True Crime Books by Jason Lucky Morrow

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First Person Friday: Confessions of a 1950s Porn Star

 
 

Story by Tracy B (anonymous), aka “Racy Tracy”
Writing from some unknown women’s prison in New Jersey or New York
Article originally appeared in Expose Detective, January 1959

Editor’s Note: Although I don’t know all the laws and statutes of that era, the production, distribution, and presentation of pornographic material in the 1950s was not only illegal, it was shunned by “proper society.” Newspaper coverage of this underground industry was slim to nonexistent due to still-in-place Comstock Laws, which governed (read censored) how sex related terms and words were used in newspapers. [For instance, instead of using the word “rape,” newspapers had to write code words for rape, such “assaulted” or, maybe, “sexually assaulted.” The Comstock Laws dated back to 1873, FYI].

Despite the dangers of being arrested or exposed, the underground porn industry was a cash-cow, easy money for those who dared to work in it. It was crude and had a back-alley, clandestine vibe to it, but it was profitable and the demand was robust. In January 1959, one of the semi-popular “Murder Porn” (cough cough) magazines of the day, Expose Detective, published an anonymous, first person account of a young woman who ventured into the industry for economic reasons. Tracy B, or “Racy Tracy,” as she once referred to herself, was no $10 an hour prostitute. She was a beautiful girl from a poor family who attended a prestigious New York City drama school, worked hard, graduated with honors, and received a ‘break-out role’ in an unnamed Broadway Play that ran for forty-seven weeks. She naively believed more roles would be forthcoming, and she would continue to work as a paid actress.

That one role in a Broadway play would be her last until she starred in stag films.

Smart, good-looking, and a hard-worker, Tracy B took her new profession seriously and slowly, step-by-step, she rose to become one of the highest paid pornographic movie writers, producers, and stars of her day.

“At the time that my career was brought to a sudden and final halt in the midst of screaming sirens and shouting cops, I was pulling down anywhere from $1500 to $2500 for a few hours work. Few people know the inside of the “profession” as well as I do. It’s the movies, the stag shows, that bring home the bullion in the sex racket. I know for sure. I was one of the stars.”

Note: I have searched every newspaper digital archive that I have in my arsenal, and that is a lot, and I could not uncover her true identity, the name of the Broadway play she starred in, the location where she was arrested, the court she was tried in, or what prison she was sent to. I have no idea what her true identity is. I don’t even know if the photographs of her (via the link above) are actually her. If there are any vintage porn connoisseurs out there that may know who she is, please contact me. I would like to add her true name to this story.

 

Story Begins

A COUPLE of months ago a new girl was placed in my prison cell. She was a snobbish little rat who looked on the rest of us as dirt. For all her airs, however, she was just another prostitute, but she never tired of boasting to us about what a big deal she’d had, what big “names” her clients were, and all the pull and influence her operation had had. She spent hours regaling us with the lurid details of her trial and trotted out bales of clippings from every major newspaper across the country. Then she sprang what she considered to be the punch line of her tale, “I used to get better than a hundred dollars a night.”

Judy, my other cellmate nodded slyly at me. I grinned back at her. For all her influence, this third-rate piece of mattress bait was still in jail, and the cash she talked about so boastfully was strictly peanuts. At the time that my career was brought to a sudden and final halt in the midst of screaming sirens and shouting cops, I was pulling down anywhere from $1500 to $2500 for a few hours work. Few people know the inside of the “profession” as well as I do. It’s the movies, the stag shows, that bring home the bullion in the sex racket. I know for sure. I was one of the stars.

Expose Detective, January 1959, a semi-popular "Murder Porn" magazine of the day.
This photograph, and the following two, were published with Tracy's article. I cannot verify if that is actually her or not, or whether the magazine used stock photographs.
Tracy B? Or a stock photograph?
Tracy B? Racy Tracy? Identity Unknown.

