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Traci Lords on Independent Film Channel

WWW – Traci Lords has reinvented herself again.

The woman who was known for her underage porn films and moved on to a successful (and legal) career in movies, TV and books says she has become “Simon Cowell with legs.”

Lords, 35, is the sassiest of three judges on “Ultimate Film Fanatic,” a game show on cable’s Independent Film Channel that lets various breeds of film geeks face off to decide who knows the most arcane trivia, who can debate movies most successfully – even who owns the dorkiest movie-related paraphernalia.

The other judges are Richard (Shaft) Roundtree and Jason Mewes, the “Jay” of the Kevin Smith films.

“Some of these contestants really sucked, and someone needed to tell them,” says Lords. “That was my job, and I did it lovingly.

“It’s not easy for me to get that snarky toward people,” Lords says. “One thing about my porn past: It’ll always keep me humble.”

It also made her the only adult-film performer to ever cross over into mainstream movies, though Lords is quick to point out that, contrary to popular myth, it wasn’t planned.

The FBI ordered that all of her films be pulled from distribution because she made them as a teenage runaway.

“I had some demons I was wrestling with. I was a damaged kid,” she says.

“That time hurt me a lot more than it helped. It made me infamous, which is not a good thing.”

She doesn’t have advice for other adult performers, such as Ginger Lynn Allen and Jenna Jameson, who may have Hollywood aspirations, but says that she herself worked hard, even attending the Los Angeles Lee Strasberg Institute to learn how to act.

“I did my first film [the 1988 Roger Corman comedy “Not of This Earth”] six months after the story of my films broke…I was so [angry] when people said I would never be anything other than a porn star at 18, I became defiant,” she says.

“It has just been in my late 20s and 30s that I feel like I’m in my own skin.”

And that skin, while never exposed too much, has graced as many movies as any actress who got her start in a different industry, Lords says.

“In Hollywood, by the time you’re in your 20s, if you don’t have a solid resume and people are talking about you, you’re done,” she says.

“So whether you’re from the Midwest or from porn, it’s generally a long shot or you’re pretty much done.”

Lords, born in Steubenville, Ohio, as Nora Kuzma, lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Jeff, an ironworker. She’s just completed two films – the comedy “Frost Bite” and

“Farewell to Raskolnikov’s,” a romance – and she says judging the game show contestants is easy.

“My fan base is mixed,” she says. “I have the geeks, the sci-fi guys, the John Waters crowd, the ‘Melrose Place’ moms and the trenchcoat crowd. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate which are which!”


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