Meet Jill Nelson Author of Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema, 1968-1985
Norm Goldman

Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of

He has been reviewing books for the past twenty years when he retired from the legal profession.

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By Norm Goldman
Published on June 16, 2013


Today, is pleased to have as our guest Jill Nelson author of Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema, 1968-1985.

Good day Jill and thanks for participating in our interview


Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.


I was born and raised in Southern Ontario, Canada. My late father was a professional musician and had his own Big Band at a local nightclub for ten years starting in the mid-1950s. He and my mother met during wartime near her hometown of North Hatley, Quebec when he was playing sax and clarinet with the renowned Mart Kenney band.

After leaving the music business my father became an entrepreneur and opened his own Men’s wear store. My mother (who had sung a little on radio and had perfect pitch according to my father) worked in my father’s store as his bookkeeper, and later, in a Ladies’ shop. As a family, we embraced music, art, books and travel; and the arts became a major influence in my life, both as a child and into adulthood.

After graduating high school in the winter of 1976, I traveled to the west coast of Canada and the United States along with a girlfriend, hitchhiking and staying in youth hostels for six months, which was a remarkable experience for an eighteen-year old girl. I continued to alternately work and travel over the course of the next few years until attending Sheridan College to study as a Hearing Instrument Specialist.

At age twenty-eight, in 1986, I opened my own clinic in Hamilton, Ontario, and with a partner (another childhood friend) we serviced the hearing-impaired community until we sold our clinic in 2008, the same year my first book, John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches about the life and times of iconic adult film star, was published. Today, I continue to work part-time as a hearing care professional. I’ve been married for almost 35 years to the same terrific guy and we have two grown children.

Although I have no formal training as a writer, I’ve been told that my strength is my ability to get to the heart of a subject to present an innovative and unbiased view of a character or story. Since the advent of the internet, my writing consisted mostly of participating in online groups interested in books and film, until eventually; I met my co-author, Jennifer Sugar, on a message board which prompted her to invite me to become her collaborator on the John Holmes bio. Sugar and I are twenty-five years apart and reside in different countries which made our partnership truly unique. We met for the first time in person about a year after we teamed up and we were already entrenched together in our writing project.


What served as the primary inspiration for Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema, 1968-1985?


During our research and interviews for John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches, Jennifer and I had the opportunity to speak with several women who had worked in the erotic film industry during the classic golden era, when it was still illegal to participate in the production of sex films. I found their tales intriguing and I thought it would be interesting and of benefit to outsiders to learn more about these incredible renegade women.

About a year after Inches was published I decided to reestablish contact with the women to interview them for a book focusing primarily on them. One thing led to another, and eventually, I had a list of twenty-five interviewees who were willing to talk about their experiences in and out of the adult film industry. I felt that was a great cross-section of people.


What kind of research did you do to write this book?


My research consisted mostly of interviews, transcribing and arranging the quotes, to try to tell a compelling and honest story. I had a set list of questions for each subject pertaining to their childhood years, career years and post-career years, but I also let each woman go down roads of their choosing which kept the project fresh and engaging.

Because many of the women featured in the book had actually had formal acting training, additionally, I felt it was important to screen and write reviews of films depicting what was considered their best work, so I watched and wrote reviews for well over 125 feature films.

The reviews are woven in and around the interview quotes and narrative I composed, and then integrated into each chapter to help provide context.

Some of that narrative was inspired from books I’d read either by the subjects themselves, or others. I also had the use of some beautiful photos from photographer friends and I wrote to people to request the use of pictures which I used in conjunction with many images (family and otherwise) shared with me by the women. It was a massive project spanning over three and a half years, which is why the book is 950 pages!


What criteria did you use to decide on the twenty-five women you interviewed and wrote about?


It was important to me that each of the twenty-five women had started their careers in erotic films between 1968 and 1985, the period widely regarded as the golden age which is defined by the onset of hardcore films up until and including the threshold of the video boom.

It was also important that each of the subjects were known for contributing to the golden era in some significant or relevant way. In one way or another, all of the women profiled in my book are legendary and have star power.

Many people unfamiliar with the adult industry would be surprised to learn that not only did women work as performers, but also, they were directors, producers, screenwriters and costumers, which I find fascinating.

In other words, these women made a conscious choice to work in the taboo industry in multi-faceted roles which in my mind, completely debunks the notion that women in sex films did so against free-will or because they were coerced or exploited. That’s not to say that exploitation didn’t occasionally play a role, but it was by design. Some of these females were in their mid-late thirties and even early forties before embarking on a career on adult pictures. The sex films were a secondary career for many of them.


What purpose do you believe your book serves and what matters to you about the book? As a follow up, what would you say is the best reason to recommend someone to read your book?


I think my book is not only a gift to fans of the genre and to the folks who are aficionados about the era I’ve written about, but also, I believe these women are imperative to the history of cinema because of the magnitude of their collective works and their presence in what would be considered underground or alternative film.

Goddesses is also a story about twenty-five strong women who desired to buck the system and do something different that is not necessarily condoned or understood by society. I admire these women for being pioneers and trendsetters and I think the book reveals not only their outward and inner beauty, but also their intelligence, savvy, vulnerability, honesty and acceptance to live with and own their choices, good or bad. In the end, these women are daughters, wives, sisters, mothers, friends, employees and neighbors.

Goddesses is also a biography that resonates with folks who are boomers or who are fascinated by retro as it pertains to film, but mostly, this book reveals the human and humane side of each woman who worked in an unorthodox profession and have been both revered and also scrutinized for doing so. I like to refer to Goddesses as the genuine and uncut version of Fifty Shades of Grey.


Have there been any other books written about the same topic as yours?


There have been other books written in a similar vein and about similar topics, but to the best of my knowledge, I don’t believe there are any other books out there that are written in an oral history format including film critique showcasing this kind of network of legendary women and stars of the golden era.

One of the reasons I had wanted to do a book of this nature is because I felt it would pay homage to these amazing women who in many cases have been either overlooked or denigrated. I believe my portrayal of each goddess is presented in a respectful, sensitive fashion while also revealing truths and warts.


What challenges or obstacles did you encounter while writing your book? How did you overcome these challenges?


Apart from the tedious task of transcribing all twenty-five interviews, there weren’t any real challenges that come to mind. Once I set out to write the book, things came together quickly and part of that is because I’d already developed a reputation with many folks during my collaboration on the John Holmes bio.

I think my subjects also agreed to speak with me because I do not have a background in porn nor am I affiliated with the sex industry in any capacity, so there was a wonderful level of trust already built into the project. Some of the women have confided to me since its publication that if a man had proposed to write the book, they wouldn’t have been so eager to open up, so to speak.

I will say that the editing of the book was difficult for me at times, because there was such an immense amount of material to sift through and my eyes would often become strained. If I hadn’t been as dedicated and passionate about this project and willing to forfeit much of my personal time, it never would have been completed. Maybe some people would have preferred that it wasn’t completed, I don’t know! In retrospect, if I ever do another project on this level, I will ask for more help.


Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?


I think I learned how to be more direct when conveying an idea or sharing information. I’ve also learned that it’s worth paying someone to do a final edit to correct minor mistakes that can be overlooked when compiling a tome of this magnitude.


Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? Did you have any negative comments?


I do hear from readers on a weekly basis which is very nice. Most if not all of the feedback has been very positive which is extremely gratifying since this is my first solo work. I don’t think there have been many negative comments made about the book, apart from why didn’t I include a specific performer who isn’t mentioned in the biography.

I did explain in my introduction however, that favorite performers or stars might be left out but that it wasn’t for any reason other than space constraints or because of the fact that some individuals couldn’t be located or didn’t wish to speak about their pasts. Overall, I’ve acknowledged all women who were essential to the era, even if they aren’t highlighted. This book is symbolic of all female contributors of the golden age and beyond.


Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We would love to hear all about them!)


At present, I’ve just started working on a memoir detailing that journey (I spoke about earlier in the interview) about the hostelling trip I made with my friend to the west coast of Canada and into the western United States back in 1976. Actually, I haven’t shared this information with many people yet so I’m letting the cat out of the bag.

The memoir is titled 1976: Tapes from California inspired by the LP of the same name by deceased American folk and topical singer and songwriter, Phil Ochs, who hung himself two weeks before I first listened to one of his recordings. He died in April 1976. I’ve never written about myself before so it’s been an interesting process so far. Fortunately, I’d kept a journal, including a collection of poems, song lyrics and sketches I compiled from that trip which has been very helpful to me.

Apart from that, my publisher, BearManor Media have requested that I do a sort of follow up or a counterpart to Goddesses consisting of interviews with 20-25 men of the golden era. Sadly, a handful of the legendary men from that time frame (and there aren’t that many) have already passed on or are about to enter their seventies so there is a bit of a sense of urgency to get the book started.

At the same time, it’s been good to have a break from writing about porn related subjects and people! As much as I’ve enjoyed it and wouldn’t trade the last 6-7 years of my life for the world, I think it’s important to branch out and explore other ideas and subjects that interest me. I believe all authors would prefer not to be pigeon holed.


How can our readers find out more about you and Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema, 1968-1985?


People can read about my book on the Book’s Blog.

Also, they can order, read critic and reader reviews and a little more about me on the book’s Amazon page 

They can also purchase or read about my first book John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches 

I’m pleased to share the news that in order to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the release of John Holmes: A Life Measured in Inches, in August, a hardcover version of Inches will be available on the following SITE  including a brand new Author’s note by the book’s originator and my co-author, Jennifer Sugar, and a short Postscript written by me.


As this interview draws to a close what one question, would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.


Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything we didn’t cover here. I’d just like to take this moment to thank you Norm for your review of Goddesses and for posing some excellent questions about the book, I hadn’t been asked before. I very much appreciate your time and thoughtful queries.

Follow Here To Read Norm's Review of  25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema, 1968-1985

Follow Here To Purchase Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema, 1968-1985