Flesh of the Lotus: A Johnny Wadd Novel

Flesh of the Lotus: A Johnny Wadd Novel

Thursday, 31 March 2011

XXX Wasteland Exclusive Interview with Bob Chinn

XXX Wasteland Exclusive Interview: Bob Chinn

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.

Gram Ponante's Review of Flesh of the Lotus

Johnny Wadd’s meatier “Flesh”: An Interview with Bob Chinn

Many successful porn movies have been adapted from books: think of the “Emanuelle” series, Ernest Greene’s “O” movies, and don’t forget my upcoming porn version of Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections.” But Bob Chinn’s “Flesh of the Lotus,” a pulpy porn-noir set in 1972 Los Angeles, is the only book adapted from a porn movie.

Bob Chinn directed the first six “Johnny Wadd” movies throughout the 1970s. They were porn’s first serial and the vehicle that made a star of John Holmes.
I talked with Chinn from his home in New Mexico.
Gram Ponante: You wrote the first “Wadd” script on the back of an envelope, shortly after John Holmes showed up at your office looking for a job. What was it about the character of Wadd that made you want to give him a series of fully-developed books?
Bob Chinn: When I made that first Wadd film, I never expected that people would ever want or expect to see Johnny Wadd as a recurring character. When it happened that they did, I tried my best to make better and more interesting films with him despite the budget constraints. It always bothered me that I was never able to develop Johnny Wadd beyond the one-dimensional character seen in those low-budget films. When I decided to write the books, I finally saw the opportunity to not only develop Johnny Wadd’s character but to also reflect the remarkable times in which he lived.
Chinn’s budget for the first “Wadd” movie was $750, and Holmes was to be paid $50 for his day’s work in 1971. But Holmes argued the price up to $75. On the Sunday the movie was shot, the actors arrived in separate cars at a public place, then they were given the address of the shooting location near the beach. On that day Chinn directed under the name Bob Lain.
Chinn: At the time I made those one-day wonders it was still illegal to make them, so I used a variety of pseudonyms. No sense in leading the police right to your door, is there?
“Flesh of the Lotus” is based on the second Wadd film, taking place in the final weeks of 1972. The book’s Wadd (and it’s hard not to picture John Holmes when reading it) is an L.A. native, a private detective, and a disillusioned Vietnam veteran. It is in the book that Chinn’s politics come out and, beyond the novelty of a book-based reboot of a porn movie, the snapshot he provides of the Los Angeles of that time and the attitudes of Chinn’s own generation are fascinating.
Gram: While there are doubtless plenty of things our government doesn’t tell us today, your generation grew up with censorship and banned books. You write in the introduction to “Flesh of the Lotus” that it was a common practice for you to go down to the Post Office and sign destruction orders for naughty books you’d ordered from the Netherlands that they’d intercepted.
Chinn: Some of the books that I sent off to the Netherlands for that were banned here are now considered significant works of literature – books by Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, J.P. Donleavy, Chester Himes, and Vladimir Nabokov – the first time I read “Lolita” it was in the 2-volume Olympia Press edition.. Others reflected a bohemian and inspired artistic freedom and rebellion against censorship. They all provided inspiration for my book. When I decided that I would include graphic sex scenes in my Johnny Wadd novels it occurred to me that I should do so in the vein of those old Olympia Press books that I had enjoyed so much in my youth.
While “Flesh of the Lotus” does have its share of sex, Wadd isn’t so much driven by sex as by his own sense of helplessness and anger. An old flame has been murdered and Wadd, who is at first a suspect, must navigate through the personal and professional jealousy of his ex-best friend—a fat L.A.P.D. vice cop—as well as the seedier neighborhoods of L.A.
Nowhere is the freedom of the book compared with the restrictions of a porn movie made more clear than at one point when Wadd can’t have sex on the first date.
We also learn that “Wadd” is the private dick’s real name; a Polish ancestor had it shortened from Wadja at Ellis Island.
Gram: You mention that Holmes eventually grew tired of being identified as “Johnny Wadd,” but that toward the end of his life he asked you to do more Wadd films, but you refused. (Terminally ill at the time, Holmes got Chinn’s permission to make “The Return of Johnny Wadd.”) The notion of the troubled private detective is not a new one, but there’s something particularly of its time and place about Wadd. Could he exist now?
Chinn: I think that Johnny Wadd was a product of that particular era and as such I believe he should stay in that era.
Gram: What would Wadd be up to in 2011, at age 71?
Chinn: He’d probably be somewhat like me. An old guy but still interested in life and sexually active.
Gram: And how about Holmes?
Chinn: Can’t speculate on that one. He burned himself out way too soon. Now all he’s doing is pushing daisies.
Chinn says he keeps in touch with a few people from the porn industry that he’s known “for years and years,” but otherwise his involvement with the business is limited. He sees the industry he started in and retired from as wholly different from the one that exists today.
Gram: You have drifted in and out of the porn world in your various creative ventures [Chinn is in his late 60's]. What perspective do you have on the adult industry of today versus the one you got your start in?
Chinn: The porn business today is absolutely nothing like it was back in the 70′s. Back then we were shooting on film instead of video and we really had to hustle to keep one step ahead of the law. But it seemed as if we had more freedom in what we could show and express. It was a time before all those legal guidelines were handed down that placed so many restrictions on showing things—product labels and business signs as an example. What had been an exciting adventure back in the 70′s has now turned into a somewhat dull and predictable business. All the fun’s gone out of it.
Gram: It’s interesting that the aftermath of porn’s de facto legalization took the thrill out of it for you.
Chinn: It seemed as if there might be the possibility of a breakthrough with the mainstream market somewhere in the future. The video revolution effectively ended this dream. With porn readily available on videotape the adult film theatres began closing. The film producers were replaced by businessmen who cut the budgets and creativity out of an industry that had virtually grown out of nothing. Around this time I got out of the business for awhile. I returned to make a few features on 16mm for a company that still sold to the European film market as well as the video market, and I even made a few video features. Then I retired back to Hawaii to watch my kids grow up. I had resigned myself to a life of relative obscurity when, 13 years later, “Boogie Nights” came out and people in the business began remembering me. I was persuaded to come out of retirement and make 28 more shot-on-video features before finally deciding that I’d had enough.
Gram: Though the “Wadd” films put you on the map, you actually had a porn career between your USC film degree and your meeting with Holmes.
Chinn: I first started in this business because it was the only aspect of the film industry that opened up to me and gave me employment. The first films I made were silent 1-reel beaver girl loops, softcore boy-girl loops, then hardcore loops. These subsequently evolved into primitive synch-sound 16mm 1-hour features, and eventually to 35mm full-length features that showed in regular adult theatres. It got to the point where we were shooting even more ambitious features with Panavision cameras and lenses.
Gram: As much as you’ve left the business behind, this planned series of books is pulling you right back in. You are writing your autobiography and Formosa Films has just optioned the story of your 10-year relationship with Holmes. If they’d only liten, what pearls of wisdom might you give to someone just getting into the porn business?
Chinn: I doubt if there’s a porn performer today that would really be interested in what I have to say.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Bob Chinn discusses "Flesh of the Lotus" with Mr. Skin

