The Traci Lords Scandal

Her first nude layout was in Velvet Magazine taking "Traci " from her childhood friend and Lord" from HAWAII FlVE-O's leading man, Jack Lord. Shortly following the Velvet Magazine lay out came her Penthouse appearance. The text that accompanied the pictures was quite amusing.

First off, the newly christened Traci states her age as a hefty twenty-two, and in those twenty-two years she had lived in numerous locales, among them Nevada, Florida and South California, culminating in her move to Redondo Beach.

She apparently had studied "Interior Design" at El Camino College, intended to study acting at U.C.L.A. and did high fashion modeling in New York; not to mention set design for movies. A busy girl. Al though the biggest exaggeration in the entire piece had Traci stating that she retained her virginity until the age of nineteen. That Traci, what a kidder.

The next thing Traci knew she was getting banged in porno flix.' By all accounts, Traci's first XXX film was shot during the spring of 1984 and its title was WHAT GETS ME HOT (Director: Richard Mailer). The initially shot footage of Traci wasn't hardcore, that Mailer did a bit later after she had gained her notoriety.

Traci's first hardcore scenes were for THOSE YOUNG GIRLS. Shortly afterwards she appeared in two classics from the notorious dark brothers, NEW WAVE HOOKERS (as the Devil) and BLACK THROAT. According to director Greg Dark, Traci's, "the dirtiest girl in porn's existence." Throughout 1984 and 1985, Traci was estimated to have appeared in roughly one hundred or so films. At this time the industry was quite pleased with the heaping amount of money they made off of young Traci. She now estimates that she made somewhere between $500 to $3,000 per day: Insiders have said the figures fluctuated somewhere in the range of $2,000 to $5,000 a day.

Traci also declared that she made an additional $30,000 with another ex-porn star - Ginger Lynn month producing phone sex tapes. To top it all off she also modeled a line of clothes called. I.D.#. As summer 1985 fast approached, Traci continued to star in XXX films and never once, in over a year and a half, was their ever a concern uttered in regards to her age. This was because, to the industry big shots, Traci was known to be Kristie Elizabeth Nussman, born November 17, 1962 in a Santa Monica Hospital. It said so on her California State drivers license and on the birth certificate she used to obtain it. No questions were ever asked and Traci went on with business until the fall of 1985 when she decided to "retire" from the industry. But then she met Stuart Dell.

In January 1986 she announced her return to porn with the formation of TLC (The Traci Lords Company) Dell and Traci made a duplicate and distribution deal with Sy Adler, an industry veteran who ran Vantage International. In March 1986 the first TLC feature, TRACI TAKES TOKYO was released. The second, BEVERLY HILLS COPULATOR, shipped in late June and a third film, SCREAMER, never hit the video shelves as all hell broke loose on that fateful day of July 11, 1986.

Vantage International's Sun Valley offices were hit with investigators wielding search warrants and the rest is history. The revelation of Traci's true age sent cur rents of fear and panic throughout the industry. At this time a few smaller companies and at least one major sub-distributor collapsed due to the scandal. lra Reiner, the Los Angeles District Attorney at the time, issued a warning to all video stores to take all Traci Lords films off their shelves.

All down the line from manufacturer to mom'n pop video stores, everyone in the video business came up a loser. Some companies would allow distributors to return tapes for credit, others would not. Retailers who had purchased tapes outright as rental items were stuck with an unrentable item to be trashed. It is no exaggeration to estimate losses all around to be in the millions.

July 11, 1986, 6 a.m.: "I was half naked. They came barging into the house, put me up against the wall, and left me standing there for at least twenty minutes. They trashed my apartment to hell, then drove me around in a car for about two hours. They were trying to scare me, to find out who I was. I wasn't saying. I was petrified. I was freaked out chemically anyway..." (Traci Lords, Film Comment magazine, July/ August 1989)

Speculation on who let the cat out of the bag consists of many theories. Among them: 1); former employee Honi Webber, who was fired from the TLC only a few days before Traci's true age came to light. Curiously. Webber went on to make a competing video titled TRACI'S BIG TRICK (director Jane Waters) which starred Jacqueline Lorians as Traci. 2); Traci's mom, Pat Kuzma, also under suspicion as she stood to share in the increased nut From the notoriety and was incensed that her daughter had sold the rights to TRACE TAKES TOKYO for $75,000 behind her back.

