WONDERLAND AND DEAD PORN STARS
This is an oldie but goodie written by Scott L. Anderson over ten years ago. It was based loosely on the Wonderland Murders and porn star legend John "The Wadd" Holmes. There was a flick made about these murders and it starred Val Kilmer as Holmes - seemed like a weird choice - you might as well have cast Paul Reubens.
Moose Jaw is cold as a well digger's ass. The old style heat radiator in my room is clanging away but it's still freezing in here. It's gonna take a monumental effort just to get out of bed and get dressed, much less walk two miles to the agency to see if any work comes in.
I've been on the run now for almost twenty years. Looking behind my back when I walk down the street, living in cheap hotels, working for temporary job services for peanuts. My family hasn't heard from me the whole time, it would too risky if they knew were I was. Twenty years ago I was in the navy. Stationed in Hawaii. Young and dumb. Thought it was cool to deal some smoke on the side for a little extra cash. It didn't turn out cool when we got busted. We were looking on doing time in the brig. Not much, maybe a couple of months. But I panicked and bolted. Couldn't stand the thought of being locked up in a cage. Now look where I am.
For close to two years after I took off I had lived in Los Angeles on the top floor of this old warehouse. Just a mattress on the floor. The guy who I worked for owned it. It sat behind this huge night club called "The Slippery T*t" which he also owned. The "I" was burned out on the sign.
Gus was the name of my boss and he was quite the entrepreneur. Beside the bar, he ran a pro wrestling and roller derby school, and shot low budget porno movies in the warehouse. He also was a part owner of several porno and peep show shops in the county. I was a bouncer/bar tender at the bar, assistant wrestling coach (I let guys pick me and body slam me or hit me in the head with a folding chair), and light and camera man for the porno movies. On occasion, several other bouncers and myself earned extra dough by strong arming people who owed Gus money.
The Black Dahlia case seemed to have had a lasting impression on my employer. Do you remember that murder? Way back in the late 40s the cops found this chick cut in half on a vacant lot. No blood or anything. Real fucking creepy. Lots of movies and books were done about it.
That shit happens practically on a weekly basis in Los Angeles, so I have no idea why so many people are obsessed over a murder that happened in the 1940's. But that's L. A.
Anyway, Gus had his office just decorated from floor to ceiling with photos of this broad, bookcases full of books about her, and he even owned a couple of vintage porno movies that she had starred in. Mostly lesbian crap. Half of Gus's films that he made always had an "actress" dressed up just like Elizabeth Short. That was the dead broad's name.
Thing about it is, I have a hunch that Gus was involved in it. When I was in L.A., Gus must have been in his mid 70s, the murder was in the late 40's. He would have been about the right age. He had a real weird buddy, Wally, that was into this chick, too. Those two were always talking about her and trading shit about the case. Some local news reporter thought that Wally had been the one who did it and Wally loved that. I heard the old loon died in a flophouse fire not too long ago. Drunk and smoking in bed.
I had got the job after a week or so of bumming around L. A. I looked up an old gal that I knew in the navy. She was making ends meet by working for a dentist during the day and exotic dancing at night. She had also given up men and was living with a female biker who looked like Sonny Liston, who made me feel very unwelcome. Strippers tend to make the sex industry circuit in L. A. and she turned me on to working with Gus. Said that for being a complete slime ball he wasn't bad to work for. That was a good enough reference for me.
I bought a book on how to change your identity out of this catalog from this weird company up in Washington state. It had all sorts of crazy books in it like "How To Make Methamphetamine For Fun And Profit" and "How To Kill People And Then Fake Your Own Death." Sounds goofy but it sure helped out in my situation. I wound up with a California drivers license, birth certificate, Social Security card, and a passport.
Appearance wise, I just shaved my head, got my ear pierced and wore a big hoop ear ring, and grew a goatee. I had access to a gym since I worked and lived in a wrestling school, so I started to pump iron and do steroids. Within the year I had put on roughly forty pounds of muscle. I didn't bear the slightest resemblance to the scrawny little dude who had left Albert Lea, Minnesota to join the navy so (what seemed like) many years ago
Gus's porno business didn't attract what you would call real quality adult film stars. He dealt mainly with heroin addicts who needed some fix money, midwest runaways, a midget husband and wife team, couple of the roller derby clique, and every great once in a while an old burned out formerly famous "star" would stop in to make a quick buck. That's where my path would cross with Jon.
