Tina Russell: The First ‘Porno Star’
Scrapbook of an Actress

Tina Russell: The First ‘Porno Star’ <br />Scrapbook of an Actress

Next week, The Rialto Report presents an in-depth podcast about the original ‘Porno Star’, Tina Russell.

Tina Russell was born Linda Marie Mintzer on September 23, 1948, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. 

She moved to New York City in the late 1960s along with her husband Jason Russell (born John Sanderson) where she enrolled in a degree course at New York University. After quitting college she began modeling in sexually oriented photographs, and performed in loops and live sex shows in the Times Square area. Her 1973 memoir, Porno Star, was the first to describe life in the New York adult film industry.

In many ways, she provided the original blueprint for the adult film star that has continued to today – yet in this era of streaming and free internet porn content, Tina Russell remains largely forgotten,

In the Rialto Report, we’re pleased to present previously unpublished photos documenting Tina’s life – from the collections of her family, friends and former husband Jason Russell.

In next week’s podcast – our most detailed podcast yet – we tell the story of Tina Russell and speak to 25 of her friends, family members, and adult film cohorts.

Who was she, how did she become the first porn star, what impact did it have on her, and what happened to her?

 

All photos belong to the Rialto Report.

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Beginnings: Linda Mintzer

Tina RussellLinda as a young girl in Williamsport, PA

 

Tina Russell

 

Tina Russell

 

Tina Russell

 

Tina Russell

 

Tina Russell

 

Jason RussellLinda met John Sanderson (later Jason Russell) – a local photographer – when she was in college in Williamsport, PA

 

Tina Russell: The New York Years

Tina RussellIn front of Linda and John’s first New York apartment in Brooklyn Heights

 

Tina RussellLinda and John settling into New York life

 

Tina RussellLinda’s portfolio of pictures auditioning for hair product commercials

 

Tina Russell

 

First Nude Modeling

Tina RussellLinda and John begin nude modeling to raise bail money for a friend arrested for marijuana possession

 

Tina Russell

 

Tina RussellLinda and John graduate to magazine spreads

 

Tina Russell

 

Tina Russell

 

Tina Russell

Linda retires (temporarily) from the adult industry – and moves to Peru

Tina Russell: The Early YearsLinda’s passport photo when she and John tired of New York and decided to travel to Peru

 

Tina Russell: The Early Years

 

Porn Star

Tina RussellLinda and John return to New York and turn to adult films: Tina and Jason Russell are born.

 

Tina Russell

 

Tina Russell

 

Tina Russell

The Publication of ‘Porno Star’ (1973)

Porno Star, Tina Russell

Tina Russell

 

Tina Russell

 

Tina Russell

 

Tina Russell

Adult Films take off

Not Just Another Woman

 

Tina Russell

 

Tina Russell

 

Tina Russell

Tina Russell: Fall of a Porn Star

Tina Russell: Rise of a Porn Star

 

Tina Russell

Linda with her father in Williamsport

 

RR-1973-07-25-Raleigh-Register,-WV

 

RR_tina_death_notice

 

 

34 Comments

  1. JJ · August 14, 2016 Reply

    Your ‘most detailed’ podcast next week…?!

    You’re gonna have to achieve something to make that possible because you guys are truly the last word in any subject you cover.

    I LOVE this site. It is simply unbelievably good.

  2. George R. · August 14, 2016 Reply

    I have admired your work for the last three years but have not left a comment before, but I feel compelled to write and complement you on finally getting around to Tina Russell! I bought her book in 1973 and it was a revelation. For the first time we could find out about the relationships and intrigue behind the scenes of the (then) new adult films. I followed Tina’s career on and off and found out about her passing within days of her death in 1981 when it received a surprising amount of press coverage.

    Since then… nothing. The current IMDB entry is full of errors (for example it states that she died of cancer which I have heard is incorrect) and so I am hopeful that the experts at the Rialto will finally set the record straight. Time and again you have exceeded all expectations (the Navred Reef expose’ was worthy of high awards) so please don’t let me down!

    Yours, in Rialto,
    GR

    • April Hall · August 14, 2016 Reply

      Thank you so much George – we will do our best to do justice to Tina’s story and look forward to hearing what you think.

