Wary, defiant, not a little defensive, and not a little pissed off, Lords recaptures her youthful voice as she excavates all the rocks on her road from underage porn star to singer and actress.
She hailed from a low-rent Ohio mill town, product of a drunken father and a feckless mother, soon divorced. Sexually abused by one of her mother’s boyfriends, she fled home at 15. To make money, she agreed to do some nude posing (she was still only 15 when Penthouse featured her as a centerfold), and from there it was an alarmingly simple step to pornographic movies. She captures this dark and rotten world with all its ambiguities—and hers: “[Porn] allowed me to release all the fury I'd felt my entire life. And that's what got me off.” But it was hardly a joyous milieu; drugs and booze calmed her, while a series of wretched relationships gave her glancing moments of security. Federal agents finally started giving child pornography the scrutiny it deserved, but the actors, not the producers, bore the public brunt of their investigation. Still a teenager, Lords pulled in the reins and, remarkably, engineered her own reversal of fortune. With a self-control that invites admiration, she got roles in R-rated flicks, worked her way up to John Waters movies, and then a sequence of TV and film roles. As if out of nowhere (it’s not clear where she discovered her musical talent), she charged to the top of the charts as a techno queen, meanwhile grabbing roles in Melrose Place and Roseanne, all the while contending with her past as a porn star. If on occasion Lords sounds a wee superficial (“Howard Fine's annual Christmas party was a must appear, so I searched my closet for a festive frock”), you can see she knows how to play the Hollywood survival game.
Her personal tenacity is something of a miracle, and readers of this honest, engaging memoir will wish the author well.