Lords, Lies and Videotape Part 10: Ho’-ray for Hollywood

How do you make the transition from porn stardom to a so-called “legitimate” acting career?

You do it by posing as a poor, abused child, victimized by evil pornographers.

As Ron Jeremy wrote in Adult Video News: “Isn’t it nice that such a sweet kid can make so many career moves, make so much money, beat her IRS rap, her fake passport felony rap, and at the same time bury an entire industry! Only in Hollywood!”

Below is the conclusion of SKINFLICKS, Chapter 12: The Goddess.

To Jeremy and others with ambitions in the non-porn film world, the most grating result of the Lords affair was how it opened Hollywood to her. No longer was Traci a scarlet woman too steeped in shame for the wholesome sponsors of American television and silver screen. Now she was an innocent, a child-victim.

As usual, Traci played her role well. “At that age, you don’t really understand what you’re doing,” she said. “You don’t really understand the consequences.” She claimed that producers kept her stoned on drugs and her agent got most of the money she made.

Hollywood bought her act. Aaron Spelling was reported to have paid $100,000 for the rights to her life story. Traci appeared in the TV series’ Wiseguy, MacGyver, and Married with Children. She starred in the sci-fi / horror film Not of This World. She got roles in the feature films Fast Food, Shock ’em Dead, A Time to Die, Raw Nerve, The Object of Desire, Laser Moon and the John Waters comedies Nutty Nut and Cry Baby–which AVN editor Gene Ross called “a poetically apt title.”

To the industry that made her show biz success possible, Traci showed no gratitude. Instead she made the most damaging claim of all: that those she had worked for knew she was a minor.

“She tells us that she was told to just get some kind of I. D.,” D.A. Reiner said. “And that was done with more a wink and a nod than any serious effort to determine what her real age was.” Was this allegation true?

With the strict penalties–forfeiture of assets, long prison terms and six figure fines–for using underaged models, pornographers run like hell from those whose age is questionable.

In the wake of the Lords mess, young-looking starlets Nikki Charm, Ali Moore and Kristara Barrington were ostracized upon the first hints of rumors that they too were underaged.

The positive long-term effect of the Lords crisis was the increased awareness within the industry that porn video’s lure of quick riches attracted sexually precocious kids. As minors, immune to prosecution, they had nothing to lose if discovered.

Pornographers could lose everything. Contending that knowledge of Traci’s age was irrelevant, Federal attorneys initiated felony prosecutions. The adult movie industry braced for battle.

x x x x x x

By the early 1980s, a bond of good faith had formed between L.A. legal authorities and sex moviemakers who’d agreed to refrain from depicting rape, scatology, hardcore S and M, bestiality, use of minors and the depiction of minors by adult performers.

Consequently, when the Lords bombshell exploded, L.A. authorities gave the adult industry a chance to escape prosecution by immediately removing all Lords products from commercial circulation. To the amazement of police and prosecutors, the gargantuan task was completed almost overnight.

Government prosecutors went ahead with their test cases, under the Federal child pornography statutes. Agent South and producers Ronald Kantor and Rupert McNee won acquittals, but the Government got a conviction against Ruby Gottesman of Xcitement Video.

Then Gottesman’s conviction was overturned, and the statute that allowed conviction without proof that the defendant knew the performer was underaged was ruled unconstitutional. The Government appealed.

In the 1990 United States v. Thomas case, the Ninth Circuit Court had ruled that even if a defendant thought that the performer in question was of legal age, the Government could obtain a conviction.

Finally, on November 29, 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Federal child porn law, while ruling that prosecutors must prove defendants had prior knowledge that a performer in question was underaged. The industry breathed a collective sigh of relief–but Rubin Gottesman didn’t; his conviction was upheld. The prosecution had presented evidence that Gottesman had sold hardcore Lords tapes to an undercover L.A. vice cop in 1987, by which time Lords’ former underaged status had become common industry knowledge.

There have been at least two more underaged actresses since the Traci Lords affair. I videotaped one of them.

