#1: Traci Lords

Other aliases: Tracy Lords, Rita

Origin: Steubenville, OH

Born: May 7, 1968 as Norma Louise Kuzma

Years active: 1984–1986

Similar actresses: Christy Canyon, Ginger Lynn, Nina Hartley, Vanessa Del Rio, Seka, Hyapatia Lee, Lisa De Leeuw, Sibel Kekilli, Catherine Ringer, Marilyn Jess, Olinka Hardiman, Tiny Tove, Candye Kane, Tiffany Walker, Brittany O’Connell

We’ve finally reached the number one spot of this installment of “50 Greatest Pornstars” and thus this deserves some extra introduction for more than one reason. First of all, the decision to include this particular pornstar was probably one of the hardest I ever had to make in this context: on the one hand due to the controversial nature of the subject at hand, on the other hand because we’re definitely talking about one of the biggest and most notorious legends in all of porn history, and one of the three greatest pornstars in my own porn canon. Seriously, my view on porn would positively not be the same without this woman. So this being said, enter Norma Louise Kuzma, much better known under her alias – and by now her actual name – Traci Elizabeth Lords.

I can’t exactly remember when I saw her for the first time – it might have been a magazine, a digital picture or a video tape. What I definitely do remember is how very much I was struck by her. She wasn’t even as physically perfect as for example Ebony Ayes (my other perennial favorite pornstar ever), as her boobs had this peculiar quality that made them look kinda weirdly V-shaped when they were hanging but looked absolutely perfectly puffy.-nippled and big when she was laying on her back or on her side. I hadn’t quite fully realized how much I loved a nice big ass on a woman back then – Traci’s wasn’t flat, that did it for me. Even her hair, especially that Aquanet-teased variant she would sport in most of her scenes, was anything but an automatic turn-on. No, what drew me into Traci Lords and never let me go was first of all *that face*. Slightly almond-shaped big dark blue eyes that exuded seductiveness as much as (pseudo) innocence. Her ruby-red lips could pout like none other and in the next moment reveal a set of brilliantly white teeth as her mouth turned into a grimace of sexual arousal and aggression. All of these features were found in a perfectly rounded doll-like face, making Traci Lords one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen then. And the rest of her body – some likable natural flaws notwithstanding – completed the physique of the horniest, sexiest and most desirable pornstar I had ever seen.

What I also very clearly remember is the first movie I ever saw Traci perform in. From a hidden video stash I picked up a tape called “Educating Mandy”. Although this was years after the legal case that would end her career in porn (and shake up the industry as a whole, see more about that below) this movie was legally available where I lived. It featured some of the late Golden Age of Porn’s biggest stars (and also introduced me to Christy Canyon who instantly became another favorite of mine) and had the classic pre-video quality of that era’s big budget productions. Traci played a young housewife who accidentally witnesses her husband (Harry Reems, the second hairiest male talent after Ron Jeremy) cheating on her and, after getting some verbal (and physical) support from her girlfriends, decides to pay him back the same way.

The first scene of that movie remains one of my most watched porn moments ever. The way this beautiful young woman undresses for her husband in front of the fireplace to reveal her fantaastic body, to then get carried away to the big bed and then getting fucked really good instantly became one of my defining porn moments. (In fact, I am taking a break from typing right now to watch it once more.)

(Thanks for your patience, hehe.) What makes this scene so memorable is the way Reems takes Traci, her body glistening with sweat, her boobs bouncing and her face distorted in ecstasy. It may not stray too far from a classic porn setting but it surely was enough for me to never forget it.

From here it was a continuing story of typical pornstar pic-hunting-and-gathering from my discovery of Traci Lords until today, basically. (This is probably also the moment to give some shout outs to the “TraciOfLords” blog who probably has the biggest collection of Traci hardcore pics and gifs on tumblr and who thankfully let me use his archive for additional illustrations in this article.) The problem here was and to some extent still is that due to the critical legal status of some of Traci’s movies many sites who hosted Traci related stuff in the past disappeared later. Only today many pictures and films can be obtained on a host of sites dedicated to Traci’s hardcore work, although it may vary from country to country whether or not it’s fully legal to watch it. (Disclaimer: Should your country be part of that list, please leave this entry now and read one of the 199 others on this blog instead.)

