Neither of the women were adult film fans or had a background in the adult industry prior to starting the project. The authors told XBIZ the project was born out of curiosity surrounding Holmes’ legend and also the star’s well-publicized fall from grace.
“It was a twist of fate,” Sugar said, who explained that she was inspired after seeing the 2003 movie “Wonderland.”
“After the movie, the true crime aspect of the story initially intrigued me,” Sugar said. “But I felt there was more to the story about the murders and also about John. I decided to write a book since there wasn't one in print — although ‘Porn King,’ his autobiography, is still available as an e-book.”
Nelson said that her interest also was piqued by “Wonderland,” which starred Val Kilmer as Holmes.
“Part of my fascination was due to the fact that I had relatively zero knowledge about the adult film industry,” Nelson said. “Prior to watching the movie — and like many other mainstream people — I had preconceived notions about the industry and the people in it.”
In August 2004, Sugar attended an event celebrating Holmes’ birthday and met several Golden Age adult celebrities, including Bill Margold, Cass Paley, Rhonda Jo Petty, Bill Amerson and photographer Kenji. From there, she began networking to research Holmes’ story.
Eventually, Sugar, who was a full-time college student at the time, enlisted the help of Nelson to complete the massive project.
Sugar and Nelson conducted in-depth research in an effort to present what they say is a fair and multidimensional portrait of Holmes as a performer and as a man.
Included in the book are interviews with several adult industry personalities, including Holmes’ widow Laurie, former Los Angeles Police Department detectives Tom Lange and Frank Tomlinson, Vivid contract director Paul Thomas, Ron Jeremy, Seka, Marilyn Chambers, Candida Royalle, Petty, AIM’s Dr. Sharon Mitchell, Holmes documentary director Julia St. Vincent and Margold, among others.
Amerson, who was featured in special interview footage for “Wonderland” as the talent agent that discovered Holmes, and Bob Chinn, who directed Holmes in the famous Johnny Wadd series, were also interviewed.
Sugar and Nelson pointed out that with a larger-than-life iconic figure like Holmes, it was not always possible to pinpoint accurate or consistent information.
“According to our research and the people we've spoken with, John Holmes was a chameleon; he had the ability to be whatever people wanted him to be at any given time,” Nelson said. “He could be very crafty, and he was street-smart, but he was also bright, funny and as most people know, he had the ability to fabricate and tell entertaining stories that would go beyond the realm of believability.
“He enjoyed seeing how far he could push the boundaries, which is probably one of the reasons he told outlandish tales,” Nelson added. “More importantly, he was smart in the sense that he knew how to sell his product, and the lies he told were actually a great marketing tool, as they served to perpetuate his legend.”
“It was difficult to prove some things that people had said, and the more research we did, it seemed as if many stories had changed over the years since John's death, at least in subtle ways,” Sugar said. “I think a great thing about Holmes' life story is there are so many questions that will never be answered, so we just laid it all out there for our readers to consider.”
“John Holmes: A Life Measured In Inches” can be preordered at the book’s website. It also will be available online at Amazon.com, as well as at bookstores such as Barnes & Noble.