Lords at the QVC Red Carpet Style Party in February 2011.
|Born||Nora Louise Kuzma
May 7, 1968
Steubenville, Ohio, United States
|Residence||Los Angeles, California, United States|
Traci Elizabeth Lords (born Nora Louise Kuzma on May 7, 1968) is an American actress, singer, model, writer, producer and director. Born in Steubenville, Ohio, she first became known for her underage appearances in pornographic movies. Initially accepting a job as a nude model at the age of 15, she then became a movie actress. After being featured in the September 1984 issue of Penthouse magazine, Lords appeared in dozens of illegal videos between 1984 and 1986, and became one of the most sought-after pornography actresses of the era. During May 1986, when authorities discovered she had been underage while making all but one of her pornographic movies, distributors were ordered to remove all her material to avoid the risk of prosecution for trafficking in child pornography. The withdrawal of her movies cost millions of dollars and her case became the biggest scandal to affect the pornographic movie industry.
After quitting pornography, Lords had a career as an ordinary actress and enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute where she studied method acting. She made her mainstream movie debut during 1988, when she was offered the main role in the remake of Roger Corman's classic Not of This Earth. Lords followed with the role of Wanda Woodward in John Waters' teen comedy, Cry-Baby (1990). Her other acting credits include the television series MacGyver, Married... with Children, Tales from the Crypt, Roseanne, Melrose Place, Profiler, First Wave, Gilmore Girls and Will & Grace. She also appeared in movies such as Virtuosity (1995), Blade (1998), Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008) and most recently Excision (2012) and Devil May Call (2013).
Besides her movie career, Lords is also a recording artist. After her song "Love Never Dies" was featured on the soundtrack to the movie Pet Sematary Two (1992), she got signed to Radioactive Records and subsequently released her debut studio album, 1000 Fires (1995) to a critical acclaim. Despite the poor sales of the album, the main single "Control" had a moderate commercial success. It managed to peak at number two on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart and was included on the soundtrack to the movie Mortal Kombat (1995), which was eventually certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). During 2003, Lords published her autobiography, Traci Lords: Underneath It All, which received positive reviews from critics and debuted at number thirty-one on the The New York Times Best Seller list.
- 1 Life and career
- 1.1 1968–83: Early life
- 1.2 1984–86: Pornography career
- 1.3 1987–90: Transition to mainstream, Not of This Earth and Cry-Baby
- 1.4 1991–96: Breakthrough, 1000 Fires and Melrose Place
- 1.5 1997–02: Profiler, Blade and First Wave
- 1.6 2003–06: Underneath It All
- 1.7 2007–09: Motherhood and Zack and Miri Make a Porno
- 1.8 2010–present: Excision and return to music
- 2 Filmography
- 3 Discography
- 4 Bibliography
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Life and career
1968–83: Early life
Lords was born Nora Louise Kuzma on May 7, 1968, in Steubenville, Ohio to Louis and Patricia Kuzma (née Briceland). Her father has Ukrainian-Russian ancestry and her mother has Irish ancestry. She has one elder sister, Lorraine and two younger sisters, Rachel and Grace. Her parents divorced when she was 7 years old due to her father's abusive behavior and she relocated with her mother and sisters to her great-grandmother's house. Despite that, her father got partial custody. During that time, her mother worked and went back to college part-time. Lords was allegedly raped at the age of 10 by her 16-year-old friend. When she was 12 years old, she relocated with her mother and sisters to Lawndale, California, along with her mother's new boyfriend, Roger Hayes, who was a cocaine dealer and later molested Lords. During September 1983, she began attending Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California.