I was, and I still am, a very pretty girl. That’s not boasting. When a girl has to depend on her face and figure for her fortune, she’d be an awful fool if she tried to kid herself. There’s nothing much you can do when you’re posing raw. You’ve either got it or you haven’t. I did. From the age of 17 I knew it, and I meant to cash in on it.

I wasn’t a bad kid. One high school affair was all the experience I brought with me into the- wide wide world, and while it may add up to the same thing, a teenage lover is a pretty bad teacher.

My family had a little money set aside for my education. I spent it on dramatic school. I was good at the work. If the breaks had been right, I would probably be a real star today, the toast of either Broadway or Hollywood. I graduated with top honors in my class and I even won the special prize, coveted by every student in the Academy, a part in a Broadway show.

It was that part that turned my face eastward instead of toward the west coast. I naturally accepted the employment with shrieks of delight and settled down to what I believed to be the beginning of fame and fortune.

I worked hard at my job from the first day of rehearsals. The show went over with a bang. All in all it ran for 47 weeks. Not bad for a beginner! During the run of the show, I began to get around a lot. I met people, all kinds of people, went to the best clubs and made all the columns. It Was heaven dipped in pink champagne. Then came my descent.

I got the first sinking sensation the day they posted the closing notice. I wasn’t the only one. Outside of the star and the male lead, none of us knew where our next month’s work or rent was coming from. The other girls were all busy making plans.

The blow fell on schedule. It was then’ that my first “break” led me directly to my undoing. I had come up too easily. Whereas all of the others had sweated and strained for their parts, mine had been delivered to me on a silver platter. They knew their way around, through the mazes of agents’ offices, casting directors and even the Equity grapevine. I knew from nothing. I didn’t even have an agent. As for Equity, aside from having paid my initiation fee and dues, I had never even spent one hour in their offices.

I had thought that my publicity and reviews would open every door. I found out within a week that there are five actresses with Grade A qualifications for every job open. I was not only bottom dog, I was hardly even on the edges of the pileup.

I roamed the streets from agent to agent, from casting office to casting office. I made one half-hearted connection, but evidently the manager I picked for myself was a dud, because he never turned up a single thing for me. I’m not kicking. Other girls have had the same experience or worse and still won out. I just took a different road.

To pick up bread and butter, I answered show paper ads for some modeling jobs. For the most part they were cheesecake, with the accent on the upper crust, but nevertheless harmless enough and good publicity. They paid from 15 to 20 an hour, depending on brevity of costume. Even so there was a limit to my earnings. How much cheese can one girl pose for?

To stretch my income I went through my list of men friends. There was no malice about it. All I wanted were a few free meals. However, I shortly found out, that whereas a man might take a tease from a stage employed glamor girl, he expects more from an unemployed beauty than witty conversation and a well-formed dancing partner. It was give or go hungry. I gave.

Once I was actually offered pay for my services. I turned it down cold. I’ve never been sorry about that. It’s just as I told my cellmates. That’s the quickest route to birdseed. I did get a first-rate education, though.

I kept on with modeling. I did a few nudes. Double rates were all the inducement necessary. It was still legitimate. Art magazines and so forth use the stuff perfectly honestly and openly. So do the calendars.

Then one day I answered an ad from a new photog. After the interview he became brutally frank. He wanted to shoot a few special stills. There was nothing much I had to do, you understand, but nevertheless these shots were over the line. He wanted me to show a lot more than even the standard nude requires. I hesitated.

“Fifty bucks an hour,” he offered. I didn’t even answer. I just started taking off my dress.

I went to his studio for quite a number of shootings. He never laid a finger on me. It was just shoot and shoot and shoot. There were views from the front and the back, top and bottom, alone and with props, lots of different kinds of props. I felt funny about some of them, but as he said, they were just bits of cardboard. He finally had enough material to satisfy the most clinically demanding buyer.

Then it was silence. For weeks I didn’t hear another word from him. It was summer time and business was very bad. To beat the heat and the humidity, most reasonable folks went out of town. I had missed the boat completely on summer stock. I was just too plain dumb.