Flushed with the afterglow of her sizzling debut in a Blacks and Blondes loop, a cute newcomer named Gigi (porn name Penny Nichols) gushed that she could now afford a $1500 pearlescent paint job with burgundy pinstripes for the ’69 Chevelle she’d just bought. Then she let it slip that her big concern now was passing her driver’s test.

Gigi’s mother complained to police that the girl was only 16 years old. On March 9, 1987, charges were filed against Jerome Tanner and agent Reb Sawitz. The veteran agent produced copies of a birth certificate and temporary driver’s license, which showed Gigi’s age as 19, exonerating Sawitz and Tanner under California law.

An underaged model scandal almost on the scale of the Traci Lords affair erupted in 1991, when Diane Stewart, a Canadian girl with the porn name Alexandria Quinn, appeared in over 70 videos before her 18th birthday.

Once again, tapes and magazines were frantically yanked from the market. Once again, real-appearing fake IDs precluded California prosecutions. And, once again, the industry had proven vulnerable to the deceit of a beautiful teenager.

x x x x x x

The Traci Lords scandal and the Government’s “War on Porn” did for sex movies what controversy always does. Adult tape sales soared from a wholesale value of $350 million in 1985 to almost $450 million in ’86. (With the uproar dying down in ’87, sales fell to $390 million.) It must have rankled the members of the Meese Commission to read Jerome Tanner’s taunting, “We need another report like that one.”

The industry needed another Traci Lords too–a legal one. With the entrenched copycat ethic, it was only natural to find a clone.

“She’s a deadringer for Traci Lords,” said Jack Michaelson of Cinderella Distributing. “Barbii has the fabled Traci pout down to perfection. Everybody’s crazy about her look.”

Barbii even spoke like Traci: “I’m a perfectionist and I don’t feel comfortable looking at myself.” In less than two months, out came Introducing Barbii, Lusty Desires, Backdoor to Hollywood, Barbii’s Way, and Spend the Holidays with Barbii. Penthouse lined her up for four different spreads.

Barbii’s wasn’t the only nouveau pout. In 1987 it seemed like half the new adult video boxcovers fixed the customer with a petulant stare and the best bottom lip the cover model could manage. One actress–whose career was brief–even called herself “Staci Lords.”

The industry’s love-hate affair with Traci continued.

Surfacing a half-year after the scandal erupted was the only hardcore Traci Lords movie made after she’d turned eighteen. It was that phantom Paris production Lords and Dell had denied shooting.

Released by Caballero Distributing, the sardonically titled Traci I Love You provoked calls for a boycott, but instead became the best selling and renting adult tape of 1987. “When a statuesque French blonde named Monique uses her mouth to shove a black dildo into Traci,” wrote reviewer Thomas McMahon, “it seems like old times.”

That old warhorse Honi Webber galloped back into battle with her High Times Video release Traci’s Big Trick, which “tells the whole truth for the first time…from high school to Penthouse to her agent’s office.” Lords, played by Jaqueline Lorians, is shown having sex with “Guy Sadler” (Sy Adler) and with Honi Webber–played by slim Sharon Mitchell in a bit of casting against type.

In Traci Who?, “it’s 1991 and President Meese wants to outlaw pornography,” went Peter Keating’s December ’86 AVN review. “Traci Who? may be the only title on the adult market to exist simply so that someone could get a dig in on that wretched turncoat Traci Lords.”

The rancor lasted for years. When Lords promoted her exercise tape at the 1988 VSDA Show, AVN quoted an “industry director” as saying, “I’m surprised she wasn’t met with a chorus of Uzis.”

When I last saw Tom Byron, he was at a 1989 trade show, looking for work behind the cameras, not in front of them.

“What’s Traci up to these days?” I asked him.
Byron shrugged. “Who the hell cares?”

# # #

 

Lords, Lies and Videotape Part 6: Lovestruck, Sunstruck and Buttboy-struck

From SKINFLICKS Chapter 12, The Goddess

Whap! Whap! Whap!

