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Traci Lords was easily one of the top porn stars in the 80s, but what everyone didn't know is the 20 year old actress was actually 15 when she started.

Traci Lords scandal: She was a top porn star until her age was exposed

Traci Lords fooled them all – that is, the porn industry that unknowingly profited off the videos of an underage girl. The scandal of one of the top porn stars of the time being underage for the majority of her career, rocked the world in the 80s. 

Traci was just fifteen when she entered the industry, as a teenager strapped for cash, and found work as a model by using a fake ID to pose as a twenty-year-old. Before long, Traci was posing as a nude model in magazines like Penthouse, Velvet, Juggs, and Club. It wasn’t until an anonymous tip about Traci’s true age brought her porn career crashing down. Here are the details of the Traci Lords scandal. 

Traci Lords was easily one of the top porn stars in the 80s, but what everyone didn't know is the 20 year old actress was actually 15 when she started.

The makings of a top porn star 

Traci Lords was born Norma Louise Kuzma in 1968 in Steubenville Ohio. When Traci was fifteen she became pregnant by her high school boyfriend and got an abortion without her mother knowing. As Traci was in need of money she took up babysitting. The woman Traci worked for offered to improve her job prospects by providing her with a fake ID card & birth certificate. 

With the new alias Kristie Elisabeth Nussman, Traci began her modeling career and eventually settled on the stage name Traci Lords. Traci appeared in her first porn movie, What Gets Me Hot!, in 1984. Lords quickly rose in popularity and became one of the highest paid porn actresses of the time, making more than $1,000 a day. 

Traci Lords was easily one of the top porn stars in the 80s, but what everyone didn't know is the 20 year old actress was actually 15 when she started.

Traci was dubbed the “Princess of Porn”. Traci continued making movies in 1985 when the top star was seventeen. At this time, she considered leaving the porn industry but was drawn back in by her boyfriend & manager. Three weeks after Traci’s eighteen birthday police took her into protective custody after they were informed of her real age. 

Traci’s age made all of her work in porn illegal and the owners of the movie agency that signed Traci were arrested. It also caused video stores across the country to scramble to remove any material involving Lords to avoid any entanglement with the law over distributing child pornography. Only one movie Traci performed in remained legal as she filmed it two days after eighteenth birthday. 

Traci Lords was easily one of the top porn stars in the 80s, but what everyone didn't know is the 20 year old actress was actually 15 when she started.

Blurred lines 

The Traci Lords scandal brought to the surface the shady practices of an industry that walked the razor thin line of “barely” legal. Traci had lied about her age, an indiscretion she referred to as a “white lie”. In the gray area of the scandal, some may lay blame on Traci for lying to pursue a career in porn. However, the fact remains that Traci was underage and therefore was the victim. 

Traci’s story becomes the story of the porn industry as it continues to employ young women who are months, weeks, even days past their eighteenth birthday. It’s also an industry that promotes videos that glorify sex with minors as young-looking actresses play teenagers for “taboo” storylines. 

The fine details of Traci’s case illustrate the tangled complexity of the porn industry. The lines between legal & illegal, between consensual & nonconsensual are constantly blurred in a vocation where those lines must be clearly drawn. 

Traci Lords was easily one of the top porn stars in the 80s, but what everyone didn't know is the 20 year old actress was actually 15 when she started.

Victims of a scandal 

Recently the Traffickinghub scandal has exposed Pornhub, one of the largest distributors of porn on the internet, for blurring the lines and participating in the sex trafficking of minors as well as neglecting to monitor its site for videos featuring consensual sex. But even in this scandal there are gray areas to be navigated. 

Traci’s story can’t be painted simply as black & white just as all sex work can’t be painted over with a broad brush. Despite the scandal of Traci Lords as a top porn star or the despicable practices performed by Pornhub, there are still those who work in the sex industry who promote a healthy relationship with sexual exploration. 

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