Nora Kuzma was a troubled teenager from Steubenville, Ohio; Traci Lords was the underage skin mag/porn queen who became the centerpiece of the adult video industry's greatest scandal. In reality, they were one and the same, the subject of this slick, if thin autobiography. But what's striking here is not the familiar storyline--confused, sexually abused teen falls in with drugs and the wrong Southern California crowd, forges fake IDs to become Penthouse
Pet of the Month at 16 and the '80s hottest adult star, then arrested as focus of the Reagan administration's crackdown on porn, only to become reborn as cleaned-up, psychoanalyzed/rehabed purveyor of legitimate film, TV, and music career. Rather, what's striking is Lords's capacity for denial, compartmentalization, and myopia when it serves her ends.
Her scandalous tenure in the skin trade--undeniably the sole basis for her infamy and subsequent legitimate career--is glossed over here in a few score pages, with more attention paid to the heavy-metal musicians that dotted her life than the motivations and machinations of the Feds who literally changed her life; Slash's snake gets more ink here than Attorney General Ed Meese. Quick to ladle generous sympathy on her own plight, she heaps little but scorn upon those from the seedy past of her porn-star alter-ego, yet seems to have had few qualms about formally adopting that moniker as her legal name.
Many of her former cohorts in the adult industry (some of whom were jailed as targets of Federal law enforcement and tax probes related to her case) have long claimed that Lords was little more than a scheming careerist, and a careful reading of her own words does little to undermine their case. There are indeed many insights to Lords's troubled life here, with more than a few lurking between the lines. --Jerry McCulley
From Publishers Weekly
Mention the author of this notable memoir to a group of men and many will grin; mention her to a group of women and many will look blank. Both responses should change during the media frenzy over this book, because readers of both sexes will learn that the story of Lords, the most notorious graduate of the porn industry, is one deserving of compassion, admiration and attention. Lords is notorious because when she ruled porn, in the mid-1980s, she was under the age of 18. Born Nora Kuzma in 1968 in Ohio, she writes, she was raised in poverty and abused emotionally by an alcoholic father and raped at age 10 by a 16-year-old. By her early teens, Lords was hanging out with the wild crowd at school and was preyed upon by her mother's boyfriend, who arranged for her first modeling sessions, which led to her posing as a Penthouse centerfold at age 15 (she had false ID) and then to her meteoric career in porn, which crashed when the FBI stepped in and turned her into a poster child for sex abuse. Lords's career didn't end in 1986; she's gone on to star and costar in several films and TV shows, including John Waters's Cry Baby and Married with Children, and has enjoyed serious success as a singer. She has an amazing story to tell, and she tells it well here, without a coauthor, in prose that's bumpy at times, smooth at others, but always seemingly honest and courageous. Frank, opinionated, intelligent, drenched in emotion, this is the rare celebrity memoir that doubles as a cautionary tale, and will have readers cheering Lords on as they speed through its gritty, big-souled pages.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.