So if you bothered reading up to here you now know how big an impact Traci Lords made on me during my formative years as a porn fan. Much of her own biography is pretty much public domain, so let’s keep it short: Traci was born Norma Louise Kuzma in Steubenville, OH, into a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic, abusive father and her parents divorcing when she was seven years old. That broken biography would get worse when Norma – whose body developed very early – got raped at age ten (by her sixteen-year-old then boyfriend) and became pregnant and subsequently had an abortion at fourteen. By then her mother was living with a new partner who molested Norma and also got her a fake ID (now calling herself Kristie Elizabeth Nussbaum and faking an age of 22), supporting the girl’s rebellious attitude towards her parents who didn’t want her daughter to have sex yet. In early 1984, at the age of fifteen, Norma finally moved to LA with him (he posed as her stepfather) to start a career in adult entertainment.

The notorious couple managed to get Norma signed for the infamous Jim South modelling agency which led to her first nude modelling session for – of all publications – Penthouse magazine. Here the career of “Traci Lords” started officially as she not only chose the name as her pornstar pseudonym but ended up being the September 1984 issue’s centerfold. (The issue’s then popularity, however, was largely based on then Miss America Vanessa Williams’ nude pictorial. After the discoveries of Traci’s underage the issue has since been pulled from the market and remains illegal to be owned with the centerfold intact.)

This greatly heightened Traci’s profile and she shot her first porn movie “What Gets Me Hot!” soon after. Initially she only had a non-sex role but a hardcore scene (with her later boyfriend Tom Byron) was added afterwards. More movies followed in the course of 1984 and 1985, all greatly expanding and cementing Traci’s status as America’s new porn sensation and one of the industry’s top-grossing and top-earning performers. She would even receive her first porn award for the Tom Hanks/Darryl Hannah fantasy comedy “Splash” spoof “Talk Dirty to Me III”.

Traci’s annoucement to retire from porn in late 1985 thus came somewhat surprisingly, although in early 1986 she returned with her own production company to shoot what would be some of her last three XXX films, “Traci Takes Tokyo”, “Beverly Hills Copulator” (your guess which box office hit this was a take on) and “Screamer”. The final porn movie Traci would star in was “Traci, I Love You” – shot in France just two days after her 18th birthday with Euro porn luminaries like Marilyn Jess and Gabriel Pontello and released into the wake of the biggest scandal ever to hit the porn industry and followed by a maelstrom of court cases, accusations and empty video store shelves.

In a nutshell, “Traci’s” fake identity was unveiled just weeks after her 18th birthday and subsequently all of her movies shot prior to that date – effectively her complete fimlography save “Traci, I Love You” – were ruled child pornography by US law (they remain legally available in many other countries though to this day). This had a devastating effect on the porn industry as a whole and their video store “subcontractors” in particular. Millions of dollars of industry profit were lost as tapes had to be pulled from the shelves overnight while some movies were re-edited without Traci’s scenes or even re-shot with a new actress instead of Traci (the very recently featured Lisa De Leeuw taking her predecessor’s place in “Talk Dirty to Me III”). It was hell on a plate for the adult industry who only fully recovered years after the scandal had exploded, plus the Reagan government felt urged to crack down on porn productions, criminalizing the industry and the artform as a whole.

“Traci” meanwhile tried to break free from her porn past by selling the rights to her final XXX film (and drawing accusations from within the industry that her move had long been planned to profit from it) and trying to get some mainstream acting slots. She remains one of the most heavily criticized ex-pornstars from her former co-worker’s point of view as she herself claimed to have been drugged and forced to do porn while former colleagues like Christy Canyon stated that Traci had never made the impression of not knowing what she wanted and didn’t want to do.

Either way, Traci kept her porn alias and even made it her official name (as a gesture to embrace her past), getting a role in John Waters’s pre-global fame Johnny Depp movie “Cry-Baby”, guested in “Roseanne” and later starred alongsides Wesley Snipes in “Blade” as well as Kevin Smith’s “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”. Apart from that most of her cinematic or television work has been in the horror or sci-fi field. She also released a techno record called “1000 Fires” whose single “Control” even became a minor hit in the dance charts.

Her autobiography “Underneath it All” became a best-seller in 2003, she got married, had a baby, started her own fashion line… Basically, Traci Lords did what most if not all former pornstars hope to achieve: start a career where she didn’t have to bare her boobs anymore. Whatever you think of her stance on the porn industry, she managed to establish herself as a not-just-former-pornstar performer and person and you friggin’ have to give her that.

So whatever controversy remains, she gets my number one spot of all Classic Pornstars. Thank you for reading and following. I’m gonna take a break from writing new articles for the time being, cleaning up older entries and fixing some stuff here or there. But rest assured: there will be a new “Top 50″ list on this tumblr in the future – this time maybe more about recent than classic performers…

#4: Lisa De Leeuw

Other aliases: Lisa DeLeeue, Lisa Leeua, Lisa de Ugga, Lisa Woods, Lil’ Redhead, Lisa Seagrave, Miss 52, Fiona Wilson

Origin: Moline, IL

Born: July 3, 1958 as Lisa Trego

Years active: 1978–1987

Similar actresses: Busty Belle, Flame, Mylie Moore, Candy Samples, Amber Lynn, Annette Haven, Mai Lin, Hyapatia Lee, Nina Hartley, Traci Lords, Christy Canyon, Sue Nero, Seka, Rene Bond, Bambi Woods, Titanic Toni, Gerlinde Bödeker

Recommended website: https://www.lisadeleeuw.com

When you look back at the so called “Golden Age of Porn” there’s not really a shortage of legendary figures. During this period of time – sometimes used as a rather loose term for the time comprising the 1970′s up to the mid-1980′s, sometimes defined more strictly from 1969 to 1984 – pornography (and especially pornographic movies) became a phenomenon of popular culture for the first time, producing stars of its own and grossing millions if not billions of dollars in ticket and magazine sales. This era made people like Linda Lovelace or Marilyn Chambers and later on Christy Canyon or Traci Lords veritable celebrities, although they never managed to completely shake their XXX origins. Not all of them managed to steer clear of the dangers, pitfalls and vices that came along with the trade, and some of them sadly paid the highest price too. Well, and then there’s Lisa De Leeuw.

Even though I made my first conscious pornstar experiences (well, through the media they were pictured in of course) in a time when at least some of the Golden Age’s stars were still performing, Lisa somehow passed me by at first. Her name kept popping up on internet forums and later social media sites until I finally had my eyes opened what a treasure had been waiting for me all along. For sure I didn’t expect her biography to be the way it was though.

Born an Illinois farmgirl and tomboy, fighting overweight for the most part of her teens and young adult years, Lisa was as unlikely to enter the still relatively young world of professional hardcore porn as any Illinois tomboy farmgirl. With her big red mane (and matching bush), freckled pale skin and auburn eyes she was a redhead right out of the textbook, however, a damn voluptuous one to boot!

In 1978 Lisa finally entered the world of adult entertainment when she and her then boyfriend (who had managed an adult cinema in her native Moline and later also encouraged her to do hardcore porn!) moved to Los Angeles. As Lisa stated in an interview, the high costs of living in L.A. prompted her to look for a job where she would make good money in short time which – of course – led her to nude modelling. From there it took only a short while for her to make the transition to hardcore, first with some shorts and loops for the legendary Swedish Erotica series and then her first role in a feature film which happened to be “800 Fantasy Lane”.

Since Lisa wasn’t terribly experienced in sex it took her a while to get accustomed to the practices on set and although she didn’t exactly have pleasant working surroundings during her first couple of films – she had been ordered by her first director to lose forty pounds and had to live on a diet of “cold hot dogs and cold coffee” – she still came to enjoy her new profession. By around 1980 she had made about twenty movies and despite not fulfilling the pornstar stereotype of being a slim blonde she was one of the first actresses to sign an exclusive contract with Vivid Studios.

In 1981 Lisa garnered her first award and, although never reaching the level of fame that her contemporaries Seka or Veronica Hart had, became one of the most successful pornstars of her time. Although she stated she didn’t exactly live the pornstar life cliché of after-scene orgies and liked classic m/f sex best (well, she actually preferred threesomes with two guys), on screen Lisa was willing to do acts beyond the textbook missionary and did many lesbian, anal and even BDSM scenes at a time when this was still very much considered niche material. On top of that she was a true natural curvalicious beauty with big beautiful tits and an ass that would put her on top of the PAWG world even today.

Although she went on to make more movies and win another three awards, by 1984 her weight problems began to catch up with her. By the mid-eighties Lisa opted for a career break since the industry’s standards had changed both technically – shooting on video was much cheaper and elaborate sets and scripts were considered too expensive – and in terms of acting demands (with only basic scripts acting skills weren’t really necessary anymore, plus you don’t get younger either…). Even though she returned to business in 1985 and churned out about 200 scenes during the course of her career, the mentioned problems would rather become worse and as she approached her 40th birthday Lisa would get fewer and fewer roles. By the early nineties porn had changed so much that the stars from its Golden Age would be considered a thing of the past, including Lisa De Leeuw.

Then, in 1993, news hit the scene that Lisa De Leeuw had died of an Aids-related illness. Apparently she had been a heavy drug user before, so when her management announced her death in November 1993 it didn’t seem all too unlikely to be true. However, rumours kept bubbling up that Lisa had faked her death to make an elegant exit from an industry she no longer felt a part of (plus, other stars like Hyapatia Lee had done just the same only to resurface alive and well later). Former porn director David Jennings claimed her to still be alive in 2000 although a definite answer would never be given.

Whatever happened to Lisa De Leeuw it remains a fact that she definitely was one of the Golden Age’s most original performers and a real treasure that still definitely is worth discovering today!

#10: Persia

Other aliases: Venus, Lynette, Lido

Born: March 25, 1968 as Venus Guillén

Origin: Philadelphia, PA

Years active: 1991–1996

Similar actresses: Ebony Ayes, Janet Jacme, Jeannie Pepper, Vanessa BlueChessie Moore, Sibylle Rauch, Angelica Bella, Veronica Brazil

The 1990′s were a time when African American pornstars – largely indebted to the trailblazing careers of Ebony Ayes, Jeannie Pepper, Isis Nile and the like – slowly managed to find audiences outside the “black porn” segment, although they often still had to take opportunities to perform outside the segregated US market. Persia (also often billed as Venus) was one of the actresses that found their share of success in the last decade of the millennium on both sides of the Atlantic.

Born in Philly as Venus Guillén in the spring of 1968, she got into nude modelling and feature dancing around 1990 and then dared to do hardcore just a year later. Her assets were big tits (naturally saggy although she later had them enhanced), an extremely seductive face with textbook bedroom eyes and an ass that was to play an important role in her XXX career.

Persia practically became an overnight sensation in black porn, starring in dozens of movies ever since doing serious hardcore shootings, especially in mainstream porn spoofs such as “Boomerwang” (!), “White Men Can’t Hump” (!!) or my personal favorite “What’s Butt Got to Do With It”. What made her perfect for those kinds of roles was her willingness to put her voluptuous body to any kind of fucking service with special emphasis on assfucking (just go to her IAFD page and count the titles that refer to “ass”, “butt” or “DP”) as well as her acting skills that went well beyond what other performers of the time had to offer.

Persia displayed a sense of irony and playfulness while never letting it tip over the raunchy atmosphere of her red hot fucking scenes. My first – and already decisive – encounter with her was in a German production where she engaged in lovely lesbian sex with a small breasted blonde girl after being invited to watch porn with her. Persia’s reaction going from shock to humorous disbelief to just letting go end enjoying the licking and fingering remained one of my most watched scenes for years, particularly for its combination of light-hearted yet naturally gifted acting and no-nonsense fucking action.

In an interview with “Gent” from 1994, Persia described her attitude towards porn as something that allowed her to do what turned her on and also let her have sex with many different guys and girls. While porn star interviews should often be taken with a grain of salt (whoever wanted to read about their favorite actress hating her job and/or only doing it for the money?), Persia always seemed to come across as somebody who loved what she was doing for a living, be it in American productions (often reinforcing black porn topics/clichés) as well as international ones. The latter category let her show her fabulous assets in trashy settings as an Italian take on Little Red Riding Hood (with another favorite of mine, the ever so fuckable Chessie Moore) or a German production about girls making out with a billionaire (where she teamed up with German porn legend Sibylle Rauch).

Sadly for her fans, Persia quit the industry around 1997 and never made a comeback. While her stay in porn had been prolific enough, colored pornstars at the time still weren’t marketable enough to make a lasting impact like their caucasian counterparts would go on to make in the 2000′s. Internet research on her birth name produced a few pictures and profiles on job networks although one can never be 100% sure if it’s the exact person one is looking for.

For her own sake let’s just hope Persia is alive and well and can look back on her XXX career with a good feeling. I for one shall forever enjoy her performances from way back, and her unique way of doing porn earned her a place among this lists top ten for sure!

#13: Brigitte Maier

Other aliases: Bridgette Bleu, Carol Slecht

Born: August 7, 1952

Origin: Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Years active: 1971–1978

Similar actresses: Tiny Tove, Brigitte Lahaie, Annette Haven, Annie Sprinkle, Linda Lovelace, Christine Black, Rene Bond

We go way back to the seventies now, this sometimes revered and often ridiculed decade of bell bottom jeans, long (and sometimes unkempt) hair for all genders, questionable color combinations and an overall feeling of “What the hell were people thinking…?” some people too young to tell may ask themselves about that time. For porn, the seventies were definitely a time of economic as well as creative expansion when many countries – Denmark leading the trend as early as 1967 – legalized hardcore pornography and the busines evolved into the commercial juggernaut it still is today. Of course, names like Linda Lovelace and her performences in “Deep Throat” and “Behind the Green Door” are synonymous with the dawn of the so called “Golden Age of Porn”, but if you delve a little deeper into this profession’s history you sooner or later also come across names like Rene Bond (featured earlier on this list) and – our topic for today – Brigitte Maier.