  3. BE · August 14, 2016 Reply

    The Marcia Rose set immediately reminded me of the Seinfeld episode with the Merv Griffin set

  4. Patrick Thistle · August 14, 2016 Reply

    Great photo essay. Thank you for all you do in this field of research.

  5. Anon · August 14, 2016 Reply

    Did you manage to speak to Jason Russell?

    The Legs McNeil book ignored Jason when it was being written and his memories would be valuable to capture.

    • The Rialto Report · August 14, 2016 Reply

      Hi – we’re proud to have conducted one of the only interviews with Jason Russell. You’ll be able to hear the results next week!

  6. Bondurant · August 14, 2016 Reply

    Outside of The Rialto Report I’ve never heard of Tina Russell. But when I read she’s the subject of next weeks podcast and it includes interviews with 25 people, I know it’s going to be an epic ride and I very much look forward to it.

    • The Rialto Report · August 14, 2016 Reply

      Thanks for your confidence Bondurant! I hope you like it – it’s taken us 12 years to collect all the interviews for this one!

  7. Roy Karch · August 14, 2016 Reply

    Both Tina and Jason were guests of mine at The Underground Tonight Show at the Cafe Wha in ’74 as well as Tina being one of the ‘guests of honor’ receiving her ‘Tonguey’ Award during my Eros ’75 at the Hotel Diplomat on W. 43rd St..

  8. Philip Castor · August 14, 2016 Reply

    Tina Russell is and still remains one of my favorite actresses of the Golden Age. I am eagerly excited for next week’s podcast to hear from those you interviewed and listen to the stores of those who knew her well. Tina is largely unknown and hopefully after next week, more people will know who she is. Excellent scrapbook article!!

  9. Raimundo Rubio · August 14, 2016 Reply

    Dear Rialto,
    I am happy to now that you are doing the right job as an art historian preserving erotic art form as part of our culture, I hope you soon get invited by mayor university for a lecture about “art outside of sin”
    You are blessed

  10. Charles Tatum · August 14, 2016 Reply

    Looking forward to next week!

  11. Roy Karch · August 14, 2016 Reply

    Also receiving a Tonguey Award that night were ‘Let My People Come,’ most erotic theater piece, Tina Turner, most erotic female music performer, Mick Jagger most erotic male music performer,Doug Johns, most erotic scultor; he designed and created the Tonguey. An honorary Tonguey was given to Fanne Foxxx the Argentine Bombshell who gave a public BJ to Congressman Wilbur Mills . It was the NYC fans that voted the winners and Betty Dodson presented several of the Tongueys.There were 4,000 people there on this nite of debaucery in Time Square
    ***fyi from Roy Karch.

  12. DC · August 14, 2016 Reply

    Tina Russell is ground zero for me. would love to read her auto-bio, but I’m sure it’s impossible to find. i feel she was the flashpoint for loops into golden age. this might be the most historical podcast you’ve done.

    • April Hall · August 14, 2016 Reply

      It’s not impossible to find DC – you can get it on Amazon second hand for about $40. But we have the rights to the book and hope to republish it. When we do, we will offer it at cost like we did with Harry Reems’ book so more people have the chance to read it!

  13. Roy Karch · August 14, 2016 Reply

    more on Eros “75..The First American Sex Festival…
    Darby Lloyd Rains took home the award for most erotic female in an adult movie along with Marc Stevens for the male counterpart to that category, the most erotic magazine that year went to Oui Magazine with Christy Hefner receiving the trophy. Other luminaries participating were Calvin Culver ,Larry Rivers, Steve Ostrow, and Barney Rosset.
    ***again from me , Roy Karch, the co-producer.

  14. Paul Gee · August 14, 2016 Reply

    Tina was the most beautiful, intelligent, and classy of all the first generation of actors in the industry.

    It is so sad that she has largely been forgotten today, but I know that this amazing site will change that.

    Bring on next week! I can’t wait for this one!

  15. Anon · August 14, 2016 Reply

    I was a little surprised to see that it has taken the otherwise amazing Rialto project so long to cover Tina Russell. She was one of the first, one of the most important, and one of the most beautiful.

