She was huge (in more ways than one) in the 1970s and early 1980s, appearing in well over 100 porn flicks (softcore and hardcore) including Rear Busters, Afro Erotica, and many more.
In fact, I'd say she was one of the business' first real superstars.
Born and raised in Harlem NYC, to Cuban and Puerto Rican parents, she entered (no pun intended) the porn industry in 1974, and went onto have a career that spanned some 25 years, appearing in films as recently as in 1999, at the age of 47.
She's 60 years old today (although, she'll be 61 in 3 days), and is still involved in the adult entertainment industry, but not in front of the camera. She apparently has a website, does conventions, gives talks, makes appearances here and there and such, to earn a living.
She even appeared in a few hip-hop music videos over the years.
And now, a new feature film based on her extraordinary life is in the works, titled The Amazing Life of Vanessa del Rio, which the producers are describing as 'Boogie Nights meets Taxi Driver.'
The movie will chronicle the porn star’s career set against the backdrop of NYC's then gritty organized crime-controlled Times Square, during the tumultuous 1970s & 1980s.
It will be directed by Thomas Mignone, best known for his previous feature film On The Doll, starring Brittany Snow and James Russo, as well as several award-winning music videos for bands like Slipknot, Mudvayne, System Of A Down, and Sepultura.
According to the project's website, central to the film's story line are the federal government's determined efforts to force organized crime businesses out of New York and ultimately to the San Fernando Valley, while films and music lyrics were suddenly being censored, and politicians and adult-industry mavericks battled in the courts and on the streets, the producers say, all told “through the eyes of a young, rebellious Vanessa del Rio...”
An IndieGoGo campaign was launched about a month ago, to raise $30,000 that would go towards kickstarting production, and that goal has already been passed; as of the time of this post, almost $32,000 has been raised. So obviously they've got the money they need to get things going, with 4 days still left in the campaign.
And based on the video pitch below, Vanessa del Rio herself appears to be involved in the making of the film - or, at least approves of its making, and is probably contributing to the telling of the story of her life.
But I'm intrigued. It seems like it's going to go beyond just her life as a porn-star (although I'm sure there are lots of interesting stories there to tell), with the comparisons the producers are making, and looks to provide a snapshot of New York City during those years in which she was at the top of her career.
And, by the way, this isn't a documentary. It's a scripted narrative film, which will be cast by casting director Anne McCarthy, who worked on Requiem For A Dream.
From the filmmakers:
Vanessa del Rio's story is very unique and special. She fully embraced the sexual revolution lifestyle but never allowed herself to become a victim. The organized crime elements percolating underneath all the fun Vanessa and her friends were having set up a dramatic and often vicious narrative backdrop for the story as seen through Vanessa's young, rebellious eyes. Our goal is to produce a high-quality, full-length feature film that is authentic and true to Vanessa's story in a way that the typical Hollywood studio system would not allow or even consider. We feel crowd funding allows us to create the kind of film you the audience truly wishes to see. We have a very dedicated production team that has worked on many film and video projects together, and we have an extreme level of passion for this project. We recognize your help and support provides us with the opportunity to really bring to life a story that's never been told in the right way, with no blinders on.
Like I said, they've got the money (and then some) that they set for their campaign goal, so it looks like this is a go.
We'll certainly be tracking it from here-on and update you as necessary.
Here's the video pitch: