As promised, Part 2 of….
1986 – 1990s
Traci started at the top. Her first job: Penthouse centerfold (September, 1984). But, unlike women who use these “high class” spreads to launch legitimate modeling and acting careers, Traci went in another direction. Blame Tom Byron. His meeting with her became a legend.
It happened on the set of Richard Mailer’s, What Gets Me Hot. Traci was “testing” porn work as a “nude extra,” a woman who provides window dressing but doesn’t perform sex.
Mailer hadn’t needed her, but “Traci was so beautiful I just had to have her in the picture.”
Byron first saw her in the kitchen, away from the cameras. “I felt like I’d been hit by a ton of bricks,” he said. “I’ve worked with a lot of beauties, but when I saw Traci…it was like a wet dream come true.”
Mailer came upon the two of them writhing on a butcher block. The veteran pornographer wasted no time; Traci lost her “screen cherry” but gained a boyfriend and a new career–one she plunged into.
As one of the first stars to capitalize on the enormous volume of videos shot in the mid-’80s, Traci Lords worked in 105 movies in less than 20 months. Her presence made hits of Those Young Girls, Battle of the Stars, Sex Fifth Avenue, Aroused, Talk Dirty to Me, Part III, Educating Mandy, Bad Girls III, and my own Physical II.
The Dark Brothers’ punk rock epic New Wave Hookers, with its flash-trash cover photo of Traci, became the number one renting adult video of all time. It stayed in the top ten for 52 weeks–until the scandal hit.
There were good reasons for her popularity: creamy skin, a perfect 36-23-36 figure, large hazel eyes, and waves of hair that were light chestnut or dark blonde, depending on the light or hairdresser’s tint. The nipples on her “balloon breasts”–as Jerry Butler called them in his autobiography Raw Talent–puffed up when she was aroused.
“It’s like her tits have tits,” panted my attorney, who traded $300 in legal fees for copies of my two Lords titles Physical II and Dirty Pictures.
Traci’s trademark feature was The Pout, a full, lower-lipped challenge to all red-blooded American men (and to plastic surgeons whose clients wanted the look, too).
Along with her beauty, Traci brought to the screen a genuine enthusiasm. This child of the Sexual Revolution took pride in her work, free of the martyred shame that haunted so many porn women in the past.
“They represent a new breed of performer in our industry,” said Harry Reems, in an AVN interview, after working with both Traci and her leading rival, Ginger Lynn. “They walk in without all these inhibitions that we all grew up with and to them it’s a celebration of life that sex is supposed to be. I found that when I got into films, most performers wouldn’t even tell their parents what they were doing. Today, the parents are their agents and managers.”
Next: Lords, Lies and Videotape Part 3: