Traci Lords exploded on the scene in 1986 via a tabloid TV feeding frenzy. Reporters had a field day with the notorious teenager who had left behind an abusive home and landed on the pages of Penthouse Magazine. America was fascinated with the eighteen-year old sexpot who reportedly had starred in dozens of hardcore porn movies and dared seek a legitimate acting career. People laughed but Lords marched boldly on. "The past is the past" she said, "and I'm done with all that." She enrolled in the famed Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and was soon cast in her first feature film, Roger Corman's sci-fi cult hit, "Not O f This Earth." A review in the Los Angeles Times cut to the chase: "The answer is yes, she can act!" Faint praise indeed but Stephen J. Cannell was impressed enough to cast her opposite Kevin Spacey in his critically acclaimed television show "Wiseguy." Lords held her own and the industry began to take notice.
A series of guest starring appearances on such popular television shows as "Nash Bridges," "Tales From The Crypt" and "Married With Children" followed. But it was John Waters' "Cry Baby" that elevated her to the level of an actress to be reckoned with. She was cast opposite Johnny Depp and once again demonstrated a flair for comedy. But her past continued to cost her roles. A multi-tasking fiercely driven young woman, Lords refused to be dismissed. " I worked too hard for fifteen minutes of fame," she said. "I'm gonna need at least double that" and then she broadened her net and took it.
While working on shows like "Roseanne" and "Melrose Place," Lords' musical aspirations lead her into a parallel career as a singer/songwriter. She made her recording debut as a guest vocalist on the Manic Street Preachers' "Little Baby Nothing" and then went on to record her debut solo album "1000 Fires" for Radioactive/MCA Records. The Juno Reactor-produced first single, "Control" proved a smash hit reaching a peak of #2 on the Billboard Dance Charts. Shortly thereafter, it was chosen for the soundtrack of the film "Mortal Combat" which ultimately earned Traci her first double platinum album. Her second single, "Fallen Angel" piqued the interest of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith and Dave Navarro whom Lords convinced to remix the track. Their version was dubbed "The Honeymoon Stitch Mix" and the critics and fans ate it up.
Once again, Lords defied the odds and opportunity came calling. She was invited to perform "Fallen Angel" in the film "Virtuosity" starring Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington. Then the latex wearing club kid set up camp where few women were welcome…the male dominated DJ circuit. With her lip gloss in hand she hit the road redefining the role of DJ and rocked the house for Perry Farrell's late night Lollapalooza crowds. Farrell later said: "I remember Traci Lords making electronic music and spinning records long before Madonna ever got the idea. Traci was always way ahead of her time."
In the blink of an eye, she was off again, challenging Wesley Snipes to throw down in the massively successful sci fi/horror/action movie "Blade." Lords shone in her role as the badass vampire "Raquel," and "Blade" took a big bite out of the competition claiming the number one movie in America title. While the sexy bloodsucker hypnotized audiences all across the world, Lords delighted in killing them softly. Around that time, she was cast as a serial killer in NBC's series "Profiler." When her character was caught and killed at the end of the season she went on to executive produce her next film, "Extramarital" which whetted her appetite for more work behind the camera.
But the spotlight beckoned once again and Lords won Best Actress at the US Comedy Arts festival for her portrayal of a Wisconsin brewery worker in the Miramax/Dimension film "Chump Change".
Lords "Take all prisoners and feed them… cause you may need them later" attitude endeared her to many. "Kind, sassy, self-deprecating, hard working, completely down to earth and she bakes a wicked chocolate cake!" said "First Wave" producer Chris Brancato in an interview. Brancato cast her as the ballsy leader of a militia force known as the "Raven Nation" in the Francis Ford Coppolla produced sci-fi series. Lords relocated to Vancouver, Canada and spent a year battling aliens. Lords' addition to the cast boosted the show's ratings over 20% and contributed to the fledgling SciFi Channel's success. "It was a very important time in my life. I was by myself in Canada. No friends, family…no one really. It forced me to stop for a minute and really think about who I am."
And thought she did.
Then she wrote it all down. HarperCollins published her autobiography "Traci Lords Underneath It All." Publisher's Weekly raved: "Frank, opinionated, intelligent and drenched in emotion, the rare celebrity memoir that will have readers cheering Lords on as they speed through its gritty big-souled pages." She toured the United States promoting her memoir appearing on such shows as "Oprah", "Biography" and "Larry King Live." The book has gone on to become a best seller in Japan, Sweden, and Serbia. She followed it all up by writing /directing her first short film, "Sweet Pea" for the Fox Searchlab. She then rediscovered her singing voice recording "Sunshine" "What Cha Gonna Do" and "You Burn Inside Of Me." The songs were featured in the hit series "Joan Of Arcadia" and can be found on cdbaby.com
Her unique voice can be heard today in many forums, from animation ( "The Chosen One" ) to video games ("True Crime New York City," for which she took Best Supporting Actress at the Spike Video Game Awards.)
In the summer of 2007, Traci was featured in the Lifetime movie "Point Of Entry" and starred opposite Bill Pullman and Taryn Manning in Matthew Wilder's "Your Name Here."
By summer's end, Lords was gearing up for a brand new journey, that of motherhood. Later that fall, Traci and husband Jeffery welcomed a baby boy whom they named Gunnar.
2008 has kept Traci busy. Delighted by motherhood but tempted with an outrageous opportunity, she went back to work only months after the birth of her son. Lords jumped at the chance to work with filmmaker Kevin Smith. "I had no intention of going back to work so soon but I read the script and couldn't stop laughing," Lords said in a recent interview. "My character 'Bubbles' is a real hoot with a special skill," she teased. The film, "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" hits theatres on October 31.
Coming in 2009, watch for the comedy "I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell" which is based on Tucker Max's outrageous best-selling novel.
Lords resides in Southern California with her husband, son and Siamese cat.