Keli Richards: Coming Out Of The Shadows – Podcast 84

Keli Richards: Coming Out Of The Shadows – Podcast 84

Keli Richards’ career in adult films was short and sweet. Her flame burned brightly at a time when Ronald Reagan was president, video was king, and Los Angeles was staking a claim to be the adult film capital of the world.

She was part of the mid 1980s cohort that included Traci Lords, Ginger Lynn, and Christy Canyon, and she was known for her big hair, Boston accent, and enthusiastic performances on-screen.

She worked with all the old favorites, from John Holmes, Tom Byron, and Jerry Butler, to Patti Petite, Erica Boyer, and Sharon Mitchell.

For a time, she had quite a following, and even had a song written and named after her by the Arizona rock band, Gin Blossoms. And then life happened, and Keli moved on and moved away, and left the business – having appeared in over 70 films and countless magazine spreads.

But Keli’s story is about more than the adult film industry. It’s about what happened before Keli started making movies, and about what occurred afterwards – and it comes with an advisory warning. The following conversation makes for some uncomfortable listening.

If you’re wanting stories from mid 1980s adult films sets, stick around – we’ve got them. But, as you’ll hear, that’s only a small part of the story.

Keli’s a survivor, and has been exceptionally brave to share her story with us. As she says, she wants to do to in case it can help anyone else who may listen.

Which brings us to today. You see, recently Keli decided to make a comeback, and return to adult films. And by recently, I mean in the last few weeks. She’s now in her early 50s, and has had no contact whatsoever with the business for over 30 years. In recent days, she’s moved back to L.A. and has been looking for work.

Why is she doing this, where has she been, and how did she get on when she looked for adult movie work in the last few days. And what happens when someone steps out of a time machine from 1986 – and expects adult films today to be the same as they were when they left – over three decades ago?

This is the Keli Richards story.

This podcast episode is 74 minutes long.

The musical playlist for this episode can be found on Spotify.


Keli Richards

Keli Richards


Keli Richards


Keli Richards


Keli Richards


Keli Richards


Keli Richards


Keli Richards


Keli Richards


Keli Richards


Keli Richards



  • Posted On: 14th October 2018
  • By: Ashley West
  • Under: Podcasts


  1. Scott · October 14, 2018 Reply

    Looking forward to listening. The podcast interviews are my favorites! 🙂

  2. Just Another Fan · October 14, 2018 Reply


  3. Dave James · October 14, 2018 Reply

    Look out: Another Rialto Report interview has dropped!

    Can’t wait to hear this…… As Elvis would say, Uh thank you very much….

  4. Nicholas King · October 14, 2018 Reply

    Keli was perhaps the MOST underrated starlet… knockout beautiful and soo Boston too.

  5. Scott · October 14, 2018 Reply

    Just finished listening to it. I am sorry that Keli has had some difficulties over the years. I have to admit that I am very concerned about her after listening to this. It makes me want to help her through this challenging time. I hope she has enough of a support system around her right now.

  6. Sam · October 14, 2018 Reply

    Wow that’s quite a story. A heart breaker. Kudos for Rialto for telling each story, whether happy or sad, in a sympathetic way that builds up the overall story of the golden era.

  7. AA · October 14, 2018 Reply

    I echo the comments of a previous commenter. You guys have been generous at raising money for people in the past. Keli strikes me as a deserving candidate for another fundraiser… Just a thought.

  8. TM · October 14, 2018 Reply

    I agree with “AA” that a fundraiser might be good if she would be accepting of it. At the end of the podcast, I felt afraid for her situation and her continued recovery from her addictions/disorders. She’s definitely a survivor but everybody could use some positive support and she might be in need of some. Sorry to ramble on but this podcast really prompted a response from me.

    • April Hall · October 24, 2018 Reply

      Thank you – the fundraiser is active until October 28th! Details are on the site:

      • Lee Threlkeld · November 22, 2023 Reply

        Came to The Rialto Report (finally!) due to my fascination with the work of Roberta Findlay (fabulous episodes by the way) and caught some random episodes too…..and then this.

        Some of the most heartbreaking and real stuff you can hear. Truly hope Keli is in a better place today.

        Whilst here, this is some of best podcasting out there. So much more than just a look at the golden age of adult film, so much more. You’re both a credit in the approach, enthusiasm and empathy you have for your subject. Just incredible.

  9. Patrick Palmer · October 14, 2018 Reply

    WOW.. Mind blowing interview! Well done, Rialto Report!! I’d also be up for a Go Fund Me type of thing for Keli as well.

