Biography: 1973/1981

In 1973, to avoid serving time for pimping and pandering, John started informing to Sergeant Tom Blake, an LA Vice detective. "He liked playing the role of Dick Tracy," Blake told the documentary Wadd. "He'd tell us who'd be shooting the porno films, who'd be producing, who'd be directing... Who the money people were backing the films. When the film was being shot." Also in 1973, John met pornographer Bob Chinn. A slight Hawaiian who grew up in New Mexico, Robert Husong aka Bob Chinn began making amateur films at age 12. After semesters at the University of Miami and Santa Monica City College, he graduated from UCLA's film school in 1966. He built sets for commercials, and worked behind the scenes on pornographic productions until churning out his own sex loops and selling them to theaters. "In those days you could hire a girl for $25 and shoot ten or fifteen minutes of film, one reel. It was a strange period, when you could get away with hardcore if you did just a little, sort of slipped it in. There wasn't a lot of money in it then, but it was a living, and it led to my crewing on features and then to directing them. I was making films for Italian businessmen [Mafia]." (Playboy 3-98) Chinn remembers the day in 1973 that John Holmes walked into his office next to the Pussycat Theater on Western Avenue. "I'd heard about him from an actress I worked with," Chinn told Playboy's Craig Vetter (3/98). "And when I saw him with his clothes off, I thought, I could make an interesting movie with this man." Bob wrote a script for a porno starring Holmes as private detective Johnny Wadd. They shot the first film, Johnny Wadd, in a day. The 60-minute production cost $750. Holmes and Chinn made nine more Wadd films. It was the first porno movie series. Amerson says John began smoking marijuana in 1972. He progressed to mushrooms, pills and cocaine, a drug he never kicked.

In 1975, to supplement his earnings, John Holmes became a carrier for the mob. He also flipped tricks with men and women who bought him cars and jewelry.

In 1976, John began courting 15-year old Dawn Schiller. He bought her stuffed animals, roses and a ring. One night, he drove her to the beach in his van. "I didn't know what was going to happen, but I knew what might," says Dawn. "We sat on the rocks, the moon was just right. We sat for a long time and he was very, very quiet. He just stared. I played in the water. When I got out, he said, 'Let's go,' and we drove toward home. And then, just as we got to this intersection, he slammed on the brakes. It was dark, and there wasn't any traffic. He said, 'Would you make love to me? I literally shook to death. I said yes. I loved him. We did it in the van. After that I was his." (RS 6/15/89) At the height of his career in 1978, John Curtis Holmes earned three thousand dollars a day from fuck films.

He traveled with Gloria Leonard to Paris in 1978 to make Johnny Does Paris. "The day we met," she relates, "he had this diva attitude, so I said, 'I'm sorry, my dear, but this set isn't large enough for two prima donnas.' He was a baby, really, and an egomaniac." (Playboy 3/98) John became increasingly addicted to drugs. Every ten to fifteen minutes he needed a hit of coke and then 40-50 Valium a day to cut the edge. "When he did coke," Schiller told Rolling Stone reporter Mike Sager, "He'd do it until it was all gone, and then he'd scrape the pipe and smoke all the resin he could find, then he'd take a bunch of Valium. He'd have me make these peanut-butter chocolate-chip brown-sugar butter cookies. All the sugar helped him come down. He'd have a big glass of milk, and we'd turn on the cartoons and then he'd go to bed in Sharon's room. I'd usually fall asleep on the couch." John got Schiller on drugs and eventually turning tricks (sex for money) to support his bad habits. Sharon befriended Dawn and looked after her as best she could. "The poor girl was emaciated. I knew the whole picture," says Sharon. "He was picking on a kid that didn't know any better. I had to let her know there was another world out there, that John was not God Almighty. "John was terrified that I was going to confront her. But I had no reason to confront her. Why? Why would I confront her? He meant nothing to me that way." (RS) Holmes was gone much of the time, making films in Europe, San Francisco and Hawaii. Because of his drug use, he became difficult to work with. Persons on set joked that you had to leave a trail of freebase from the bathroom to the bedroom to get Holmes to perform. Soon drugs killed John's abilities to get erect. The man who had claimed to earn half-a-million dollars a year from his sexual talents became a drug delivery boy for the gang of outlaws and junkie who lived on Wonderland Avenue in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles. John and Dawn lived for months out of Sharon's Chevy Malibu. Eventually, John got Schiller into an apartment in the San Fernando Valley with porn actress and high-priced hooker Michelle. In his 1998 autobiography, edited by his widow Laurie, John portrays his friend and manager of 20 years, Bill Amerson, as an evil man. Bill supposedly introduced John to cocaine. John Holmes became the godfather to two of Amerson's children. "He lived with us in the big house we had in Sherman Oaks," Bill told Playboy, "and the two of us became like brothers. He liked to garden, did handyman stuff. We went hunting and fishing together, partied around town. He had a heart as big as the fucking world, but as he got more and more fucked up on drugs it became impossible to make movies with him. He started hanging out with his suppliers, real assholes, people like Eddie Nash and Ron Launius." John spent hours at Bill's big home on the hill, "the perfect party pad," according to Porn King. "With Bill, the producer, and me, Mr. Porno Stud, girls were drawn to us like bees to honey. His wild nudist romps, especially in the heat of summer around his pool, were the raging ticket in town. The girls didn't mind who they fucked, just as long as we wanted them or they thought it would get them in movies." To support his drug habit, John committed felony crimes most every day. He stole luggage off conveyor belts at LAX, bought appliances with his wife's credit cards and traded them for cash.

Police finally caught him January 14th, 1981 stealing a computer out of a car. Gloria Leonard remembers the day in 1981 that John visited her at her home in Los Angeles. He looked skinny and seemed "all cock." By 9 AM, he'd already freebased three grams of coke. When the porn actress returned from an errand, she found Holmes gone, along with $25,000 worth of jewelry, electronics and guns. Nightclub owner and drug kingpin Eddie Nash bailed John and Dawn out of jail. Schiller fled. John chased her to the bus station but Dawn had convinced the clerk to give John the wrong information, saying her life was at stake. John followed the wrong bus all the way to San Francisco. He then returned to Sharon and beat her up. A 22-year old ex-girlfriend of John's, Suzanne Atamian aka Julia St. Innocent, produced a 1981 porn "documentary" about John's life called Exhausted. During 1980-81, John became closer to Nash whose real name is Adel Nasrallah. Born and raised in Lebanon, he came to Los Angeles around 1950, and opened a hot dog stand on Hollywood Boulevard. Thirty years later, in his 50s, Nasrallah owned the Seven Seas, a restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard, the strip joint Kit Kat, several clubs for homosexuals and a rock n'roll hangout Starwood. A heavy coke addict similar to the character in Boogie Nights that Dirk Diggler and company attempt to rob, Nash rarely left his large home in the San Fernando Valley. He sold coke, heroin and other drugs. Gaunt with dark wavy hair and a vicious temper, he threw wild parties that lasted for days. "He was an awful man," says Laurie Holmes. "John told me he used to leave the bathrooms without toilet paper, then offer the young women cocaine if they'd lick his ass clean." (Playboy 3/98) Nash's huge bodyguard Greg Diles slept in a back bedroom with a shotgun under his blanket. Holmes became a star attraction at Nash's parties and eventually began running drugs to repay his drug debt. On Nash's 1980 birthday, John presented him with Dawn Schiller as a sexual present. Eddie was so pleased he gave John a quarter pound of hard cocaine. John thought Nash the most evil man he'd ever met but couldn't figure him out. So John just hung around. While delivering drugs, John became intimate with the criminal underground. "From the outside, their homes or apartments looked perfectly respectable. On the inside, however, they were armed camps containing entire rooms filled with crates of automatic weapons, shrapnel grenades and ammunition, suitcases packed with counterfeit money, boxes and bags crammed with jewelry and narcotics." (Porn King) At home in Oregon in early 1981, Dawn refused for months to answer John's phone calls. Eventually she relented. In June, 1981, five months after fleeing him, Schiller reunited with John in West Los Angeles. It was just two days before the most frightening week of John's life. In late June, Holmes was in a bad position. He'd smoked a couple of drug deliveries for the Wonderland Gang, a group of drug dealers (Joy Miller, William Ray Deverell and Ron Launius) who lived in a stucco house (formerly belonging to the rock group Paul Revere and the Raiders) at 8763 Wonderland Avenue on a steep, winding road in the hills above Hollywood. The name on the lease of the house was Joy Miller, a 46-year old junkie with an arrest record for dealing. She lived with her heroin addict lover Billy De Verell, 42, who'd been arrested 42 times. They lived with 37-year old drug smuggler Ron Launius who, one day, beat up John with a walking stick when the porn star smoked a coke delivery. Then Ron asked Holmes how he was going to make good. Desperate, John told him: "Eddie Nash. I've known him for three years. He trusts me, calls me his brother. I know the house, where the drugs are, and the cash. I'll draw you a floor plan. I'll visit him and leave the door unlocked. You cut me in for whatever you think is right." (Playboy 3-98) On June 29, 1981, John partied at the Nash villa for several hours and bought drugs. On the way out, he unlocked the door as promised. In the early hours of June 30, Launius, De Verell, and two friends, Tracy McCourt and David Lind, slipped through the unlocked door and surprised Nash and his bodyguard. Waving a stolen police badge and a .357 Magnum, Lind told them to freeze. As the Wonderland Gang struggled to handcuff the obese Diles, Launius fell against Lind's gun hand and the .357 went off, grazing Diles' back. Crying, Nash begged for his life. Launius shut him up by sticking his gun into Nash's mouth and demanding the combination to his floor safe. Holmes had said that was the Palestinian's repository for drugs. Lind, Launius and company stole over $100,000 cash, $150,000 of jewelry, a kilo of heroin, more than eight pounds of cocaine and 5000 quaaludes. The gang returned home to find Holmes waiting for his share. John smoked some of their new coke. After he received $3000, coke and jewelry, Holmes complained he deserved more. Launius punched him in the stomach and threw him out. Around 4:30 PM, July 1, 1981, Detective Tom Lang and his partner Bob Souza, received a call to investigate four murders. In 1994, Lang and his next partner, Philip Vannater became famous as the lead investigators in the O.J. Simpson double murder. "Tom and I thought we'd seen it all," Bob Souza told Playboy regarding the carnage they witnessed in 1981. "But I'd never seen so much blood. Four people bludgeoned to death and a fifth victim who survived. It was gruesome." For