Saturday, July 2, 2016

PORN ACTOR JOHN C. HOLMES and WIFE SHARON GEBENINI and MISTRESS DAWN SCHILLER LOVE TRIANGLE - PLAYED OUT THROUGH THE WONDERLAND MURDERS

Porn star John C. Holmes, his first, long term wife, Sharon Ann Gebenini, and his underage Mistress Dawn Schiller, make for a truly bizarre "Love Triangle."  No matter how philosophical you might try to be, their relationships were rife with abuse, especially because the violent drug addict this actor became got tied up in a murder of four people so brutal it was compared to the Manson Murders. Unlike the Manson Murders, also in a canyon in the Santa Monica mountains of Los Angeles, this case goes unresolved.  But, before it was all over years ago, Holmes was one of the suspects tried and acquitted.  Many people, especially those involved with drugs and dealing in the Los Angeles/Sunset Strip/Laurel Canyon area, were afraid for their lives.

I promised my readers long ago that this blog would be "no porn," and so I'll keep to the relationship of these three people who took, in my opinion, their mutual relationship into a truly mentally, psychologically, and physically punishing zone. 

I had no pre-knowledge of any of the players in this romance and tragedy. I've seen about one minute of film porn in my lifetime and didn't like it.  But one night I brought home a few films on DVD to watch, one called WONDERLAND, because Val Kilmer, an actor I like, stars as John C. Holmes

JOHN C. HOLMES  "WADD" DVD cover
Google Images


When the film proved too violent for me, I decided not to watch any more of it and I tried the companion disk called "WADD, The Life and Times of John C. Holmes", a documentary. There were Sharon and Dawn, testifying to their experiences, sitting in the dark, hiding their faces, while many other people associated with John C. Holmes; producers, directors, fellow actors in that business, as well as his second wife Laurie Holmes, spoke openly in the light. Dawn said she had been moved into their spare bedroom to be "the Mistress," her term, while John and Sharon continued to share a bed in their room.

John Holmes was known for his unusually large manhood, about twice the size of an average man, which was all it took to get his start in this industry when he was in his early twenties, back when vice squads chased people involved in "smut" around town to arrest them.  (The San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles is said to be a porn capital of the United States today.)  Holmes wasn't one to do the strutting stud routine.  He was a tall, lanky, every-man, a man other men could relate to as they watched the films and fantasized that they too could get the girl.  He was thought of as a gentle giant for a long time.

Holmes had left a crazy-filled childhood home, escaped into the military underaged but with the signed permission of his mother, and got out an uneducated and average young man with no clear idea about what it was he could do for a living or with his life. He was clean living, willing to work, willing to try whatever employment he could get.  When he was driving an ambulance he met an educated pediatric nurse, Sharon Gebenini, whom he married in the summer of 1965. Sharon suffered three miscarriages.  What is unstated is that maybe her acceptance of Dawn into her marital home with John was satisfying her nurturing self. 

When John decided to get into pornography as an actor, he did so proudly, not even working under a fake name to start. (He did make some films under theatrical names, including Johnny Wadd, during his career. As a result no one is sure exactly how many he did make and estimates go into the thousands.)

Sharon didn't put up any strong objections to her husbands new found career. She would stick with him as his wife for years, their divorce not final until 1983, even as his sex career killed their relationship and they shared that marital bed as - you guess - friends?

In those days most women expected the man to be the breadwinner, especially if they wanted to have a family and stay at home and raise their children. Sharon was reportedly a devoted and excellent nurse then and for many years on, yet it's clear to me that she failed to protect herself from torment. 

Maybe she just didn't believe in divorce. She would never remarry or have children.

Sharon testifies in the film that she has never in her life seen a porn film, but it's difficult for me to imagine that she was so compartmentalized that she could shield herself from the realities of her husband's fame. John Holmes did so very many films, most one day shoots that were out for sale within a week or two, his picture on the packaging.  He earned top pay, starting at $75 a day, and eventually possibly earning up to $3000 for a film before his druggie lifestyle started to effect his employment, not only because he wasn't always showing up but because he couldn't reliably perform. He did interviews, said that he believed that watching porn helped couples sexually. (Ironic!)  As time went by he also had affairs and relationships, started drinking, smoking grass, and then using cocaine, and was missing from home a whole lot.

Holmes took up with Dawn Shiller, then fifteen years old in 1976, about ten years after marrying Sharon. Dawn testifies that he began a slow seduction after they met that lead to sex in a van parked at the beach, romantic and loving, but still she was a teenager to his thirty-something years. (Her testimony in her own book is at odds with what is said in the documentary.  In her book the sex caused her pain and a bladder infection and she was barely able to walk.) As their use of cocaine broke him financially, Holmes and Dawn went homeless, living in a car and motel rooms, and when John's thieving didn't provide enough, he expected her to prostitute. In 1981 after the murders, they fled together to Florida to escape the law. Before she made her escape from him she would be beaten repeatedly and pimped out by him.

Clearly both women were accommodating this man and unwilling or unable to leave their relationship with him, at least not for some time. 

Where were Dawn's parents or family? 

Why was Sharon complicit in allowing her husband to have sex with an underage woman and in their own home?  Did she not know better?

Here at MISTRESS MANIFESTO we're most familiar with the wife who allows her husband a Mistress so long as she is kept separate from their home, family life, and friends, so that she is never embarrassed, or with everyone participating in a triad or love triangle of adult age and maturity and mutually in the know. 

Sharon says she didn't know the entirety of the relationship between her husband and Dawn and is credited with treating her as a daughter and taking her "under wing." 

Why didn't she get a divorce and try having the family she wanted with another man?

Thinking this through, I realize that forever marriage has meant that many a wife gets used to having a criminal husband, and that being with a criminal may mean also being afraid: Mafia wives, for instance. 

Still, it's a mind-bender for me, how Sharon, a smart woman, with possibly an IQ of 160, could be in such denial and not know that her 30 something husband was actually a criminal, especially with Dawn.  I think mainly she did not want to know.  When he ran to their home to tell her he had just witnessed four people being murdered in July of 1981, she gave him money to run without wanting to know any details she'd have to reveal to the police, but when he ran he took Dawn with him. To me Sharon was an enabler.

Holmes became the worst of addicts, without Sharon's participation.  On drugs and desperate for them, he was out of control and angry, and he got closer to the big dealers, and a criminal named Eddie Nash, a man who may have owned more nightclubs than anyone else in town and clearly was a source of supply. Nash was also known to the police as behind arsons.  Nash had a house on Wonderland in the Hollywood Hills where the murders took place.

Holmes was beaten by Nash's thugs, a beating Scott Thorson**, witnessed, and was there again when the bloodbath took place.  Eventually, Holmes was tried for murder and acquitted. Then he tried to get back into the porn acting business and there was (still) interest!  He told Sharon he wanted to make their marriage work and would find some other work, which she says she refused.

John is credited in the porn industry with promoting HIV testing all those years ago.  First he tested negative but then, six months later, he tested positive.  Even so, he went to Italy and made the last of his porn films without informing anyone of his illness, instead wasting away while he claimed to have colon cancer. Instead of cleaning up his life so that he could live for years, he increased all his health defying activities and ended up dead.  By then he had a second wife, Laurie Holmes, who he'd married in 1987, to leave as a widow, one who refused Sharon and Dawn to come to his death bed.

In a few days, I'll be excerpting from the book Dawn Shiller wrote called THE ROAD THROUGH WONDERLAND that came out in 2010 to detail the slow seduction and the fact that MANY adults suspected or knew that an disadvantaged and underage young woman was sexually involved with a porn star in his 30's. In media interviews separate of this documentary Dawn says that she did not get into how it was that she and Sharon made their peace and became life long friends in the book as the manuscript was already so long.


THE ROAD THROUGH WONDERLAND - Surviving John Holmes

by DAWN SHILLER

But maybe what's most important in the end is what these two women made of their own relationship, and it may stun you.
 
Sharon Ann Gebinini, born in June 1943, died in Oregon in October 2012, where she'd retired after years of remaining working as a nurse in Glendale, Southern California, past the Wonderland Murders, the trial of John C. Holmes, and his death.  Her obituary uses her maiden name and there is no mention whatsoever that she had ever been married to John C. Holmes.  However, what is mentioned is that she had two life long friends, and one of them was Dawn Schiller!


Out of this sordid story, Dawn Schiller is the survivor.  She used alcoholism to deal with the emotional pain of the life she lead with John Holmes but she got sober and achieved clarity. Then she got busy advocating for women who have been abused. She serves on the board of a woman's shelter and she started her own non-profit called E.S.T.E.A.M.  Sharon's obituary mentions that in her honor donations could be made to it.

 
A BEAUTIFUL INTELLIGENT SURVIVOR,  DAWN SCHILLER
from publicity photos found on Google Images.  Later we'll link to her nonprofit.

We know she had it tough but we want to yell Hurray Dawn!
 
 
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** Scott Thorson, Mantress of the Month in October 2012 due to his relationship with Liberace was a witness to the beating of John Holmes at Eddie Nash's. Thorson went into a Witness Protection program for a time and this is why he changed his name.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good stuff. Delved deep and answered a lot of questions and gave info I didn't even have thought about.