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First Linda Lovelace, Now Vanessa del Rio's Life Story Also Getting Feature Film Treatment

by Tambay A. Obenson
March 28, 2013 12:42 PM
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Vanessa del Rio
Vanessa del Rio

Sergio could probably speak more authoritatively about Vanessa del Rio than I could, so I'll let him fill in any holes (pun intended; or is it porn intended) left in my summary. But in an era when the lines between pornography and mainstream celebrity are blurred, with sex tapes becoming launching pads for lucrative careers in the entertainment industry, porn icons of old like Vanessa del Rio would probably fare very well in this century.

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 BustersAfro 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 Mignonebest 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:

"Vanessa del Rio Feature Film Project" Promo from DOOM Incorporated on Vimeo.

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  • jim | August 22, 2013 5:41 PMReply

    drugs too??

  • Simon | March 29, 2013 12:50 AMReply

    Will the film cover Vanessa Del Rio's relationship with Midget porn star Luis De Jesus? he filmed at least 2 scenes with Vanessa, it was odd at the time that a mega star like Del Rio would agree to have sex with a midget

  • 70's Rocker | March 29, 2013 1:49 PM

    Vanessa was the number 1 star in the biz and she was willing to have sex with a midget, that shows you how she cares about people. The other big star of that time Seka did two films with Mr Short stud, Ultra Flesh and Downstairs Upstairs, in both films despite being in the same Orgy scenes Seka never touched him, she wanted nothing to do with a midget

  • sagevalentine | March 28, 2013 9:41 PMReply

    I wonder who will play Vanessa Del Rio. For some reason, I can see Rodario Dawson taking on this part. She looks like her so it would not be too much of stretch.I heard that actor Michael Rooker ( The Walking Dead, Rosewood, Bone Collector , Mallrats) is attached to this project.

    It sounds interesting.

  • getthesenets | March 29, 2013 3:44 PM

    You know who is/was a dead ringer for Vanessa?

    Next time you watch Coming To America...they show a montage of the Akeem and Semi meeting women in NYC clubs.

    The woman who is "into the Group thing" looks like her.

    In fact when I first saw the film I thought it was her


    the OBVIOUS choice though..if they are going to use a NAME actress..and i think she could pull it off still


  • Grease Fan | March 29, 2013 3:28 PM

    I always thought the actress who played Cha Cha Degregorio in the Movie Grease would have been great to play Del Rio. Annette Charles had the same latin smoldering passion as Del Rio, even in a film like Grease her sexuality oozed out. Unfortunately Annette Charles passed away a few years ago, but she would have been great, she even had the right body type like Vanessa

  • Helluva | March 29, 2013 12:17 AM

    Someone else on FB mentioned Rosario or Zoe Saldana for the role wth??? Neither of them are VOLUPTOUS in the way that VDR was...they'd be better off going with an unknown imo...let Rosario play one of her sisters, Debbie or Phylicia lol...

  • ALM | March 28, 2013 3:26 PMReply

    "Sergio could probably speak more authoritatively about Vanessa del Rio than I could, so I'll let him fill in any holes (pun intended) left in my summary."

    Oh the shade, LOL! Sergio took it in stride though. :)

    It's interesting that based on the info in this article this project had no problem with crowd funding.

  • sergio | March 28, 2013 3:53 PM

    What "shade"??? (And by the way I LOATHE that expression) I'm a hard core fan of Vanessa and there's NO shame in that whatsoever

  • kid video | March 28, 2013 2:39 PMReply

    I been toying with the idea of a script dealing with ppl of color that work in the sex industry, but dont think Boogie Nights....more in the vein of American Gigolo.
    I plan on copping the coffee table book before the year is out...

    Although i have to say my first flick crushes were Jeanine Pepper/ Angel Kelly (mid 80s- VCR era).

  • Valentino 4life | March 29, 2013 4:55 PM

    I thought 80's beauty Gina Valentino was the best! She only did a hand full of films in 1984 and 85. In Santa Comes Twice she even did a scene with the dwarf porn star that Vanessa Del Rio worked with

  • getthesenets | March 28, 2013 3:56 PM


    thanks...if those HH clips aren't already in the collection..I will locate and add them.

    She has the most clips and articles though from what I remember.

  • kid video | March 28, 2013 3:12 PM

    "Angel Kelly and HH appeared on a BET talk show with Bev."

    I actually saw that episode when first aired...HH was also on the Montell Williams show/early 90s...dont sleep on her cameo in "He Got Game" and you can see a young (pre-porn?) HH in "Frankenhooker".

  • getthesenets | March 28, 2013 2:58 PM


    If you like Jeanine "High School High" the next time it airs.

    I have a collection of Black adult stars making mainstream shows, talk shows, films, music videos ...and a separate one of them getting mainstream press.

    Angel Kelly and HH appeared on a BET talk show with Bev. It's up on yt.

  • sergio | March 28, 2013 2:56 PM

    So true :(

  • kid video | March 28, 2013 2:50 PM

    "got out of the business and got all religious"

    Most times, that's how it works out.

  • sergio | March 28, 2013 2:42 PM

    I'm definitely a Pepper fan. Angel did nothing for me. I read that she got out of the business and got all religious

  • getthesenets | March 28, 2013 2:29 PMReply

    VDR appeared as herself in the film "Soul Men" with the late Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson...very interesting cameo for those who haven't seen the film.

    I think the story and film about her is about 4-5 years too late though.
    Pop culture landscape has changed so much that the shock value/intrigue/danger/edge of what porn was back then just doesn't exist anymore.

    I'm old enough to remember when nude PICTURES almost ruined the other Vanessa's career(Vanessa Williams) full fledged sex tapes LAUNCH careers.

    I don't go back to V's era...but.....back in the old days....we had to wait until Friday after work ...head to slightly pre-Disney times square.....slip into GRIMEY stores to buy vhs tapes that came in these big ass cases....etc.etc.etc...

    Janet Jacme was the "Vanessa Del Rio" of my era.

  • sergio | March 28, 2013 2:16 PMReply

    "Sergio could probably speak more authoritatively about Vanessa del Rio than I could" Thank you for the compliment. And actually the number is more like 250 films if you also include her compilation films, cameo appearances and films without a date of release. And you didn't mention her years when she was a professional body builder. But I encourage anyone who wants to learn more about Vanessa to get this great Taschen large size coffee table book called, of course, Vanessa del Rio. All 330 pages of it and also incluses a 2 and half hour DVD of some of her greatest scenes. Of course I have it right on my coffee table

  • sergio | March 28, 2013 2:41 PM

    She might have very well made some TV talk show appearances back then, but I don't know of any for sure. And I was going to mention that Soul Men cameo (best scene in a lousy film) , but I'm glad you did.

  • getthesenets | March 28, 2013 2:34 PM

    I got the book a few years back...

    never opened it the packaging...they said it was limited run/print

    so gonna sell it mint one day....


    Would you happen to know if she ever made any talk show appearances?

    in the sally/geraldo/donahue/early oprah era?

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