The Sporadic Beaver

The Business of Smut: Critique #5

June 18, 2011

Tags: John Holmes, Mike Sager, Slate, Rolling Stone, Boogie Nights, Wonderland, Susan Faludi, smut

John Holmes
Well written, well researched, and consistently interesting, “The Devil and John Holmes,” by freelance journalist Mike Sager, is the best of the five pieces about the smut biz recommended by Slate. I read this 12,500-word article when it ran in the June 15, 1989 issue of Rolling Stone. I enjoyed it then and it still holds up now. According to Sager’s Website, the story served as inspiration for the films Boogie Nights and Wonderland.

Thumbnail Critique
Plot: A detailed account of John Holmes’s involvement in the mass murder of a gang of LA drug dealers.
Mood: Hard-boiled crime story meets the history of pornography.
Highlight: John Holmes discovers he has an enormous penis.
Sample Quote: “In a career that would span twenty years, Holmes made 2,274 hardcore pornographic films, had sex with 14,000 women. At the height of his popularity, he earned $3,000 a day on films and almost as much turning tricks, servicing wealthy men and women on both coasts and in Europe. Since the late Sixties, Holmes had traded on his natural endowment. His penis, when erect, according to legend, measured between eleven and fifteen inches in length.”
Also See: “The Money Shot” by Susan Faludi