1984–86: Pornography career
At the age of 14, Lords became pregnant by her high school boyfriend. Afraid of her mother's reaction, she went to Hayes for help. He arranged for her to have an abortion without her mother's knowledge. Searching for a job to get money for the abortion, she was introduced to Hayes' friend Lynn for whom she started working as a babysitter. Lynn offered her help to solve her job problems by getting her a false driver’s license. Her new identification with the name Kristie Elizabeth Nussman stated she was 22 rather than 15 years of age. During February 1984, she answered a newspaper advertisement for Jim South's World Modeling Talent Agency. Posing as her stepfather, Hayes drove her to the agency. After signing a contract, she began working as a nude model and appeared in magazines such as Velvet, Juggs, or Club. During August, when she was hired to model for Penthouse magazine, Lords was asked to choose a stage name. She chose Traci, one of the popular names she had longed for growing up and Lords, after the actor Jack Lord since she was a fan of the television series Hawaii Five-O, in which he portrayed the character of Steve McGarrett. After some of her schoolmates recognized her in the Velvet magazine pictorial, she left high school at age 15 and never went back. The September 1984 issue, for which centerfold she was paid $5,000, became the best-selling issue in the history of Penthouse, partly because it also featured a nude pictorial on Vanessa Williams, who had won the Miss America Pageant the previous year.
Lords made her first movie during October 1984, when she appeared in What Gets Me Hot! alongside Tom Byron, who later became her boyfriend off-screen. She first appeared only in a non-sex role, but was later replaced with a hardcore scene. In her next movie, Those Young Girls, she appeared alongside another female pornstar Ginger Lynn. After appearing with John Leslie in the porno parody of the movie Splash, Talk Dirty to Me Part III, which won the AVN Award for the best movie, Lords was hailed as the "Princess of Porn". She became one of the highest-paid porno actresses of that time, earning more than $1,000 a day. Besides her work in porn, she also appeared in the music video for "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" by the heavy metal band Helix. Lords continued making more movies until the autumn of 1985, when she decided to quit the industry. Afterwards, she met Stuart Dell, who became her boyfriend, manager, and business partner. During January 1986, she announced her return to porn with the formation of TLC (the Traci Lords Company). Dell and Lords made a distribution deal with Sy Adler, an industry veteran who ran Vantage International, that they would produce three movies for the company. During March, the first TLC feature, Traci Takes Tokyo, was released. The second, Beverly Hills Copulator, was released afterwards, and the third movie, Screamer, was shelved.
During late May 1986, around three weeks after Lords' 18th birthday, authorities discovered she had been underage after having appeared in about 75 pornographic movies. The owners of her movie agency and X-Citement Video, Inc. were arrested. (See United States v. X-Citement Video) She was taken into a protective custody and hired a high-profile lawyer, Leslie Abramson. On July 10, district attorney's investigators searched Lords' Redondo Beach home, the Sun Valley offices of Vantage International Productions, a major producer of adult movies, and the Sherman Oaks offices of modeling agent Jim South. South and other industry officials said that Lords, on seeking employment, provided a California driver's license, a U.S. passport, and a birth certificate, which stated that her name was Kristie Nussman and gave a birth date of November 17, 1962. Leslie Jay, spokeswoman for Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione, also said Lords showed identification indicating that she was older than 18 years of age before the photos for the September 1984 issue were taken. When investigators, using her birth certificate and state identification cards, located the real Kristie Nussman, she said her birth certificate had been stolen a few years earlier and that an imposter had apparently forged her name on official forms. Two adults who knew Lords, but who requested anonymity, said they saw her picture in the adult magazine Velvet during July 1984, and telephoned the district attorney's office to inform authorities that she was underage, but that an investigator told them, "There isn't anything we can do about it."
On July 17, 1986, video rental shops and adult movie theaters in the USA were ordered to withdraw all material featuring Lords from their shelves. John Weston, attorney of the Adult Film Association of America, said distributors should withdraw any movie made before May 1986, featuring Lords "in sexual conduct, no matter how briefly". The withdrawal of Lords' movies from the market cost the industry millions of dollars. Government prosecutors declared Lords was a victim of a manipulative industry, maintaining she was drugged and made to do non-consensual acts. Industry insiders, including Ron Jeremy, Tom Byron, Peter North, and Ginger Lynn, said they never saw her use drugs and that she was always fully aware of her actions. While most of her movies were removed permanently from distribution in the United States, several were re-edited to remove Lords' scenes entirely (such as Kinky Business and New Wave Hookers), or in a few cases, had new footage filmed with a different actress playing her part (as in Talk Dirty to Me Part III). The only movie legally available in the United States was Traci, I Love You, filmed in Paris only two days after her 18th birthday. She sold her rights to Traci, I Love You during early 1987 for $100,000. This action resulted in claims that she herself had tipped off the authorities to gain immunity from prosecution, while being the only one to profit from the movie. Lords denies this notion in her autobiography and says she was reluctant to sell the rights, since at that time she was trying to become an ordinary actress, and wanted no older movies still available.
1987–90: Transition to mainstream, Not of This Earth and Cry-Baby
During early 1987, after spending several months in therapy, Lords decided to concentrate on acting. She auditioned and was accepted into the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute, where she spent three months. After leaving the school, Lords placed an advertisement in The Hollywood Reporter seeking representation. She was contacted by Fred Westheimer and although the agency refused to represent her, he decided to send her out on a few auditions. As a result, she obtained a small role in an episode of the television series, Wiseguy. Later, she met the director Jim Wynorski at Roger Corman’s office in Brentwood, California. Corman was producing a remake of his 1957 movie Not of This Earth and they were auditioning for the main role of Nadine Story. Lords won the part and Not of This Earth (1988) became her first mainstream movie since her quitting the porno movie industry. Although, the movie failed financially, it did well in video sales. Based on the success, Corman offered her another movie on the condition that she appeared nude again. Lords refused the offer trying to establish herself as a serious actress.
About that same time, Lords became a spokesperson for Children of the Night, an organization for runaways and abused children, and was planning to release a book entitled Out of the Blue: The Traci Lords Story. She also signed with a modeling agency and her picture appeared on two covers of the Muscle & Fitness magazine, of which the first cover she shot using her real name Nora Kuzma. Unable to get rid of the "former porn star" label, Lords decided to stop evading it and legally changed her name to Traci Elizabeth Lords. During November 1988, Lords enrolled in another acting class and started searching for a theatrical agent. During December, she mass-mailed her resume to various agents and arranged meeting with Don Gerler. During the spring of 1989, John Waters auditioned her for the role of Wanda Woodward for his comedy Cry-Baby. Lords won the part and appeared in the film alongside Johnny Depp. She also auditioned for the role of Breathless Mahoney in the movie Dick Tracy (1990), but the role went to Madonna. During June 1990, an exercise video, Warm Up With Traci Lords, was released. Directed and produced by her boyfriend and business partner Stewart Dell, the video was filmed during 1988. As described in her autobiography, Lords was unsatisfied with the final version of the video. An extended version was later reissued during 1993 with the title Traci Lords: Advanced Jazzthetics. Lords continued appearing mostly in B movies, such as Shock 'Em Dead, Murder In High Places, Raw Nerve and A Time to Die, and small parts in television series, including Married... with Children and MacGyver. During September 1990, Lords married Brook Yeaton, whom she had met on the set of Cry-Baby, in Baltimore, Maryland.
1991–96: Breakthrough, 1000 Fires and Melrose Place
By 1991, Lords pursued her modeling career. She relocated to London and began modeling for many fashion designers including Thierry Mugler. During 1992, Lords decided to emphasize her career as a recording artist. She first got signed to a development deal with Capitol Records, but was later dropped due to disagreements between her and the company. After meeting with Rodney Bingenheimer at a birthday party, she was recommended to Jeff Jacklin, who hired her to record the song "Love Never Dies" for the movie Pet Sematary Two (1992). The producer of the soundtrack, Gary Kurfirst, signed Lords to his company Radioactive Records. She was later featured on the songs "Little Baby Nothing" by Manic Street Preachers and "Somebody to Love" by Ramones. During 1993, Lords was cast in the television adaptation of Stephen King's novel The Tommyknockers.
During the spring of 1994, Lords began working on her debut album. The company arranged her to fly to London and meet with producer Tom Bailey. After finishing her recording with Bailey, Lords was introduced to producer Ben Watkins of Juno Reactor with whom she recorded more techno influenced songs. She later met Mike Edwards, the main singer of the band Jesus Jones. Around the same time, Lords was cast in the television series, Roseanne, appearing in three episodes. During January 1995, Lords appeared in four episodes of the television series Melrose Place, where she played the part of Rikki Abbott. Her debut studio album, 1000 Fires, was released on February 28, 1995. It received generally positive reviews and the lead single "Control" peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs. An instrumental version of "Control" was remixed and released on the soundtrack to Mortal Kombat (1995), which was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album's second single, "Fallen Angel", was also successful in charts, peaking at number eleven on Hot Dance Club Songs. The Paul Oakenfold remix of the song was included on the soundtrack of the movie Virtuosity (1995), in which Lords had a cameo appearance. After the release of the album, Lords embarked on a small tour performing as a DJ, mostly in Miami nightclubse. On August 12, 1995, she was the opening act of the Lollapalooza after party, Enit Festival, alongside Moby, Sven Väth, DJ Keoki and Single Cell Orchestra.
1997–02: Profiler, Blade and First Wave
During 1997, Lords appeared in small parts in television series Nash Bridges and Viper, and in the Gregg Araki movie Nowhere. By the end of the year, she became a recurring cast on the second season of the crime television series, Profiler, where she played the part of Sharon Lesher, who later becomes the serial killer Jill of All Trades. In 1998, she appeared in the film Blade, based on the Marvel Comics character. She was also approached for the sequel, Blade II (2002), but declined. About that time, Lords was also planning to release her sophomore album on Radioactive Records, but it was later neglected after she quit the company.
During 2000, Lords was cast in the third season of the Sci-fi channel television series, First Wave, becoming the first recurring female character to be featured on the series. During 2002, Lords appeared in the Hong Kong action film Black Mask 2: City of Masks and television thriller They Shoot Divas, Don't They?.
2003–06: Underneath It All
Her autobiography, Traci Lords: Underneath It All was published during July 2003 by HarperCollins. In the book, Lords chronicles her childhood, career and mostly her past in the porno movie industry. The book received positive reviews from critics and was a commercial success making The New York Times Best Seller list. It was criticized by porno movie industry insiders. In the book, Lords reveals that she only received $35,000 as total salary for all her porno movies, including the $5,000 for her appearance in Penthouse. Lords continues to use the stage name she gave herself as a minor, and ultimately made it her legal name. She explained, "I chose to stop running from it. Instead, I won it, legally changing my name to Traci Elizabeth Lords. That's who I was, and that's who I was going to be." In her interview with Oprah Winfrey she stated: "I found you can run, but you cannot hide."
During 2003, it was announced that Lords was working on new music and had recorded a cover version of Missing Persons' song "Walking In L.A.". Directed by Mike Ruiz, the music video was premiered during her interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show. On December 28, 2004, she independently released two songs, "Sunshine" and "You Burn Inside of Me", via online music store CD Baby. Both of the songs along with "What Cha Gonna Do" were featured in the television series Joan of Arcadia. "You Burn Inside of Me" was also used in the commercial for Duprey Cosmetics, in which Lords appeared in.
2007–09: Motherhood and Zack and Miri Make a Porno
By the beginning of 2007, Lords became unexpectedly pregnant. She first announced her pregnancy in June: "I kind of thought the children thing was off the table. Now I’m expecting a boy! We're stunned and thrilled. I just want you to know, these 36-D's are mine. I haven’t had a boob job. I am 5 1/2 months pregnant! But now I’m starting to show. And my husband is happy with the changes in my figure." On October 7, 2007, at the age of 39, she gave birth to a son, Joseph Gunnar Lee, her first child with her husband of five years, Jeff Lee. Before that, Lords appeared in the television movie, Point of Entry (2007), featuring Holly Marie Combs.
During January 2008, it was announced that Lords had been cast in Kevin Smith's comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008). She said that at first she wanted to refuse but changed her mind after reading the script. "It was really great that in taking the movie, because I didn't plan on going back to work right away, but I was dying to work with Kevin. I never thought it would be on something called Zack and Miri Make a Porno. What? So I went and I read the script at his house and I was prepared to say no. I thought I have the perfect out. I just had a kid. No one is going to blame me if I say I just can't do this right now. But it made me laugh out loud and it made me just literally cry. It was just funny." Initially, Lords had a topless scene in the movie, but refused since she would breastfeed in between the takes. Katie Morgan, another former pornographic actress, also appeared in the film.