Traci had slammed Marc Wallice on his back and was slapping his face. “Come on, bigmouth!” she taunted. “Come on, bigmouth!”

I’d protested that even mild S and M was now legally risky, but Traci said Wallice needed this to get turned on. I hoped she’d miss those weakened nasal membranes.

Wallice’s erection showed why he was the ladies’ choice for anal sex; it was slim and curved. South’s rival, Reb Sawitz of the Pretty Girl International modeling agency, made sure women working with Wallice knew they were choosing comfort over safety. Reb would reach his beefy arm into a closet, pull out a magazine and slap it down on his desk. It was paper-clipped open to a full-page photo of Wallice taking an erection up his rear.

“I’m no butt-boy,” Wallice always protested. “I only did it that one time. I was twenty years old. I was broke and desperate.”

“What about the other ones Reb keeps in his closet?” I joked.

Wallice’s eyes went wide. He began to sputter.

(In 1998, actresses Tricia Devereaux and Brooke Ashley became HIV-positive after working with Wallice. [See Chapter20] )

Traci had been dreading getting naked. “I fucked up,” she said. “I fell asleep on the beach.” Her midriff was crimson. She seemed about to cry.

“Not to worry,” said Kerri, the make-up artist, who quickly turned the red into a nice, deep tan.

8:07. With four of porn’s best in action, the gods finally smiled. Traci slapped, Wallice rose (though his cheeks looked like they’d vacationed with her), and the two emcees played musical fornicators with the winners of the Erotic Olympics, Tom Byron and Cara Lott.

(Cara got her stage name from a producer who observed that she really does “care a lot.” The slim, blonde pixie, still looking teenaged after ten years in the sex trade, was a woman of many hustles. Impressed by the intensity she put into the action, I joked, “We got so turned on watching you that now the whole crew wants some.”

“You know,” Cara said hopefully, “I give group rates.”)

x x x x x x

8:42. The crew rolled up the blue backdrop to reveal the living room set behind it. No slowdown. No lost hard-ons. A whole new scene for a different movie. But just when I thought we were going to breeze to the finish, that damned sunburn beneath the cosmetic tan began to peel. Traci was mortified. She pulled off flaps of skin as soon as they came loose.

“Traci don’t!” Kerri exclaimed. “I can’t match the skin underneath.” But Traci continued picking at it, and Kerri’s frantic cover-ups looked like skin grafts by med school dropouts.

Joe Farmer had a suggestion. “Instead of this blotchy look, why don’t we let it look like what it really is: peeling sunburn?”

Kerri washed off the make-up. The only one unhappy with the result was Traci. “I look like shit! And I never look bad in my movies.”

She wanted to do her remaining sex lying on her stomach. I wanted “reverse cowgirl” (straddling the man, facing away from him) and “spoon”(lying on her side, her back to the man). These are the best positions for showing off a gorgeous body.

“But I look best on my stomach. This snakeskin is gross!”

“It’s fine. C’mon, let’s do it.”

“IT LOOKS UGLY!”

“C’mon, Traci. We’re wasting time. Let’s do it.”

Traci glared at me. I had a sudden fear she was about to explode.

“C’mon, Traci…please?” A time-honored porn directing technique was begging. I didn’t want a power struggle at 9:05 PM. Traci must’ve been thinking the same thing. “OK,” she said stiffly. “It’s your movie.”

This scene was to be an erotic climax. It required energy and rapport between Tom and Traci surpassing that of previous scenes. But now, I was afraid her performance would be stilted and mechanical.

Tom Byron to the rescue. He’d been like a schoolboy waiting for a last dance with the prom queen. And he did what a porn stud is never expected to do. He didn’t just fuck Traci; he made love to her. He knew exactly how she liked to be kissed, nuzzled, touched and tongued. He knew how to angle his entry, to time his thrusts to hers, to keep brushing his fingers on her clitoris though his shoulder looked like it would pop out of its socket. He didn’t shut his eyes to enter his own fantasyland; his concentration was always on her.