  10. BE · October 15, 2018 Reply

    Are there any stories of people coming out of the porn industry and living healthy normal lives and having their porn past not be an issue?

    • Anonn · October 15, 2018 Reply

      Many of these people have a low self esteem, come from abusive backgrounds and are very self destructive when they enter the industry, they leave the industry with what they came in with, no education, no real job skills and if they have not been to therapy they will still carry all the emotional baggage that they came in with too. This will not make a person very healthy emotionally as they enter their 30’s and 40’s. Many of the stars from the 80’s and 90’s that the fans hold up in such high regard are probably divorced a couple of times and not doing to well financially or emotionally. I remember thinking Tom Byron was a huge star and had his own production company, he must be very well off by now, when I saw the piece on him here he ended up like most of them do.

    • Yizmo Gizmo · October 16, 2018 Reply

      Actually it seems like a lot of them are well-adjusted today.
      Keisha, Tom Byron, Ginger Lynn, Tiffany Clarke, etc have had some podcasts
      that suggest they are hanging in there just fine.
      Look at bigshot Hollywood mainstream stars from back then and they’re often worse off.

      Remember, there was no need for a clandestine “casting couch” when the sex was on-screen.

      • Anonn · October 16, 2018 Reply

        I didn’t mean Tom Byron wasn’t well adjusted, it is just sad when you are working in the adult industry since you were 18 years old and you end up in your 50’s with no money to show for it? Tom seems to have a great attitude, but many of the woman seem very bitter and angry years later. If Ginger Lynn didn’t flop in her attempt at a mainstream career do you really think she would have come back to do porn in her 40’s? It just reminds me of the washed up ex athlete that loves to tell stories of their heyday in sports but ended up broke

        • hecramsey · October 21, 2018 Reply

          “it is just sad when you are working in the adult industry since you were 18 years old and you end up in your 50’s with no money to show for it?”

          Welcome to the arts.

  11. Jay · October 15, 2018 Reply

    What a sad story. She has had many chances, has made many bad choices and seems to hit rock bottom time and time again. She is very smart, articulate, good looking but her early years set her up for a never ending cycle of happiness and misery. Her family has been awful to her but i wonder what their side of the story is. I hope she fiannlu finds her way. The post script interview was really sad, you could here it in her voice. You can never go back. 32 yrs ago the industry was completely diff than what it is today.

  12. George Maranville · October 15, 2018 Reply

    Driving through the Midwest in the pouring rain as I listened to this one and it was a gut punch. I hope Keli knows there are people rooting for her.

  13. Brandon · October 15, 2018 Reply

    I was primarily 70’s but this woman has obviously been through a lot and I don’t slut shame, I slut appreciate. Can we directly help her out of love and total respect?

  14. Brandon · October 16, 2018 Reply

    I will give. Let’s support this brave woman.

  15. Joc · October 16, 2018 Reply

    Who is booking her? She’s not listed on world modeling’s site. Good luck and helping her out.

  16. Andy M. · October 16, 2018 Reply

    Outstanding interview (as always on here), but so sad. Really feel awful for what Kelli has endured in life. Reality is though, its not 1986 anymore and she cant “go home” to the porn industry. The world of Tom Byron, Sharon Mitchell, Tori Wells, Mike Horner and Traci Lords no longer exists. I pray Kelli channels her life experiences and puts it to good use, helping those less fortunate whether it be delivering hot meals to frail elderly or mentoring at risk youth. I feel Kelli, deep down, has a good soul and can do a lot of good in this world. Thoughts and well wishes go out to her.

  17. Anonn · October 17, 2018 Reply

    Like Thomas Wolfe said “You can’t go home again” 1986 was a very long time ago, Keli Richards, Amber Lynn, and Ginger Lynn would be the only woman still around now that could say they had sex with John Holmes. Hard to believe but Johnny Wadd has now been dead for 30 years.

  18. Cove · October 17, 2018 Reply

    This was a gut wrenching, sobering interview. I would like co contribute, but owing to a bad experience with Paypal i no longer use it. So my question is is there another way i can donate.

  19. Chris · October 18, 2018 Reply

    I wasn’t really familiar with Keli or her work before listening to this podcast, but am now a big fan. It’s really great to hear all the stories on here, but this one touched me more than most, and has really stuck with me. I am really pulling for Keli and hope she succeeds in her comeback, and will be making a contribution. Thank you Rialto Report for such quality podcasts! And Keli, good luck to you.