As her name already suggests, Brigitte was born in Germany although she moved to the States at the age of four, growing up in a Chicago middle-class household and being sent to a Catholic girls school (!). Of course, when the late sixties cultural revolution kicked in with its tempting atmosphere of drugs, free love (and post-pill free sex), experimental arts and music, Brigitte decided to have a go at the creative scene herself. Her first foray into the world of movies was the Brazilian drama “A margem” where she – then only fifteen – of course still kept her clothes on. However, this experience made her yearn for more, so at seventeen Brigitte relocated to Los Angeles to work some odd jobs including topless dancing.

This consequently led to her doing full-on porn loops and, finally, shooting her first full-length hardcore movie called “Tongue” in 1973. Brigitte quickly garnered recognition for her lustful performance, so her next movie “Fulfilment” became an even bigger success. As one may or may not realize, pornstars are people with feelings and worries too though, and in Brigitte’s case she started having problems with the robotic and, as she perceived it, emotionless way American porn movies were made.

So before calling it a day as an on-screen fucker, she decided to move back to Europe and settle down in the Swedish capital of Stockholm. Here, she experienced the more artful and playful – ultimately, more classic filmmaking way of shooting adult movies. Describing it as “something magic”, Brigitte starred in a movie called “School for Scandal” which was set in an old castle and took six weeks to make. In its aftermath she met the man who wanted to revolutionize porn cinema and make her one of his most celebrated actresses: Alberto Ferro, much better known as Lasse Braun.

This diabolically looking guy became a svengali of European porn, commanding a host of willing porn actresses and always eager to try out new things. At the same time, Braun kept a cinematic approach to his work, taking his time for unusual stories, establishing characters and generally being a filmmaker who just happened to make porn movies. He was also very vocal about porn being a means to push ahead revolution and to shock people into realizing what inhumane system they were living in. He and Brigitte quickly became an item both on set and in private (although – in the spirit of free love – both of them, and especially Lasse himself, took the liberty to screw around).

Their first common film production would be 1974’s “Penetration” which even got a showing at the Cannes film festival, resulting in its distribution in the US (there titled “French Blue”) and – in the wake of “Behind the Green Door”’s success – became one of the fifty top grossing films of the year. For Brigitte this meant an immediate rise to fame, including her first Playboy centerfold in 1974, followed by a Penthouse cover appearance the year after. Readers were delighted by Brigitte’s long, wavy red hair, her dark eyes and her seductive mouth, not to mention her slender yet stacked body.

Unfortunately, Brigitte’s dad happened to buy that Penthouse issue too which led to a very uneasy meeting with him when she returned to the US to promote the film… Brigitte’s next project with Lasse Braun would be 1974’s “Sensations”, a 250,000$ movie shot in England, the Netherlands and Belgium which starred her as an innocent girl living out all her sexual fantasies. It also became a box office hit in Europe and fared extremely well with the critics, although due to a number of factors it couldn’t quite replicate its commercial success in the States. Nevertheless, “Sensations” remains one of classic European porn’s landmark movies and cemented both Braun’s and Brigitte’s statuses as legends of their genre.

Brigitte then moved back to the US to continue shooting both bigger porn movies as well as loops, although none of her later work could match her previous successes. Furthermore, she once again had to face the cultural difference between porn in Europe and porn in America, a fact that slowly made her attitude towards her profession deteriorate. Eventually, she both ended her relationship with Lasse Braun as well as her porn career in 1978.

In a final move, Brigitte took back to Europe, got married, had kids and lived what you could probably call a normal life. In 2005, a documentary about Lasse Braun called “I Was the King of Porn… The Adventurous Life of Lasse Braun” was released by a German filmmaker. The film also continued a lot of interview footage with Brigitte Maier where she – now an unassuming middle-aged woman living in Rome but apparently pretty much at ease with her porno past – told her side of the story too. It was this movie that made me aware of what great pornstars – beside my long-time favorites such as Candy Samples or Tiny Tove – the seventies had to offer, and to this day I think that Brigitte Maier very much deserved to title of “the queen of porn” that Lasse Braun gave her back in the day. May she live long and prosper for all the great scenes she gave us!