In the porn business, the 1980s were a time for experimentation and pushing boundaries; many of the new and rising stars of the decade broke the stereotype of being small, white, and slender.
As perceptions regarding pornstars shifted, several of the most well-known female pornstars of the time quickly branched out into mainstream acting or directing after beginning their careers in the adult industry. This period also witnessed the increase of pornstars becoming mainstream.
Check out Adult B2B Marketing’s compilation of the top 80s male pornstars as well.
First on our list of the top 80s female pornstars is actress and sex educator Nina Hartley. Renowned within the business, she began her career as a stripper while pursuing her nursing degree, and in 1984, she made her acting debut in Educating Nina. After appearing in several Debbie Does Dallas TV shows, she began directing in the 1990s with Nina Hartley’s Book of Love. Before starting her own line of educational movies called Nina Hartley’s Guide, she later produced a number of sex education videos for Adam & Eve. She has received several acting honors throughout the years, and she was inducted into both the XRCO and AVN Halls of Fame.
Second place goes to Christy Canyon, who began her career during the Golden Age of Porn and rose to prominence with Ginger Lynn and Traci Lords as one of the top three female pornstars of the 1980s. After making her film debut in 1984 in Swedish Erotica 57, starring with Ron Jeremy, Canyon went on to make more films in 1984–1986 before going into “retirement” and then coming back in 1989, when she worked only with Canyon Video and then Vivid Entertainment. She was named one of the Top 20 porn actresses of all time, got a Free Speech Coalition Award, and was inducted into both the XRCO and AVN Halls of Fame.
We cannot overlook the incredibly gifted Traci Lords, who was one of the most sought-after porn actresses of the 1980s. Before the contentious news emerged in 1986, this controversial contender began her career at the age of 15, working with Christy Canyon and Ginger Lynn. As a result, all of her films were barred, including her final two, due to her underage status. She starred in Traci, I Love You, her last film, before leaving the business in 1989. She then went on to establish a successful career in mainstream TV and film, appearing in hits like Blade and Zach and Miri Make a Porno as well as having a successful singing career.
Ginger Lynn was one of the three most well-liked pornstars of the 1980s, along with Lords and Canyon. Her first hardcore pornographic film, Surrender in Paradise, marked her debut. She went on to establish a career for herself with her “girl next door” appearances during the 1980s. She went on to feature in B-movies including the well-known Rob Zombie Devils Rejects in the 1990s and early 2000s. AVN listed her as the eighth pornstar alive, and she is a member of the XRCO, NightMoves Adult Entertainment, and AVN Halls of Fames.
Amber Lynn is an actress, model, and pornstar from California. She started out in the 1980s as a naked model for magazines like Penthouse, Hustler, and Chic. In 1983, she made the switch to the porn industry and starred in the film Vixens in Heat. She worked in the adult film industry for the following few years before becoming the first adult film star to feature dance on the “gentleman’s club” circuit. She was inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame for her films, and the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her advocacy.
Throughout her decades-long career, Candy Samples, a real legend of the adult film business, has been one of the most popular pornstars of the 1980s and continues to be a fan favorite. Before moving on to more hardcore scenes in the 1980s, her most well-known performance was in John Holmes and the All-Star Sex Queens. She began her career in the adult industry in the 1970s, acting as the narrator and staring in Russ Meyer‘s softcore porno Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens.
In the world of porn, Annette Haven is revered as a legend. She is recognized as a feminist icon in the porn business and was one of the most well-liked female pornstars of the 1980s. She declined to participate in blockbuster films like The Howling due to its overly graphic content and refused to take money shots or engage in violent acts. Her good looks got her roles as the femme fatale or the virgin to be wooed in movies, and she’s still regarded as one of the most beautiful women in the porn industry. She even won an award for outstanding actress for A Coming of Angels (1977). Haven is a part of the Halls of Fame for XRCO and AVN.
Porn star Juliet Anderson (1938–2020) gained recognition in the 1980s for her roles in over 100 films, most notably as Aunt Peg, a joyful, hungry lady who was eager to enjoy life and sex to the fullest. then left the porn industry in the late 1980s to become a relationship counselor, and then came back to it in the 1990s. Despite her tragic passing in 2010, she continues to have a sizable following base for her films.
Little Oral Annie gained popularity as a result of her renowned oral abilities ever since making her Sexboat debut in the 1980s. Throughout the 1980s, she gained more notoriety as the lead actress in a string of gritty commercials and the Little Oral Annie series, which included the 1987 film Little Oral Annie Takes Manhattan. Prior to her early 1986 retirement, she contributed to more than thirty films.
Tracey Adams, the first entrant of the AVN Hall of Fame, has earned a spot in our list of the greatest 1980s female pornstars. She has worked with both major American and European porn companies over her three-decade career, shooting with almost all of the biggest stars in the business. She had a huge following in Italy and was featured on billboards there.
Our final significant figure from the 1980s porn industry is Lisa DeLeeuw. She made her pornographic debut in 1979 with 800 Fantasy Lane and went on to have a storied career, appearing in Amanda by Night in 1981 (for which she was awarded Best Actress by the Adult Film Critics) until quitting the business in 1987. She is renowned for being the first performer to acquire an exclusive deal with Vivid Video, a significant adult production business.
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