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After the scandal publicity began to wane, Nora Kuzma had to decide what to do with the rest of her life. Barely old enough to vote, she was a former porn princess with a ninth-grade education and a scrapbook full of scandalous headlines.
She decided that she loved the camera, and the camera loved her.
She also made a decision that still rankles her former sex-business colleagues: She kept her porn screen name as she moved into legitimate acting.
It was a crafty career move. "Porn made me the kind of girl people both condemned and paid attention to," she wrote.
She told a reporter, "It was, wow, this is chasing me. So, either I'm going to continue to run from it and I'm going to have no life. Or I'm going to stand still and let it hit me and deal with it."
The name made her a subject of curiosity and offered a modicum of scandal-proofing.
"I mean, what could they write about me that was any more scandalous than what I've already done?" she told the Sacramento Bee. "I don't have to worry about the headline 'Traci Lords Is a Former Porn Queen!' because that's already been said... The National Enquirer won't touch me. I'm too common now."
Lords hired a legitimate agent and enrolled in Lee Strasberg's famous acting school. Her first major role was in a Roger Corman sci-fi thriller, Not of This Earth. Lords played a sexy nurse. As Duane Byrge wrote in the first line of his review in the Hollywood Reporter, "The answer is yes — she can act."
Lords won a featured role in Cry-Baby, camp king John Waters' 1990 musical comedy starring Ricki Lake and Johnny Depp, and she has stayed busy with acting roles ever since, compiling more than 20 screen credits.
She also quickly collected a long list of TV credits, from a role in the ABC mini-series Stephen King's The Tommyknockers to a recurring role on Melrose Place to a featured character in Profiler.
In the meantime, Lords worked diligently at capitalizing on the Traci Lords "brand." She produced an exercise videotape, Warm Up With Traci Lords, and a techno-pop musical recording, 1,000 Fires, which spawned a hit with "Control," which went to No. 2 on Billboard's dance chart in 1995.
More recently, Lords has begun dabbling in film directing, according to her website, while continuing to focus on film and TV roles in the comedy and sci-fi genres.