Lords was not the first porn star to go legit. Margaret Nolan, a blue film actress in Britain in the 1960s, went on to roles in TV and films. (She was the woman covered in nothing but gold paint in the James Bond movie Goldfinger.)
Others have crossed over, and a number of contemporary porn stars, including Jenna Jameson, pop up frequently in music videos and TV talk shows.
But no ex-porn actress has taken a legitimate acting career as far as Traci Lords.
Her former colleagues have not exactly wished her well. Hostility persists, and sour feelings bubbled up during the publicity tour following release of Lords' autobiography in 2003. Reporters frequently turned to Jim South, her old talent agent, for snarky comments, and he delivered.
He said he never once saw Lords use drugs. He characterized her as a "responsible businesswoman" who "just reeked sex."
Nina Hartley, a longtime porn star who had a bit part in Boogie Nights, agreed that Lords seemed in control.
Hartley said, "She was good. She was vocal. She was active. She was participatory. She seemed to know exactly what to do to have a good time."
On her Web site, Hartley pointed out that while the porn business is criticized for exploiting Lords, her mother deserved much of the blame.
"If there is any 'villain'... it's her mom, who completely dropped the ball when it came to her daughter's safety. [Being] molested since she was 10 is a horrible thing to endure, and her time in the business was certainly a response to that experience," she wrote.
Another porn star, Christy Canyon, disparaged Lords as a chronic liar, and she blamed Lords for drawing the FBI and IRS to the porn industry.
"I spent 17 days in federal prison, 30 days in drug rehab, and three months in a halfway house all directly related to the Traci Lords case," Canyon told Spectator magazine.
Another critic is Bill Margold, the former porn star and director, who charged that Lords created "a sea of lies" about her time in porn.
During her book tour in 2003, Lords spoke with David Bowman of Salon.com about the peculiar lack of acknowledgement of wrongdoing by those in the porn industry. "I have never said that anybody held a gun to my head," she said. "I told the truth. This is what happened. And I did these movies. And yeah, I did drugs. And yeah, I was aggressive. And yeah, I was wild. And yeah, I was tormented."
Bowman added, "And yeah, you were 16-years-old."
"Bingo," Lords said.