Club 90 Members & Friends Share Memories of Gloria Leonard

AVN has received many messages of memory and condolence for veteran actress and activist Glora Leonard. Here are what some of her friends have been saying:

Candida Royalle:

"Most people knew Gloria for the dynamo she was, the fierce defender of free speech, and a woman who was quick with a sharp wit and never one to be pushed around. But I knew Gloria for a softness that lay beneath the tough exterior she used to protect a very tender heart. I, like many, was fooled by that toughness, intimated by this larger-than-life woman who published the magazine I briefly worked for back in 1981. Until I became a member (in 1984) of a small, intimate group of women who call ourselves “Club 90,” sisters in crime who came together to support each other in a culture that insisted on judging us while heartily consuming the work we did. Club 90 consisted of Glo, as I liked to call her, Annie Sprinkle, Veronica Hart, Veronica Vera and myself. We’ve remained close even after meetings became difficult as we moved to different parts of the country.

"Glo suffered no fools and was quick to put hypocrites and liars in their place. She was also the kindest, most loyal and generous friend you could ask for. The last time Club 90 came together was to be in the wedding party for Veronica Vera and Stu Cottingham in June 2012.  In footage from the wedding, Glo is seen catching the bouquet, much to her delight. The next thing you see is Glo beginning to pull apart the bouquet to hand out the flowers to other women until she’s told to keep it for herself. That’s how Gloria was: always ready to share her joy, her things, her money with others. Even when she didn’t have a lot to share.

"I consider myself fortunate for having been so close to this smart, funny and, most of all, loving woman. Gloria Leonard was truly one of a kind. I hope it’s true that people live on in our hearts … because right now there’s a terrible void in mine."

Veronica Vera:

"In 1984, after we first formed Club 90, there was a feminist festival here in New York City, and a flyer went out, asking, 'Is there feminist pornography?' It was from a group of women artists, and it was going to take place at the Franklin Furnace on Franklin Street. And Candida brought the flyer to us and said, 'I think we should do something for this festival,’ and so we decided to reenact one of our Club 90 meetings because Club 90 was relatively new, and everybody wanted to be a fly on the drape; they wanted to come to meetings, and at that time, Kelly Nichols and Sue Nero were also in Club 90. When we first formed, we were seven people, and the five of us, we pretty much had retired from the business, but Kelly and Sue were still very much in it. So we did this performance; we reenacted our support group meeting at this show in the Franklin Furnace.

"In 1988, I had been married and my husband had died, and Gloria came up with the idea to take a flight to London and sail home on the QE II, or vice versa. She said, 'I think we should do this together. This is a good time to take a trip,' and she said, 'I think we should fly over to England and then sail into New York harbor on the QE II; I've always wanted to sail into New York harbor,' and so we did. We not only went to England, we toured the south of France together. She was very proud; she drove on that Gran Corniche, that winding road that has killed so many people in Monaco. We had a blast. We each had romances aboard the QE II with a couple of the ship's officers, and of course, going shopping with Gloria was fantastic! We had a wonderful time together, and she thought of it as a way for me to heal, but it was really because she was so sensitive to coming through for her friends.

"She was a classy, classy, classy lady, and gorgeous, long legs. She maintained her figure all these years, and looked sensational, and if somebody was having a tough time, there would be a small check from Gloria in the mail. She was just very, very generous—and she remembered everyone's birthday.

"The last few months of her life, she would correspond with us on the internet, she was so happy because it was like she felt isolated out there in Hawaii, although she had a bunch of friends, but culturally, it wasn't like you couldn't get The New York Times just like that. But in her last few emails, she seemed totally happy, so the idea that she left the planet in such a happy state is heartwarming to me."

Melissa Monet:

"I didn't know her that well, but I had a great respect for her. I thought Gloria was very witty and fun and intelligent, and she used to say these zingers all the time that used to make you laugh. You could talk to her about anything, and she was a broad, a real broad. ... She was a really bright light, and she knew what to do, she knew what to say, she knew all the right things, and she was also very loving and very kind."