Jon had once been a hugely successful porn star. He had zero looks, a scrawny drugged out looking frame, and couldn't act even by adult movies standards. But he had an enormous tool. The guy had made thousands of short adult "loops" but had pissed it all away on booze and crack cocaine. Rumor had it (Jon liked to keep this one spreading) that a very famous singer and actress had once paid Jon big bucks to snort a line of coke off his giant root.
He was no longer welcome on any of the mainstream adult sets due to his erratic behavior, inability to get hard on demand, and known ties to the flourishing crack industry. But on occasion for pin money he would make a gay flick or play the heavy in a hard core S & M movie.
Gus signed him on to mainly make appearances at his club, autograph video boxes at dirty book stores, and attempt to make a movie with him once in a while if he could get it halfway up. I don't know how many nights we all stood around setting up the lights and cameras while Jon would be laying on a bed on the set with two young ladies straight off the farm in Wisconsin, who would be giving it the old college try and attempt to get Jon's massive stinger to get up and go. Nine out ten times, Gus would freak out and start ranting and raving about all the money that was being wasted on this quality feature and it inevitably would turn into basically a lesbian shot with Jon just kind of rolling around in the middle and getting in the way.
Once Gus tried to make a porno related Black Dahlia murder film with Jon in the role of the murderer. Jon had been out partying the night before and was horribly hungover. He couldn't get it up as usual, but what really pissed Gus off was the grand finale. Since we didn't have any real bodies to cut up like the real murderer had, we had to settle for a store mannequin. It took every bit of strength that Jon had to saw half way through the plastic and then he ruined the whole shot by barfing all over the dummy.
But people recognized him like he was an academy award winner. He came along with us one night to the fights at the Olympic Auditorium, which is a sleazier joint than some of the places Jon made his films in, and we practically had to fight people off of the guy. Both men and women were all over him. Wanting his autograph and maybe a shot at his massive johnson.
He wasn't all bad though. When one of the bouncers got married, Jon managed to recruit some of the old female stars from his heyday to the bachelor party. It was held at an incredibly filthy adult motel on Sunset Strip. Jumping Jesus, what a night! A punch was made in a fifty gallon garbage can (clean) with cold duck champagne, beer, and a hundred hits of quality speed. The night clerk came down to complain about the noise at four in the morning and wound up screwing the porn star he had once fantasized about as a teenager. It was all great fun.
I was working the door one night at the club when Jon came out to catch some fresh air. Gus had booked a private ladies stag party and Jon was the main attraction. He had lost a lot of weight from all the crack and he looked bizarre as well as idiotic up on the stage. Shaking his money maker in this g-string that didn't come close to covering up his once great python of love.
Gus had been concerned that he wouldn't show up. Jon had been acting real nervous lately and a week or so ago had shown up with a black eye and a nasty looking gash on his chin.
"Got a proposition for you, my man." Jon always tried to talk like a high rolling pimp. Kind of hissing out the words.
"And what would that be Jon?" Looking out of the corner of my eye at the Los Angeles Lakers shorts that he was wearing. No shirt or shoes. Just these shorts that must have been two sizes too big for him. He looked like Bill Walton with an eating disorder.
"I got these assholes up in the hills that owe me some serious jack for some rock that I fronted them. Not a thing really. Their a couple of little dipshits. Shouldn't be problem for a man of your stature." As he grinned at me I cringed. His teeth looked like little baked beans and the breath coming out of his maw wasn't much better than the sight of those teeth.
"If it's not a thing why do I need to be there?" Sarcasm all over that one. He didn't come close to noticing.
"Pure precautionary measures, bro. Tell you what. I'll double your fee that Gus gives you." I sure wasn't making anything that night on tips with this private stag going on. How hard could it be roughing up a couple of crack heads?
"Oh what the hell. When do you want to do it?"
"Tonight. Soon as I get done making these babes cream in their panties." The dumb shit walked back into the club wiggling his tongue at me like a snake.
It was about enough to make you want to give up sex.
