By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
John started bringing drugs home. Just before Christmas 1979, Holmes introduced lines of cocaine. He was always in control of the supply, and he parceled it out very specifically to Dawn. “He wanted to be sure I didn’t have too much, but enough for me to be with him still. Nobody else wanted to be with him after a while.
“He brought freebase in once and had this huge premonition of how horrible it could get. He ritualistically took me out to the street, where we broke the pipe and swore never to bring it in.”
Despite their pledge, base pipes and a torch were soon added to the cargo in John’s briefcase. Holmes’ base exploits eventually eclipsed his legend for cocksmanship, as his penis became less and less functional, on and off the set. His co-workers joked that the only way to ensure his arrival in front of the cameras was to leave a trail of cocaine rocks.
By 1980, Holmes had taken to stealing — from parked cars, from airport luggage belts, from the homes of his friends — to support his habit. He began serving as a delivery boy for the only people who still tolerated his presence, his drug dealers. (Holmes’ daily paycheck came in the form of marbles of rock cocaine valued at around $1,000.) He mooched gas money. His only possessions were the clothes he wore, his wife’s Chevy Malibu and Dawn.
Dawn started to accompany John on drug runs. She’d stay in the car while he did his deals and based himself into stupefaction. She’d sit sometimes for two days out in front of a dealer’s house, her only companion a Chihuahua named Thor. She became familiar with the outside of Eddie Nash’s house and that of the home on Wonderland Avenue. John wouldn’t take Dawn inside either house. Not that she wanted to come inside.
“John told me that people had a way of disappearing from Eddie’s, and that you were lucky if you found their bones in the desert,” she says. “That was John’s way of telling me he was afraid of Eddie.”
To pass the time, she would sleep. There were always blankets in the car, in case she had to hide. Sometimes John would leave a little bit of drugs. “It’s not a proud year of my life,” says Dawn, “but it’s what happened.”
On the crash from coke, desperate for cash and more dope, John began beating Dawn and forcing her to turn tricks. After she brought back the money, he’d tell her she was dirty, then subject her to scalding baths, scrubbing her until she was again clean enough for him.
On December 25, 1980, despite her apprehensions, Dawn found herself inside Eddie Nash’s house. John’s Christmas present to Dawn and his present to Eddie, it turned out, were one and the same. When Dawn returned to Holmes after fucking Nash for money, he smacked her in the face hard enough to pop her tooth through her lip. Nash had given them less coke than Holmes had anticipated. Four days later, on Dawn’s 20th birthday, he sent her back to Eddie.
In January, John went psycho on the drugs. He put Dawn in the trunk of his car and delivered her to a woman named Michelle, who ran a brothel out of an apartment complex in the Valley. That period is among Dawn’s worst memories: “The two of them watched over me. I was basically trapped in this house for a couple of weeks.”
One day Michelle was out, and John was visiting. He ordered Dawn to draw him a bath and fetch him a cup of coffee. While getting the coffee, she noticed that a sliding door, normally locked so as to prevent her escape, was ajar. She left her dog behind and ran.
A stranger at a Denny’s gave Dawn enough money to call her mother in Oregon. Mom sent her a bus ticket. “It became this big ordeal, because John’s calling every bus station in town, telling them I’m his daughter, a runaway.”
Following Dawn’s escape, John started calling her mother’s house, day after day. For the first few months, Dawn wouldn’t take the phone. She had been unable to tell her family the depth of her degradation. John begged Dawn’s mother to tell her that he loved her. He sent pictures of himself and of Thor to Dawn’s sister. He sent the sister five dollars and asked her to send back a picture of Dawn.
Finally, Dawn broke down and talked to John on the phone. He apologized. He cried. He put the dog on the line. He promised that there would be no more prostitution and no more hitting. Dawn’s resolve crumbled. John was sounding like the old John, the goofy, childlike, paternal and protective John she had fallen in love with five years before, the John she had missed and had been hoping would return.
John told her about how he had one more deal, a big one. Once he turned that, it would give them enough money to leave L.A. behind, to start somewhere new, to be like they used to be in the beginning, a family. Dawn felt herself sliding back in: