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Sharon Mitchell: One time when I was shooting a film with John in Laurel Canyon, he just disappeared. Everyone on the set thought he had gone out for lunch, and we were waiting and waiting, and it was getting dark. And then all of a sudden we heard a little scream from one of the bedrooms. Some woman had opened up a closet, and John was in there with a base pipe, getting high. He had been on the set all day.

He just looked up and said, "Where were you guys? Nobody came to get me!"

Bill Amerson: John still tried to work, but he got a reputation for not showing up, or spending most of the time in the bathroom.

And people didn't want to hire him anymore, because John always got paid up-front. So producers got to the point where they didn't want to pay him up-front anymore because he wasn't reliable.

Bobby Hollander (porn star): The first time I met John Holmes I was living with Gloria Leonard in Burbank. I came home from work early one day, and I opened up the front door, and the house smelled like somebody was frying grapes. I said, "What the hell is this?"

I didn't notice any other cars or anything strange. Except the odor in the house. So I walked down into the living room. The first person I see is John Holmes, standing up in front of a coffee table. And I notice he has a suitcase -- not a briefcase or an attaché case, it's like a suitcase a little kid runs away from home with. It's plaid, and it's on the coffee table with the lid up. And John's holding something in his hand, and the smell is coming from him.

So I walk in and Gloria's sitting on the couch with another girl, and she says, "Oh, Bobby, I want you to meet John Holmes."

And I take a look in the suitcase, and there's six free-base pipes in it, and a blowtorch, and a bottle of 151 Bacardi rum to make the torch. And he is taking a blast off the pipe. John says, "Well, do you want to get a little buzz?"

So we got high that day, and we were showing everyone around the house. We went out to the pool, and I was bragging about getting new cars the next day.

We had an 11 o'clock appointment to pick up the cars the next day. So we go and get the cars -- they're beautiful, I love it -- we get home, we walk in the front door, and the house is a shambles. The television is gone, the VCR is gone, cameras are gone, jewelry is gone, the bedroom is completely ransacked, guns were gone. And the only one who knew that we were going to be gone at that particular time, that day, was John Holmes.

Bob Vosse: No one in the industry knew John Holmes socially. John had no social life, he'd never stick around for parties, and he had very few friends. I tried to be John's friend. We worked together in many places, many times. I shot more than half the films John made in his life, but he never trusted me. He never trusted anyone.

Dawn Schiller (girlfriend): When I was 15, my father divorced my mother in Florida, and I chose to move with my father to California.

But we had nowhere to live. Then a hitchhiker we picked up on the way to California told us we could stay with his girlfriend. But when we got there, she said she would have to ask the manager first. So in walked John Holmes. He was the manager of the apartment complex. John looked me up and down and asked me how old I was.

I said, "Fifteen."

And he went, "Mmm. Too bad."

Sharon Holmes: By 1973, I was literally eating my own guts alive because of the emotional upheaval of trying to deal with John's porn career and maintain a physical relationship with him. I couldn't handle it anymore, and I was hospitalized with pancreatitis.

When I got home I told John, "I have no problem with your living with me, but I don't want anything to do with you physically. I don't want to hear about what you're doing. Fine, I'll do your laundry. I'll be your mother, I'll be your confessor, I'll be your sister, I'll be your friend, but I don't want to be physical anymore."

He begged and pleaded, saying, "This porn stuff means absolutely nothing to me."

And I said, "John, it doesn't mean anything to you, but it means a lot to me. I'm married to a hooker. I'm not comfortable with that. I can't handle it anymore."

So by 1975 we no longer had a physical relationship.

We slept in the same bed, we hugged, we kissed, we felt intimate with each other, but not sexually intimate.

So John found Dawn, a skinny 15-year-old whose dad was one of those expatriates who settled in Thailand after Vietnam because of the drug connection. So on his first trip home since the Vietnam War he told his wife he wanted a divorce, and that he wanted to take the kids to Disneyland.

So when they got here, they moved into our apartment court. Five people -- in a one-bedroom apartment.

Dawn Schiller: John knew that me and my sister liked to smoke pot, and he always came home with the best stuff. He'd say, "Here, try this," and he would flick it on the couch and then leave. He always had a dramatic air. And I thought, "God, he's cool!"

My sister thought he was weird 'cause he was too old to be hanging around us. But I liked him.

Sharon Holmes: Dawn was a very nice-looking girl. Big-boned, but skinny. And John hired her and her sister, Terry, to do the gardening around the apartment complex so they could make their own money. Their father had money, but he didn't spend it on his kids. He was always out connecting with some drug person from Thailand.

Dawn Schiller: John and I were getting closer, and then he started getting camping trips together -- to the beach -- in his van. He had a Chevy van with a WADD license plate. I guess that was a porn series that he did.

Then the camping trips turned into overnight camping, but always with my sister, and John always made it fun. He'd build a big bonfire on the beach, and we'd eat peanut-butter-brown-sugar-chocolate-chip cookies, which is the ultimate when you're stoned.

So he was very romantic. Quite a romantic.

And then one time he set it up so that my sister couldn't be there, and asked me to go camping by myself. And, like, we both knew this was the night.

So we went to Malibu, walked on the beach, and it was a full moon. It was low in the sky. It was perfect and John was very quiet. We just sat on the rocks and watched the moon. The atmosphere was magical.

And without saying anything, John got down from that rock and just took my hand and we walked to the van.

And he was extremely gentle and extremely awesome. Just awesome.

Sharon Holmes: After Dawn and John became intimate, Dawn became like a daughter to me, and I tried to show her that John wasn't God Almighty. But I guess to a 15-year-old who's getting showered with gifts and John telling her how wonderful she is, she would have done anything he wanted.

And eventually she did do anything he wanted.

Chris Coxx (nightclub owner): I first met John Holmes when I had my nightclub, the Odyssey. He was brought in by a mutual friend to my office at the club. This was in late 1980, and it was kind of unique to meet him, because he was so well-known. I remember seeing his movies. Everybody'd seen his movies.

But when I met him, he was pretty heavy into coke. I think his career had gone down the tubes and he was basically homeless. He was living in the back of an old milk truck, and he was pretty much living day to day, you know, heavily caught up in cocaine. John carried around a big aluminum briefcase loaded up with freebasing paraphernalia: butane and propane, and pipes and nozzles -- all the equipment we were using in those days.

So John kind of befriended me because the drugs were flowing pretty heavily. He knew a good thing when he saw it.

You see, those were the days when everybody was carrying around a two-gram bottle of coke. You know what I mean? It was just the right thing to have. And then there was an elite group that was doing the freebasing, because it was so expensive; it was like $2,800 an ounce. So it was just affluent people who could afford to do it back then. And there were just small cliques around town that had the little freebasing empires going on.

There was me and my group. And there was Eddie Nash and his group, centered around Nash's house in the Hollywood Hills. Eddie ... had six or seven nightclubs in Hollywood, and it was known that he pretty much ran everything. If you wanted to get something done, you had to see Eddie Nash.

But then, in 1980, I kind of got put out to pasture when I introduced John Holmes to Eddie Nash. I mean, when I first brought John over to Nash's, it was like bringing over a celebrity. There were lots of girls there, and they were pretty much bumping into one another to get to John. He was well liked up there. He was a conversation piece. And John and Ed hit it off very well, and John started spending all his time over at Eddie Nash's house.

My feelings weren't really hurt; I understood what was going on. John was doing whatever he had to do to get his own supply.