A third theory has Trace and a boyfriend given thousands of dollars and a car with instructions to make a film. Months later, they return - no money, no car, and no film. Big trouble in this business and a very real threat of violence. It's possible then that Traci called the Feds herself for protection.

Of course Traci refutes all this and still claims, to this day, that she doesn't know who or how the F.B.I. was clued in. Not surprisingly there were other repercussions due to the revelation of Traci's age. The producers were charged under the Federal Child Protection Act for using a minor in a sex film. They could have faced up to ten years in prison if convicted but their case was eventually thrown out of court. Agent Jim South also pleaded guilty to similar charges, also dropped. No other indictments were handed down. At the time it appeared as though Traci's career was over as that type of controversy wouldn't exactly open new doors outside of talk shows looking for sensationalist material. So what did Traci do? Release another triple XXX film.

TRACI, I LOVE YOU was shot (reportedly) two days after her legitimate eighteenth birthday on May 7, 1986 -over two months before her initial arrest. Caballero Video's Al Bloom recalls Traci and Stewart Dell coming to him to peddle TRACI, I LOVE YOU, shortly after the scandal broke.

Lords and Dell both received an upfront fee and a fat royalty on each box sold. Traci netted well over $300,000 and, needless to say, the tape was a huge success; the #I triple XXX video of 1987. In the May 1995 issue of Details magazine, Traci summed up her days as a porno princess by stating, " was never about sex. It was about self-abuse and anger. I was punish ing myself. I never said, "They made me do it. Nobody made me do anything. I was never a victim. "

By the summer of 1987 Traci had enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Actor's Studio and. kicked the cocaine habit for good. When asked why she thought she had the ability to act, she re cently declared, "because I was such a good liar." On March 28th, 1988, Traci shocked the pom industry by guesting on the CBS show, WISEGUY (episode; Date With An Angel). Traci's network television debut saw her cast as an escort girl who was revealed to be a Soviet agent.

On April 18th Traci appeared on FOX's LATE SHOW and was interviewed by host Ross Schafer. Besides discussing her past she also plugged her upcoming mainstream feature film, NOT OF THIS EARTH. Surprisingly Traci received pretty good reviews for her first legit film work, but her deal with producer Roger Corman quickly soured there after over artistic differences - she wanted to keep her clothes on and turned down the Edgar Allen Poe project, THE HAUNTING OF MORELLA.

>Apparently Traci expressed problems over the "really cheap nudity and lost the role to a newcomer, Nicole Eggert. Traci also lost the lead in RETURN OF THE SWAMP THING to Heather Locklear. Rebounding from these unsettling disappointments (!?) Traci made her own exercise video, WARM UP WITH TRACI LORDS, which was purchased by Summit International Video. Ironically Summit was owned by Paradise Visuals, the X-rated company that put out Traci's earliest triple XXX work. Of her exercise video, Traci said, "Horrific. I'd wake up in the morning, smoke a pack of cigarettes, and go and do my exercise video."

Next came a small role in the Jim Varney comedy, FAST FOOD- THE MOVIE. She then received mucho coverage when she walked on stage with Slash of Guns And Roses to accept an award at the 1988 MTV awards show. It was also known that Traci had some form of relationship with the lead guitarist, who was apparently a little too messed up for Traci and a little too "into his own head trips." On October 1, 1989 a great television spot was handed to her; an appearance on MARRIED.. WITH CHILDREN. She then was approached by Warner books to write her auto biography; which has sadly never seen the light of day. NBC also propositioned her with a made-for-TV movie chronicling her life history. It was to be titled, OUT OF THE BLUE; THE TRACI LORDS STORY.

NBC owned the rights for about a year and a half, then developed cold feet over the project. Feeling its tone would be too controversial, NBC sold the rights to CBS; but the film never hit the airwaves on that network either. Traci had no problem though in selling her image in the form of posters and calendars. Both were huge sellers. She also had photo layouts (of a much different nature) in Elle, GQ, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan, as well as two covers for Muscle and Fitness in which she strangely billed herself as Nora Kuzma. Late 1989 also found her a guest on CNN's Larry King Live. >

The fate card had flipped over favorably for Traci with her next film pole having the potential to introduce her to a very large audience. She landed a role in the John Waters film, CRY BABY. As Wanda Woodward, Traci had found a character close to her heart; a young girl attempting to be a woman, a good girl with a desire to be bad. In reference to her previous occupation, Waters was quoted as saying, "Believe me, in my world nobody's background is a problem." More film opportunities followed. Traci was originally pegged for the role of "Breathless Mahoney" in Warren Beatty's DICK TRACY until Madonna accepted. During this time Traci's only realized role was in the Faust take-off, SHOCK'EM DEAD.

September 1990 found Traci lords a married woman. The lucky fellow was Brook Yeaton. Traci and Brook first met on the set of CRY BABY where Brook worked as a set designer/prop manager. They were married in Baltimore in an Episcopalian wedding. She had lied to the priest beforehand about being baptized so John Water's (who was enrolled as a priest) did the duty. As Traci recalls, It was like a story book wedding. It seemed like I was Cinderella, and he showed up on a horse and took me away." Unfortunately the story book didn't come with a happy ending.

As of the summer of 1994 the relationship had pretty much dissolved with the once happy couple separating. "I know I'm not easy to live with Traci has said of their split. Around the time of their marriage Traci had begun an association with the "Children of The Night" child shelters organization, doing commercials for television as well as lecturing on behalf of the group. Fall 1990 found Traci appearing in a two part episode of MACGYVER. February 1991 gave her a guest shot on cheezball FOX program, SUPERFORCE (Ginger Lynn-Allen also guested at one point).

During May 1991 an anti drug television commercial featuring Traci was aired (only in California) and an NBC telefilm entitled OUT OF SEASON failed to realize air time as it was never completed. Her greatest TV moment of that year came when she landed another guest shot on MARRIED WITH CHILDREN. As for feature films, THE NUTTY NUT began principal photography on June 10,1991 and finally saw release July 1995 under the video title, THE NUTT HOUSE. IL RITMO DEL SILENZIO was shot in the summer of 1991 and was released on U.S. video as DESPERATE CRIMES in 1993. 1992 saw the release of PET CEMETERY 2 which showcased a different side of Traci; Traci Lords as a songstress. She had one song in the soundtrack and thus begat her other career as a singer (more on that in a bit). IN TENT TO KILL, another direct-to-video thriller, was shot in the summer of 1992 and released the following year. A project (presumably a feature film) entitled SKIRMISH was planned to star Traci but was never completed or ever started for that matter.

1993 was a pretty busy time in the life of Ms. Lords. She began the year with an inter view on the WHOOPI GOLDBERG SHOW, then May 9th and 10th she appeared in the ABC miniseries (shot in New Zealand) THE TOMMYKNOCKERS. SKINNER (1994) was perhaps one of Traci's oddest roles of recent. The film is basically a sick slasher film detailing the routine of a serial killer.

Traci's role is that of an avenging morphine addict deter mined to snuff the snuffer. Her role is unglamorous and extremely depressing as her character mulls about the screen like leprosy victim ostracized from humanity. Traci delivers a credible performance but the film is so superficial it almost erases her effort. Following SKINNER there was John Water's SERIAL MOM and PLUGHEAD REWIRED; CIRCUITRY MAN 2.. ICE (1993) had Traci as a cop.

It was originally an HBO Telefilm that was then released onto video. By the end of 1993 she wrapped with a TALES FROM THE CRYPT episode, TWO FOR THE SHOW. 1994 saw Traci in BANDIT: BANDIT'S SILVER ANGEL (aired April 4th) as Angel Austin. It was a TNT tele film.

Later in the year (November to be exact) Traci hit primetime television in the popular sitcom, ROSANNE where she played waitress, Stacy Flaegler. It was the first of 4 appearances. Before she lost the role to Sharon Stone, Traci was pegged to play the alcoholic, drug addicted hustler, Ginger, in Martin Scorsese's CASINO. Early 1995 found Traci landing a role on TV's MELROSE PLACE. She appeared on five episodes as "Rikki". At the time it was one of the biggest events in her career. The role brought a lot of television and print coverage, earning Traci numerous appearances as a magazine cover girl. Traci just recently shot a cameo for Gregg Araki's next feature to be titled, NOWHERE. Expect the film to hit the theater screen by the summer of 1996.

Now, let's get to Traci's musical endeavors. A few years back Traci had plans to do an album with Mark Conrad (who had worked with such bands as Poison). Traci described her music as a cross between Depeche Mode, Janes Addiction, and The Cure. This release never came together and Traci found some diversion with U.K. power pop punksters Manic Street Preachers. She went into the studio with the band and laid down vocals for a track called "Little Baby Nothing". It was released January 1992. It wasn't until February 1995 that Traci had a full length release finally out. The album, 1000 FIRES (Radioactive Records) was quite a big stylistic difference from her initial musical focus, this being full on techno/dance music. She has since released two promo videos to support the album.

From the world of pornography to The Tonight Show, Traci has come a long way. Whether she ever matches the level of success in the "straight" world that she achieved in the area of fuck flix remains to be seen, but I think it's safe to assume that, in some form or another, she'll always have the aura of stardom surrounding her. Cover Page Index

NOT OF THIS EARTH (1988) (Dir: Jim Wynorski)
FAST FOOD - THE MOVIE (1989) (Dir Michael Simpson)
CRYBABY (1990) (Dir: John Waters)
SHOCK'EM DEAD (1990) (Dir: Mark Freed)
LASER MOON (1991) (Dir: Bruce Carter)
RAW NERVE (1992)
A TIME TO DIE (199Q) (Dir: Charles Kanganis)
IL RITMO DEL SILENZIO (1993) (U.S. title DESPERATE CRIMES) (Dir Andreas Marfori)
SERIAL MOM (1994) (Dir: John Waters)
THE NUTTY NUT (1995)(Video title THE NUTT HOUSE)
SKINNER (1995) (Dir Ivan Nagy)
NOWHERE (shot summer 1995) (Dir: Gregg Araki)TRACI TELEVISION APPEARANCES
'Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" (promo video for Helix) (released as part of RED HOT ROCK on Vestron Video)
THE ROBIN BYRD SHOW (Guest) (New York Public Access Cable)
WISEGUY ('Date With An Angel') (CBS) (aired Mar. 28)
THE LATE SHOW (interview) (Fox) (aired Apr. 18)
HOUR MAGAZINE (interview) (aired May 19)
1989 GOOD MORNING AMERICA (interview) (ABC) (aired June Q7)
MARRIED WITH CHILDREN ("Tooth and Conse quences') (Fox)(aired Oct. 1)
1990 THE PAT SAJAK SHOW (interview) (CBS) (aired Apr. 13)
INSIDE REPORTS (interview) (July)
MACGWER (2-part episode) (ABC) (Fall)'
Children Of The Night' - Child Shelter's Commercial
THE NEW MUSIC (interview) (City-TV) (aired Jan. 11)
SUPER FORCE (Fox) (aired Feb.)
INTO THE NIGHT starring Rick Dees (interview) (ABC) (airedFeb 28)
INTO THE NIGHT with guest host Alan Hamel on July25)
INSIDE EDITION (interview) (aired Nov. 11)
MARRIED WITH CHILDREN (Fox) (aircd Nov. 24)
THE WHOOPI GOLDBERG SHOW (interview) (aired Jan 20)
THE TOMMYKNOCKERS (ABC mini series) (aired May 9, 10)
ICE (HBO telefilm)
TALES FROM THE CRYPT ("Two For The Show') (HBO) (Fall)
BANDIT: BANDIT'S SILVER ANGEL (TNT telefilm) (aired Apr.4)
ROSEANNE (ABC) (aired Nov.2)
MELROSE PLACE (Fox) (appeued Jan. 16, 23. Feb. 6, 13, 27)
ROSEANNE (ABC) (appeared on Jan. 25, Feb. 15, 2Q)
"1,000 Fires~ (her debut music promo video) (MTV) (aired Mar.17)
THE TONIGHT SHOW (interview) (NBC) (aired May 12)
"Fallen Angel~ (2nd music video) (MTV) (aired August)
(and of course numerous appearances on Entertainment Tonight, EXTRA, A Current Affair, etc)