Traci became oblivious to her “snakeskin.” The Love Call built up, then caught inside her, coming out in bits and bursts. Byron grabbed Traci’s hips and gave a final series of fast strokes. Traci screamed her climax, then settled back into his arms. Byron pressed his face into her neck. I let the shot hold long.

Finally, Byron opened his eyes, blinked, and asked, “Do we have anything else?”

“Yes. Your come shot.”

“Oh, yeah!” An unlikely oversight for a veteran stud.

After Byron did his professional duty, the couple embraced, their hair and arms hiding their features. I let them have their private moment, shutting out the lights and cameras.

“OK…great…Cut.”

Traci immediately sprang up. In a moment, she was on the phone to a cab dispatcher. “I need to be out of here in fifteen minutes! My plane leaves at 10:30!”

Actually, it left at 11. I thought she was just rushing the cabbie, but her next call got her an earlier flight. All that worry about time, and she’d leave a half hour early.

Traci snatched up her $1200 cash, scribbled “Kristie E Nussman” on the model release, and pulled on some jeans, all in one continuous motion.

The cabbie honked and the most competent, mature and sophisticated 22 year old I’d ever met hurried off into the night. If someone had told me she was only l6, I’d have answered, “You better stay out of Marc Wallice’s stash.”

______________________

Next: Lords, Lies and Videotape Part 7: Overexposed

Lords, Lies and Videotape Part 5: Pot vs Perfection

From SKINFLICKS Chapter 12, The Goddess

Tom Byron pursued Traci’s naked rear over a snake orgy of black power cables. “Traci, for the last time, will you marry me?”

She laughed and rolled her eyes. “Not again…”

Byron’s unabashed pining for his ex-girlfriend was an industry chuckle. But he was also one of her favorites to work with. So I hired him. With my impossible schedule, I couldn’t risk unpredictable cast chemistry.

I was sticking with my original plan to shoot the main footage of two features, even though I now had only one day to shoot in. And Traci absolutely, positively had to leave for San Francisco Airport by 10 PM.

Traci had only the script for Physical II. I hadn’t told her about Dirty Pictures ; I was afraid the total amount of sex indicated on paper would scare her off or have her demanding much more than her$1200 day rate. “I put a lot of energy into a sex scene,” Traci said in her AVN interview. “So I don’t like to do two in a day. I don’t want to be called a dead fuck.”

I wanted Traci to do two elaborate sex scenes. Only Tom Byron knew how the couplings and switchings would be chopped up to look like six full scenes in the two movies, but he wasn’t telling–three of the sexual permutations put him together with Traci.

Pleased that I’d teamed her with her two favorite men–Byron and Marc Wallice (sic)–Traci agreed to the “two” scenes. She also liked working with the second woman, Cara Lott.

I prayed that the video gods would take mercy on my cramped schedule and hold back those dreaded Murphy’s laws. But of course they didn’t.

x x x x x x

Marc Wallice sabotaged his own brain. While Traci posed for boxcover stills (shot first, while make-up is fresh), the vacuous blond actor–kind of a Dan Quayle of porn studs–snuck off to an unused room in the spacious Mill Valley house to smoke pot. By the time we were ready to roll tape, Wallice was in no shape to remember his name, much less his lines.

Sitting in front of a blue backdrop–a “bluescreen” that could be electronically replaced with bodies in action, Lords and Wallice played emcees at an event called The Erotic Olympics. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” Wallice began, “and welcome to the second annual…ah…ah…”

I’d wanted to start the sex after lunch. Instead, we stayed mired in dialogue.

“Our next event is…is…”

“’Masturbation,’ Marc.”

And so on.

Juggling the usual barrage of details, I couldn’t give Wallice the attention he needed. Thank God for Traci’s diligence. Though she’d picked up her script from South’s gofer at the airport and read it for the first time on the plane, she knew her lines perfectly. And Wallice’s too.

She coached and coddled him through the dialogue with a patience she didn’t extend to herself. When she finally muffed a line–“’All our finalists will now be competing for.., ’” Traci snatched up her script, glowered at it and slammed it down. “’For the grand prize of fifty thousand dollars.’ See how easy that was?”

She had the ability to snap into character on “Action.” When her bitch-queen role required her to rebuff Wallice’s pass at her, Traci did it so viciously that, after the take, Wallice was still looking confused. She patted his arm. “What a bitch, huh?”

She always strove to be perfect. Told that the next scene involved cunnilingus, she dashed into the bathroom. Ten minutes passed. I glanced at my watch; we were running three hours late. “What’s she doing in there? Fixing the plumbing?”

Byron laughed. “Yeah. Hers. When she comes out, she’ll be
clean enough to eat off of.”

“And I have often done so,” Wallice announced, missing Byron’s sour glance.

Was it my deceiving Traci that displeased the video gods?
Was that why Murphy did his worst?

Wallice couldn’t follow directions for a “sim” (softcore)
cunnilingus shot. Traci tried to help. “You’ve got to hide my
pussy with your head.” She grabbed his hair and pulled his face
into her crotch. “Oww!” Wallice sprang back, grabbing his nose.
Blood seeped between his fingers.

“Shit.” My watch read 6:36.

Then came the problem of Traci’s dress, a red mini covered
with sequins that went everywhere. As director, responsible for
visual details, I assigned myself the task of picking them out of
her pubes, enduring taunts of “Tough job, but somebody’s gotta
do it.” Lying on the bed with her legs spread wide, Traci went
into her press-release bio: She was 22 years old. She was from
Las Vegas. Her stepfather had introduced her to the business.

The spiel seemed rehearsed, but that didn’t strike me as odd.
Everything about this young woman was prepared and polished.
Except for her work schedule.

“This business really burns you out,” Traci said. “You don’t
have any kind of life for yourself. All I’ve been doing is movie
after movie after movie. I find myself going, like, ’Oh God, do I
have to fuck again?’ And I really like sex.” She added that in the
past year she’d caught VD three times.

But then there was the bottom line. “I’ve been clearing over
twenty thousand a month. This year I’ll make over 250 grand!”
Traci wanted to know if I, personally, made that much. I said I
didn’t. She seemed satisfied.

7:18 PM. Less than three hours to shoot all that sex. No
dinner break tonight. Just cold cuts between takes.

——————————–

Next: Lords, Lies and Videotape Part 6: Buttboys, Sun Damage and Rare Real Love

(I will post no photos of Lords, since she was allegedly a minor when she signed a release–with a fake “real name.”)

Lords, Lies and Videotape Part 4: A Tight Situation

On the Larry King Show, Traci Lords claimed she had only been in about 20 adult movies and that the rest of the titles she was in were re-edits of footage from those twenty pictures.

Twenty?  Maybe in one month, as the following section from SKINFLICKS indicates.

From Chapter 12, The Goddess:

“You’ve never seen anyone like her, Dave,” drawled porn’s super-agent Jim South. “She’ll know all her lines and everyone else’s too. She’ll hit her marks perfectly every time.” The lanky Kentuckian leaned back in his swivel chair, momentarily ignoring the flashing phone lines in front of him. As usual, South’s cramped suite of offices above Van Nuys Boulevard was a madhouse of harried producers, naked starlets and eager studs, all vying with the phone lines for his attention. South was in his element. “And when you’re done with the dialogue, she’ll fuck like a mink in heat.”

South went back to his phones and Rick Savage took over. “When she comes, you better have extra sound blankets,” he said into my face. (I was scrunched on a couch between Rick and the bare bottom of a lady who was seeking work despite her stretch marks.) “She’s such a screamer they’ll hear her six blocks away.”

“Sometimes it’s so intense she starts crying,” added Tony Martino, another of the studs South kept on hand in case a “field unit” malfunctioned.

In South’s kitchen, the only spot available for my casting session, Tom Byron tugged on his penis to lengthen it before I took a Polaroid of his skinny body. “If she’s still horny after a scene is finished,” he said, “she might grab a crew guy, slam him on his back and start in on him.”

