‘Once Upon a Time… In The Valley’: Episode 4 – A (Porn) Star is Born

‘Once Upon a Time… In The Valley’: Episode 4 – A (Porn) Star is Born

‘Once Upon a Time…in the Valley’, a new podcast series co-produced and co-presented by Vanity Fair’s Lili Anolik and The Rialto Report’s Ashley West, continues today with the fourth episode.

Episode 4 – Traci goes from adult model to adult actress to adult phenomenon.It’s 1986. The San Fernando Valley. And, it turns out, the biggest star in Adult, isn’t one.

To learn about the previous three episodes, visit here.

Download via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, RADIO.COM and everywhere podcasts are available.
New episodes will drop every Tuesday throughout the series. Subscribe to the series for free here.


Press for ‘Once Upon a Time…in the Valley’:

Vanity Fair: ‘The Porn Industry’s Biggest Scandal Is Also an Unsolved Mystery’

Hollywood Reporter: Podcast Playlist Choice – Docuseries ‘Once Upon a Time…in the Valley’ to Explore Traci Lords Scandal

AV Club: T-R-A-C-I/Wanted: Figure Models/We Kinda Made It Hardcore

Adult Video News: New Podcast Series Examines Traci Lords’ Career in Porn & After

XBiz: ‘Once Upon a Time… in the Valley’ Podcast Revisits the Controversial Traci Lords Story

Traci Lords




  • Posted On: 21st July 2020
  • By: Ashley West
  • Under: Podcasts


  1. Jack Manson · July 21, 2020 Reply

    Best podcast I’ve heard this year.
    Nothing less than I expect from The Rialto Report though.
    Keep it up!

  2. Alex Waddell · July 21, 2020 Reply

    Love this. The story is impressive and the combination of Lili and Ashley is dynamite.

    How many episodes can we look forward to…?

    Never enough!

  3. scorpiogreen · July 21, 2020 Reply

    So will ALL future podcasts be through Apple Podcasts? Or just this one?

  4. In Sin · July 21, 2020 Reply

    Great episode. Thanks for including the quote from Gillis’ book. Any plans on publishing it?

  5. Splooge Gainsbourg · July 27, 2020 Reply

    I can’t excessively praise the wonderful work that Ashley West and April Hall have long done here at The Rialto Report, and this new adjunct serial by Lili Anolik with Ashley West maintains this proud tradition of dogged research, penetrating analysis and charming production values. (Given the topical nature of the content here, I even harbor the hope that one day there will be a three-way between April, Ashley and Lili, LOL.)

    I so much look forward to new episodes of this series, and hope my present remarks below won’t steal a march on any of these forthcoming episodes.

    However, as you have already mentioned Sharon Mitchell’s work as a backup singer for The Ramones, I cannot resist the temptation to bring up a song by Indiana’s answer to The Ramones, the now largely forgotten punk band Sloppy Seconds. It looks beyond the fascinating and conflicting stories told respectively by Traci and the adult entertainment industry, to the perspective of the simple, ardent fan.

    Find a gratis publication of “Come Back Traci” (1989) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZjpKdlcYVg . As usual,
    genius.com offers a crowdsourced explanation of the lyrics: https://genius.com/Sloppy-seconds-come-back-traci-lyrics

    One can also buy a copy of the track for 99 cents at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001CXNCV8 . Dear Ms. Anolik, why not erect a public Amazon Wish List including this track, so I could buy you a copy for use as a cell phone ring tone! Why should only cam girls et alia enjoy a benefit like that? (And I’d be only too happy if The Rialto Report links to the track using Amazon’s affiliate program, scrubbing my copy of the link to it.)

    Speaking of music, should The Rialto Report desire a theme song for itself, I can nominate no better title than “Linda, Georgina, Marilyn and Me,” part of Earl Wilson Jr’s brilliant GAoP-era sexual musical “Let My People Come” (original off-Broadway run 1974-76). Find a gratis publication of the original cast recording track at
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiwk268ycFA&list=PLh0ysVWgxTizx7UrYcCAVhhswyoCbq6mL&index=9 . Alas, Amazon can only sell you used copies of the show recording; might a link from you guys justify licensing digital track sales?

    Getting back to “Mitch” (Sharon Mitchell), people Ms. Anolik’s age and younger should also know that Mitch was under 18, a divorced emancipated minor she explained to us, when she did her first hardcore sex film, years before Traci Lords came along. And she is hardly the only such prior example of an “underage” hardcore film player, cf. Jean Jennings.

    For some reason of which I have never read, in late Victorian times, the Anglo-Saxon world became a global pioneer in criminalizing coital sex by young people on whom Nature had already bestowed the ability to reproduce, and the age of sexual consent crept ever upward in the ensuing decades. Today it is 18 in California for both sexes. You might ask, what were things like before then?

    “The Age of Consent: Young People, Sexuality and Citizenship” (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2005) states:
    “Colonial America adopted the form of statutory rape laws from English law… Cocca’s research reveals that the age of consent to sexual intercourse [in the USA] for girls was most commonly 10 in 1885, though 12 in some states.”

