Traci Elizabeth Lords was born May 7, 1968, in Steubenville,
Ohio, originally named Nora Louise Kuzma. The Traci Lords
we know today, controversy and all, is a combination of
Nora's high school best friend, Traci; the character Katharine
Hepburn played in The Philadelphia Story; and the
last name Lords, after her favorite actor from her favorite
show, Hawaii Five-O's Jack Lords.
Traci moved to Lawndale, California, with her mother and
three sisters, fleeing her alcoholic father. While a student
at Redondo Union High School, she ran away from home at
the age of 15 after having had an abortion. While living
with a man in his 40's, Traci went to Jim South's World
Modeling Agency (for adult movies) with a friend's sister's
birth certificate, which read Kristie Elizabeth Nussman,
Her "roommate" accompanied her to Jim South's
Agency (he claimed to be her stepfather), and convinced
Mr. South that Traci would soon be a porno movie star, and
after Traci stripped and showed that she was certainly not
shy, she was in.
Her first film was What Gets Me Hot!, in 1984.
By the time she was 18, she had starred in more than 100
porno movies, such as Open Up Traci, Two Timing
Traci, Sex Fifth Avenue, and Holly Does Hollywood
- each gradually more graphic.
Traci was a porno queen; she was recognized worldwide
and got mobbed wherever she went. But when authorities found
out that she was underage while in these movies, prosecutors
arrested the owners of her porn movie agency and X-citement
Video Inc., and the hundreds of films she appeared in were
deemed illegal and taken off the shelves. In 1984, Traci
posed for a Penthouse centerfold, in the same issue
that ultimately exposed Vanessa Williams, but the issue
is also considered illegal.
The only "Traci" movie that is considered legal
is Traci I Love You, which she sold to a distributor.
She may have been just a porno actress, but Traci was also
a businesswoman who wrote her scripts, and developed Traci
Lords Productions along with her boyfriend at the time.
The company produced movies such as Traci Takes Tokyo
and Beverly Hills Copulator.
Traci left the scene for a while and returned in the late
'80s to do television appearances and B-movies. She appeared
in Wiseguy, Married... With Children and MacGyver,
and movies like 1988's Not Of This Earth (her first
mainstream movie), 1989's Fast Food, 1990's Cry-Baby,
1991's A Time To Die, Raw Nerve and Laser
Moon, and the 1993 made-for-TV movie The Tommyknockers,
based on the Stephen King novel of the same name.
Among her many roles, the higher profile ones include
those in the films Serial Mom, Virtuosity
and Blade; a recurring role on Melrose Place
in 1995; appearances on Roseanne, Nash Bridges;
and a part as herself in D.R.E.A.M. Team (with Traci
Bingham and Angie Everhart).
She apparently lost a role in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula,
to Sadie Frost, Jude Law's wife. Traci is also a singer,
who has contributed her vocals to the Manic Street Preachers'
Little Baby Nothing, the Ramones' Somebody to Love, and
performed songs for the movies Virtuosity and Mortal
Traci vows that she has changed her ways; she hasn't and
would never sleep around to get a part. She even made several
attempts at marriage, with her failed marriages to Brook
Yeaton and actor Ryan Riel Grainger, and her
engagement to John Enos III, which was broken off before
heading to the altar.
Trying to change her reputation from porn queen to classy
actress may prove to be harder than she thinks -- but at
least she's trying.