1980s Girl-Next-Door Porn Icon Taija Rae

She may have one of the most mispronounced names in the history of porn, but few who ever saw 1980s adult superstar Taija Rae perform forgot the girl-next-door face or curvy figure that made her something of a new more attainable, less supermodel star of that burgeoning glossy glammed-up videobox cover era. By the late 80s, Hustler magazine was dubbing her one of 'porn's Big Four' - along with Traci Lords, Ginger Lynn and Amber Lynn. Her unusual first name, properly pronounced as Tay-zha, she took from an asian cocktail waitress who she worked with in the days before her porn career. The last name Rae was her preferred spelling (she never liked names ending in the letter 'y') of Wray, after the actress Fay Wray, the famous love interest of the original King Kong movie. A wily adult producer probably missed a trick in not casting her opposite legendarily hairy porn actor Ron Jeremy in an XXX spoof of Kong.

Taija was born in Philadelphia on 1 January 1962. She was discovered by a new Philadelphia-based talent agency, Lynx Management, in 1983 and quickly sent to New York for a test photoshoot. Her full 38D-24-37 figure and large natural breasts, combined with her sweet looks and cheeky sense of humour, soon had plenty of photographers and directors lining up to work with her. She started out as a brunette in East Coast erotic flicks shot by directors like Henri Pachard and Dave Darby. But Cecil Howard shot her X-rated debut in Dangerous Stuff. Taija proved quite a good actress as well as uninhibited performer, but she didn't have any pretensions about her work. While Cecil Howard was filming her in a follow-up movie Star Angel, after he had set up a whole series of shots of her, including reverse angles and close-ups, Howard recalls Taija turning to the cameraman and saying: "What's wrong with him? Does he think he's making a real movie?" It apparently left the whole crew in stitches of laughter.

The movies she shot on the East Coast proved big hits and, by 1986, following an image change which saw her slim down and change her hair colour (variously becoming a blonde or a redhead), Taija got a West Coast agent and began hitting the Hollywood adult scene. She didn't want to leave her native Philadelphia, however, so would fly out to LA to shoot a bunch of movies and then head back home again. By 1988 she had become one of the biggest names in adult, however, and was in such demand that she finally decided to make a permanent move to Los Angeles.

She was generally the lead and on the box cover by then, taking on meatier roles than the girl-next-door types she started out playing. Taija seemed to revel in the new bitch or bad girl roles that were scripted for her and, if anything, became even more adventurously uninhibited in the hardcore scenes. After a decade in the business, Taija Rae finally retired from the adult scene in 1993. But she remains a favourite for huge numbers of classic retro porn fans, many of whom weren't even born when she was doing her thang. She appeared under a number of aliases which include Taja Ray, Tajia Rae, Taija Ray, Taja Rea and Tasia Rae.

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