the first time, the LAPD used videotape to record the multiple-murder scene on Wonderland Avenue. The tape reveals blood everywhere - on the walls, ceilings, furniture and floors. Lind's girlfriend Barbara Richardson lies in a pool of blood and brains. Joy Miller and Ron Launius lie in a bloody bed. Billy DeVerell slumps beneath a television. Susan Launius, Ron's wife, was beaten around the head. Playboy says the blows crushed her skull in a way that limited bleeding, thus enabling her to survive. Neighbors heard her moaning a few hours after the attack. Attack by whom? Now private detectives who are writing a book with Nils Grevillius about the crime, Four on the Floor: The Laurel Canyon Murders, Lange and Souza say the following happened: While wearing a ring that belonged to Nash and was stolen in the robbery, John got caught in the San Fernando Valley by Nash's 300-pound karate-expert bodyguard Gregory DeWitt Diles, a convicted felon. Diles took Holmes' address book and dragged John to the furious Nash. Looking through the book, the drug lord found names of John's friends and family. Nash threatened Holmes that he'd murder them if he didn't lead them to the Wonderland gang. Holmes took them into the house on Wonderland Avenue where the gang stayed. With a pistol held at his temple, John watched Nash's flunkies beat with an iron bar five members of the gang into a bloody pulp. Four men died and one woman barely lived, suffering permanent brain damage. Other accounts claim that the gang members were already thrashed by the time John, Diles and Nash arrived. The gang had its share of enemies wanting to do them in. Lange and Souza say that from the position of the bodies, they know that at least three, and as many as five, assailants participated in the slaughter. (Playboy 3-98) Early that Thursday morning, July 2nd, John, covered with blood, knocked at Sharon's door. He told her he'd seen murder. "Why didn't you do something?" Sharon asked. "I couldn't," said John. "It was either me and my family, including you, or them. They made Nash beg for his life. They deserved to die." (RS) John then went to Schiller and fell asleep. She heard him cry out in his sleep, "Blood, blood, blood, so much blood." On the late TV news she saw a report on the murders of the four Wonderland gangsters. She put everything together and waited until morning. After John awoke, he told Schiller a made-up story. (RS) That same day, police met with David Lind, who was not home when the murderers arrived. "He sat there popping pills - rainbows, cartwheels, everything," says Lange, "and told us the whole story of the Nash robbery and Holmes' involvement. In fact, he was the one who figured out that Holmes had played both ends against the middle and had set up the Wonderland gang the same way he had set up Nash." Lange says that John may have helped kill Launius. "He hated him, was terrified of him. We found Holmes' palm print on a bed rail above Launius' body, an incriminating place for it to be." (Playboy 3-98) "He was thereÉbut he didn't do it, and neither did Nash," Amerson told Playboy. He says people were lined up to kill the Wonderland gang. "The morning of the murders I got a call from a good friend, Dee Samuels, who was a hit man. He'd been staking out the Wonderland house because he had a contract to kill the guys and was waiting for his moment. He told me, 'I just saw your friend John Holmes coming out of there alone, covered in blood. I went it to see what was going on, and they were all dead.' John showed up at my [Amerson's] house a half hour later, all wild and bloody, saying he'd gone over there to let the Nash bunch in and found everybody, except Susan Launius, dead already. She was moaning, so he rolled her back onto the bed, then went through the house looking for coke and whatever else he could find. He was carrying something in a pillowcase when he showed up at my place. He was crazed, said he needed money and a car. So I gave him $20 and a fully restored 1960 Ford Fairlane convertible, and he took off. A while later Dee told me that along with his contract and Nash's contract, there was a third hit out on these people and that two methamphetamine dealers who'd been burned by the group got there first." Lange and Souza interviewed the two speed dealers. The detectives say the men arrived after the murders, searched the scene before leaving Susan Launius moaning on the floor for help. The detectives say their investigation was frustrated by superiors. It appears that Nash and Holmes had police and political connections that kept them from getting interrogated by the detectives. (Playboy) John's friend Detective Frank Tomlinson took over the investigation. He took John, Dawn and Sharon into custody at the luxury Biltmore hotel in downtown LA. John enjoyed the attention and told a lot of stories. But he refused to testify because he feared that Eddie Nash would murder his family. After a few days of expensive meals and drink, the police released the three. Dawn and Sharon dyed John's hair black. Schiller and Holmes spray painted Sharon's Chevy Malibu and the two of them took off across the country. John broke into cars along the way to support them. When they arrived in Miami, John got Schiller turning tricks at the beach. When she tired of it, he publicly beat her and she ran away. Dawn worked as a stripper. A couple of weeks later, on December 4, 1981, she led the police to Holmes. It was the last time that John and Dawn saw each other.