flesh of the lotus 2
Flesh of the Lotus. The Jade Pussycat. Little Orphan Dusty. The Candy Stripers. Blonde Fire.

If you’ve given yourself a one-handed workout to any of these films, you have Bob Chinn to thank. This AVN and XCRO Hall-of-Famer (and UCLA film school graduate) directed 51 X-rated titles between 1970 and 1987, and returned for 17 more between 1999 and 2003, bringing his total up to a whopping 68 blue movies.

Bob Chinn made a major leap forward in the development of smut by creating the enormously successful Johnny Wadd series. Johnny Wadd not only made John Holmes a legend, but it changed the game by introducing recurring characters, solid production values, and solid story lines to adult filmmaking. Now Bob is applying his filthy imagination to a series of Johnny Wadd novels, where he fleshes out ideas for the Johnny Wadd films that never were. We talked with Bob about his work on Johnny Wadd past, present, and future.

Skin Central: Why did you decide to continue the Johnny Wadd story as a novel rather than a new film?

Chinn: I wanted to show how I would have developed the Johnny Wadd character if I had the time and proper jade pussycat 2budgets when I was making those films back in the 1970's. The novels will all be set during this time period.

Skin Central: What was the inspiration for the character of Johnny Wadd?

Chinn: Back in 1971, when I was churning out a feature film a week, John Holmes came into my office looking for work on the crew. When we told him that I had all the crew people that we needed, he said that he also worked as an actor. When he revealed his unique physical attribute I instantly realized that he might indeed have some potential in that department, so we scheduled him for the shoot we were doing that weekend. I had always wanted to do a sort of film noir private detective type thing and I thought that Holmes would fit this somewhat larger-than-life figure that I had in mind. The name came about when my business partner casually exclaimed, "What a wad that guy must be able to shoot with that thing!" Since the private detective needed a name I said, "That's what I'll call him - Johnny Wadd, with two d's." I wrote a quick script on the back of a legal sized envelope and that weekend the first Johnny Wadd movie was filmed in one day.

johnny wadd is here 1

Skin Central: Is the character of Johnny Wadd inextricably linked to John Holmes? Who would you cast as Johnny if you did do a new film?

