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Friday, February 28, 2014

All About Gloria Leonard: Center For Sex & Culture Honors Late Erotic Star

Posted By on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 10:24 AM

click to enlarge Theatrical Release Poster to a Popular Gloria Leonard Title
  • Theatrical Release Poster to a Popular Gloria Leonard Title

On February 3, Gloria Leonard passed away at the age 73. Once a trader on Wall Street, she entered the erotic film industry in 1976. At the time she was well into her thirties, yet she enjoyed a lengthy career as a performer, and as the publisher of High Society Magazine.

A regular guest on TV chat shows, she was a fierce advocate for the adult industry through her work with the Free Speech Coalition, and was a pioneer in the phone sex business.

On February 27, The Center For Sex and Culture held a memorial tribute to Ms. Leonard.

"We acknowledge the lives and work of people who are not often

acknowledged by the larger culture," said Carol Queen, co-founder of the

Center.

City resident Annie Sprinkle took to the podium. The

former adult star and sex educator fought back tears as she recalled her

thirty year friendship with Leonard. "We thought she was still healthy,

this was so sudden," Sprinkle said. She spoke of Club 90, a support

group for women in porn that was formed in New York decades ago. "There

are still a few of us porn dinosaurs roaming the earth."

click to enlarge Gloria Leonard during her 1970s heyday.
  • Gloria Leonard during her 1970s heyday.

Emotionally shaken by the loss of her friend, Sprinkle was clearly having trouble speaking. She thanked the Center for hosting the tribute to Leonard. "This is our community home," she said. "I want my memorial service to be here."

Dr. Sharon Mitchell, porn star turned industry medical advocate, presented a slide show of highlights from Leonard's life. Photos revealed a beautiful, strong and sophisticated woman who brought a touch of Park Avenue class to adult cinema.

"Back when porn was shot on film you had to walk into a movie theater to see them," Mitchell recalled. She spoke of working with Leonard. "I made her come," Mitchell said. "That made me feel so good. We actually came in movies then."

Mitchell noted Leonard's many accomplishments beyond the film set, most notably her role as High Society publisher. She was, in fact, the first woman to publish a men's magazine. Leonard brought a strong feminist perspective to High Society.

"So much of the groundbreaking work we did went unrewarded," Mitchell said.

One of the loveliest photos in the slideshow was of Leonard and several other Golden Age performers, including Sprinkle, serving as bridesmaids at the wedding of performer Veronica Vera. A vibrantly alive, white haired Leonard smiles radiantly in the picture, which was taken less than a year ago.

Performer Kelly Nichols drew affectionate laughter as she recalled Leonard's earring collection. "She wore big earrings, she had the best collection," Nichols said with a smile. "Gloria rocked the 70s like no one else!"

Richard Pacheco, the lone mail performer who spoke, referred to Leonard's heyday as "the suffragette movement of porn".

"Gloria was the center of the basketball team," he said. "Tough, smart and pretty, she could do it all." The Berkley resident shared a letter, a declaration of friendship, he received from Leonard years ago. "I will treasure this all my life," he said.

Gloria Leonard As Porn's Elder Statewoman
  • Gloria Leonard As Porn's Elder Statewoman



During her final years, Leonard struggled financially. She was unable to travel to the memorial service for porn auteur Bobby Hollander, her former husband and the love of her life. Yet when former co-star R. Bolla needed financial assistance due to health issues which plagued himself and his cat, Leonard managed to write a check.

"She was a class act, a tough broad," said Carol Queen, as the tribute drew to a close. "I hope she's floating around on a cloud and knows that we're talking about her, and that we love her."

RIP, Gloria Leonard
1940-2014


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