Porn History 101: Conversations with Jim Holliday; We Talk About Condom Mandates, HIV, Talking to the Media; “You Get the Health Dept. in There You Might as Well Close Down”

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I had the following interview with Jim Holliday in 2004 right before he passed away. We talked about the then-HIV scare, condoms, suitcase pimps and other topics. His comments then are just as timely as they would be now.

From the Adult FYI archives: – We had a lengthy chat with porn historian and director Jim Holliday this weekend covering a variety of topics although we were curious for the most part to get Holliday’s take on the most recent HIV scare to hit the industry.

Holliday: Historically this is one more chapter to be added in the continuing war against the HIV virus. Everyone should be on guard at all times- not just Chicken Little, the sky is falling- periodically when these things occur.

On camera talent has to be particularly careful of the choices they make and the things that they do in reference to going overseas, South America, or Europe- they have to be careful with respect to partners.

And if they don’t approach this industry as professionals, consequences are bound to happen. Those who immediately make loud and long pronouncements about ever doing this or doing that again should be made aware of the oldest most boring quote about history, that those not learning the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

As far as I’m concerned, I’m going to continue shooting exactly like I have been. I will never force anyone to do anything that they don’t want to do. I have tried scrupulously to avoid ever becoming a hypocrite- to me a hypocrite is more dangerous than everything else. Historically, understanding that the public does not want to see condoms, the roles I write require no condoms.

It’s that simple. Fans don’t want to see rubbers. And I’m going to continue to shoot with no condoms.

I have always and will always hire from the top echelon, highest level that I can. And the things that I’ve always done in the past- like making sure that guys are screened so that the results are received the day before or the day of the shooting. That’s the most assurance that I can give people and I will continue to insist that male talent are tested accordingly.

Gene: What do you say to the suggestions that have been put forth that there might be an industry mandate requiring all companies and shooters to use condoms.

Holliday: That smacks of thought police and condom police. Of course I strongly object to anyone forming committees to tell anyone else how to conduct themselves. If they remember historically, one of the strongest proponents of choice on the subject was none other than John Stagliano, a man who is HIV positive.

His reasoning, well thought out and extremely well presented, is all the average intelligent person needs to see to realize that it’s a choice. No matter what the situation, you cannot dictate your personal opinions on those of someone else. That ain’t going to fly. If you get the Health Dept. in there you might as well close the whole industry down.

Gene: Which anticipated my question, what happens if it goes to that extreme and they step in. Then OSHA’s dictating that the industry is using condoms.

Holliday: If we get to that point, I want to get everyone in the industry mobilized to kick those Free Speech guys in the ass and go industry by industry and let’s go to MacDonald Douglas Aircraft. Let’s go to the University of Alabama and let’s go to Boise Cascade; let’s go to US Steel and let’s look at all of those secretaries and all of those office workers.

The adult industry is a microcosm of society. It’s no different in our industry than it is after 5 o’clock at MacDonald Douglas when those secretaries hit the bars. I guarantee a higher percentage of those secretaries hike those skirts over their heads and raise hell than adult performers do. Then it’s time to mobilize and say don’t point those guns at us unless you’re going to point them at everybody else. Then you’ve got chaos.

Gene: AIM has been under fire again. It always does every time there is a new incident. What is your take on the function they perform.

Holliday: I can only answer that as an industry historian. You never rush to judgment about anything. I have heard all kinds of stories both pro and con. I saw evidence in some areas that I have often been curious about but it’s not my business to go around waving red flags.

I really don’t have an honest or even close-to-accurate answer. It’s better to shut up than open your mouth and babble about a subject you’re not completely versed on. However if there is, or ever has even been anything underhanded or self-serving about AIM, rather than its intended purposes, they should get their books in order.

One of the controversies surrounding AIM seems to be- and I noticed the leading trade magazine AVN- seems to support AIM in an almost maniacal and feverish attempt to maintain some sort of monopoly as it were- in refusing to allow competitive clinics or outside doctors or outside testing.

This is another one of those dangerous areas where you’ll either have my test or no test or you won’t work at all. I do not know what the various companies have as a policy of record. I know how certain companies view the subject.

But I would always like to think if I find an extraordinary woman in the state of North Carolina and she can produce superior documentation from Columbia Medical School and some of the top physicians in the country vouch as to her test results, I believe this girl’s going to be in my movie no matter who I shoot it for.

Gene: Historically, you’d be in the best position to answer this question. Going back to the day when John Holmes was detected for HIV, clarify this if you will about Holmes going over to Italy to shoot the Cicciolina movie. He knew that he had HIV at the time and yet performed? That’s what some people suspect.

Holliday: I asked him that question when he was supposed to sit down for an honest interview. He said he didn’t know. I’m in the ultimate position and at the same time in no position to comment on John Holmes.