    “Childhood and Sexuality: Contemporary Issues and Debates” (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2017) states:
    “When [pioneering German sexologist] Hirschfeld made a survey of the age of consent in 50 countries at the start of the twentieth century, he found variances from 12 to 16. Whilst the necessity of an age of consent became accepted, the age itself was still subject to debate. For example, in Catholic countries the age was 12–13…”

    What makes the contrast to today’s world all the more remarkable is the well-known dramatic decline in the age of menarche over the last century or two in well-off nations!

    By the time the GAoP dawned, Americans had forgotten how different things were barely more than a couple generations
    earlier. The non-pornographic French-made English-language film “Pretty Baby” (1978) shocked the nation by historically portraying a 12-year-old prostitute played by Brooke Shields, working legally in Storyville, the official redlight district of New Orleans, just before US entry into World War I.

    Sex research pioneer Dr. Kinsey himself highlighted the disconnect between biology and law in the America of his time in the first few pages (pp. 12-13) of his pioneering 1953 volume “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female,” writing:

    “…failure to recognize the mature capacities of teen-age youth is relatively recent. Prior to the last century or so, it was well understood that they were the ones who had the maximum sexual capacity, and the great romances of literature turned around the love affairs of teenage boys and girls… Helen was twelve years old when Paris carried her off from Sparta… All of these youth, the great lovers of history, would be looked upon as immature adolescents and identified as juvenile delinquents if they were living today. It is the increasing inability of older persons to understand the sexual capacities of youth which is responsible for the opinion that there is a rise in juvenile delinquency, for there are few changes in the sexual behavior of the youth themselves.”

    • Diane · August 25, 2020 Reply

      These points are well taken, but also back in the day women were at best second class citizens and at worst simply property that men could mistreat as they wanted and women had no recourse. Children were practically non-entities used in the most inhumane ways, like in factory labor. And if you were LGBT or non-white, well, you could forget about it.

      What I’m trying to say here is that I think we’ve evolved, especially since we have learned more about brain development of youth in recent years. I know that when I was growing up and developing early, attention from boys my age was annoying, while that same attention from grown men was downright frightening.

      I’m very glad that the age of consent has gotten older. I don’t mind teenagers having sex with one another in order to explore their sexuality but I do think that an adult having sex with a minor is problematic and pathetic ( on the side of the adult ).


      On saying this, I do not believe that Traci Lords was ever victimized by the porn industry whatsoever. I do suspect, however, that maybe her early sexual abuse ( if it did indeed happen, which is not improbable for me to believe ) might have contributed with her aggressive sexual behavior. Even Oprah Winfrey, who was sexually abused as a child, became a sexually promiscuous teenager who got pregnant and had to give her child up for adoption.

      I know that there are those who will disagree with me, but I stand by what I wrote here.

      • DD · November 17, 2022 Reply

        Diane, I agree with you. I listened to this podcast a while ago, but I have been exploring different topics on TRR and ended up here.

        I have been a fan of Traci since 1995 when her 1,000 Fires techno album came out. I met her in 2003 when her book came out and she did a signing at Book Soup in LA. She seemed cool and I took a pic with her. Sadly, I seem to have lost it. I also used to be a part of her fan forum in the early 2000s that used to be on her website before it was closed down.

        After listening to the podcast, I still consider myself a fan, but with mixed emotions. I think TRR and Lili did an excellent job being objective about all sides of Nora/Traci’s story. I think the elephant in the room that no one ever talks about is how Nora had no business being in porn in the first place. She didn’t get to be Traci Lords without help. Directly, with her mother’s boyfriend Roger, and indirectly with the porn industry that had no idea about Nora’s real age till it was too late. I don’t blame either side 100%, I blame her mother who basically neglected her and her Roger, who abused her. She should have been going to school and getting her diploma, being with kids her own age, maybe going on to college, not navigating this adult world and ending up manipulating them the way she did through her aggressive sexuality. But that’s the way her life ended up. Most likely she became a narcisstic person or a true narcissist because of her experiences.

        Even though it’s not right for her to perpetuate lies all these years, I understand why she keeps doing it. I think it’s a way for her to hold onto her mainstream B-movie career. Mainstream Hollywood wants the story of the “innocent victim”, not an unrepentant sinner. That’s why she couldn’t release Out of the Blue a while back and had to reinvent history with Underneath It All. OOTB would have been a more interesting story had she been more honest about the Machiavellian type role she played in her former X-rated career.

        If this is the way she chooses to live her life, so be it. She seems to be happy with her husband and child, and I wish her well.

        Thanks to TRR for your exhaustive research, as always!

  6. Troy · January 11, 2021 Reply

    Truly great presentation of very cool material. Gillis once told me what Traci said to him (didn’t know it was in the memoir) and I’ve been trying to remember it ever since. Thanks for the glimpse of the memoir.

  7. Guido · December 25, 2021 Reply

    Where is it possible to check the transcript of TL episodes?

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