    Better late than never however, and I’ll be in line next Sunday waiting for this one with eager anticipation.

  16. Johnny Valentine · August 15, 2016 Reply

    Being from Williamsport, Pa myself I first found about her from looking up on Google famous people from Williamsport, Pa. What a shock to find a pioneer in the porn industry was from my home town. Since then I have sought out her movies and she was hot and I will for sure be seeking out more of her movies & pictures. I can hardly wait for the next podcast, thank you.

  17. J. Walter Puppybreath · August 16, 2016 Reply

    Amazing!
    The guy on the left in the Marcia Rose shot is a ringer for what the love-child of Don Knotts and Steve Buscemi would look like.

  18. R.C. Horsch · August 18, 2016 Reply

    Tina, Darby Lloyd Rains, Helen Madigan and Georgina Spelvin all worked for me in “The Erotic Memoirs of a Male Chauvinist Pig” in 1972. I think she was about 23-24 and it might have been one of her early feature films. She played a sort-of stoned hippie girl in a satirically funny but somewhat brutal and bloody rape scene (wrap your head around that!) and was fantastic in the part and wonderful to work with! I think she (thankfully) nailed the messy part in one take. Hope she is well! The restored, remastered director’s cut can be streamed at eroto.com if anybody is interested. A DVD is also available from Distribpix.

  19. Bob B. · August 18, 2016 Reply

    Not being very knowledgeable of vintage adult films, I never heard of Tina Russell, until I was lucky enough to “find” an original copy of “Porno Star” in a box of stuff purchased at a local estate sale recently. I figured I’d read it first before getting rid of it, and quickly I found myself so fascinated by her, and her story. And actually more-so by the off-camera day to day stuff she wrote about, then the on-camera details. So, having to find out more about this woman, and her life, I began searching on-line for more information.
    I quickly found that her bio info is pretty well documented from the 1969-74 time period, but really drops off considerably after that, to almost nothing from 1976-80, like she just fell off the map, except for reports of excessive drinking and drug use during that time. No interviews, photos, nothing! It seems no one is even certain how she actually died!
    I’m also really amazed how she managed to write such an intelligent, thoughtful detailed book, and during the busiest time in her career, when being featured in so many films.
    I’m so glad I did find your site, and just in time it seems, and hear the up-coming podcast about her.
    Questions I have, that I hope will be addressed are –
    1. I read she wrote 2 more books after “Porno star”. Do these books exist, and what are the titles?
    2. Also, I read she was in a loop in 1976. I assume her final appearance on film? Does that exist, and what was the title of that?
    3. And of course, the true details of her last days.
    It’s unbelievable to me how, despite all the pitfalls of the profession at that time, such a bright, beautiful seemingly well-grounded woman could have just destroyed herself so quickly, just like that. It just doesn’t make any sense.
    I guess I find myself needing a bit of closure on a story about the life of a woman I never heard of, and just recently discovered in the last few months, and really look forward to your podcast.
    Thank you.

    • Tina loop scoop · August 20, 2016 Reply

      Bob B.,

      Tina did quite a bit of loops in 1976 or 1977. She worked with stars like John Leslie, Suzanne McBain, Bethanna, Jenny Baxter, and Alexandra, among others. Some of these can be found on loop compilations “Tina Russell Classics”, “Flesh Fantasy”, “Ebony Erotica II” and “That’s Erotic”. There are probably also more to be found on some VOD sites and on Blue Vanities compilations.

  20. Jim Stevens · August 19, 2016 Reply

    12 years in the making with a cast of 25?

    This is going to be EPIC.

  21. tim · August 25, 2016 Reply

    Is that Don Knotts on the talk show?

  22. Jen Arnold · August 28, 2016 Reply

    This Tina Russell podcast is like a Pandora’s Box full of info, background, interviews and memoirs. Ashley, you really ask some spot on questions and stitch it all together with some creative journalism. Love the music clips as well. Bravo to the Rialto Report another winner.

  23. M Hampton · September 19, 2016 Reply

    I know this might be off-topic or irrelevant, but part of the thrill of a “scrapbook” like this is getting to see all these original 70s styles and clothes: beards and unruly., long hair, the loudest checks and patterns. It was the decade of express yourself, no holds barred.

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