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Early the his career as the world's most legendary male porn star, John C. Holmes and his savvier handlers concocted an elaborate fictional back story to compensate for an unremarkable upbringing marked by awkwardness, insecurity, and failure.
Holmes' self-created past as a debonair gigolo and college man didn't have much to do with his actual history as a high-school dropout and working-class stiff, but even a figure as infatuated with exaggeration and self-invention as Holmes couldn't have anticipated his dramatic future. Holmes entered the adult-film business as a relative innocent, a happily married square who just happened to have a famously enormous penis.
By the time of his death, he had made his mark not just as a porn star, but as a thief, informant, drug addict, pimp, sociopath, and possibly even murderer. An intriguing companion piece to the much slicker Ron Jeremy documentary Porn StarWadd covers Holmes' rise and fall in all its sordid glory, through interviews with porn professionals, clips from Holmes' films, and segments of the Holmes documentary Exhaustedthe direct source for several memorable scenes in Boogie Nights.
Unsurprisingly, the Exhausted clips provide many of the guiltiest pleasures in a film with more than its share—in particular, a scene movie which Holmes, in full pseudo-sophisticate mode, boasts of blocking his own sex scenes, only to have director Bob Chinn coolly but firmly contradict him.
As no-frills as times world it documents, Wadd frames its interview subjects with a harshness befitting a collection of mug shots.
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The style is strangely fitting, considering stolen private porn disreputable nature of many of Wadd 's characters, like Holmes' second wife, whose all-American looks and sunny disposition belie her status as the anal queen of '80s porn. As Holmes' life degenerates into an ever more hellish quagmire of drugs, insanity, murder, and AIDS, Wadd emerges as a cautionary tale life almost biblical proportions.
In the film's most chilling moment, an interview subject claims Holmes justified concealing his HIV-positive status from and costars full insisting that they'd all eventually die of AIDS anyway.
Like its subject, Wadd is seamy and exploitative, wadd also magnetic and unforgettable. The A. Nathan Rabin. Filed to: