Many people are familiar with the story of Bob Chinn without being aware of the fact due to Burt Reynolds’s Oscar-nominated performance as Jack Horner in Boogie Nights, as the character was loosely based on Chinn. Chinn began making adult movies in the early 1970s and retired in the late 1980s, only to return for a brief period in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He is best known for the Johnny Wadd films he made with the legendary performer John Holmes. In the enormously popular series, Holmes portrays a private detective who solves crimes in between servicing women with his mighty meat sword. On September 23, 2008, VCX released the original Johnny Wadd, taken from a pristine print, for the first time on DVD. Recently Mr. Chinn took some time out to discuss his movies and life with Mr Skin’s C.G. Hilliard.
Johnny Wadd is being released for the first time to DVD from a new print. Where did this new print come from?
I found it, actually, in storagethe first trial answer print.
So it’s going to look really good?
It’s gonna be great! At that time we shot on 16mm Hexachrome reversal against a positive film stock. The prints were made directly from the original. I edited it myself. It’s the first Wadd film ever made.
Is this one your favorite of the series?
No. I think it’s a terrible film myself.
Which one do you think holds up the best of the Wadd films?
I don’t know. Either The Jade Pussycat or China Cat. One of those.
Are there any memorable stories from the filming?
In those days, I was making one or two of these things a week. They weren’t anything great. They lasted about half an hour and they played in these storefront theaters. The budget for that film, like all the films at the time, was $750.
How much of that went to the actors?
John got $75, which was the highest. And the girls got $50.
Who came up with the Johnny Wadd character?
[John] showed up at the office looking for a job as a crewman. I had my crew already set. My crew consisted of three people: me, the cameraman, and the soundman. We all did the lights and everything else, so there was no need for any other crew. So he said he was also an actor and I looked at him and said, “This guy doesn’t look that attractive.” He had this huge afro and he was skinny and pretty ordinary looking.
So I said to him, “We’re all set up for actors.” But I told my partner to interview him. At that time, interviewing consisted of taking a Polaroid of the guy naked. And then my partner Alan Patrick came out and said, “I think you’d better look at this guy’s dick!” And I said, “That’s the last thing I want to do, Alan.”
But I walked in and, sure enough, there was my Johnny Wadd. I had no intention of making [Johnny Wadd] until I saw him. I had wanted to make some kind of private detective/film noir type thing and then I saw him and said, “This could be a hook.” And then it clicked in my mind that I had heard of this guy before from one of the actresses, Sandy Dempsey or somebody.
So we hired him to show up for the movie we were filming that Saturday. Then I was having lunch with Alan and he said, “Boy, with a dick that big, can you imagine the wad that guy is going to shoot? That’s what we’re going to call himJohnny Wadd!” Johnny Wadd.
Basically, that’s what happened. We finished the movie and that was it. I didn’t think anything would come of it. It was just another product. Then we started to get some feedback. The theater owners that we sold it to wanted us to do more pictures with Johnny Wadd.
So I said OK, then I came up with the next one really quickly, Flesh of the Lotus.
As a lot of people know, the Johnny Wadd movies and the story behind them were the inspiration for Boogie Nights. What did you think of that movie?
I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Not very accurate, but I thought it was very entertaining. It’s funny, I hadn’t heard of the film.
You weren’t ever consulted for research?
No. No one knew how to get a hold of me at the time. I was on hiatus.
There have been a lot of movies made and books written about the Golden Age of Porn, but they usually start around the time of Deep Throat. And yet you made a movie called The History of Pornography under the name Hns Wegmunsen way back in 1970. What’s the story behind that?
We were making 16mm movies for the storefronts, but they were softcore. Then a documentary called Pornography in Denmark or something came out and you could see actual penetration on the screen.
And I thought, “If they can get away with it, we can.” So we proposed the idea to Canyon Films. What we did was primarily photograph a lot of still pictures and stuff like that but we added a couple of hardcore loops to see if we could get away with it. This was before they were really showing hardcore on screen. And we did get away with it, under the guise of a documentary.
So we quickly followed up with something called Sexus in Paradise. The owner of Canyon Films had a lot of Hawaii footage because he shot surfing films. So we had a lot of Hawaii footage, which we put together with some loops, and we got away with that too!
From then on, we were making hardcore films.
If you could direct any actress in Hollywood today in a nude scene, who would it be?
