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Traci Lords: From ‘Penthouse’ to Sundance

Barring a tumultuous past — many who say she brought upon herself — Traci Lords, 43, has become a wife, mother, “legitimate” actress and budding songstress. Nearly 30 years since a quasi “kiss-off” to the world: running away from home, posing nude for Penthouse at the age of 15 and lying her way into porn movies, Lords is still, in a sense, kicking and screaming — only now with a better, healthier outcome. She is holding her own, making positive strides for herself and hopefully in the process helping others who are tortured by their past.

Lords will be in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival promoting the horror flick Excision, the debut film by writer-director Richard Bates Jr., and co-starring everyone’s fave camp-horror phenom, John Waters. Not too far removed from her own life, Lords plays a tormented mother of two daughters — one with a wildly dark and morbid imagination and the other suffering a long-term chronic disease. Four midnight screenings of Excision will be held in Park City and Salt Lake City between Jan. 21 and 28. In the direct fashion that is Lords, she speaks briefly with us about her new film, her music career and her predisposition for pretty girls.

First, let’s talk about your film, Excision, that made it into the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The movie, by writer/director Richard Bates Jr., is a feature-length adaptation of his 2008 short film of the same name. In your opinion, are there any major changes, other than the cast, to the plot of the film or did Bates simply expand on his original vision for the film?

The plot of the film remains the same. But the emotional core of the film is stronger. Ricky really focused on the relationship between the characters. We get to see and feel their struggles.

The short version of the film garnered accolades while on the festival circuit in 2008, which can sometimes be difficult to achieve by a first-time director like Bates, particularly in the Horror genre. Please give us a synopsis of the film and why you think moviegoers have applauded it.

Excision is about a delusional and disturbed teenage girl who has aspirations of a career in medicine. It’s about the pain of growing up and feeling totally isolated and alienated from everyone and everything around you.

I think because we are living in a time where more and more children are doing horrible things (shooting up schools…etc…) this movie resonates.

Let me just say that Bates is a good-looking, sexy man. What is he like in person? Is he an easy, fun, or difficult director? You’ve worked with director John Waters, who is also in the film — how are the two alike and how are they different since they are both Horror savants.

Ricky will be pleased to have made your “hot” list! And John will be insulted not to have! (laughs)

Ricky and John are both passionate, creative people who love film. They have that in common. They differ in most other ways — John has a twisted, sarcastic sense of humor and wisdom that comes with age. Ricky is young, hungry and very straight! They are driven by different things. Both are wonderful to work with and both are actor-friendly.

Tell us about your character in the film, and how you prepared yourself for the part.

I play the tormented mother of two teenage girls. My life has not turned out as I had planned. My youngest daughter suffers from cystic fibrosis and watching the disease take hold of her is more than I can stand.

On another subject, tell us about you music career, how it came to be and how far you’d like to see it go. Also, I recently watched your new video of “Last Drag” — very hot! It seems to be receiving a lot of positive buzz, so congratulations! There are snippets of you engaging in subtle girl-on-girl action in the video; so, are you bisexual or, as they say, bi-curious?

My music career started in 1995 with the release of my album 1000 Fires. I’ve had three Top 10 hit songs. My latest is “Last Drag.” It feels amazing to be at the top of the charts with Katy Perry and Beyoncé. My video is a fun romp about temptation. It’s about pointing the finger at your own vices … owning them, conquering them and getting on with it! As for the girls … who doesn’t like pretty girls?

You have quite the storied past, full of hardships, emotional struggles and controversy — yet you have risen above and turned your life into something positive. Tell us about that journey. Also, you’ve said, and I’m paraphrasing, that “you can run but you can’t hide.” To what precisely are you referring?

“You can run but you can’t hide” means exactly that … wherever you go, there you are. At the end of the day, we all have to be “OK” with who and what we are to be happy.

Will this be your first visit to the Sundance festival and/or Utah? What are you looking forward to most?

This is my second visit to Sundance, but the first time with a film. I’m excited and really looking forward to freezing my ass off! (laughs)

To purchase tickets to Excision, go to Check out the video of Lords’ new single “Last Drag” at, download it at To learn more about Lords, go to

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