One of the first things he had ever said to me was that he had written 20 books. One of the first things that he had ever said to Joey Silvera was that he owned 13 companies. The man was a consummate liar. But by the same token he would tell you a true thing in there and so I have no idea what is what. But he did tell me he didn’t know.

The interview I did was billed as the only honest John Holmes interview and was for one of the Penthouse magazines. They now have all the tapes so they have records of everything that was said. And in the background you can hear Bill Amerson, John’s long time manager, best bud and all of that going, c’mon, John, you said you’d tell the truth.

Gene: I saw that movie ages ago so I’m kind of vague on this. But didn’t he also work with Tracey Adams and Amber Lynn in that movie.

Holliday: Yup.

Gene: What was the situation there. Did they test?

Holliday: I don’t know. But I do know hat talent had some interesting stories to tell. Then again it’s like Jerry Butler wrote his book. If you went to people that he ripped the most, you’ve got a clear cut Roshomon situation where everybody saw the robberies from a different viewpoint. At the time John and Buck were running bodies and Amber was Buck’s little sister. I think we can conclude that the girls survived the situation totally.

Gene: Again, in your position as an industry historian what steps can the industry take to make sure that something like this never happens again.

Holliday: The self-policing we do. There was a Catholic judge back in 1982 named Barry Waters in Los Angeles. He came up with thse no-nos: sisters, shitters, kids and animals. That you keep these out of your movies.

There was never anything official and no law, no dictate, no mandate, no precedent on record. That was never challenged by any of these movie makers here in town until the last couple of years when a couple of hot shot gonzo guys decided they were going to push the envelope.

To me you’ve got to do a certain amount of playing ball with the authorities as it were. You don’t piss them off. You’ve got to have self-policing and I think the industry has not been given enough credit.

Rarely do you find someone in the real world saying, by the way, this story broke because the industry broke it. It was not wizard from Channel 4 or some moron in the health department of Channel 2. Those people would be clueless till they die.

Gene: That’s a very good point to stress.

Holliday: Thank you. Real world, go fuck yourself. I don’t talk to you. You don’t get anything right. I used to and I learned. You can talk to real people and they’re just going to wind up twisting you and leaving you hanging in the wind.

My favorite of all is what do you think of so and so? Well so and so is a great guy except for. All they want to print is either the great guy part or the except for part depending on their personal viewpoint. The bastards. Then they come back and say they’re objective.

The only objective coverage I saw on this whole current situation was from Fox Sports Radio where they do about two minutes of actual news a day. And the guy said the adult industry has reported there’s been an outbreak in their industry. Two people have tested HIV positive.

The industry is dealing with the situation and temporary shutdowns have occurred. That was factually accurate and short and to the point. I’m paraphrasing their thing but they actually mentioned the self-policing by the industry. It boils down to I’m amazed when I go into meet a 19 year-old girl who’s decided to get into the industry.

I say have you ever heard of me? No. Well, contrary to what people would like to believe I don’t swell up with a big ego and go aaaaaaaaah. I say have you ever heard of John Stagliano? John Leslie? Heard of Michael Ninn? She hasn’t heard of any of those guys either so that tells me she’s clueless.

So then I say do you know Jenna Jameson? ‘I’ve heard the name.’ Heard the name? Do you know anything about Jenna Jameson? No. Do you know Jill Kelly? No. At that point I want to say if you were going into Hollywood, would you want to give a shit about who Demi Moore might be? Might it not be a good idea to know that there are people like Meryl Streep who win awards?

Wouldn’t you want to do a little investigating into your choice of field, nitwit? But since I can’t do that I sit in amazement and think, well, I guess it falls on the agencies and all those swell people that we know as suitcase pimps to at least educate these people in terms of everything necessary including sexual hygiene.

Talent has got to be safety conscious and to some extent more career conscious than they appear to be. Otherwise, let’s just create three or four different leagues like Feature City, Loop Trash…

Gene: Someone on KSEX the other night suggested that performers be given a designation depending on the type of scenes that they do. For instance a girl who does double anal and double vaginals be classified in a higher risk category.

Holliday: That would be good. But I would call double anal specialists freak show girls because I find that more of a spectacle than an erotic turn on. People don’t even ask anymore why I don’t shoot 20 girl orgies.

Long ago I came to the conclusion that it’s a spectacle, you show it once then you don’t get engaged in a pissing contest. There’s nothing erotic about an orgy. You can’t edit one to make it that way. And it was Robert McCallum who founded the school of putting two scenes on at the same time and cross cut.

The fans want one scene so they can concentrate on that and jerk off to that. Then give them the next one. I’m convinced that’s what the fans want.
Of course the problem is there are so many different people within the industry. One time we had Dr. Robert Stoller from UCLA at a casting call to let him see for himself first hand when he was doing his books on pornography.