I called the photographer and asked him if he had any business. He wouldn’t speak over the phone, but he indicated that if I dropped in he would be happy to talk to me. I came over promptly. He was alone in his studio.

“Hiya, Tracy,” he greeted me as I walked in.

“Hi,” I replied. “Well, you asked for me and here we are. When do we go to work.”

“Whoa, there, hold on,” he returned, “nobody said anything about work. I thought you just wanted to talk a bit.”

“But I thought,” I said haltingly, “I thought you implied . . .”

“Never think, baby,” he cut in, “it’s bad for the health. You said you’d lilfe to talk to me. OK. Start talking.”

I started. I told him my situation, explained how desperate I was for work, any kind of work, even the kind of shots he liked to take. He just laughed at me.

“I’ve already got you on film, Tracy, baby,” he announced. “What more have you got to offer. One set will last forever. They won’t date. I can peddle the prints as long as I like.”

I broke down and began to cry.

He got off his chair and came over to me. For the first time since I’d met him, I felt his arm come down across my shoulder and start wandering.

“Cheer up, Tracy,” he whispered, “maybe we can work this out.”

I looked up at him. For a moment or so I thought he meant it, but then I undei.stood. His moving fingers told their own story. I knew what he had in mind: I didn’t object. I’d done as much for a good dinner. I was prepared to face a casting couch, even for still parts, with complete equanimity.

It was afterwards that he broke it to me.

“See how easy it is, Tracy. Now all you have to do is act the same way . . . in front of a movie camera. Nothing to it at all. There’s two hundred and fifty an hour for you in it. More than an hour’s work at that. What do you say, baby?”

It ,was the culmination of an entire month of hell, of ups and downs, of hope and despair, of the afternoon’s high expectations and then this letdown. I knew how much the money meant to me. I was exhausted, physically, mentally, and morally. I had no resistance left inside me. I knew I was weak, but I’m not fooling myself either. The sound of all that cash rang bells inside my head. I agreed.

The shooting took place in an old warehouse in the downtown area. It was a bigger operation than I had expected. There were several people involved in the show. There was a man to play opposite me, there was my photog as camera man, a lighting expert, a prop man, a director and two other men who remained in the background. They were the producers.

I won’t go into what we shot that night. What’s the use? It couldn’t be printed anyway. The shooting took about 2 and a half hours. They didn’t quibble. They paid for three. I took the money, walked out, and breathed a long deep sigh. I thought I was free now. With seven hundred and fifty dollars, I could hold out until the new season. I need never go back again. –

I don’t have to tell you what an innocent idiot I was. They had me all right, hooked tight. There could no longer be any question of what type of girl I was. They had it down on film, all the evidence they needed to hold me in a bondage of blackmail.

From then on I was called back to work time and again. My photog friend was out of the picture. He had done his job in procuring me. Now I was “studio property.”

To keep my value up, the producers got me a part in another show. So long as I was a glamor girl, hitting the papers with reams of publicity, my sales value was enormous.

Once I discovered the trap I was in, I was faced with a decision.

I could become a crybaby, begging to get out, driving myself crazy with false hopes, worry and fear, or I could admit to myself the position I now occupied, make the best of it and try to get as much for myself as possible. I am not a coward. I’ve always faced up to life, .good or bad. I took the second choice. It was really no choice at all.

When the decision had once been made, I hesitated no longer. I made up my mind that evil as the job was, I was going to be good at it, the best there was in fact. I made suggestions that I thought were innovations. They were used, but I found out there was nothing really new about them. After a million years, what can be new?

I gave the producers the idea of using a story line, even writing a script for them. They loved that. We made quite a movie out of that story. There were six characters in it. Maybe you’ve seen it. It was one of the most successful movies of its kind ever produced in this country. You may still have a chance. A lot of copies were destroyed, but there must be dozens still floating around the country.

The script ‘did do one thing for me, however. It raised my status in the eyes of the producers. They shortly raised my salary. I hit the top bracket, $500 per hour with a minimum of $1000.