Jon's battered Mustang was chugging up Wonderland Avenue. Fucking thing must not have had a tune up since it had rolled out of the factory and it was belching out oily, blue smoke.
"We're sure as shit not gonna sneak up on them in this piece of crap, Jon."
He didn't say a word. Just sat there licking his lips nervously. The night hadn't ended well for him. Couple of the broads at the party had wanted to sleep with him. I imagine so that down the road they could tell their grand kids about how they had once had bedded a famous "movie" star. But his pecker once more had let him down. Lost out on a couple of hundred bucks. But he should have gotten used to that by now. I also suspected that he had been smoking or snorting something.
That pissed me off. I didn't like to do a job while anyone was high or had been drinking.
He parked his wreck at the curb in front of a small apartment building. We just sat there.
"Well what's up Jon?" Are we gonna do this thing or what?"
He turned to look at me. "I think it's already done." In his eyes I could see pure fear and he was putting off this nervous smell that reminded me of the locker room in gym class.
"What in the hell are you talking about? If it's done what am I doing here?"
"I just had to make sure that I was in the clear. He said that if I didn't tell them who did it that he was going to kill me. And after that he was going to have find my family and have their eyes ripped out."
My skin was crawling. "Shit! What you have you gotten me into? Who are you talking about?"
He was out the door and walking up to the sidewalk to one of the apartments. I got out and followed him like a stupid shit. The door was closed but when Jon grabbed the knob, the door swung open.
There were four bodies in the living room and they were beat to a pulp. There was blood everywhere and pieces of what I guess were bones or skull were spattered across the tile floor. I could actually see the brains of one of the bodies. The stereo was on. Warren Zevon was singing about Werewolves in London. I now knew for a fact that there was a soundtrack to my life.
"Oh my God, Jon." I gasped. "Who did this?
His voice was monotone. "Dewald."
"Dewald?" Oh, Jesus Christ! Not that Dewald! "How in the hell did you get involved with him?"
Dewald was one of the biggest cocaine dealers in the whole county if not the state. He had reached untouchable status. Los Angeles cops wouldn't even think of pulling him over for traffic violations. He came to "The Slippery T*t" every once in a while when he felt like slumming. Big tipper. You felt like you needed a shower after just talking to him.
"About a month ago I set him up. I had been up there to do a private show for his old lady so I knew the lay of the place. You wouldn't believe the amount of drugs he keeps up there. These guys went up to his mansion in Beverly Hills and robbed his ass. I really needed the fucking cash. Somehow he suspected me and I had to roll over on them."
"Somehow? How goddamn stupid do you think the guy is? You go up there and do your routine and a couple of days later he gets robbed? And know you've dragged me into this shit. Why?"
He had tears in his eyes but was laughing at the same time. "I was scared to come alone."
I took my shirt off and rubbed the door knob clean. "Come on, we've gotta get the hell out of here." I think I screamed that.
Jon dropped me off in front in the club. I didn't hear a thing from him for about a month. But I heard about it on the news and in the papers. Jon was famous again. Just in the wrong way. I kept waiting for the news channels to run some old clips of his movies. The dead dudes were known associates of his and it didn't take the cops long to figure out who the missing link was in this mess.
The police kicked in the door at a cheap motel outside of Jacksonville, Florida and found Jon sleeping off a high with a fourteen year old girl. Turns out that the girl was actually a porn star who went by the stage name of Anal Annesha, who had been working in the industry for over a year. Porn industry is slipshod on background and reference checks. Annesha thought Jon could steer her towards the big show.
Jon was being brought back to Los Angeles for questioning on the Wonderland Murders, as the newspapers had dubbed the crime. I knew as sure as there is shit in a goat that Jon was going to spill his guts out and my name was going to be brought up.
I didn't know which would be worse. Being wanted for AWOL and dealing drugs. Or having one of the biggest cocaine kingpins in the state wanting to rub me out as a material witness to a crime.
Either way I was busting ass out of there.
Jon is long dead. AIDS. He never snitched. Did his time in L.A. County and never said a word. That I know of. Jon is famous again. All his old films are on video and DVD and he even has web sites dedicated to him.
I just keep walking down the streets wondering about that car pulling up behind me.