“Shit!” South exclaimed. “I fucked up! I forgot I already had Traci booked on the 28th.”

I’d planned on starring Traci in two movies, shooting her footage on March 28th and 29th (1985). “How about April?” I asked. “Can I get two days in there?”

South shook his head. “She’s booked solid. And May is closing fast too.”

“May’s too late anyway. I need at least one of these titles in time for C.E.S.”

“Dave, can you shoot everything you need on the 29th alone?”

“Well, maybe if it’s a long marathon day…”

“Wait a minute,” interjected a producer I called Ferrari Mike (his prized 308GTB was always parked near World Modeling’s front door where nobody could miss it). “I got Traci on the 30th and I’m shooting down here.”

“Shit, that’s right.” South ran his long fingers through his slicked-back hair. “Dave, could you possibly move your shoot to L.A.?”

“No way!”

With pornographers shooting in Los Angeles again to save lodging and travel expenses, the LAPD was cracking down. I did all my shooting up north, where I felt safe.

While we puzzled over the schedule, Traci herself called from Hawaii, where she was taking a needed vacation. She always wanted to meet in advance those she’d be working for. But, by the time she returned to L.A., I’d be back home in Marin County. South handed me the phone; this was our meeting. I had to persuade her to fly 400 miles to have sex for a director she never heard of.

“Hi,” I began. “How’s your vacation?”

“Wonderful! All I’ve been doing is lying in the sun, and when I get back I’m gonna be so nice and tan and rested. I’m gonna look great! All my fans are gonna be so pleased…”

As Traci went on, I had the weird feeling that this star who was in such demand was actually trying to sell me on hiring her. She wasn’t. It was just her way of coming off as eager to please.

I wondered how eager she’d be when she saw the schedule we concocted. It was–as Tony Martino observed–“tighter than a gnat’s asshole.” After working a full day on March 28th, Traci would fly up to San Francisco, work a full day on my set on the 29th, then fly back down to L.A. to work a third straight full day for Ferrari Mike on the 30th. A “full day” in the sex film business was 12 hours; most days ran longer.

“It’s a good thing Traci likes to screw,” said South.

———————————-

Next: Lords, Lies and Videotape Part 5: Pot vs Perfection

Lords, Lies and Videotape Part 2: A Star is Born (on the wrong day)

As promised, Part 2 of….

Chapter 12

THE GODDESS
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:

Lords, Lies and Videotape Part 1: Questions

On the Larry King Show (July 14, 2003) Traci Lords made the following claims about her career in porn:

“I was stoned for about three years, from fifteen to eighteen…”

“In that three-year period, you know, I made maybe $40,000 or something.” 

KING: A picture, $40,000…

LORDS: No.

KING: Total?

LORDS: For three years, yes.

———————

Was Traci Lords a child-victim, drugged, exploited, and financially ripped off?

Or was she an opportunistic child-savant, wise beyond her years, using the porn industry as a fast-track to wealth?

Could the answer to both of these questions be “True”?

The Traci Lords story, as I saw it, had so many different facets, that trying to condense it all into a couple of blog posts would be impossible. So I have decided to post–in a series–the entire 24-page chapter from SKINFLICKS.

Instead of my usual pace of roughly one post a week, I will let no more than a couple days lapse between entries from this chapter.

——————————

Chapter 12

THE GODDESS
1986 – 1990s

“She’s perfect,” sighed lovestruck stud Tom Byron. “I mean, every girl in this business has some kind of flaw. Like she might be a bitch, or does too much coke, or has a saggy ass–something. But Traci…she doesn’t have a single fault. She’s perfect in every way.”

Except two. For one thing, she didn’t have a smile. Something in her cheek lines made it almost a sneer–a “snile.” Traci Lords’ second flaw was much worse; it nearly destroyed an industry. It caused busts, bankruptcies and losses in the millions. It brought a Federal push to throw most of America’s adult movie producers in prison.

It was commercial pornography’s worst scandal and it came at the worst possible time: with Attorney General Ed Meese urging anti-porn activism and the industry mired in the “Smut Glut.”