In the “movie” business a girl gets quite a different outlook on life. Take me, for example. While I had never thought of myself as being really bad when I had slept with men in return for a date or gift, I had certainly known that I was doing something morally wrong. Now I took a man or left him alone without a thought, one way or the other.

Business or pleasure, work or play, it made little difference to me. After a few months there was nothing, I repeat nothing, that any man could suggest, that I hadn’t done in front of a camera.

At work I was accommodating to anyone. I had no particular reason to hold myself aloof. If it pleased the camera man, the director, the producer, or any of their friends who happened to be present, it was fine with me. Just so long as my time was paid, I was anybody’s woman.

It wasn’t all what you might call “normal” either. They pulled some wild gags in some of those films. I did an awful lot I’d rather not even think about today.

Meanwhile, my regular theater work fell off completely. The show I had been given in exchange for my stag film duties closed. I was far too busy to bother about looking for another assignment. I had found my niche in show business and stuck to it.

There was one brief period when I toyed with the idea of doing a few party stunts, but that didn’t last long. One try was all I needed to discover that I was spoiling not improving my position. Too much familiarity with the customers removed a lot of the glamor from my stage reputation. If they could see and have me in person, why rent the films? A film stunt payed me plenty, while a stag group only came across with fifty or a hundred bucks.

Altogether, I made more than 75 movies. In about 15 of them, I not only starred, but wrote the show as well. I believe that I was one of the better paid actresses in New York and its surrounding area.

I say New York area, because a lot of the films were made out of town. The backers picked sites, usually within a fifty-mile radius of the city, often tempting a run down farmer with a heavy wad of cash in exchange for using his barn.

It was one of these farmers who led to our downfall. I don’t know all of the details, but I can fill in the outline. His land had been in a notably run down condition for years. When he suddenly began to flash his money about the local town, with no improvement in his farm layout, people began to ask him questions. He wasn’t a very inventive guy. He might at least have blamed his good luck on the horses.

He broke down completely under the weight of a dozen conflicting stories. The local sheriff got to him but good. In return for immunity, he agreed to help them set a trap for us. We fell in without a murmur of suspicion.

I’ll never forget that night as long as I live. We left the city by car, at a little after eight P.M. We preferred to work by night. There are less prying eyes in the country then. It’s a lot safer.

It was almost 10 when we got to the set and fixed it up. We got ready, checked our script, lights and shooting angles. It appeared to be like a hundred nights before. We had been working for about three quarters of an hour before they struck at us. The farmer, who acted as finger man, made a legitimate excuse to go outside.

The scene, five minutes later, couldn’t have been more explicit if we’d planned the raid that way. Even so, there’d have been no questions. The exposed film in the camera was evidence enough.

State Police moved in from three sides. We didn’t have a chance. Our shooting ace tried to expose his film, but he was grabbed from behind before he could get it loose from the camera.

The trial was held in the county seat. There were quite a group there. In addition to the eight of us who were standing trial, ther were representatives from most of the big newspapers and the large wire services. We made bold black headlines, I suppose, from coast to coast.

There was no question of our plea. We were as guilty as mud, and the prosecution had enough evidence to make a trial a mockery. To try and brazen it out would only be asking for trouble. The judge was tough, but to be perfectly frank, the sentence was a lot less than I had expected. I’m glad to serve it.

Now that my story has come out in the open, I’m free again. Oh, I know I’m in jail, but that’s just the point. There’s nothing hanging over my head any more, no threats, no blackmail. In that way at least it’s worth the bars.

I’m quitting this racket for good, once I get out. It simply doesn’t pay, for all the high prices. Blackmail, fear of discovery and capture are always looming up benind you. They will never be there for me, again.

It may be tough getting back on the honest side of the fence, but I’ve read about many who’ve done just that. I’m a determined little girl. So you’ll shortly be adding one more to the total.

One thing is certain. Regardless of the past, I’m not available in the future for any sex-movie work. Tracy just ain’t racy no more.

THE END