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Saturday, 28 March 2015

Traci Lords Underneath It All: Salacious Lives Are Just More Interesting!


A Review By: Amelia
Any veteran readers of this blog know that I love reading the most salacious autobiographies I can find. Jenna Jameson’s porn star epic How To Make Love Like A Porn Star, The Last Living Slut about a legendary Iranian groupie, Party Monster for crazy club kids, Mommie Dearest about the abuse Joan Crawford put her adopted kids through–it’s all just so fascinating! It’s actually surprising I didn’t get around to Underneath It All by Traci Lords sooner!

Traci Lords, born Nora Kuzma, was a girl that developed early and suffered years of sexual abuse because of it. Older men took advantage of her, the time period was rife with cheap and easy drugs, and in her young mind, she was the one at fault, she deserved all the bad things that happened to her. Hence began her slid into pornography where she filmed twenty hardcore films all before her eighteenth birthday.

Lords was born in Steubenville Ohio to two parents who, in very different ways, were abusive. Her mother was more concerned with herself than her four young daughters while her father was a heaving drinker who was loose with his fists and hurtful words to try and keep the women in his life in order. She lost contact with her father when her mother and her boyfriend Roger moved the four girls to California but soon Roger took over as resident male abuser by harassing the young Lords in her sleep and then encouraging her to become a nude model at age fifteen. From there on, Lords life took a downward spiral of drugs, booze, abusive relationships, porn, and self-loathing.

Underneath It All is an autobiography that covers all of Lords life. Her early life, which included parental abuse, bullying, and rape sculpted a lost, angry girl that didn’t believe she had any worth. She ended up running away from her mother’s house and turned to her abusive step-father Roger for help. He lead her down the path of nude modelling and after being featured in the September 1984 issue of Penthouse she ventured (although hesitantly) into porn. Years of further abuse mixed with a drug and drinking problem as she took out her rage sexually in around twenty hardcore movies. Come May 1986 the authorities arrested her for her underage porn career having known about her for the last three years. No charges were pressed against her but she was served over and over again to appear in court and harassed constantly by the media. Distributors were also ordered to destroy her material to avoid prosecution for trafficking in child pornography that cost millions of dollars and lead to many death threats as the porn industry made her out to be a mastermind who did all this on purpose instead of an abused young girl (there’s rape culture for you folks, but to avoid a rant on my part, that’s the only thing I’ll say about it).
Lords in Cry-Baby

After being arrested for her child porn days, Lords decided to turn her life around and become an actual actress. The going was rough as the porn industry and media continued to harass and producers in actual Hollywood didn’t want the stigma of having an ex-porn girl in their productions. Her break didn’t come until she was cast in the teenage comedy Cry-Baby. After that she was able to slowly build up her legitimate acting resume with more small movie parts and television series. She even had a music career with a techno-dance album and a couple of tours as a DJ.

It was a long and very difficult road for Lords to separate herself from her porn days but she was able to. It took years and years of hard work and devastating rejections, but she pulled herself out of the stigma that so many porn stars find themselves in. Her story is honest to a brutal degree about her history and thoughts and feelings and her look into the porn world (and what lies after it) is a completely unglamorous one that a lot of other people don’t tend to go into.

My final thoughts on Underneath It All are that it’s a good read. It’s not the best autobiography I’ve ever read in terms of scandalous details (Jenna Jameson’s set too high a bar for crazy porn lifestyles) but Lords prose is pretty and it’s clear she’s an intelligent woman. It’s an interesting memoir and definitely worth checking out to see Lords side of the events that went down in her very public, very shocking life.

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