BEVERLY HILLS, California — Not many people need to reinvent themselves at 19. But actress Traci Lords did. Today she’s celebrating 17 years of marriage, motherhood and a whole new career.
Lords became a cause celebre in the early ’80s when she starred in several adult films at the age of 15. When authorities discovered she was underage, most of her films were confiscated, and she was labelled persona non grata. It seemed to her she’d never live down the stigma.
But Lords is a fighter. Today, at 50, she’s co-starring in the Pop Television Network series Swedish Dicks, adapted by Peter Stormare. The series is about two struggling private eyes in Los Angeles.
Lords plays the chief of a rival detective agency, a powerful nemesis to the hapless pair.
“When I very first started trying to cross over and do legitimate acting, I was 19 years old,” she recalls.
“Still a very young lady, and I had a lot to answer for. And people felt free to ask me whatever they wanted without any kind of regard for what I might think, feel, me as a human being — nothing. And they had all kinds of judgments about it,” she says.
“It was even a time when local news stations would air the salacious headline of ‘Teen Porn Star … blah, blah, blah.’ ‘Small Town Girl.’ They’d use one of the illegal pictures of me with block-outs. That was the time we were living in … That’s how bad it was. I couldn’t look. I just had to put my blinders on.”
She had been introduced to the adult film industry through her mother’s ex-boyfriend, whom she says she relied on. “There’s a difference between being sex-trafficked and being taken and exploited and abused in what happened to me. I want to be very specific in what I say because there is a difference there,” she says.
“I was under the influence of a much older man who was supposed to be a parental figure that I trusted. And he basically fed me to the sharks. He was the key of it and I, of course at 15, I was angry. I was rebellious and pretty much perfect pickings. I thought I knew everything. I thought I was completely in control of everything. And I wasn’t. So I ended up in this whole world, and I am very lucky to have walked away from it, survived it. And not only that, I refuse to call myself a victim — although I was — I see myself as a victor.”
Lords’s first two marriages ended in divorce. But 20 years ago she met her husband, Jeff, (she doesn’t want to reveal his last name) through a mutual friend. “He’s an ironworker. He does structural iron, does high rises and hospitals,” she explains.
They have a son, Gunnar, who’s 10. “Having my son changed everything,” she says. “My priorities immediately changed and I realized what was important and what wasn’t. I immediately knew I would be the kind of mom who wanted to be there even if I had to quit the business. I wanted to be there. I didn’t want to miss it.”