With endless patience, Buck Angel has spent years explaining to people that he’s a man, even though he still has a vagina. Some of those folks are finally starting to get it—and by the way, Buck has been getting it for ages.
The California-born trans porn pioneer has entertained his fans with riveting screen action as an actor/producer/sex god since 2004. His audiences have always been too busy going “Hawt!” to murmur “What?” and the result has helped Buck find fulfillment after a long, early stretch of despair. As a press release informs, “Buck has survived addiction, homelessness, a suicide attempt, and relentless opposition to his gender expression. Still, he lives his truth without compromise or apology.” And now he’s a whole other kind of movie star.
The man with a vagina is the subject of Dan Hunt’s documentary Mr. Angel (coming to DVD December 3), in which Buck talks about overcoming various obstacles and becoming an educator, as well as the joy of finding love with body piercer Elayne Angel. Yes, she has a vagina too.
Here’s my stimulating chat with the manly Mr. Angel.
Musto: Hi, Buck. Congrats on the movie, which is very revealing and informative. But why doesn’t it show a lot of clips from your adult movie work?
Buck Angel: Dan and I discussed this, and we decided that to get more people to hear my message, we should not focus on my porn work because it could turn people off. I think it was the best thing we did. There was no way the film would have done as well as it has if we had crammed a bunch of my porn in people's faces. They wouldn't have walked away with the same message.
Well, what is included is that you happen to have a great sense of humor about yourself and your uniqueness. How important has that been?
Thanks! Humor is the most important thing when I am speaking. It works. People are intimidated by being around things they don't understand. I have found that having a sense of humor makes me approachable to the outside world (the non-LGBTQ community), which are the people I want to reach. It makes people feel incredibly comfortable to be able to ask anything they want. I am a big believer that you get back what you put out, so I put out smiles and I get them back.
Great philosophy. But do you ever get tired of talking about your vagina?
No. I love my vagina, because it has changed my life. It's so funny for me to say that, because I hated it for such a long time. To actually feel connected to a part of your body you despised for so long is super empowering. I feel like it has some kind of magical powers.
I bet it does! In the film, you say, "Just because I have a pussy doesn't make me not a man." Do you feel this message has gotten through?
Oh, big time. It was a long road to get here, but now more people understand that what's between your legs does not define you. I speak at many schools, and it's a pretty young crowd of straight kids. They have no idea what to expect from me. By the end of the talk, though, many of these young kids tell me how I have changed the way they view what it means to be a man and that they see me totally as a man. I cannot tell you how amazing that is for me to hear.
Do women with penises have it easier than a man with a vagina?
I am not sure I can answer that because I am not a woman with a penis. I think we deal with different experiences, for sure. If you think about it, trans women have given up "male privilege" to become the woman they have always wanted to be. That has to have an effect on them somehow. For me and guys like me, we have now been given "male privilege." I get to do things I never got to do before as a gay woman. In some ways it has made my life easier, that's for sure.
You did a porn film with a woman with a penis (Wendy Williams). How was it different than doing a film with a guy with a penis?
Well, Wendy is a woman, and that was like having sex with a woman, which to me is totally different than having sex with a man. Just because they both have cocks has nothing to do with the person or sexual energy. These are two totally different things. Wendy has really great energy and we had a blast, especially because it was her first time with a vagina...hahaha.
You actually said to Tyra Banks on nationwide TV, "I love my vagina. Do you love your vagina?" That was one of your finest moments. Agreed?
Right on!! I love that moment. It is so powerful. The fact that Tyra left that in, well, it does say lots about her. I think it is very telling how she acted a bit disgusted at the fact that I love my vagina. She could not relate at all—like many women. I think that is why I have such a big following of women. They want to know how I can, as a man, love my vagina.
Has there been any hate from members of the trans community who feel you should have a penis?
You could say that. [Partly] because we as trans men are told that we have to have a penis to be a man and then we are brainwashed to think that way. In fact, I was once that way, but I was lucky enough to have been able to release myself from those thoughts. I once received an email from someone who asked me if I would ever get the penis surgery. I said, "No, because I am so comfortable now and I do not feel the need."
I then decided to post a photo of a trans man’s surgery and stated that I did not like the way these penises looked or functioned. I got myself into trouble for doing that and now I understand that I should have never disrespected someone's choice to have the surgery. I publicly apologized to the community and to the person whose photo I posted. (It was only of the penis, not of the face.) But to this day, I still am called a penis hater and transphobic. One thing with the community is, when you become a more public figure, some people love you and some will find any excuse to bash you. It's such a shame because it hurts our communities more than they realize.
Did you set out to be an activist and educator or did that evolve?
I did not even graduate high school, so my self esteem that would enable me to be a public speaker or educator never existed. Then I spoke at ideacity in Toronto and had such an amazing response from the crowd and the organizers that I decided to pursue it. After that experience, it totally just evolved. I love public speaking and helping to inspire others.
How about your decision to live in Mexico? Any regrets about that?
I love Mexico. I live in the Yucatan and the people here are for real. It's like living in the 1950s. I know this is the place for me, because when I am gone, I miss it more than anything. When you feel that way about your home, you know you're in the right place.
I’m glad everything’s fallen into place for you, and I do mean everything. Congrats!
Malcolm Gets, John Glover, Ethan Hawke and Byron Jennings | Photo by T. Charles Erickson
ZANKS FOR THE MAMMARIES
Here’s some even more enticing gossip about notable gender outlaws: Chanteuse extraordinaire Joey Arias just shot a big part in a film called Zanctuary, which has Joey playing a bordello/hotel/club owner who keeps children in the basement and sells them to rich old men! (Thankfully, it’s not a documentary.) Add drugs, cops, bloodshed, and Amanda Lepore to the mix and this film sounds zenzational.
But otherwise, this season is as heavy on the all-male as a 1970s bath house.
Tony-winner Mark Rylance heads two men-only Shakespeare productions on Broadway. The witches in the new Macbeth are guys, proving that men can be so evil. And Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are teaming in a couple of testosterone-exclusive productions of their own. In Waiting For Godot, they’re Beckett’s legendary hobos hanging out by a dead tree, trying to pass the time while desperately seeking to validate the fact that they even exist. In the haunting production, McKellen is heartbreaking and funny, while Stewart plays Vladimir less sadistically than the usual portrayal, making for some lovely camaraderie in the mire. (The two real-life friends do a sweet waltz and even soft-shoe their curtain calls.) Shuler Hensley is formidable as the rambunctious Pozzo, while Billy Crudup is magnetizing as the downtrodden Lucky, who rallies to life with a monologue that Crudup makes truly avant-garde.
The same cast alternates in Pinter’s No Man’s Land, with McKellen and Stewart sparring brilliantly in an enigmatic and cleverly written look at morphing identities, filled with humor, eeriness, and booze. Sean Mathias directed both plays with great skill—and yes, he’s definitely a man.
Meanwhile, two guys—Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick—wrote Off-Broadway’s Disaster!, a giddily fun spoof of 1970s Irwin Allen flicks as redefined with a bump and a wink.
The show’s floating casino is loaded down with all the expected types, with added twists: A married lady who suddenly develops terminal symptoms such as Tourette-like outbursts and weird pelvic thrusts (she’s played by the zesty Mary Testa); a holier-than-thou nun who’s a little too knowledgeable about the ins and outs of gambling as she suggestively sidles up to a Hawaii Five-O slot machine (the extraordinarily funny Jennifer Simard); and a pair of feisty 11-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, played with amazing dexterity by Jonah Vernon.
Their cruise is going to hell, but there’s always time to splice in a ‘70s hit, especially if it leads to even more goofy entertainment. This is the kind of show where if a character says she’s allergic to goose down, you know she’ll soon enough be singing a verse of “Don’t Bring Me Down.”
Much like Buck Angel’s vagina, moments like that have magical powers.