|Born||William Gordon Amerson
December 22, 1938
|Other names||Bill Williams|
Born in Los Angeles, Bill Amerson was one of the first adult film producers in the United States to produce so-called "hard core" entertainment. As reported in the award-winning documentary Wadd: The Life & Times of John C. Holmes, produced by filmmaker Cass Paley, "In these films we showed insertion. The sexual penetration and oral copulation. We actually showed it. People could not turn their money over fast enough [to see it]." To Amerson's surprise the market for this product was vastly larger than he had expected.
Amerson was also one of the early pioneers in the establishment of adult film industry to be able to ply its wares in accordance with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In the early days of hard core, Amerson and his colleagues were subject to arrest for any number of charges which could include pimping, pandering, and an obscure felony called "conspiracy to commit oral copulation". Ultimately courts established the legality of adult film production.
While Amerson's name may seem unfamiliar, his friend, John Curtis Holmes (known to many by his screen character, Johnny Wadd), was the premiere hard core film star from 1973 until 1988. Amerson was John Holmes's business manager after Holmes's arrest in 1981 for murder.
The early years
In the late 1960s, Amerson and a partner were running an office in Hollywood, just behind the Crossroads of the World area. They were taking still Polaroid shots for some hard core adult magazines. One day in 1969, John Holmes auditioned for the photo shoot, and when he displayed his inimitable physical endowment, a business relationship which lasted for 20 years was born.
Holmes and Amerson were business partners on various ventures and shared a brotherly and profitable relationship.
HIV testing pioneer
In November 1982, after Holmes was released from the Los Angeles County Jail (after having been fully acquitted of the 1981 quadruple murder of the Wonderland Gang), Amerson and Holmes formed a business called Penguin Productions, which was involved in adult film production. Of concern to the new proprietors was the growing threat of AIDS.
In 1985, Amerson was the first name-brand hard core producer who demanded that actors be tested for HIV. And to back up his talk, both he and Holmes were tested and came out negative. But a follow-up test over six months later showed that Holmes was infected and from that point on it was all downhill.
Upon Holmes's death in March 1988, Amerson felt that he no longer wanted to be in the business, given the loss of his dear friend and the godfather to his son (Sean Amerson) and daughter (Denise Amerson). In a 1987 interview, before Holmes's death but before Holmes's AIDS was public knowledge, Amerson complained "that the porn trade is 'no longer fun,' in large part because of the AIDS crisis. Despite accumulating a fortune of several million dollars" .
In addition to managing and producing John Holmes, Amerson also had a thriving career in front of the camera, as he acted in movies as diverse as Girls on Fire and The Divorcee. Often he is credited by his pseudonym, Bill Williams.
- LA Times Article Specter of AIDS Triggers Deathly Fear in Pornography Industry, by Russell Kishi, dated August 16, 1987
- "Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes"
- Bill Amerson's statements in the 1998 documentary, "Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes"
- "XXXL: The John Holmes Story"
- Bob Chinn's statements in the 1998 documentary, "Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes"
- Rolling Stone magazine article "The Devil in John Holmes", May 1989
- 2004 documentary film "John Holmes: The Man, The Myth, The Legend"
- Bill Amerson at the Internet Movie Database