Legendary adult filmmaker Bob Chinn is recognized as one of the key players of the “Golden Age” of pornographic movies. The AVN and XRCO Hall of Fame director began his career in the late-1960s and is credited with revolutionizing the business, largely due to his John Holmes-starred Johnny Wadd series, which introduced mainstay characters and interesting plots to the world of adult cinema. The Wadd films elevated both Holmes and Chinn to iconic status in different sectors of the XXX field – Holmes as an on-camera talent and Chinn as a director, respectively.
Bob kindly granted XXX Wasteland a recent interview to discuss his career in the adult industry, the recent release of his Johnny Wadd-themed novel, Flesh of the Lotus, and other topics.
You can purchase Flesh of the Lotus on Amazon and at the Barnes and Noble website. Please click here to visit Bob Chinn’s blog.
(Special thanks to Jill Nelson for her assistance in arranging the interview)
Let’s begin by discussing your new book, Flesh of the Lotus. What made you decide to transition the Johnny Wadd film series into a novel and how long had you wished to write a book featuring the Wadd character before penning Lotus?
As far back as when I was trying to make Flesh of the Lotus on the extremely limited budget of $750. it occurred to me that one day I would like to describe the film that I really would have liked to have made by expanding it out into a novel. The thing was, during most the years that followed I was always so busy that I never had the time to do so. After I retired from the business and moved to New Mexico, I decided that now I could finally concentrate on my writing. I had always wanted to flesh out the Johnny Wadd character and writing Flesh of the Lotus gave me the opportunity to do so.
I was impressed by the detail of the book, everything from actual locations and names being used (including a shout-out to Bill Margold) and frequent references to the Vietnam War, right down to the meticulous description of food consumed by Wadd throughout the story. You even recalled in the afterword that December 1972 – where the plot is set – was a particularly cold time period in Southern California, a climate which you integrated into the book. How important do you feel this authenticity was to the overall story?
I don’t know whether the authenticity is really important to anyone else, but it is very important to me. It helps me to get a feel for what I’m writing about.
Flesh of the Lotus is the first installment in a string of upcoming Johnny Wadd novels, is that correct?
Yes. I have a series of Johnny Wadd novels that my publisher has contracted for. I’m almost finished with the second novel in the series, Blonde in Black Lace, and have already begun work on the third and fourth novels, Tropic of Passion and Hell’s Half Acre, which are set in Hawaii.
Do you believe the Wadd series would have become as successful as it did with anyone other than John Holmes playing the lead role? And can you describe your relationship with Holmes from the day you met him in 1971 up until his death in 1988?
The Johnny Wadd character probably would never have been created if I hadn’t met John, so the answer to the first part of your question is no.
I always got along very well with John, although he could be exasperating at times. He had an oversized ego which seemed to match the size of his cock, so most of the producers and people that worked with me couldn’t stand him. But I realized early on that this massive ego and the tendency that he had to constantly distort the truth came from a deep-seated inferiority complex that he felt he had to compensate for. Over the years I got to know John pretty well, both on and off the set. We had a pretty complex and very interesting relationship that I’ve analyzed and described in detail in the autobiography that I’m currently working on.
You are credited as one of the most influential members of the “Golden Age” of porn, but you also directed several pictures from 1999-2003. What do you consider some of the major pros and cons of both eras?
I actually started working in the adult film business toward the late 1960s, at a time when this country was undergoing a major sociological transition. Since I was young and somewhat of a rebel I was motivated to go against the establishment and established tradition. I truly believed that the Victorian standard of morality that had been imposed on us up to that time had no place in our modern society. Back then it was illegal to make the films that I was making and it was like living on the edge, trying to stay one step ahead of the law while shooting them. It was fun.
During the 1970s adult films began showing in the larger theatres and we began to have larger budgets to work with. It seemed as if pornography might even eventually be merged into mainstream entertainment, but when home video came in this speculative dream ended. The theatres closed as video took over and when we were no longer shooting on film I lost interest and left the business.
Thirteen years later – after a movie called “Boogie Nights” came out – people started remembering me and began looking for me again. From 1999 to 2003 I was persuaded to come back and direct 28 shot-on-video features. But the adult film business had changed drastically from the time I had previously worked in it. It had been transformed into a big business that was no longer much fun to work in.
So, to answer your question – the “pros” about working in the “Golden Age” of porn was that it was a time when everything was sort of beginning and we could be a little creative while still trying to find our way and at the same time keep out of jail. It was an exciting time when it all was just more like a wonderful, grand adventure. The “Video Era” was ushered in primarily by businessmen who had little or no interest in film and who consequently turned everything into a big dull business that put profit before creativity, standardizing product to the point where it was no longer fun for me to turn it out.
Do you still regard yourself as being part of the adult industry or have you officially left the business?
As of right now, yes, I suppose I’ve officially left the business. Although I do have a tendency to wander in and out of it from time to time.
Where can readers pick up a copy of Flesh of the Lotus?
It’s available on Amazon.com and I believe Barnes & Noble is carrying it on BN.com.
Are there any upcoming projects in the works you would like to mention?
Aside from the novels there is my autobiography, which will be coming out sometime in the near future. Also Formosa Films currently has a project in the works about my life story.
In closing, is there anything you wish to say to readers?
I’ve always been surprised by the number of people both here and abroad who have come up to me and told me that they’ve enjoyed my films. I really had no idea that so many people had seen them. What I also find truly amazing is the number of younger people that know about me and my films as well. I’d like to thank you all for your kind words and your support over the years. I hope that if you read my books you will enjoy them as well.