Lynn was born Ginger Lynn Allen in Rockford, Illinois, to 18-year-old dock supervisor Wayne Allen and 19-year-old switchboard operator Marilyn née McBride. Life in the Allen household ranged from dysfunctionl to pathological, where she was subject to abuse mainly by her mother. When Allen's father left in 1968, the abuse worsened as her mother blamed her for all her problems. Her only refuge were Wayne Allen's parents, who gave her emotional support and positive reinforcement; however, her mother controlled the visits. Also, Allen had very few friends during her childhood, resulting in the creation of imaginary friends which seemed very real to her. Her grandmother recounted that this lasted "a very long time."
Allen attempted suicide in 1974, using sleeping pills and other over-the-counter medications her mother was using. She recalled that she was in a catatonic state for about three days; her mother did not help her in any way. Shortly thereafter, her grandparents took her away from her mother, after the grandfather, by chance, called the house and heard Lynn screaming in the background. At 13, she had a boyfriend, who was a drug addict. Through this boyfriend, she not only began her descent into substance abuse, but also became pregnant -- and later aborted the pregnancy. This older boyfriend, whom she met in a park, became her first serious love interest. She saved her money in the hopes of one day marrying him.
Her grandmother introduced her to contraceptive devices after discovering her sexual activities. During her youth, she was attracted to older men not in school who were mainly abusive. After graduating in 1981, she moved out of her grandparent's house; her grandparents subsequently moved to Lucerne Valley, California. While she stayed in Rockford, she worked at a Musicland store as assistant manager and a bar waitress at night.
Adult film career
Allen moved to California in 1982 after hearing about her grandfather's heart attack. After her grandfather died, she became angry at him for leaving her when she needed help the most in her life. However, her grandfather was the only positive male role model in her life. A friend of hers, Brian, came to live with her and became the "first nice boyfriend" she ever had. However, Lynn was the major financial supporter in the relationship and needed to find a better paying job. When she answered an advertisement from the World Modeling Agency in September 1983, she was immediately hired and did a spread for Penthouse. This made her visible to the adult film industry.
She did some nude modeling work and then began performing in adult films using the name Ginger Lynn in December 1983. Her first film was Surrender in Paradise, where she starred with Jerry Butler and celebrated her 21st birthday in Hawaii. Allen quickly rose in popularity, and eventually became one of the biggest stars in adult film history, making 69 adult films. She had her own line of videos through Vivid Entertainment with director Bruce Seven. Allen received the Best New Starlet award in 1985 from the Adult Video News and is an inductee to the X-Rated Critics Organization (XRCO) and Adult Video News (AVN) Halls of Fame. Allen's best work is in the award-winning Ten Little Maidens. Other career highlights include her performance as the neighbor who introduces Tom Byron to sex in Kinky Business and her work in Slumber Party with Eric Edwards.
Her look during the height of her porn career (1984-1986) was loosely modeled after Madonna. Part of her early popularity stems from her common trait of performing anal sex and double penetration. In the early 1980s adult film market, these acts were relatively rare, especially among big-name porn actresses of her caliber. She also regularly performed at least one lesbian scene per film, which made her popular among fans. Allen's work was also distinguished by explicit and inventive "dirty talking" during her performances. She was the first Vivid Entertainment Vivid Girl, beating out Traci Lords. She was later called to testify on Lords' behalf against porn producers; she refused, and according to her, she was then targeted by the Internal Revenue Service for falsification of a tax return. She also had a sex scene with well-known porn star John Holmes early in her career, in the Mitchell brothers The Grafenberg Spot, in which she also co-starred with porn superstars Harry Reems and Annette Haven.
In February 1986, Allen decided to stop making adult films and attempt to establish a career in mainstream films using her full name. Allen appeared in several non-adult films, television shows and even interactive movie segments of the Wing Commander computer games. During the 1990s and up to the present, she made occasional appearances in adult films, usually in lesbian-oriented segments or lesbian-themed films.
Ginger returned to adult films in 1999 for three movies: Torn (1999), White Lightning (2000) and New Wave Hookers 6 (2000). In December of 2005, Ginger Lynn appeared in American Pie: Band Camp (2005) playing the supporting role of Nurse Sanders. In March 2006, she became a host of Playboy Radio' Sirius Satellite Radio show, Night Calls Radio, alongside Christy Canyon
In June 2007, she announced that she will be shooting two new scenes for Kink.com, a wrestling scene with Bobbi Starr and a hardcore scene with her real life boyfriend Mark Davis
In 1991, Allen was convicted of falsifying a tax return and spent seventeen days in jail. She also spent time in a rehabilitation center during this period because of cocaine abuse.
Lynn had a long term relationship with Los Angeles radio personality Ralph Garman. She had a two-year relationship with actor Charlie Sheen from 1990 to 1992.