The news that porn’s top star was underaged “went through the industry like a plague through the Middle Ages,” said Adult Film and Video Association attorney John Weston. There was a scramble to remove hundreds of thousands of videotapes, films and magazines from circulation before the police could pounce on them.

“Coming as it does on the heels of the Meese Report,” Weston said, “it’s hard to believe the two are not related.”

“Talk about timing,” wrote Mitchell Brothers star Missy Manners in her Spectator column, “I’m not so sure it’s just a coincidence.”

For the Meese Commission, it was “proof” of their contention that child porn was a major part of the commercial industry.

Under Federal law, anyone connected with a Traci Lords shoot was guilty of a felony. Hundreds of grips, gofers and gaffers, as well as producers, directors, agents, writers, make-up artists and caterers faced long prison terms, loss of assets, and fines guaranteed to keep them poor for life.

“If the Traci Lords case is lost,” Weston said, “with the strictest liability of the law enforced, the government would then have the power to wipe out the industry.”

Was the industry at fault? Could a fifteen year old girl rise to the top of the porn world without anyone suspecting her true age? Was she sophisticated enough to bamboozle Penthouse, the U.S. Government, and the entire porn industry? To spend two years dashing from set to set, yet find time to invest her earnings wisely enough to be “set for life?” To beat alleged IRS and forged passport felony violations? And, finally, to parlay the age fiasco into Hollywood success?

Questions about adult “advisors” knowingly promoting a minor in porn went unanswered. Was she really a runaway from Ohio whose mother turned her in after seeing her picture in a TV special on the Meese Report? Or did she live in Redondo Beach with her mother who secretly managed her career?

Industry skeptics, including her agent Jim South, didn’t believe she was really underaged. They saw the whole thing as a ploy to prevent all existing Traci Lords tapes from competing with the products of her new company (shot after she supposedly turned eighteen).

What is the real Traci Lords story?

I caught a glimpse of it: My experience directing Lords and my trade with her business partners reveal a saga of mutual exploitation, of a driven, ambitious beauty hell-bent on getting rich, and of those who misused her and forced a devastating showdown.

——————-

Next: Lords, Lies and Videotape Part 2: A Star is Porn

(I will post no photos of Lords because her signature on release forms are not legal, since she was allegedly a minor using a false ID.)

 

 

 

 

How Three Movies I Made Became Instant Child Pornography

“She’s perfect,” sighed lovestruck stud Tom Byron. “I mean, every girl in this business has some kind of flaw. Like she might be a bitch, or does too much coke, or has a saggy ass-something. But Traci…she doesn’t have a single fault. She’s perfect in every way.”

The above quote, from SKINFLICKS, was uttered when I was casting Physical II, the sequel to our best-seller, Physical.  Byron’s co-star was the woman of his dreams–and the dreams of millions of porn fans.

She was the hottest thing in adult video and she would turn out to be the worst thing that ever happened to the world of porn.

But I didn’t know that when I shot Traci Lords in 1985’s Physical II, Dirty Pictures and The Reincarnation of Don Juan.  If someone had told me that she was under 18 during those productions, I would have retorted, “Can I get some of what you’re smoking?”

For one thing, Christie E. Nussman (Lord’s false “real” name) seemed to be the most mature and competent 22-year-old I’d ever met.  Though she had first read the script on the flight from L.A. to San Francisco, she knew her lines perfectly–and everyone else’s, too.  She was a perfectionist in everything from hygiene to her hyperventilated love screams.  From a director’s standpoint, she was a dream to work with.  The nightmare was still to come.

(Passages from SKINFLICKS are in italics.)

Could a fifteen year old girl rise to the top of the porn world without anyone suspecting her true age? Was she sophisticated enough to bamboozle Penthouse, the U.S. Government, and the entire porn industry? To spend two years dashing from set to set, yet find time to invest her earnings wisely enough to be “set for life?” To beat alleged IRS and forged passport felony violations? And, finally, to parlay the age fiasco into Hollywood success?

