Though it's been nearly 30 years since Traci Lords, then just 15 years old, posed for Penthouse and starred in a slew of adult films, it's her porn past with which people still tend to associate her. Which is, in some ways, unfair, as she's garnered praise and success for her music, mainstream films and book projects since then. Still, it's not entirely surprising: sex sells, especially when it's controversial sex.
But Lords isn't embarrassed by her past and today she says that it was her experience in the adult industry and her ability to harness her sexual power that has informed the other choices she's made since then. Her latest offering, "Traci Lords Presents M2F2 (Music To Fuck To)," a collection of songs she curated and which includes several of her own tracks, finds the star urging us onto the dance floor -- and then perhaps into the bedroom.
We caught up with Lords to discuss the album, her feelings about her past and sexual puritanism in America, the sex advice she has for her son and more.
The Huffington Post: Why did you want to make "M2F2"?
Traci Lords: I wanted to make a sexy record. You could put it on at the beginning of a date night and let it play all the way through. Foreplay really starts on the dance floor. You see someone, maybe you kiss them -- especially in the gay clubs. Girls are with girls and boys are with boys and people are just there and grooving on it. That's where the concept for "M2F2" came from. The title is cheeky and it's meant to be fun!
The album is called "Music To Fuck To"…
Well, that's the title. But it's music to dance to. It's music to party to. If you were to put it on from the beginning to the end, it's got an old school DJ mix to it. So if you were having a dinner party, you could put it on and it could be flirty or whatever. Music isn't explicit the way images are explicit. It has a slinky, sexy vibe to it. I wanted to really do something musically that was a collaboration of a lot of different artists that had a theme. I wanted to do a theme record that wasn't show tunes! [Laughs]
Maybe that can be the next album?
Actually, I'm putting together a show for Vegas right now. It's a bit of a trip and I can play with some cotton-candy fun type stuff. But "M2F2" was really meant to be a summertime party record. Something sexy that you can really get down to and then take that boy home. You're definitely not going to be sitting down to dinner with your mom and putting this album on. I've been listening to it a lot as I'm getting ready to go out. I have one room in my house that's just a closet and no one is allowed into it unless they knock. It has my costumes and my wigs and my lingerie and I feel like I walk into that space kind of normal and I walk out of it a goddess. Years ago when I first started dating my husband, he knew even then -- he would just knock and the hand would come in with a glass of wine or a martini. And he loved the transformation.
You were first known for being an adult film star. Is sex and sexuality still a big part of your life?
The first thing people think about when they think about Traci Lords is sex. They think about underground porn. It's nothing that I have any kind of issue with, it's nothing I'm defensive about -- it's just kind of part of the package. That's where it all started 25 years ago and then after that all this other stuff happened. There was an avalanche of other things that happened in addition to it.
You've worked in so many different genres -- movies, music, books -- is there one form of expression that feels truest for you?
It's all kind of the same for me -- it's about being creative in whatever shape that takes on. It's about expression and that's what I feel driven to do. Going back to what you just asked me about sex, I think sex is in everything I do. I'm a sexual person. It's taken many different shapes and forms throughout my career. But I think it's funny that people are taking the whole "M2F2" thing so seriously.
So it's supposed to be figurative?
[Laughs] Well, I thought so! Maybe I'm wrong. What do you think?
I definitely can see people having sex to this album.
Awesome. But it's not just to have sex to…
I guess it's just that I was really struck by the concept of the album. I'm, personally, a very sex-positive person and HuffPost Gay Voices is a very sex-positive site. And, especially coming out of the election season that we just survived, I still don't think this country is very sex positive. When I look around I see Americans stuck in the Victorian era. So if someone comes along and says, "Sex is not a bad thing, and you know what? Here's an album that might make it even more fun…" I get excited.
It's a tool. Sex is one of the really wonderful things that we have -- it's a gift. Good sex, great sex is a gift! It's amazing. So why do we need to squash it down and be puritan about it? There's so much criticism out there of it. I was reading about how pissed off the adult industry is about Measure B [a law passed in Los Angeles which requires adult film actors to use condoms]. I was shocked -- shocked! -- that they passed it because it's unenforceable and it's stupid. You're forcing them to do something they don't want to do. And why?
And we could be spending that time and energy and money on something that could actually help.
That's exactly the point -- help the ones who want to be helped. We're talking about grown ups engaging in adult activities! What a drag!
How have your thoughts on sex and sexuality changed as you've gotten older?
When I was doing porn -- I think the whole reason that was part of my early, early life was that at 15 I was really wanting to take my sexual power back. At the same time, I had a lot of issues with sex because it was forced on me at too early of an age. And I think I could have gone one of two ways: I could have laid down and cried in a corner or I could have come out swinging and I think that [the latter] was my personality. Doing porn was my way of saying, "No, I'm going to fuck you." I was that 15-year-old bad ass in that way. And this is not to defend any of it -- this is just a fact as I see it. But I wouldn't have done that now. It doesn't work in my life the same way. A lot of what I did was really reckless -- I was just too young to be involved in what I was involved in. It would have been a totally different situation if I had been 20. It would have been a totally different thought process. Most kids went to the prom… I was at the AVN [Adult Video News] awards! [Laughs] I was way ahead of my time. But then, as a 20 year old, I'd already lived so much. I'd already been there and done that and said, "Oh, God, no." I made those decisions when I was really young. The bigger bummer of it is that I feel like it's something I've been on trial for all my life. So to take any moral bullshit out of it, the big bummer of that is the judgement that's placed upon it and the fact that we live in a society where sex workers are evil. And still… porn is the most looked at thing on the planet! Hello, hypocrites! [Laughs]
So, if you found listening to this record is an instrument and is music to fuck to -- I don't have a problem with that! Go for it.
Exactly. It's liberating.
The last thing I want my fans out there to hear is that I'm some sort of puritan or I have issues -- I wouldn't be making the music I'm making or doing the things I'm doing. I've owned who I am, I have defended my past and I've been annoyed by my past but in the end, it's just me. It's my past.
Your press release says the album is your first offering from your "empire of romance." What else can we expect?
That is true -- I would love to have an empire of romance. What it's going to entail, I'm not really sure. I could definitely see myself doing scented candles, body lotions, love oils -- erotic, sexy, classy, romantic stuff.
What do you find a total turn off? Have you read "50 Shades Of Grey"?
I've read all three of them because I've been flying a lot this year. I've got a new film called "Excision" that was in Sundance in January. It's gotten me the best reviews of my career. Ironically, I have "M2F2" coming out and it's all about sex and empowerment and then I play a really uptight Christian mom in this film [laughs]. It's an emotional horror film. It's the journey of this family and of this woman trying to make her life OK and at the same time trying to hide the fact that it's not perfect. It's very much about what everyone else thinks. Once again, we're talking about the effects that other people's opinions have on us. So I thought that was an amazing character to explore. I'm a mom myself, I have a five-year-old son, and he's fierce and people constantly ask me "What are you going to do with your son and [how will you] tell him about your career?" And I respond, "You teach children as it's appropriate." Ultimately I want to teach him use his penis for good and not evil! This is a gift. This is your body. Yes, it matters who you share it with because it will matter to you. It's not from any place of "Don't have sex till you're married… Don't do this… Don't do that." I'm not coming form that place. Just when you do it, do it with someone you really love the first time. These are the things I want him to know.