Almost everyone has heard of Traci Lords, the underage "porn queen" who was busted by the FBI when she was in her teens after posing for numerous adult magazines and starring in a collection of pornographic videos. However, most people donít know the story behind Traciís life and how she got involved in the porn industry to begin with, nor do they know that Traci has had a much longer career in mainstream television, movies and music than she had in the adult industry that made her famous. With her autobiographical story Underneath It All, Traci seeks to explain her life and ultimately come to terms with it herself.
Traciís story begins when she wass just a child. She recalls with unbelievable clarity specific situations, details and even conversations from as early as six years of age. In the first few chapters, we learn of her parentsí violent relationship, the subsequent divorce, and the beginning of the cycle of moving and neglect that was imposed on her and her sisters by their well-meaning but poorly qualified mother. We are made privy to a rape when she was just ten years old and the molestation she was subjected to by her motherís boyfriend. It was this same boyfriend who got Traci her first job as a nude model, the beginning of her short but infamous career in pornography.
Traci goes on to tell of her years in the adult industry (starting when she was barely a teenager), her drug abuse and her relationships with older, abusive men. She also tells of the FBI bust that made her into the object of national gossip and her long struggle to rise above her "porn queen" reputation and heal her fractured life. It took years for Traci to come to grips with her past, beat her addictions and be at peace with herself, although the reader is left with some doubt that she has achieved this by the closing of the book.
Itís obvious from the first to the last page of Underneath It All that Traci Lords is not a writer. Her prose is peppered with clichťs, platitudes and childish language that often detracts from the story. However, weíre left with no doubt that Traci is indeed the author and that she did not enlist the help of a ghostwriter. The other aspect that detracts from the story is the fact that Traci expects us to believe that she can recall with perfect memory specific conversations and details of events that happened over thirty years ago and/or occurred when she was addicted to drugs.
In the end, weíre left with the impression that Traciís effort at writing her autobiography was very cathartic for her, but not wholly interesting or impressive to the reader. However, you will be left with a different impression of Traci than the jaded young porn star the media portrayed her as. As flawed as her writing is, the reader still develops an affection for this woman who still seems like the abused and wounded child she was at the beginning of her autobiography.