  20. Sean Velour · October 20, 2018 Reply

    Outstanding interview! Does anyone know the name of the song the episode opens with?

  21. william litzler · October 21, 2018 Reply

    Heart breaking interview. I chocked up several times. For a woman that has spend her life being exploited, The Rialto Report treated her with sensitivity and joy.

  22. Judd · October 23, 2018 Reply

    Keli Richards!!! I have been wondering where she could be for so long. I remember her in the first adult film I have ever seen in my life: Bruce Seven´s Mad Jack beyond thundebone. I already knew Gin Blossom´s song and I enjoyed a lot. I do like her and I wish she will find a new beginning in her life. I hope she can get a daytime job , don´t get in trouble again and something I think that surely will make her stronger : to find a way to be near her son. I guess it will be very important to her. And by the way: no problem if she decides to be in adult films again, if she really wants it and she thinks it will be good for her. However, after I listened what she said in the podcast, I don´t know if it will be the best way to her, but I guess only she can decide it. And just one last(funny) thing: if someone requested me pictures of a man and a woman with hairstyles that could completely represent the 80´s, i would have no doubt to send a picture of JERRY BUTLER and a picture of KELI RICHARDS. I can´t find nothing more 80´s than their hairstyles!

  23. Tom · October 23, 2018 Reply


    Bless you Ashley, for handling this so thoughtfully (having been a fan since the start I’m not surprised).

    Keli, there is a solution. Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path…

    May the great spirit keep you safe, bring you peace & real love.

  24. Richard · November 1, 2018 Reply

    What a sad story! My heart goes out to her. Make the right choices folks!

  25. Splooge Gainsbourg · August 18, 2020 Reply

    Photo from a lost world, a 1986 night in Times Square: Broadway’s KittyKat Theater plays “Rump Humpers” (1985)
    [details at The marquee’s top line proclaims: “NO IF OR ANDS… JUST BUTTS” and gives”KELLY RICHARDS” (sic.) top billing after the title. Published on page 176 of the book “Tales of Times Square: Expanded Edition” (Feral House, 2012)

  26. Tony Larry · April 9, 2021 Reply

    You do a phenomenal job on the podcasts. Keep up the excellent work of documentary history. It would be great if you can do present day interviews of the following Golden Age stars:

    Oral Annie
    Jade East
    Brittany Striker
    Buffy Davis
    Susan Vegas
    Kassi Nova
    Vanessa Del Rio
    Desiree Cousteau
    Linda McDowell (Linda Powell)
    Rachel West
    Patricia Kennedy
    Jennifer Noxt
    Tarija Rae
    Ravin Richards
    Chanel Price
    Donna N.
    Saki St. Germaine
    Purple Passion
    Nikki King
    Rachel Ryan
    Kristi Barrington
    Ebony Ayers
    Frank James
    Scott Irish
    Blake Palmer
    Randy West
    Don Fernando
    Dan T Man
    Joey Silvera
    TT Boy

  27. Morty · May 8, 2022 Reply

    Wowwww, what a Tearful, but Phenomenal story of Survival. I had wondered what happened to Keli. After listening to this I wanted to just Hold her. I remember her in a Tori Welles film. I believe it centered around Tori’s character’s wedding. Just remember how stunning Keli was. I know this is an older Podcast. I hope she’s ok. Another Fantastic piece of Journalism

  28. Ramon Cortez · June 27, 2022 Reply

    Great that she and Karen Summer both launched returns to adult after all these years. I have heard a lot of sniping about some of the other “returns”, and I wonder what effect “the internet” had on the success of said return. That said, the era of “stars” in adult; the era of “feature films” seems to be over; the time when adult stars were personalities worthy of mention outside “porn” seems to have passed. That was the Golden Era when Hollywood stars dated AND married adult stars. You never could get away with that now. But she, or someone involved with her, really needs to contact The Gin Blossoms, as I am sure they’d like to make contact with one of their muses.

  29. Matthew · December 4, 2023 Reply

    Would love to meet Kelli and make her a wonderful dinner and just enjoy quality time with her……What a survivor she is!!!

  30. Andy R · December 26, 2023 Reply

    HOW MUCH Sadness can be packed into a single life.. I found myself wondering while listening to this..
    I’m AWARE (Now) of the fund raisers you guys did.. but have there been ANY Other “follow ups” since then? How is She doing.. like NOW?? THANKS!
    “Hang in there Girl!”

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