Wadd: The Life & Times of John C. Holmes (1999)

wadd the life and times of john c holmes poster 1999 movie documentary
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Holmes was weird & interesting, fun to compare to Boogie Nights

Not very innovative

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Wadd:  The Life & Times of John C. Holmes

Studio:  Lions Gate Entertainment

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  September 9, 1999 (Germany)/January 12, 2001 (US)

MPAA Rating:  NC-17


Yes…I’m John Holmes…Call me Johnny Wadd!

The porn industry needed a little jolt to get it from the under-the-counter dealings and grainy video…enter John C. Holmes.  He’s brash, he’s gangly, and he’s a liar.  When he hit the California porn scene, directors recognize he has a gift that gets viewers.  With a 13-inch penis, John C. Holmes became a star of a new wave of porn films.  His character Johnny Wadd (a hard edge detective that sleeps his way through the mysteries) was a big hit.  As Holmes gets more and more involved in drugs and eventually becomes an accessory in a crime that ended up with four dead.  The documentary tracks Holmes life and his battle with AIDS.

Wadd:  The Life & Times of John C. Holmes was directed by Wesley Emerson and is made up of interviews with the people who knew Holmes, people involved in the Wonderland murders, and clips of interviews with Holmes himself.  It can often be found in a double DVD with the 2003 Val Kilmer film Wonderland.


A younger version

The movie isn’t really the best documentary you’ll ever see, but it is fun.  It is mostly rated NC-17 for the subject matter though it does have some clips from Holmes porn films with some nudity.  It is more entertaining than the Wonderland film that followed in its footsteps.

John Holmes as presented in the documentary was a confusing guy who wasn’t very well known by any of his friends.  The movie presents him as a good guy, a bad guy, and a liar.  The only truth really seems to come from his first wife (who kept her present looks secret), and she seemed to be the only one who know anything about his real childhood.  Holmes would constantly present his past and over-the-top actions to boost the mythos surrounding his giant penis.  A tell tale sign that there was more to Holmes, was the court psychiatrist who revealed she believed Holmes was a sociopath with no real emotional ties to anyone.


A sicker version

Another great aspect is to see how closely Boogie Nights followed the story of Holmes.  Some of the clips of the documentaries (shot by other porn stars) of Holmes were lifted directly for Boogie Nights.  I could criticize Boogie Nights for this, but because of the subject matter, few would have ever seen these real mini-documentaries if Boogie Nights had not been made.  Paul Thomas Anderson (the director of Boogie Nights) is one of the people interviewed in the film.

Wadd:  The Life & Times of John C. Holmes is worth checking out if you can find it.  Obviously it isn’t for everyone, but it is worth it for the quick history of the porn industry and an interesting character in Holmes who comes off as a bit of an enigma in the film.  Watch Wadd, watch Boogie Nights, but you should probably steer clear of Wonderland that never lived up to the character of John C. Holmes.

Related Links:

Boogie Nights (1997)

Wonderland (2003)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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