François Sagat, Uncut: Catching Up With a Sex Symbol

Francois Sagat gay porn star franck glenisson
Photography: Franck Glenisson

François Sagat says the past few years have been hazardous. When he decided to retire from the gay adult film industry in 2013, he was one of its most recognizable stars. The French actor had hopes his transition to arthouse cinema, with Christophe Honoré's Homme au Bain, would lead to more traditional roles. Instead, nothing happened. 

Sagat's short and stocky. He's camouflaged under an army green parka when we meet on a rainy day, outside the Pigalle métro station in Paris. His signature tattoo, a permanent fade haircut which took two five-hour sessions to complete (he says he never had it touched up), is concealed under a fluffy trapper hat, making him virtually unrecognizable. He just came back from spending the holidays with his mother in Cognac, the quaint city near Bordeaux where she raised him. "She prefers me with the tattoo," he says, referring to a recent selfie he took sans tat, with a layer of flesh-toned makeup covering his scalp. 

We pick a table on the terrasse of a tiny crêperie. Sagat orders Nutella pancakes and some Earl Grey tea. He's soft-spoken and overly considerate: Whenever a loud child walks by or a car honks, he pauses to make sure the noise doesn't cover his words. He's articulate, and he evokes his porn past in quasi-scientific terms. The actor has been hinting at a return to the adult film industry for a few years now. After receiving favorable reviews for Homme au Bain, he joined a talent agency and tried to land serious film roles, but the offers he received were underwhelming. 

Instead of movies, he was able to maintain his legacy through intimate art projects and a fashion venture, his apparel brand, Kick Sagat. The actor, who was trained as a designer at Studio Berçot, works on the technical sketches and overall creative direction of his line. He recently launched three new styles of underwear, his best-selling product—perhaps because he often models it himself.

OUT: Is Kicksagat a way for you to return to your first calling: fashion?

François Sagat: It’s a bit more complicated than that. When I went to fashion school, I was 18. Back then, I was a fan of Thierry Mugler and Claude Montana. I knew how to stitch at some point, but I forgot. I did internships until I was 23. Then, I gave up because I wasn’t comfortable with myself. Maybe I didn’t have enough personality to persevere. Today, what I’m doing has nothing to do with what I made as a teenager. I’m more interested in menswear, and I sell online. It’s not sketching a Versace gown, so I’m not pretending to create fashion. We’re working on a very low budget.

Do you feel like you can make a living with Kick Sagat?

I would like to do more, especially sportswear. The thing is, you have ambitions, and then the reality of the business catches up with you. Even though I’m François Sagat and I’m on social media, it’s still complicated. The underwear is a best-seller. I can manage, but it’s still difficult.

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Kick Sagat

You travel a lot, you still seem to be very in demand…

Next week I’m going to Rotterdam to shoot a music video for an electro-R’n’B singer, Sevdaliza. She does great things. If you don’t know her, you must. She’s a former basketball player, she's beautiful, a great singer. I met her through a stylist friend, Jean Paul Paula, who works with her a lot.

I’m also starting rehearsal at Macval, a museum of contemporary art in Vitris sur Seine, for Jean-Luc Verna, who I’ve already collaborated with. He’s doing a performance theater piece with a group of people, working on the naked body. I think Béatrice Dalle is also doing it.

And I have another project with a young Argentinian filmmaker on a vampire story that seems pretty fun to make.

How come you didn’t make more movies after Homme au Bain?

I did nothing. I had small cameos in short films, but I rejected a lot of things. I won’t name anybody, but I almost got tricked a few times. I don’t want to be involved with reality TV people, so I stopped. I receive offers, but nothing very exciting.

It’s surprising, considering your iconic status. How do you feel when someone like Bruce LaBruce calls you "the Marilyn Monroe of gay porn"?

I think there are too many icons these days. There are muses everywhere, anybody can proclaim themselves a muse or an icon. I don’t say I’m an icon, but you say it. I think I had my glory days, more in the early 2010s. Today, it’s less intense, time has passed. The past six years have been more hazardous for me. Homme au Bain and L.A. Zombie were highlights, but I did things that didn’t have much impact. I’m a bad businessman: My projects are not blockbusters, they’re more confidential. And that’s ok. Maybe I’ll do more rude things, in the future, like doing porn again.

Do you really miss it?

Yes, I do. I stopped because I saw myself too much in that thing. But I never got bored of the set experience. There’s sex, but not a ton. It’s very technical, it’s a body performance that exhausts you but it’s also a process of self-control that I love. I miss that.

You said you felt used by some studios.

I worked for Titan Men longer than for Raging Stallion. Raging Stallion propelled me and made me who I am. They also played with this Middle-Eastern image that actually doesn’t exist, but it’s still a powerful and beautiful one. Titan only confirmed this pseudo-masculine actor status, because I’ve never felt masculine. This idea of gay masculinity is a lie to me, like, Roar, I’m a real man! You don’t think I’m doing too much?