There was one girl, when she was finished, he said, Jim, what hope is there for a girl like that? I said you heard her say she doesn’t do anal. Unless she does anal starting next week, she’ll never get hired. But this girl had gumption. She was a three that thought she was a nine. But she was just going to keep beating her head against a wall until nobody hires her.

The other thing I like about this industry- there seems to be a prevailing thought that just because you’re in it, every director has to hire you. I’d like to know who fostered that kind of thing. Theoretically, 80% of the talent should hate my guts because I only hire from the upper echelon.

That’s what the fans expect. They claim I hire the prettiest girls. I never thought that. Nor have I ever used that as a sobriquet. But I’m certainly not going to hire somebody just because she does double anal because I feel a needed that scene in a movie.

Gene: So what is up with you and your shooting schedule.

Holliday: There were ll kinds of comments in the press that I read or saw that intrigued me. I know the leading trade paper AVN had VCA closed down for two months. That was never even close to being true. I think the one quote about it being temporarily shut down was accurate.

As we speak VCA’s status is being discussed. And at such a point down the road when the shooting continues you will know. As far as specifics, it’s the issue rather than the specifics that trouble me. Here it is being announced by people that should know better that certain timelines are being attributed to a company with no direct knowledge.

It’s improper, ineffective, and in point-of-fact, wrong journalism. If you don’t know, don’t make shit up. Nobody that’s commented on the subject seems to know what I know and I don’t know anything other than what I have been told came from the people directly responsible for making decisions.

Gene: What is your take on the suggestion that Brazil be considered off limits for American shooters because there’s this prevailing notion that Brazil is a high incidence HIV country.

Holliday: From what I understand Brazil is almost on par with some of the African nations. Even though I’m a dyed in the wool right wing Republican, I’ve never believed that you can legislate morality.

And I wouldn’t want to rush to judgment and just say you can’t go there because of. That’s the sort of thing American manufacturers take a good hard look at and say, okay, we can go there; and, yes, we can make them cheap and make a lot of money and find new girls. But what kind of new girls are we finding? They’re all prostitutes.

And they’re not people who aspire to be Ginger Lynn. Companies have to sort of take that into account. And if they want to ignore it, fine. Then there should be some body within the industry like Free Speech that says these people get the Free Speech- Adult Association sticker for following the safest judgment known to modern man. Then we have the shit list.

Years ago when I was writing a column for that trade magazine I was at the point where I was ready top create a scumbag list. And just put at the end of the column- by the way, they following people are scumbags.

In my opinion they’re scumbags and then explain what they did to get on the list. And then say their name comes off when they cease to be a scumbag. It could be a suitcase pimp who pushed the limit to 25%. Some guy who’s taking 25% of the girl’s money is a scumbag.

Or it could be a manufacturer who’s gone out of his way to whore the prices which really ruins it for everybody. And he can give two shits. Or it could be the guy who releases compilation material under the guise that it’s a new movie.

Whatever reasons. You keep the name on there until changes are made. And you keep reminding people every damn time that so and so if you’re doing business with this guy you’re padding his pocket only and you’re not benefiting the industry.

I have one question for the industry at large: how many of you are led to believe that Bill Margold resigned from The Free Speech Board? How many of you think he was asked to leave? How many of you think he was voted off to leave? No one seems to have the right answer. All I know is that every cocksucker and company that is on that board owes Bill Margold a debt of thanks.

Gene: Speaking of Margold, then let me lob one more question to you. I wholeheartedly agree with his thinking that the age limit be raised to 21 for a girl who works in porn. How do you feel about that?

Holliday: More people will object to that notion because Margold happened to bring it up then to actually analyze what he’s bringing up. If, for example, Margold wanted to eat dinner every night at six o’clock, 90% of the people would be against it simply because he felt that was a good thing oblivious of the fact that what over 50% of the people in the country eat dinner at that time.

If you traditionally look at the movies I’ve made and the people I’ve cast, you find very few 18, 19 and 20 year-olds. A lot of people can’t wait to line up to get the freshest meat available to show the young girls to the old guys who buy and rent the tapes.

On the other hand, I figure you take a woman in her mid to late 20’s who can look 10 years younger, she’s got a much deeper understanding and formulation of her own sexuality.

She’s been around a little bit. She’s not a prima donna nitwit or a spoiled little brat. Or some out of control yahoo who thinks this is fun time. She’s also a little more focused on a career as compared to today’s little pot head who’s looking for another cheap thrill.

I have not had any problems with fans saying my God your college students look way too old except when I throw the occasional bone to a girl who has no business being in the movie in the first place. That rare mistake which I’m prone to do. Legally raise it to 21? I would not complain in the slightest because that would be one more way we could point to the government and say, see? We cooperate with you.

By the way, why don’t you get some more educational stuff for girls between the ages of 18 and 21 and get some stuff that works for a change. You don’t do a helluva good job between 0 and 18. Maybe you can improve between 18 & 21.

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