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X marks the past for Traci Lords

Traci Lords This time, the former underage porn star is shedding light on a legitimate life that has an active acting career, a new husband and a real estate portfolio.

It was nearly 20 years ago that Traci Lords was the hottest name in the porn business. But in 1986, an FBI sting operation put an abrupt end to Lords' X-rated career, when it was revealed that she had made 19 films while she was under the legal age of 18. In a legal moment, each of those films became child pornography and shocked an industry that seemed unshockable.

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Born Nora Elizabeth Kuzma in Steubenville, Ohio, the future Traci Lords ran away from home and used a borrowed birth certificate to obtain a fake ID when she was 15. She fell into nude modeling, then did a spread for Penthouse magazine, before attaining notoriety as the illegal star of the X-rated films.

She clawed her way back from her former life of hard drugs, alcohol abuse and sexual exploitation, through heavy doses of therapy, discipline and a steely determination to become a legitimate actress and recording artist.

Lords studied acting at the prestigious Lee Strasberg Institute, then won a part in John Waters' quirky comedy "Cry-Baby" opposite Johnny Depp. She's featured in several television shows, including "Married with Children" and "Roseanne." Her recording debut, a techno album called "1,000 Fires," soared to the top of the dance charts, and she performed her original music in the Denzel Washington thriller "Virtuosity."

Now, she's also a first-time author, penning an autobiography that details her life from hard knocks in Steubenville to finding fame in California. Her memoir is called "Underneath It All."

Bankrate: You're only 35, and your career obviously isn't over yet, so why write an autobiography now?

Traci Lords: A couple of reasons, actually. First of all, I think enough time has gone by for me to be able to process everything. I don't think people realize how long it's been. I was 15. It has been 20 years since I made my exit from the porn world, and I have healed a great deal. I have a wonderful life now, and I believe sharing my journey could help other people. Also I got tired of reading things about myself that were either complete exaggerations or just not true. I wanted to set the record straight.

Bankrate: What has the response been to the book from your former colleagues in the industry and to you coming out with the details of those days?

Traci Lords: Mine is a story they don't want told for obvious reasons. Pornographers sell sex, the illusion of joy. The ugly side is something they'd rather hide.

-- Posted: April 15, 2004




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