Eric John Discusses Battle With Long COVID, Full Return

LOS ANGELES—Veteran performer Eric John tells AVN he is enjoying his return to performing for other companies after a three-and-a-half year battle with acute COVID and Long COVID.

Since his full comeback on June 1, John has appeared in a variety of scenes for different studios in addition to ramping up production at his own company, Erotique Entertainment.

John, a former engineering executive at Boeing who has racked up more than 1400 performing credits in his 18-year career, discussed what it’s taken for him to get back to full health, what he’s doing now and his plans for the future in this exclusive interview.

AVN: How does it feel to be back fully performing with no restrictions, and healthy again?

EJ: Fantastic! I was cleared for full workouts on May 1st, so I’ve actually been working out daily with the assistance of a training staff since then. That alone is an incredible feeling after not having been able to work out the whole time while sick.

And then I was cleared for full performing with no restrictions on June 1st, and every experience on set has been wonderful. In a way it feels like I just picked up from where I left off… though in reality I am more focused and disciplined in the way I am working out, and have the guidance of the training staff, so at this point I am in better condition than I have been for probably 10 years.

What types of scenes have you done for other companies since your return?

Well, I started right off with one of the most challenging ones possible [laughing].

That wasn’t the plan, I sort of thought I would ramp up into it, however after I made myself available the first booking I got was a DP, double vag, all out intense gonzo scene with Kyla Keys and Michael Stefano for Maestro Claudio’s DP Diva in which I anchored the whole time.

I’ve done several Team Skeet scenes including the “free use” type which is challenging in a different way (staying hard though the girls aren’t acknowledging the sex happening). I also included some standing reverse in these to show off my condition a little.

And also BBW stuff for Jeff’s Models. As you know, I’ve always been down for a very wide variety of scenes, and that definitely hasn’t changed.

What I think has, obviously, is that when you go through a near death experience, especially one that lasts so long and is so challenging to fight out of…. You appreciate every day and every scene you get just so much more. I always thought I did even before, it’s way more amplified now though.

It's such a joy to be here and to be able to perform and be on set with people again. I appreciate every moment of it.

Can you summarize what you went through for people who may not be familiar?

Of course.

I had very bad acute COVID, the original, in March and April of 2020. Specifically, I knew I was sick the day the NBA shut down, March 11; I was very much in sync with what was happening nationally. I had been at Kobe Bryant’s funeral service a few days prior, and a group of people that had traveled from around the world for that were together in close proximity for a few hours, so I believe this is where I was exposed, the conditions if you consider what was happening then were perfect for it, unfortunately.

I thought I had recovered from COVID by the start of May, attempted to start working out again, was increasing the intensity day by day until May 17th (2020) when I literally collapsed on the sidewalk towards the end of a seven-mile run. That marked the onset of a battle with Long COVID that at many different times I didn’t think I would ever make it out of.

I had a system in place where if my mother didn’t hear from me by a certain time each day, there was a set of people she would call to come and see if I was alive and take care of the dogs. In addition to being worried about myself, I was horrified that my six rescue dogs would suffer somehow because of me.

What were the kinds of things you were going through with this serious ailment of Long COVID?

It’s hard for me when people ask that question because it’s such a complicated, debilitating disease that is still far from completely understood. And also because it’s manifests differently for different people, and also changed constantly over time. It also interacts with whatever pre-existing conditions each person has. Add up all those ‘also’s’ and we could talk for hours.

We don’t nearly have enough time for all the complexities.

Let’s summarize it like this: you never knew what each day would be like. There were many days I barely had the energy to get out of bed and feed the dogs. Sometimes I had more energy, then less. Every system in my body was affected at one point or another. Difficulty breathing, fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, phantom pains in various places, cramping, pounding heart… at different phases each of these and many more presented. Some of the worse ones were brain fog where it was hard to think clearly at all, memory loss both temporary and permanent, and for a phase I had vision loss where my eyes lost the ability to communicate with my brain and everything was blurry. I had to train myself how to see again.

How did you finally break free from all of that?

Well there were two phases of that. The just “will myself to move on” phase from January 2022 to December 2023, and the “actually solve it with help” phase from January 2023 to end of May 2023.

The ”will myself to move on” phase was me just being sick of it and trying to act like I could resume more activities when really I still wasn’t OK. I still couldn’t work out, I was still having these various problems that manifested more or less that I was trying to not get in my way, I was way overweight… I was definitely better than 2020 and 2021 but far from good.

I even tried to perform a bit in that period, and unfortunately, it just wasn’t up to my high standards. I knew it and it was really bothering me. One performance in particular I was like “this is terrible” and knew I had to shut it down and really fix it.

So I got better insurance during open enrollment, and proceeded to do nothing from January through end of May of this year except see every specialist I needed and do everything they told me to do, attacking one problem then another, then another, including two operations. Total and complete focus on health.

And all of that plus maybe also how much time had passed or the combination of those two, and I finally conquered it.

So what is coming up for you?

Currently I am in a phase of really focusing on performing for other companies and doing the best scenes possible. It was something temporarily taken away from me, and now that I have it back, my attitude is better than ever and I want to achieve even more than I did before.

I definitely want to move past my “sick period” in terms of “my narrative” in people’s minds, if you will. I feel like the illness and the struggle with it got too associated with what people thought of me for a while there.

I’ve worked extremely hard to exceed the level of performance on set that I was achieving prior to becoming ill, and I am extremely proud of that, and that’s what I want people to focus on now.

Plus of course new companies and directors have come along while I was dealing with all of that, and there is a lot of opportunity there.

Aside from that, while I was sick, the one skill I really improved on was my editing of my multi-camera films for Erotique Entertainment, something I found a lot of satisfaction in when I couldn’t physically do much else.

So I am very exciting about a number of amazing releases I have in the pipeline.

Eric can be booked directly, or through ATMLA.

His company Erotique Entertainment has studio/office in downtown Los Angeles, and can be reached via email at [email protected] or 310.994.8540.

Photo shot in DTLA on Sept. 13, 2023.