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Porn Star Tasha Reign's Secret Life as a UCLA Student

From porn star to UCLA women's studies major
From porn star to UCLA women's studies major
W.B. Fontenot

"What is sex?" the professor asks her class, deadpan, on a hot August day.

The room is quiet except for the steady tapping of a nervous foot, belonging to a tan blonde. It's the first day of class -- summer session at UCLA. The students in "Sex and the Cinema" are a mix: curious female underclassmen, perplexed Asian foreign-exchange tiger children, a back row of overly excited young males in backward caps and board shorts.

Three groups, and then one person who breaks the mold. The blonde. Rachel. Her hair is in pigtails, one hand wrapped around her rhinestone-encrusted iPhone, the other fingering her pink pen. She fidgets and she giggles, her light green eyes glancing from phone to professor constantly. She stashes her Louis Vuitton bag below her desk, tucks her feet under her petite frame and curls up in her seat.

The prof, Jennifer Moorman, says the class will focus on film's relationship with sex, from cinema's early black-and-white days to today's adult industry. Nothing is off limits.

"This is so cool," Rachel coos to herself.

"What is sex?" Moorman asks again.

"Penetration," answers a brave dude in the back row. The class snickers.

Moorman nods and repeats the word. "What else?"

"Intercourse," says a girl who looks like her experience has been limited to reading 50 Shades of Grey.

"Technically, intercourse and penetration can be a variety of orifices," Moorman clarifies.

Rachel can barely control herself, a devilish smile painted ear to ear.

"Is kissing sex?" Moorman prods. The class can't decide. "Whether sex is a positive or negative thing, frequently women being sexual is viewed as bad," Moorman declares.

"I'm a bad girl," Rachel says under her breath.

Is she?

At UCLA, she's Rachel. (Just Rachel -- she prefers that we not use her last name.) A few miles north, in the Valley, she's Tasha Reign, the adult starlet and Penthouse Pet who's made a name for herself by starring in more than 50 films in a little more than a year.

Up next: How she got connected to Bill Clinton

In late May her name got even bigger when a photo of her with Bill Clinton went viral. The former president had been the guest of honor at a benefit in Monaco, and he took photos with all his guests. One of them just happened to be Rachel, who was on the trip with Marc Bell, CEO of the company that owns Penthouse, his girlfriend and adult starlet Brooklyn Lee.

"We were invited to go to Prince Albert and Bill Clinton's gala," she explains over mac 'n' cheese in June. Her table donated more than $100,000; all proceeds went, via the heavy-hitters' foundations, to the environment. "When I was in high school, I was in Model United Nations, and I always was interested in sustainable resources. I'm a vegetarian. I try to live green. This is something I'm actually interested in."

She'd never met Clinton before that night. "There were a million gorgeous models there; it's not like we stood out in the crowd by any means. He probably thought, 'If these girls want to take a picture with me, they're probably donating so much money, I better take a picture with them.' Why not?"

But when Bell's girlfriend tweeted the photo, everyone saw Tasha the porn star, not Rachel the student. Hucksters teased that old rascal Bill was up to no good again -- surely he must know the identity of the busty blonde at his arm.

"I didn't even think for one second it would be controversial," Rachel says. "Then all of a sudden, there's, like, all of these retweets and retweets and it's trending."

Instead of enjoying her newfound notoriety, Rachel believes the photo damaged her reputation. She wants to be known for her work on-screen, not (faux) scandal.

"Everyone's like, 'This should be cool for you, it's PR, everyone knows your name.' I would never want that negative type of press," she says. "I'm so proud of the movies that I make, and the scenes that I do and the pictures that I take; I don't want any guilt by association and be put in some negative light."

She adds, "I think of myself one way, and other people think of me another way, and there's a reality of the situation, and I haven't figured out either of the other two."

Up next: How she coped

Tasha went on Inside Edition and TMZ to clear the air. Rachel, meanwhile, headed to Westwood to speak to a UCLA psych class about the adult-film industry. The professor contacted her after reading an article about her in The Daily Bruin.

It was Rachel's first time speaking in front of a crowd, and while she was nervous, she wanted to explain her reasons for getting involved in the business -- none of which had to do with the cliché of abuse or drugs.

"The hardest thing about working in the adult industry isn't the industry itself, it's the stigma you have to deal with when you are outside of the industry," she told the class of 30. She plans to start lecturing more this fall at UCLA and other schools.

"I feel like I'm affecting people," she says.

As a high school junior in Orange County, Rachel was a cast member for a season of MTV reality show Laguna Beach. Even then, she knew she wanted to be in the adult industry. Now 23, she owns her own production company and writes and directs most of her material.

Her family supports her choices, she says.

"I think they accept me for who I am," she says. "I live in the now."

Now is majoring in women's studies. She enrolled at UCLA in 2010, transferring from Santa Monica College.

As "Sex and the Cinema" draws to an end, Rachel approaches her new professor and invites her to watch a porn shoot. Professor Moorman accepts. Bubbling and happy, Rachel floats out of class, only to be stopped by one of her classmates. He wants to take a photo. She accepts, knowing this photo won't have as long a shelf life as others.

Skipping along in her sandals, backpack bouncing, she runs off to her next class. Can a person be normal when they're paid to have sex on camera? Both Tasha and Rachel say yes.

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