Traci Lords found the Wanda Woodward phenomenon surprising at first.
Whenever she would make a public appearance — as she’ll do this weekend, co-hosting Oakland’s Burger Boogaloo with her pal John Waters — she would see female fans in the crowd who carefully copied her biker-jacketed character from Waters’ 1990 camp classic “Cry-Baby.”
“John wrote such strong characters in ‘Cry-Baby.’” says Lords, 47. “And in that rockabilly/punk-rock/vintage-pinup-girl kind of world, Wanda Woodward is pretty much a queen.”
It gave her a brilliant idea to design a retro line of clothes.
As a kid, she detested what came with her Barbie, so she patterned and sewed edgier garb for her dolls. Now, in collaboration with Laura Byrnes’ Pinup Girl Clothing, she has created Wanda-inspired outfits that accentuate women’s curves instead of hiding them.
She thinks Wanda has a following “because she’s this beautiful badass that’s not afraid to say ‘I love you,’ but she’ll also tell you to get lost, when necessary. It’s an iconic image that’s really female-empowering.”
Lords – who doesn’t shop at mall stores — grew tired of seeing size-0 clothes into which only boyish-waifs could fit.
“My clothes are very much inspired by pinup-girl couture, the 1950s, and that sort of bad-girl beauty that I love,” she says. “We have curves. We have boobs, and we still believe that those are our weapons, as John Waters would say. So now women can celebrate their bodies, instead of trying to squeeze them into just the clothes that are available.”
Still, this Midwesterner lived the bad-girl life after getting caught up in the mid-1980s porn industry, an experience detailed in her 2003 tell-all autobiography, “Traci Lords: Underneath It All.”
She studied serious drama at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute, and, in 1988, landed her first major part in the Roger Corman-produced, Jim Wynorski-directed “Not of This Earth.”
“After that, I wanted to get away from cheesecake roles,” she says, although she did appear in Wynorski’s 2015 splatterpunk flick “Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre” and in a new European detective-agency series called “Swedish Dicks.” (“I’m the biggest dick in town, basically, a total badass,” she says.)
Lords, whose resume also includes “Blade,” “Excision” and TV’s “Melrose Place,” released the double-platinum album “1,000 Fires” in 1995.
But music, she says, is temporarily on the back burner. Today she devotes most of her energy to raising her 9-year-old son, Joseph. “He’s so delightful, so smart, and so curious,” she says. “Motherhood has been the best role I’ve ever played.”
IF YOU GO
2016 Burger Boogaloo
with John Waters, Traci Lords, The Dwarves, The Mummies, The Trashwomen, King Khan and the Shrines, Shannon and the Clams
Where: Mosswood Park, 3612 Webster St., Oakland
When: Noon June 25-26
Tickets: $39 to $59