New Again: Traci Lords

Under “editor-in-residence” Isabella Burley, Helmut Lang is returning to its roots. Yesterday, the brand announced several new initiatives including Helmut Re-Edition, the Helmut Lang Design Residency program, and Seen by The Artists Series. The brand also restored its original logo, and unveiled its Fall 2017 campaign, shot by Ethan James Green. There are plenty of familiar faces in the campaign—from iconic model Alek Wek, to filmmaker Larry Clark, designer Shayne Oliver, and writer Chris Kraus—but one that stands out in particular, however, is actor Traci Lords.

In the mid-80s, when she was just 15, Traci Lords modeled nude for Penthouse using a fake ID. Soon after, she began appearing in adult films. After turning 18, Lord’s true age was discovered, and she became infamous; her films were taken out of circulation, and she retired from pornography to become an actress, fashion model, and singer. Today, Lords is most famous for her roles in cult movies such as John WatersCry-Baby, Nowhere, and Blade.

We first met Lords in 1988, as she was transitioning from adult entertainment to acting.

Traci Lords
By Maitland McDonagh

Traci Lords is not her real name. The precocious porn nymphet concocted her pseudonym long ago from Traci, her preferred Christian name, and the surname of her favorite television actor, Jack Lord. At 13 she was still Nora Louise Kuzma in Steubenville, Ohio, sneaking out of the house at night in search of “booze and boys.” A year later she migrated to Redondo Beach and, in her search for “bigger booze and bigger boys,” became one of the adult-film industry’s hottest stars. In 1986, when she was barely 18, Lords’ career took a nose dive as her entire oeuvre—some 100 films—was pulled from the shelves, and former associates found themselves under Federal indictment for child pornography.

Barely 20, Lords resurfaced this year as a tarnished angel in the aptly named “Date with an Angel” episode of television’s Wise Guy, and in Not of This Earth, her “mainstream” motion-picture debut. The movie is a remake of a 1957 Roger Corman film about a space vampire in search of blood for his dying planet, and platinum blonde Nadine Story, played by the new version of Lords, on whose starched shoulders rests the fate of the Earth. In 1987 Corman wagered that the film couldn’t be remade of the same shooting schedule and budget (adjusted for inflation) as the original. But his protégé Jim Wynorski scrambled to prove him wrong.

What’s next for the girl in the gray Camaro? (“Not red. I had a red Corvette before this, and it caused me nothing but trouble.”) A cautionary memoir, Out of the Blue, and perhaps an autobiographical television movie for which she’s already been offered the lead, lie ahead for the unstoppable Lords.


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