During 2009, Lords appeared in the direct-to-DVD science fiction movie, Princess of Mars, alongside Antonio Sabàto, Jr. She later regreted making the movie saying: "Somewhere in my heart of hearts I was worried that I might be doing something wrong but I believed the voices of those around me who said 'No, it'll be artistic, no it'll be creative. You'll look beautiful. We have a very limited budget but honest, you'll be proud.' And it was bad, very bad. At least that was what I was told. After watching the first two minutes I had to turn it off and hide under the covers."
2010–present: Excision and return to music
Lords first mentioned her resumption of musical work during October 2009 and confirmed a track called "Pretty", co-written by the photographer Mike Ruiz. During 2010, she signed to Sea To Sun Recordings and "Pretty" was released as a promotional single for DJs. During June 2011, the drama comedy, Au Pair, Kansas, which Lords shot during 2009, was released. During August 2011, Lords officially announced her resumption of musical work. Her single "Last Drag" was released on October 25, 2011 and peaked at number 35 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. Three other songs, "I'll Be Your Alibi", "Watching You Watching Me" and "Catch Me In the Pose", were featured on the television series Sons of Anarchy, but were not commercially released.
On May 20, 2015, Lords appeared in an episode of the reality television series, Celebrity Wife Swap. During September, the E39 NYC Club Mix of "I'll Be Your Alibi" became available online.
- Not of This Earth (1988)
- Fast Food (1989)
- Cry-Baby (1990)
- Shock 'Em Dead (1991)
- Raw Nerve (1991)
- A Time to Die (1991)
- The Nutt House (1992)
- Intent to Kill (1992)
- Laser Moon (1993)
- Skinner (1993)
- Desperate Crimes (1993)
- Plughead Rewired: Circuitry Man II (1994)
- Serial Mom (1994)
- Ice (1994)
- Virtuosity (1995)
- Underworld (1996)
- Blood Money (1996)
- Nowhere (1997)
- Stir (1997)
- Boogie Boy (1998)
- Extramarital (1998)
- Blade (1998)
- Me and Will (1999)
- Epicenter (2000)
- Chump Change (2000)
- Full Blast (2000)
- Certain Guys (2000)
- You're Killing Me... (2001)
- Black Mask 2: City of Masks (2002)
- Manhood (2003)
- Frostbite (2005)
- Novel Romance (2006)
- Crazy Eights (2006)
- The Chosen One (2007)
- Your Name Here (2008)
- Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
- I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (2009)
- Princess of Mars (2009)
- Here & Now (2010)
- Au Pair, Kansas (2011)
- Excision (2012)
- Devil May Call (2013)
- Tag (2015)
- Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre (2015)
- 1000 Fires (1995)
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- Ryon, Ruth. "Selling a Home She Never Sees", Los Angeles Times, June 9, 1996.
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- "Traci Lords: Motherhood Was “Unexpected”", Celebrity Baby Scoop, January 23, 2012.
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- Ethan. "Traci Lords Revamped by Mike Ruiz", Ethan Says, April, 2009.
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- Melin, Eric. "“Au Pair, Kansas”: KU grad’s debut film, which stars Traci Lords, premieres at Kansas City FilmFest", Lawrence Journal-World, April 8, 2011.
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- Nicolas Barbano: Verdens 25 hotteste pornostjerner (Rosinante, Denmark 1999) ISBN 87-7357-961-0
- Steve Rag (= Tim Greaves): Norma K. nr. 1-2 and Nora K. nr. 3-6 (England 1990–1992): Traci Lords-fanzine
- Steve Rag (= Tim Greaves): The Nora K. Kompendium (Media Publications, England 1996): The best from Norma K./Nora K.
- Brad Linaweaver (pub): Traci Lords – Incomparable (Mondo Cult, 2009)
- Suzanne Somers (ed): Wednesday's Children: Adult Survivors of Abuse Speak Out (Putnam Adult, 1992)
- Frank C. Naylor El cine X underground. Llevándolo al límite, 2009 Ed.: Lulu
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Traci Lords.|
- Official website
- Traci Lords at the Internet Movie Database
- Traci Lords at AllMovie
- Traci Lords at the Internet Adult Film Database
- Traci Lords at the Adult Film Database