Adult films and magazines featuring porno queen Traci Lords were being removed from video stores and sex shops nationwide Thursday as the result of a Los Angeles investigation of allegations that she was a minor when she posed for dozens of X-rated videos and nude pictorials.
The Adult Film and Video Assn. of America issued a statement advising pornographic film producers and distributors--many of whom are based in the Los Angeles area--to withdraw from sale any films or videos produced before May, 1986, in which Lords "appeared in sexual conduct, no matter how briefly."
Authorities said Lords, one of the biggest stars in the hard-core film industry, with three top-earning videos last year, turned 18 just two months ago.
It is a crime in California to use a minor--defined in some Penal Code sections as under age 18 and in others as under 17--to act in pornographic movies.
The Los Angeles Daily News quoted adult film industry sources as saying that they fear the investigation may be part of a crackdown, particularly in light of the recent report by the U.S. attorney general's commission that condemned the porno industry for contributing to sexual violence against women.
"Some people say, conceivably if the authorities wanted to push it enough, they could make real inroads in closing the industry down," one source told the newspaper.
Al Albergate, a Los Angeles County district attorney's spokesman, said the felony investigation in the Lords case could lead to charges not only against producers and distributors but also against the actress, who reportedly began her X-rated work in 1984, when she was 15 or 16.
He declined to specify what charges Lords might face, saying he did not want to reveal details of the investigation.
Lords, quoted recently as saying she wants to get out of the adult film business, was not available for comment.
'A Real Big Star'
"She's the hottest thing in the industry right now," Los Angeles Police Vice Capt. Jim Docherty said Thursday. "She's a real big star. And everything she's done is against the law."
Docherty said Lords used a fake driver's license and birth certificate showing her to be 22 years old when she arrived in Los Angeles in 1984 and began appearing in adult films. She actually was a 15 1/2-year-old runaway from Ohio at the time, he said.
Docherty said his officers are not going after distributors as long as they pull Lords' films and magazines from their shelves. He added that police have not been asked to take action against any film makers at this time.
"In appearance, she does appear to be a lot older than she really is," Docherty said, suggesting that Lords could easily have fooled film makers. "You really can't go after them; if there is any such thing as good faith in the porno industry, they exhibited it by asking for her ID."
Albergate said: "One of the major issues in the investigation is whether the people who made and profited from her work knew or reasonably could have known that she was a minor when she made these films."
He said the producers could be charged with felony distribution of pornography featuring a minor.
John Weston, a lawyer for the adult film association, said he could not establish whether Lords, whose real name reportedly is Kristie E. Nussman, was under 18 when she made the films in question or appeared in pictorials in magazines, including Penthouse and Hustler.
"But from reports which have been made available by the authorities, I think the industry is accepting it as true, much to the extraordinary shock of everybody," he said.
The film group statement said stores that do not withdraw Lords' videos from their shelves "in the face of the information which has just become known, would violate both the 'consenting adult' ethic of the Adult Film and Video Assn. of America and its members, as well as very punitive state and federal laws."
Advice to Clients
Weston said he has advised his clients to remove all products depicting Lords, but insisted that they should not be criminally liable "in the absence of any . . . intent to violate any laws."
"It's a disaster," said Jim Southe, a Sherman Oaks modeling agent who is credited with discovering Lords. "People are pulling tapes. They're pulling back orders. They're clearing the posters out of the stores."
Southe said he gave investigators photocopies of a California driver's license and a birth certificate that Lords showed him in November, 1984. The documents give a birth date of Nov. 17, 1962, in the name of a woman who lives in Steubenville, Ohio.
Docherty said the Ohio woman is "a lady who's really upset."