Born 8/28/40, Gloria Leonard appeared in about 40 porn movies from 1976-84. For 14 years, she served as publisher of the High Society sex magazine.
Gloria, who stands 5'9, pioneered the phone sex industry and celebrity skin magazines. She used to be married to pornographer Bobby Hollander. During the early '80s, she had a one year affair with pornographer Ron Sullivan. She later directed several pornos including the Savannah vehicle Vow of Passion.
Between 1989-92, she served as administrative director of the now defunct Adult Film Association. When it merged with Free Speech Coalition, Gloria was tossed out. Several video company owners thought that an ex-porn star could not have credibility with the public. Gloria and company also fought over the name for the industry's new trade group. She wanted "adult" in the name while many of the company owners preferred something more generic in the vain hope of attracting broader support. "Many of us are motivated by passion and principle rather than just profits."
In 1993, Gloria moved to Hawaii. She returned to Los Angeles to work for Private in October of 1997. "Sometimes you have to go away for a few years for people to appreciate you." In early 1998, she was elected president of the Free Speech Coalition.
Leonard grew up in New York. She worked on Wall Street for three years as a registered representative of the now defunct Schweickart and Company. Leonard also worked for various PR firms. She started out as a copywriter for Electra Records when they were "just a little one-room office in Greenwhich Village. I worked for Johnny Carson's publicist. I have many years of experience as a writer."
In 1976, the secretive publisher of High Society and other sex magazines, New Yorker Carl Ruderman wanted "a twist on an old theme. He wanted a female publisher of a mens magazine. I was chosen because I had a strong background in PR and journalism. We [porn folks] also have other lives besides porn. I worked on Wall Street for many years. No one ever asks me my advice on the market. When the word 'porn' comes up, it's as though that's all you have ever done or will do…and I resent that. One of the reasons that I can successfully call myself a survivor is that I did not let the adult business be the be-all and end-all of my life. I still go to the theater, I still listen to jazz… I have friends who work outside the industry. It is part of my life, it is not all of my life. I'm sure that you [Luke F-rd] and others would like to think that… We are compelled to live a certain lifestyle 24 hours a day to fulfill a certain fantasy."
Phone sex took off in 1983, with Gloria Leonard and High Society magazine leading the way. "We owned these 976 phone lines…that were used until then for weather, sports….Dial a prayer. Dial a joke…. We tried to figure out how to make some money off the lines. At first we simply used them to announce the contents of our coming issue. Then we wrote sexy scenarios [jerk-off routines] which the centerfolds recorded."
On special days, like Christmas or Valentine's Day, Gloria recorded her own masturbatory fantasies. Leonard played a large role in my teenage years. Born in 1966, I first began consuming porn in 1982. My diet largely consisted of magazines like Playboy, Penthouse and Gloria's High Society, perhaps my favorite. She symbolized to me the wicked woman. I was not thrilled, however, by the magazine's decision to so prominently highlight the naked body of a woman moving through middle age. I shot my loads to the younger models.
Leonard published High Society from 1977-91.
"I started supervising layouts, shoots… writing a lion's share of the copy, including cover lines… I went out on the road and visited many of our wholesalers… There were 400-500…They in turn distributed to the retail level… I met with everyone from the truck drivers to the company principals… I examined bulk records to see how many copies an agency was getting…how many magazines they were returning. I did four to seven media interviews a day at times, depending on what High Society wanted to promote.
"I started phone sex… We fought a case up to the Supreme Court…on a freedom of speech issue. Our counsel of record was Harvard's Laurence Tribe. We won. "Our first recording was my voice previewing the next issue. Then we wrote little scripts… Phone sex took on a life of its own, entering the world lexicon. The lines became toll numbers… They had to put in blocking devices…at the Pentagon, ABC network, because people diddled their day away listening to these wicked women on the phone."
During the early '80s, Gloria Leonard almost produced the first million dollar porno. "It was during my tenure as Publisher of High Society Magazine," the FSC President writes to me, "I had terrific relationships with many of the magazine wholesalers/distributors of the day - a group came to me wanting to fund the first million dollar porn movie. I actually tried talking them out of the idea, explaining that I could produce ten excellent money-makers for that much dough but they wanted to go ahead anyway. Attempting to anticipate what might be the one element which would bring theatre goers of all stripes to see such a movie, I hit on the idea of having a well-known author write the screenplay. Norman Mailer and I had appeared on a talk show together and developed a friendship - I invited him to lunch and explained the project I had in mind. I was even willing to buy rights to an already existing property he had written - about Marilyn Monroe. He was more than receptive to the idea and wanted to do something original. Although his price was high, it would have still left more than enough for a big budget feature! The problem at the time was that he was completing his tome, "Ancient Evenings" with a commitment for a Broadway play immediately thereafter. We would have to wait for close to a year but were thrilled at the prospect of having one of America's foremost literary figures create an adult movie. However, deals such as they tend to be, started to fray around the edges and regrettably, it never came to pass - for a variety of reasons. Interestingly, a few years later, as they were turning his book "Tough Guys Don't Dance" into a movie (which turned out to be a big bomb) he called me to read for one of the principal parts and though he thought I was terrific (and I was), the part went to Francis Fisher (Clint Eastwood's ex). Just as well - no one went to see it anyway!"
Soon after Leonard moved from New York, it became "logistically impractical" for her to stay on as High Society publisher. "Julia Parton was brought in  after I left…. That started the trend towards the publisher as figure head. I however was a working publisher…"
As the new president of the Free Speech Coalition, Leonard hopes to "engage more of the talent and those on the technical end…instead of just the owners. I believe that ten $50 members are at least as important as one $500 member.
"The Free Speech Coalition has fought the good fight…Fought important legal cases…It's a great organization. Its heart is in the right place. It only wants to do good. And by doing good, you fight censorship, and you support those who are your industry. "It's established PAW…which seeks to meet the needs of the performers…"
Gloria names PAW founder Bill Margold as one of her closest friends in porn along with the manager of a laser disc company, Mara Epstein.
"Some days you are not sure whether to bless him [Bill] or curse him, but he is one of my favorite persons on earth…and we have never had a romance."
Gloria Leonard writes from Hawaii: Poor Jeff Goodman! If you look up the word "nerd" in the dictionary, his picture is right there! I won't even dignify his imbecilic remarks about my age and appearance some twenty or so years ago. s---, even blow-up dolls chewed holes in themselves so as not to have sex with this geek, so what can you expect? The only thing we did have in common was getting screwed by Carl Ruderman. After I'd been there for twelve years as publisher, they conned me into changing my pay status from employee to consultant. Once I was terminated after fourteen years (having made them many millions of dollars), they did hire a younger female, which lasted about a year. On the grounds of ageism, I attempted to bring a lawsuit against them but their wily, wicked strategy paid off 'cause as a "consultant" I was no longer considered an employee and therefore, had no legal ground to stand on! After fourteen years, no pension, no severance, nada. Ruderman got a great deal with me (and yes, even with Goofy Goodman) and his greed sadly, prevailed. There are many ways of getting f---ed in porn and this is yet another example of trust turning to rust!
"976" writes: Jeff Goodman is all wet when he says Gloria Leonard did not invent phone sex. Here is photographic proof of her pioneering involvement circa 1980.