Chinn: The character of Johnny Wadd is so identified with John Holmes that I never attempted to cast anyone else in the part. Back in 1999, after having left the business for 13 years, I was persuaded to make a comeback, and over the next 4 years I directed 28 shot-on-video features before finally throwing in the towel. One of the first of these was adapted from an old Johnny Wadd screenplay that had never been filmed called "Magnum Love." I updated the script and changed the Johnny Wadd character to a private detective named Peter Magnum, who was played by Billy Glide. John's widow Laurie Holmes also appeared in this feature. I subsequently made 9 more Peter Magnum features in which Lee Stone played the title role. I was approached by the producer Marc Bruder who wanted to resurrect the Johnny Wadd character in a series of co-productions around that time. I told him I didn't really want to do that, so we compromised by making a series of 6 features featuring Johnny Wadd's son, played by Joel Lawrence.

Skin Central: How does the writing process compare to the directing process for you? Which is more difficult?blonde fire 1
Chinn: Both are equally easy for me. The writing process gives me more satisfaction because not only do I have more creative freedom but I'm also much more in control of what I want to express.

Skin Central: Are there more Johnny Wadd novels in the works?

Chinn: There will be a whole series of Johnny Wadd novels. I've almost finished the second one, "Blonde in Black Lace," and have outlined the third and fourth - "Tropic of Passion" and "Hell's Half Acre," which are set in Hawaii.
Bob’s first Johnny Wadd Novel, Flesh of the Lotus, is available now! You can read more about it on the official blog or buy the book on Amazon.com !

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Bob Chinn's Novel: Flesh of the Lotus

Bob Chinn’s Novel ‘Flesh of the Lotus’ Now Available

‘Flesh of the Lotus’ is the first of six novels based on the iconic ‘Johnny Wadd’ detective series, starring John C, Holmes, created by Chinn in the early 1970s

Bob Chinn’s Novel ‘Flesh of the Lotus’ Now Available
LOS ANGELESFlesh of the Lotus: A Johnny Wadd Novel, by AVN and XRCO Hall of Fame director Bob Chinn—who discovered John C. Holmes in 1971 and whose 10-year relationship with the “King of Porn” is the subject of a planned biopic by Hollywood production company Formosa Films—is currently available for purchase on Amazon.com and also on the website of the book’s publisher, BearManor Fiction.

According to an announcement issued yesterday, “The book is based on the second film of the detective series (shot in 1971) and is the first of six Johnny Wadd novels to be published by BearManor Fiction. In 2008 BearManor Media published the critically acclaimed John Holmes biography titled, John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches by Jennifer Sugar and Jill C. Nelson.”

Chinn, a UCLA film school graduate, had aspirations of becoming a mainstream Hollywood director but began working in adult entertainment as a way to support his young family. It wasn’t long before fate introduced Chinn to perhaps the most infamous personality the pornography industry has ever produced.

“The film noir character, private detective Johnny Wadd, was conceived by Chinn when a tall young man sporting an unruly afro entered Chinn’s office seeking employment as an actor,” the announcement continued. “Recognizing the potential after the man dropped his pants Chinn hired John Holmes on the spot, and wrote a script for his new talent on the back of an envelope.  Two days later, the very first Johnny Wadd movie was in the can.  The modest picture was an instant sensation among adult film fans and created an immediate demand for a sequel.”

Forty years after the release of Johnny Wadd, the series has become “a historic and timeless piece of filmmaking that ignited Holmes’ stardom and defined Bob Chinn as one of the most influential and respected players of the so-called Golden Age of adult pictures.”

The current series of novels was inspired by Chinn’s desire to expand upon the adult film’s original storyline and character, “Something he was unable to do as a maverick filmmaker in the 1970s within the confines of budget restrictions and time constraints.  In his debut as a compelling crime novelist, Bob Chinn invites readers to join lusty gumshoe Johnny Wadd on an absorbing journey of murder, sex and intrigue, in resolute pursuit of his former girlfriend’s killer.”

In November, AVN quoted Chinn as saying, of his freshman effort as a novelist, “In this book I have tried to depict the character as more or less as I had originally envisioned him and would have liked him to be, and the story is set in the very era in which he was created. It was the era of the Vietnam War when both our country and our society were in the beginning stages of undergoing a radical transformation.”
AVN also reported at the time, “Chinn’a biopic will be co-produced by Will Tiao (the producer and star of the political thriller Formosa Betrayed) and John Radulovic (producer of the Showtime TV series Californication).

“I feel an overwhelming responsibility to tell [Chinn’s] story, John's story, and the story of all those who you worked with in a way that honors all of you,” Tiao said. “Your story is part of America's story and it must be told in an honest, truthful, unflinching way.”


Flesh of the Lotus: A Johnny Wadd Novel


Flesh of the Lotus: A Johnny Wadd Novel written by Bob Chinn and based upon the second film of the 'Johnny Wadd' adult film series is now available!  Please visit http://bearmanorfiction.com/bookpages/Chinn.html for details.