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'Cry-Baby' Star Traci Lords: 'Johnny Depp Desperately Wanted to Be a Movie Star'

Johnny Ramone illustration P
Artwork by Vicki Berndt

An Aug. 18 screening of the John Waters film at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery will double as a remembrance of the late Johnny Ramone, a cult movie fan whose statue stands on the grounds.

Director John Waters and former adult film star Traci Lords will participate in a screening of Johnny Depp's movie debut, 1990's Cry-Baby, at the 9th annual Johnny Ramone Tribute at Hollywood Forever Cemetery that includes a Q-and-A. No one will say whether Depp will be among the surprise celebrity guests at the Aug. 18 event, but his breakout 1950s juvenile-delinquent performance will be projected on the 42-foot mausoleum wall, along with vintage live Ramones concert footage. Honoree Ramone, a cult-film (and Waters film) fan, has a statue in the cemetery near Dee Dee Ramone's grave.

"Bring your picnic basket and a drink, throw down a blanket, and watch Johnny Depp's first movie in a graveyard under the stars -- sounds like a party to me," says Lords, a friend of Ramone and his widow, Linda Ramone. Adds Waters, "Linda and [Sex Pistol] Steve Jones will judge a Ramones look-alike contest -- maybe I should enter."

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Waters recalls that, "everyone in Cry-Baby was in acting image rehab. If you embrace what your critics are saying and make fun of it, you turn it around." 

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Lords agrees: "Every single member of that cast had so much to prove," she says. "I mean, Johnny Depp desperately wanted to be a movie star, and everybody said he couldn't, because he was only a supporting actor on 21 Jump Street. This was his first lead in a movie, a big deal for him. Iggy Pop was sober and wanted to prove he could be more than a rock star. Ricki Lake wanted desperately to be a talk-show hostess. I wanted to leave my teenage porn years behind. Amy Locane, the female lead, was 17 -- she wanted to get out of high school. Now she's in prison." In February, Locane was sentenced to three years for vehicular homicide.

Lords' career as a real actor has lasted nine times longer than her stint as an underage porn star. "I've been in the jungle with Stephen King's Tommyknockers, in Francis Ford Coppola's First Wave, last year's Sundance film Excision, with John playing a priest, but I've never had more fun than I did in Cry-Baby." Though Locane steals the show, Lords was better at writhing provocatively against the glass of a prisoner's visiting room. "I had more experience writhing. Let's just get real here, OK?"

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In September, Lords will send her son to kindergarten and start a movie the next day, Dale Resteghini's Crash the Sky. Waters is writing his hitchhiking memoir, Carsick, and looking forward to eternity resting alongside his stars Divine and Mink Stole in a Maryland cemetery. "We've all bought plots there -- we call it Disgraceland," says Waters.

All drinks are allowed at the party, which starts at 5:30 p.m. The $10 ticket benefits the Johnny Ramone Cancer Research Fund at USC Westside Prostate Cancer Center.

"All movies are great in graveyards," Waters says.

Twitter: @timappelo