Whoa! That’s interesting. I’ve never given that a thought. I’m retired, you know. I’d have to think about that one . . . Scarlet Johansson.
What’s the first nude scene you remember seeing?
When I was a kid, I saw some porn pictures, little pictures that had been brought back by servicemen who were serving in Korea. I think I was probably in the fourth grade. I think the stills were shot in Japan. It was shocking to see these Oriental people having sex. That’s the first I saw.
Then I became more curious and started sneaking peeks at these nudist magazines. And then a few years later Playboy came out and we could see these big breasts . . .
What was your favorite nude scene from a movie?
Well, I remember all of the early Russ Meyer films. But before that I had seen hardcore porn loops. In junior high, I lived in a town in southern New Mexico called Artesia. I would drive down to the border town of Juarez, Mexico. And there were these whorehouses there, and they would show 16mm movies, if you wanted to see them. So I saw a lot of 16mm black-and-white hardcore porn. And this was back in the late 1950s.
What was the last porn movie you watched?
I don’t generally watch porn movies. The last one I actually saw was one I made. I had a comeback for a brief period [1999-2003] and made a bunch of them. Those weren’t too good because I really wasn’t into the swing of it, I didn’t know you had to have all these positions and this and that.
Then I made a series with a Peter Magnum character that I had created: Jade Goddess, Naked Angels . . . Then after that I made a Mexican Johnny Wadd series. I called the guy Nick Grande.
What I did was I shot three films back to back in both Spanish and English. I made six of those, and the last one of those is the last [porn] movie I’ve seen.
What had you been doing since you stopped making movies?
I moved to Hawaii and watched my kids grow up. Then I moved back to Torrance [California] and worked in a camera store. Then I got a divorce. My kids, who were going to high school then, called me up, along with my ex-wife, and said, “Hey, I want you to come see this movie.” So I went to the movie with them and it was Boogie Nights.
And then somebody from Cult Movies magazine showed up in the store where I was working and recognized me and wanted to do an article on me. So I did an interview with him and out of that interview, the E! channel or someone was doing a documentary on Holmes and they wanted to interview me.
Then somebody else got a hold of me through Cult Movies magazine and they wanted to give me some kind of reward. After Boogie Nights, people started remembering me. So I went at got some award, I don’t know what it was, and at that show, an actress called Nina Hartley (Picture-1) approached me.
She had been getting in the business at the time I was getting out of it. She was working at Adam Eve, and she was going to appear in a couple of films and she wanted me to direct them. So I directed a couple of features with Nina Hartley for Adam Eve and that’s how I got started again.
Do you have any desire to make another movie?
I do. I love making movies. For Adam Eve, I made Hard Bound and Bad Penny. Then I had one Johnny Wadd script left, which I’d never filmed, called Magnum Love. VCX said they’d make it, so I made Magnum Love for VCX, but instead of calling the character Johnny Wadd I called him Peter Magnum. Then I did Gen Sex and something else with Stephanie Swift (Picture-1) for Wicked.
Then I formed my own company with some partners and we made a bunch of Peter Magnum films. And since Playboy TV was buying everything I made, my cable distributor wanted me to redo the Johnny Wadd series and I said, “No, I’m not going to do that. Johnny Wadd was John Holmes.”
So he said, “How about if you make him his son? Johnny Wadd Jr.?” And I said “Okay, we can do that.” So we made a bunch of those.
What was the biggest difference between making movies then and making them in the 1970s and 1980s?
Well, in the ’70s and ’80s it was fun. It was lots of fun. Because first of all, we were doing something that was illegal, basically. Having to ditch the law and do everything so secretly added a lot of thrill to it, which was gone by the time I came back.
When I came back it had become a business. Just a business. And I soon learned that in this business each sex scene had to have certain things: so many positions, so many of this, so many of that, which was no problem with Viagra and all these other things.
There were so many things you couldn’t show. They gave me pages of things I couldn’t show or do or say. Before, if the plot motivated a girl getting slapped, she got slapped. All these things you can’t do now. You can’t even mention them.
The movies I like to make have stories, which Playboy TV loved. But the porn audience today, I don’t know if they want stories. The story movies that I made cost money. And with the loss of VHS sales, and with the price of DVDs going down to rock bottom, I was just barely breaking even every time I made something. I can’t do it if I’m going to lose money. That’s why I stopped.