Annie Sprinkle:

"Back in the '70s, I was a freelance photographer, a writer; I did the early phone sex recordings and I was in the first issue of High Society, but I don't think Gloria was even part of it back then. But then she was there, and she was a very powerful presence. Of course, we all hung out at her apartment. She was a very smart, very funny, sometimes curmudgeon-y, adoringly curmudgeon-y, and spoke her mind, and she had a beautiful apartment in Manhattan a few blocks from my apartment. And of course, I've known her daughter, Robin, since Robin was a little kid. She was one of my few friends that had a kid, but she also had the best collection of fur coats. She had a lot of fur coats and beautiful clothes, and really knew how to put on the glamour, and she was stunningly photogenic and gorgeous, and my dad loved her and had a crush on her.

"When we started Club 90, I wanted to go to college, and Club 90 kind of helped me transition from doing on sex work to going to college, so when I graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York, Gloria and Club 90 helped create this big graduation party with my family and lots of people from the industry. It was kind of like my wedding at that point; it was my first big celebration.

"One really fun memory is when Gloria had a big lingerie sale. At a certain point, Gloria was, I think, moving to L.A., and she had a big sale and so we all kind of helped out with this big garage sale without a garage. We were trying on all the lingerie and she was selling her fur coats and she sold all this incredible stuff and we all just gobbled it up, and it was a really joyous time.

"She loved jazz; jazz music was her passion. Gloria would often go out to hear jazz. And she knew everybody in the business, in New York, but also in L.A. when she led the Free Speech Coalition. And  Lenny Bruce was her big hero; she adored Lenny Bruce. I only wish she could have hung in there a little longer and received a huge wave of love from fans and the community, but she knew we loved her."

Howie Gordon/Richard Pacheco:

"I can't imagine a goodbye. I like to think she's just shaking hands with Jamie Gillis and Marilyn Chambers and John Leslie and all the rest who have checked out before us. Knowing Gloria, she's already getting things reorganized on the Other Side that will make it easier for the rest of us when we get there. What a fire she is. Love, kisses, Pacheco."

Veronica Hart:

"Gloria was part of Club 90. This is the first sister that we've lost. We've gone through so much with each other. It started at my baby shower for Chris, who's now 30 years old, and it just continued after that. We kept in touch after that, and we were so lucky to see her last year because she lived in Hawaii, and we didn't see each other very much. We hadn't seen each other since I think 1995, and in 2012, we all went to New York and had a reunion at Veronica Vera's wedding. Just let people know, it had been really tough for her for a while; it had been very tough, financially, and she hadn't been working for a while."

Sharon Mitchell:

When Gloria first moved to Hawaii, I went there and visited her, stayed there for a couple of weeks, and we just did everything. We rented like a cocksucker-red Jeep and we just drove all over the big island; we did everything. We went into the jungle, we went hiking, we were chasing wild boars and we were walking on the volcano, and we just did a little bit of everything. That's what I loved about Glo: She was always down for anything that was or was not a challenge. She just always had a great spirit. She had a tremendous set of balls for a female.

"She had one of the first boob jobs I had ever seen, by the way; that was back in the '70s when they were like softballs, you know? But she was just a great gal. She became one of the first 'all new women to be acting in porn,' and that was a groundbreaking situation back then. She also worked with Free Speech for many years.

"I mean, Gloria was always a little bit or a lot ahead of her time, and definitely one of a kind, and one of the sweetest, kindest people that I know. She kind of became a role model for me, I think, in a lot of ways, because she just had so much balls, I truly admired her, and of course, Robin and her granddaughter as well, who are surviving her. She did great; she left a long legacy of beautiful women. I think she had a great time on this planet. She definitely made the most of it, that's for sure. I think she's playing poker with Freddie Lincoln—I don't know why I think that—with Marilyn Chambers dealing; that's my vision."