A few days after Sagat arrives in New York City, he meets me for lunch. He's dressed down in dark denim and a Slick It Up tee, his only
flourish a pair of winged Jeremy Scott Adidas high-tops. He complains about his transition from porn to film. "I was used in both projects as an object of fascination," he says, going on to sound like any anxious matinee idol. "We still don't know if I can support the movie on my shoulders," he worries. "We don't know if I have the real power or not."
This always bothers Sagat. When describing his childhood in France, he shows the same uncertainty. When he was 11 his parents divorced. "My father was not really into being my father," he explains. "He was not really into affection with me." Of his teenage years, he asks, "How do you say when you're not happy in high school? You get bullied? I was feminine. My appearance was very discreet, but my behavior was feminine. I was always shy, until I did porn when I was 25. Before that, I didn't know if I had this power or not."
He fled to Paris at 18 for fashion school. "It was a big change," he says. "I discovered so many gay people." He laughs. After graduation, he entered the fashion world, interning for Thierry Mugler, but quickly became frustrated. "I was not patient enough," he says. "I was 23, had no money, and had to work all the time. When you're an assistant, you work hard and don't get paid. It's like they're doing you a favor."
Sagat moved back in with his mother at 24, unhappy with his career. "I gave myself one year," he says. "My life didn't look like anything I wanted, so I said, Let's do something with your body instead. Let's do something with what you got now." What followed was a transition from frustrated duckling to badass swan. A year later, he moved back to Paris and began stripping. French porn studio Citebeur came calling, and he made three videos under the nom de porn Azzedine. The first movie, he says, was "a real sexual act. I was into the guy and there was one camera, so it was so much easier." Six months later, he was in the United States. Titan passed on him, but Raging Stallion did not.
"I would have preferred to work for Titan first," he says, "but I got screwed. When I was signing the contracts, I was not speaking such great English. I respected the time, but my contract was over." He had a meeting with Titan, and they didn't make the same mistake twice. Now he's on sabbatical. The last inquiry about his return was answered, "I miss you guys too, but not now. It's too soon."
So what does Sagat want? Another legit film, for starts, but the decks are stacked. In last year's roundup of 10 porn star crossovers, New York magazine listed only one male: Rocco Siffredi, who made two films with French director Catherine Breillat. Female porn stars stand better chances -- Italian porn star Cicciolina held office in the Italian parliament while continuing to make hardcore porn, and women like Traci Lords and Paris Hilton are household names, at least in grown-up households. Sagat's seems like a more circuitous route to success than the upstream/downstream migration of folks like CBS's Big Brother star Steven Daigle, who crossed over into porn, while porn stars like Jeremy Bilding and Dean Phoenix popped up on Bravo.
But none of those options appeal to Sagat. He is thinking of David Lynch. "Remember Laura Harring?" he asks of the brunette bombshell that topped critics' lists in 2001 headlining Lynch's lesbian potboiler Mulholland Drive. The film made Naomi Watts a star, but Harring was never heard from again. "She was amazing," Sagat says, "but then nothing happens. Maybe it's the same with me?"