During a wardrobe malfunction, I got to hear her spiel.

Then came the problem of Traci’s dress, a red mini covered with sequins that went everywhere. As director, responsible for visual details, I assigned myself the task of picking them out of her pubes, enduring taunts of “Tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.” Lying on the bed with her legs spread wide, Traci went into her press-release bio: She was 22 years old. She was from Las Vegas. Her stepfather had introduced her to the business.

All lies.  But well-told.

And why would she sabotage her lucrative career by finally telling the truth?  (If indeed it was the truth.)

Next: Shooting Traci Lords (with a camera): Truth vs Fiction in 1986

 

 

What’s love got to do with porn? Tom Byron/Traci Lords

If you ask any veteran pornographer who worked in the 1980s to say the first word that comes to mind when you mention the name “Traci Lords,” he/she might respond with “bitch” or “hate” or something worse.  After all, it was Lords whose revelation that she was underage during her entire reign as porn’s number one queen that almost sank the porn industry.  Yet when I think of the word “love” in relation to porn, it is a scene I shot with Traci Lords that comes to mind.

Her co-star in the scene was Tom Byron, one of the finest gentlemen ever to bare all on a porn movie set.  Now, there have been many real-life partners who worked together in porn, and their on-screen sex usually looked professional and well-rehearsed. But the real expression of their love lives came later, when cuddling at home in their beds. Tom wanted to do that with Traci, but he couldn’t.

He had been her real-life boyfriend before Traci relegated him to the status of sex-scene favorite, and nothing more.  Byron wanted desperately to return to their previous relationship. His pining after Lords had become an ongoing industry chuckle.  On the set of my video feature Physical II, he pursued her naked rear over a tangle of power cables, beseeching, “Traci, for the last time, will you marry me?” 
         She laughed and rolled her eyes. “Not again…” 

After exhibiting his usual expertise with the delightful pixie, Cara Lott, Byron waited patiently for his scene with Traci—a scene that would turn out to be unique among the many I’ve witnessed. Usually, in a boy/girl porn scene, everything caters to the male’s ability to perform.  Women complain about being left “high and dry (or ‘wet,’as it were).”  This scene was the opposite.  As detailed in SKINFLICKS: The Inside Story of the X-Rated Video Industry, Byron didn’t just have sex with Traci, he made love to her.  The scene ended with a totally satisfied Traci Lords sinking down on top of Byron, so that her hair obscured their features, while he nuzzled her neck.  I let the shot hold long.  Finally, Byron raised his head, blinked and asked, “Do we have anything else?”
         “Yes. Your come shot.”
         “Oh, yeah!” An unlikely oversight for a veteran stud.

Years after the Lords fiasco (described in SKINFLICKS), I ran into Tom Byron at a trade show. “What’s Traci up to these days?” I asked him.
          Byron shrugged. “Who the hell cares?”

    The word “love” associated with Traci Lords in the porn industry ends with the bitterly ironic title of the only porn movie she made while of legal age: the 1987 release of Traci I Love You.  Lords went on to become one of the few porn stars to enjoy success in the so-called “legit” film industry.

Tom Byron continued his Hall of  Fame career, and shifted to the other side of the camera to produce and direct award-winning videos.  A man of many interests, Byron also became an entrepreneur in fields as diverse as music and pro wrestling.       

Thanks, Will

Thanks Will (do you prefer Will or Willy?) for more kind words. I’m happy that you found SKINFLICKS to be “an incredible read about the business.”  And thank you for tweeting my blog to Nina Hartley, Tom Byron, Ron Jeremy and Cara Lott, all of whom I had found to be great people to work with.  I still haven’t found the correct way to make a reply to comments. My social network guru is due to visit on July 12, so then I’ll learn how to do it right.  Coincidently, my next blog entry will include Tom Byron and Cara Lott–and that industry disaster Traci Lords.  I hope to be able to post it tonight.  If not, it will have to await my guru on the 12th. 

Wishing you all the best,

Dave