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August 07, 2003 12:30am
Traci Lords' Underneath it All
Source: USA Today
by: Company Press Release

To most, her name is synonymous with underage porn, and it still evokes the most taboo of interest in how a 15-year-old girl from the Midwest nearly brought down the porn industry, interest in those early films that sparked an intense three-year FBI investigation, and interest in how someone polishes such a tarnished reputation.

But none of this interest is anything Lords set out to generate - according to her. Underneath the facade and two layers of fake identities, she claims to have been "just a lost teenager, desperate for love." She was hungry for acceptance and struggling to feed an expensive cocaine habit that had spun out of control.

Or at least that's what she WANTS you to believe with her memoir, Underneath it All. Lords chronicles her troubled childhood, spectacular rise in the porn industry and touch-and-go return to mainstream entertainment.

Nora Kuzma was born in Steubenville, Ohio, to an emotionally distant father and a financially struggling mother who changed jobs and boyfriends almost as fast as she changed homes. Nora's childhood was painful; she was raped at 10 by a 16-year-old and sexually harassed by her mother's boyfriend.

Finally settling into high school in California, Nora was tempted out of the classroom the same way many teenage girls are by the beach, boys and daydreams of stardom. Answering an ad for models, she was "lured into" posing nude (with her own fake ID) because that's how Marilyn Monroe "started out."

Within months, Nora matured into Traci and slid from still photos to porn films at such breakneck speed that her journey is almost unimaginable to anyone who hasn't struggled to make ends meet or grappled for attention in a male-dominated world. And Lords' down-to-earth attitude and eloquent prose make the reader actually sympathize that much more.

"Porn was a power trip for me," she writes. "At the time I didn't understand it, but in reality I was fighting to take back what had been robbed from me as a child. There was a war going on in my heart and I was acting it out with my limbs."

But a federal raid ended her personal war at 18, or at least the battles she fought on film. And although Lords' struggle to earn credibility, with roles in Crybaby and Melrose Place and a music career, is courageous, her post-porn storytelling loses its luster. Her tale dips into the anticlimactic, humdrum travails of every other struggling actress.

Some say she "dropped a dime" on herself - tipped off the feds to her under-aged status. At that time there was only one movie in existence of her over the age of 18, "I Love You Traci" and she owned it. The raid successfully cleared the market of all but the one video she owned.

Pornography feminists unshackle their desires and celebrate their sexuality in the patriarchal world

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