ARTICLE ALEX PENNEY
PHOTOGRAPHY DEREK KETTELA
STYLIST ANNA TREVELYAN
FROM SCANDALOUS BEGINNINGS TRACI LORDS HAS FOUND PERSONAL TRIUMPH BY TELLING IT ALL WITHOUT APOLOGY. NOW, WITH HER ROLE IN THE CULT FILM EXCISION, SHE IS READY TO STAKE HER CLAIM AS AMERICA'S NEXT MILF
Marlene Dietrich once said that “Sex is America’s obsession.” If this is true, then Traci Lords is perhaps our favorite fetish. First making headlines as a real-life Lolita in 1986—appearing in numerous X-rated films and magazines while underage—Lords navigated the ensuing scandals with defiant poise, which lead to genuine crossover success in Hollywood. She epitomized ’90s cool, flaunting her signature blonde locks and glossy red pout both in films and on television. Her debut album, 1995’s 1,000 Fires, put a celebrity face to techno, years before dance music would invade mainstream pop. Since then Lords has released an articulate tell-all, and she continues to sing, act, produce, and direct. Now in her 40s and happily married, the provocateur and mother of one is turning heads again, with a campy role in this year’s Sundance swensation Excision.
Your look is iconic. Who were your idols growing up?
Traci Lords The first time I remember thinking Wow was Marilyn Monroe—the red lips and the pale skin. I really related to blondes. My neighbor, a friend of my mother’s, was a gorgeous woman, and she always had the cat eye. I remember the makeup and shoes the most. I’m still a bit of a shoe whore.
Which are your favorites?
TL Louboutins, definitely. They kill your feet, but they’re fantastic. They make me feel very powerful. My husband is an iron-worker and one day they asked my son at his preschool, “What do your parents do?” and he said, “My daddy walks on high ledges and my mama walks on high heels.” [Laughs]
Let’s talk about Excision.
TL We worked so hard on that movie. Ricky [Bates Jr.] put together a really great cast. People will be surprised to see AnnaLynne McCord in a completely different role than she plays in 90210. It’s her Monster role. My dear friend John Waters is really a breath of fresh air. When his face came on the screen [at Sundance], he didn’t say one word—he merely raised an eyebrow and the whole place just went crazy.
You’ve played a mother in your last two films (Excision and 2011’s Au Pair, Kansas). How has being a parent changed your life?
TL When you go through a pregnancy, you find yourself holding on to the rail. It’s not that you want to hide, but you nest. You want to blend into the mommy world—that was definitely my instinct. Then it was like, What the fuck am I doing? I’m not a soccer mom! I’m determined to teach my son [about sex]. I really want him to love and respect women and know that sex is wonderful.
Where do you find the confidence to be as open and honest as you are about your past?
TL I don’t have any skeletons in my closet. What are they going to say, that I did drugs and had sex? I wrote a book about it! It was at a time that kind of feels like black-and-white movies, it was so long ago. When I did porn, people were trying to figure out if they wanted VHS or Beta. Is anybody really even interested in that anymore? I guess you have one time to make your impression, and mine was as this kind of badass Lolita sex star. So people will always think of me that way. I can’t help but laugh as I sit here in my mom sweats and Uggs. I’m not as wild as I was. Fortunately I have the ultimate bad-girl reputation. John [Waters] once told me that everything that happened to me was a blessing because I never have to do another bad thing in my life. People will just assume that I’m cool.
You seem to have made peace with that chapter of your life.
TL As I’ve gotten older I’m just looking around going, Wait a minute, what exactly is this thing I’m supposed to be ashamed of here? For a long time it hurt me, then I realized that was nonsense. At some point my son will say, “Mom, do you know what so-and-so said?” That conversation will happen. It’s unavoidable. I’m really fortunate—my husband is proud of me and knows where all the bodies are buried, knows all my secrets and he absolutely loves me. That’s what makes me strong and keeps my feet on the ground, even in my six-inch heels.
How has your Hollywood experience changed over the years?
TL I’m past my Hollywood expiration date, but I’ve just always had the attitude that it doesn’t apply to me. I’ve never fit in or run with a certain crowd—eventually there was a crowd that ran with me. Now I’m trying to figure out what I am in my 40s. I’m definitely working on creating my own projects. I’m not the kind of person who sits by the phone.
What is the secret to staying so good-looking?
TL I’m blessed with really great skin. I haven’t done the lotions and the potions and the Botox—not that I’m against plastic surgery or any of that, but there are some pretty bizarre-looking faces in Los Angeles.
You’ve really done it all. Is there anything you’re burning to do now?
TL This is going to sound really funny, but I want to talk more about sex. I want to be the Martha Stewart of sex. Not in a vulgar way, I just think that sex needs to be celebrated. I’m talking about things that are erotic: lotions, oils, stimulants, and music—porn for your ears. We have a whole new generation of people growing up looking at stuff that is so…I don’t want to say ugly, but so clinical. Sex is a gift. There’s room for beauty and sexuality. I want to build an empire of romance.Traci Lords In Los Angeles, 2012