic tale of self-destruction in all its sordid reality. As the following excerpt from Pop Shots shockingly details, John Holmes was indeed a man who once had everything and threw it all away, leaving death and destruction in his wake.

“Even among the bottom feeders of the Wonderland Avenue Gang, Holmes was considered a joke until he suggested they rob Eddie Nash.”

Al Goldstein (publisher of Screw magazine): John Holmes was the biggest cock in the business. And I was always fascinated with him because he had everything I didn’t have. He was hung like a horse; I’m hung like a squirrel. He had what all guys dream about. We’re all size queens. We want to have that big cock.

I’m not gay, but I thought one day I’d love to suck that cock. Feel that power. Transcend my limit in size and swallow his virility in the same way some African tribes cannibalize their enemy. I could see blowing him and swallowing his sperm and being better for it.

He was that important to me, because he walked among us with that massive tool banging on the floor. He was like some huge dinosaur, “Thump, thump, thump!” And it wasn’t his tail hitting the ground.

So when I met him, I figured I’d meet a guy who had paradise regained, who had everything. Instead I met a sociopath and a liar. In effect, every manifestation of this man’s life was a lie, a distortion, a duplicity, a quagmire of deceit.

The one truth was, he had a big dick.

Sharon Holmes (first wife): I first met John Holmes in 1964, when he was involved with Vera, a fellow nursing-student friend of mine, and they came over to have dinner. When he broke up with Vera about two months later, John started coming to the door, bringing me flowers and asking me to go out with him. So one thing led to another, and he had no place to live, so he moved into my apartment.

He was very young, very immature at that time, but very, very sweet. Always had an arm around me, always holding hands, you know, that type of thing. So things just gradually evolved into a real tight relationship. And we were married five months later.

It happens much more often with women, but the sad Johnny Wadd story demonstrates that being known for a body part can be emotionally devastating and lead to horrific consequences in a fragile mind.

Leave a Reply