In what could be her last legislative performance, Mary Avara, the self-proclaimed protector of Maryland's movie morals, traveled here today to keep senators from closing down the longest-running movie censor board in the nation.

"I'm in a rare mood," she told a Senate committee. "When I'm hot, I'm hot. I'm 70, but I feel 20. I'm going to stand up and fight for what's right."

As the standing-room only crowd dissolved in spasms of laughter, Avara warned: "The armor of God is with me today, because the knife is at my back."

The knife is Maryland's so-called sunset law, which will abolish the nation's only statewide censor board unless the House and Senate vote this session to keep it alive. The House is likely to do so, but the board is getting mixed reviews in the Senate.

With a stream-of-consciousness tirade, Avara turned the tables on the senators who were trying to question her.

"Buddy boy, most of our complaints come from your district," she told an amused J. Joseph Curran Jr., a Baltimore senator who chairs the committee and wants the board abolished.

"Curran, really, I'm old enough to be your grandmother. Do you want your children to see sex the way I see it?"

Avara has spend much of the last 20 years viewing sex on the screen and trying -- often unsuccessfully -- to keep movies like "Deep Throat" from the eyes of Maryland moviegoers.

"'Deep Throat' is mild. It's Walt Disney compared to what they have now," she told Curran today when he brought it up, trying to make the point that "after a while, pornography is boring."

Twirling her eyeglasses in her hand, saying that her grandchildren called her "X-rated grandma" and calling the senators "honey child," Avara ended her performance by asking "Don't nobody care? This is what upsets me. Where and when will we stop . . . Curan, really."

Avara insisted that pornographic movies "positively" contribute to the crime of rape because it "gives them the know-how."

"I always get a big laugh," she said sarcastically. "I'm a comedian. I should get paid for this, getting you all this publicity," she told the smiling senators.

And when Sen. Patrick Welsh, the fresh-faced censorship foe from Dundalk wondered how Avara, after all these years, had survived the dire influences of pornography, she had her answer ready.

"I was raised properly and decently with morals."