BREAKING IT (Collector's Video) (Dir David Fraser & Svetlana)
KINKY BUSINESS (Dreamland Entertainment) (Dir Jonathan Ross)
LUST IN THE FAST LANE (Paradise Visuals) (Dir Adam)
MISS P~SSION (Vidco) (Dir Suze Randall)
NIGHT OF LOVING DANGEROUSLY (Paradise Visuals) (Dir Adam)
TALK DIRTY TO ME Part 111 (Dreamland Entertainment) (Dir Ned Morehead)
THOSE YOUNG GIRLS (Paradise Visuals) (Dir Miles Kidder)
TRACIE LORDS (Cinema Tech)
THAT GETS ME HOT (Intropics Video) (Dir Richard Mailer)
ANOTHER ROLL IN THE HAY (Dir: DavidFraser and Svetlana)
AROUSED, TRACI LORDS IS (Vista Video) (Dir Robert McCallum)
BAD GIRLS 111 (Gourmet/Collector's Video) (Dir David Fraser Svetlana)
BATTLE OF THE STARS (Now Showing Video) (Western Visuals) (Collector's Video) (Dir Larry Cole)
BLACK THROAT (VCA) (Dir Gregory Dark)
COUNTRY GIRL (AVC) (Dir: Bob Chinn)
DREAM LOVER (CDI Home Video) (Dir Jim Reynolds)
EDUCATING MANDY (CDI Home Video) (Dir Royce Sheppard)
EROTIC ZONES (Caballero Video) (Dir: Paul Vatelli)
FUTURE VOYEUR (Superstar Video) (Dir Bobby Hol lander)
GRAFENBERG SPOT, THE (Mitchell Bros Video) (Dir: Artie andJim Mitchell)
HOLLY DOES HOLLYWOOD (Video Exclusives)(Dir: Ron Fellows)
IT'S MY BABY (CDI Home Video) (Dir: Jerome Bronson)
LADIES IN LACE PARTY, (Masterpiece Home Video) (Dir JackRemy)
LOVE BITES (Caballero) (Dir: Victor Nye)
NEW WAVE HOOKERS (VCA) (Dir: Gregory Dark)
OPEN UP, TRACI (Vidco) (Dir: Michael Carpenter)
PERFECT FIT (Dreamland Ent.) (Dir: Kurt Nielsen 11)
PLEASURE PARTY (Gourmet Video)
PONY GIRL (California Star)
SEX FIFTH AVENUE (Western Visuals) (Dir Jerome Tanner)
SEX GODDESS (Gourmet Video)
SEX SHOOT (Paradise/Atom Video) (Dir Cheech Bogardt)
SEX WAVES (Excalibur Video) (Dir: David Mitchell)
SISTER DEAREST (Dreamland Ent.) (Dir Jonathan Ross)
SIZZLING SUBURBIA (CDI Video) (Dir: Will Kelly)
SUZIE SUPERST~R 2 (Cal Vista) (Dir Robert McCallum)
WLHOUSE ROCK (Western Visuals) (Dir: Jerome Tanner)
TRACI IN HEAVEN (Western Visuals) (Dir B.J. Baily aka JackBaker)
WE LOVE TO TEASE (Vidco) (Dir: Michael Carpenter)
DEEP INSIDE TRACI (CDI Home Video) (Compila tion)
HARLEQUIN AFFAIR (Cinematrex) (Dir Bruce Seven)
JEAN GENIE (Caballero) (Dir David Michel)
PASSION PIT (Essex) (Dir: Charles De Santos)
TRACI LORDS' FANTASIES (Caballero) (Dir: Paul Vatelli)
TRACI TAKES TOKYO (TLC/Vantdge Int.) WILD THINGS (Cal Vista) (Dir: Alex DeRenzy)
TRACI I LOVE YOU (Cabdllero) (Dir: Jean Charles)
ADULT .45 Volume 1 (Dreamldnd Entertainment)
DIRTY PICTURES (Superior Video)
EROTIC GOLD (Ventura Video)
FANTASY CLUB 69 (Western Visuals)
DIAMOND COLLECTION #69, 73, 75, 76 (CDI Home Video)
SWEDISH EROTICA #56, 57, 60 (Caballero)
NYMPHEROTICA (Collector's Video)
PEEKABOO GANG (Collector's Video)
PHYSICAL #1, Q (Superior Video)
PLEASURE PRODUCTIONS #9 10 (Pleasure Productions)
RAVEN (Cinema Tech)
SWEET LITTLE THINGS (Collector's Video)
SPLASHING (Video Classics)

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