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Kick Sagat

No, I think there’s a vulnerable side to you, as well. You’re not playing a macho who slaps twinks.

Yes, you’re probably right. So I want to do porn again, but I want to have more fun with it, maybe work with several people. I’m talking to Titan, but I also would like to focus on Europe. When it happens, you’ll know.

What went through your mind when you shot your first porn movie?

The very first one was with Citébeur, in Paris. It wasn’t a big set, we were three: me, partner, and the cameraman. It wasn’t exactly impressive. I had a mild apprehension. I had stopped fashion and I was slightly desperate because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I told myself Come what may, without much fear. I thought, If this works out, that’s good. I was able to do what was asked of me. My partner was nice. I wasn’t scared. The first gay porn I watched, I was 16 or 17. I told myself These guys are supermen. It felt inaccessible to me. At the time, I never thought I would have been able to do the same.

Why did Citébeur decide to market you as a Middle-Eastern man, under the pseudonym Azzédine? Today it would come across as cultural appropriation.

The guys who runs Citébeur is an excellent businessman, and he called me Azzédine without even asking me. It’s not an homage to anyone in particular, it’s not a very responsible thing. I’m still a bit mad about it. I wasn’t a diva at the time, but I wish they’d asked me first, because it’s a name that stuck with me. As far as I know, I have absolutely no background in North Africa or the Middle East. My family is from Brittany and Eastern Europe. I just got packaged into this Middle-Eastern thing after I shot Arabesque and Lebanon with Raging Stallion, but that’s not the case at all.

You also had a tattoo on your back that you modified recently. It used to look like the flag of Algeria or Turkey.

I had it done in 2000 after I saw Alexander McQueen's Eye collection inspired by persian warriors. I remember seeing this symbol, and finding it very graphic and beautiful. Except, time has passed and people assimilated some connotations and religious things that I’m not interested in. I received threats from a weird extremist. So I decided to change this tattoo because I don’t want to have any religious symbol my body. Now it looks like a moon and three planets. I still got comments on Instagram from people saying “You’re turning your back on your brothers, bla bla.” People are misinformed, that’s the problem.

Do you have any interest in politics?

Yes, of course. I watch debates. I’m going to vote. I won’t say for which party. No trick questions, please! I’m a good citizen: I recycle, I behave well… At least I hope I do.

So you’re a good mommy’s boy, actually.

No, I’m diabolical too, but that’s another side of me of course. Like anybody else.

What’s your evil side?

I was addicted to sex at some point in my life, now less. It can be very destructive. It’s often compared to a drug, actually. There are cycles in life when you want to make the most of things, have the most fun you can. Today, I’ve restrained myself on a lot of things, and I try to take care of the body I live in.

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Kick Sagat

I've seen videos of you injecting steroids. Do you still use hormones?

That can also be destructive, but I see it as a means of body building and self-improvement. It destroys you when you use it wrongly and you can’t handle the aftermath, but it’s not like starving yourself or binge eating. It’s about improving yourself, idealizing yourself. The last time I gave myself a shot in the butt was probably one or two years ago. I’m not restricting myself, I’m just not excessive with it. I make an excess every three or four months when I’m at the club and I pop some ecstasy. I can tell you that, I don’t care. 

Do you date? Have you ever had a LTR?

I’m not really into relationships. First, I don’t fall in love easily -- it never happens. I also like sleeping alone. I’m 37 now and it’s been this way for years, so I will keep sleeping alone for a while. I’m in favor of gay marriage, I support those rights, and I relate to them: I think it’s awesome that some of my friends are married. But it's not for me.

Even when it comes to sex, I like it, but not that much. I see five or six guys that I’ve known for a few years and who I fuck with once in a while, but it never goes further than that. I don’t see them for three, six months after. I meet guys randomly, but even if the sex is good, I don’t get attached. Anything relating to strong feelings wears off easily with me.

So am I happy or not? I don’t know. I’ve been in love with some people in a platonic way, and nothing ever happened because they were straight. I felt a sort of suffering not being able to share more things with these people. I no longer get that feeling.

You said you considered yourself feminine when you were younger.

I still consider myself feminine. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve just added things to my appearance to look less feminine. In a way, it’s acting. It’s not a disguise. I have a beard, which makes my face seem more masculine. I let my body hair grow. I have muscles now, when I was younger, I was skinny. It’s a whole package that makes me look more masculine, but it doesn’t mean I really am. Maybe I’m trying to look like the men I’m attracted to, or maybe I just feel good this way, that’s all.

Have you ever been tempted to shoot porn with women?

I tried to have sex with a girl when I was 19—I already knew I was gay, and so did she. We were drunk, she went down on me, but when we tried to take it to the next level, it didn’t work. She wasn’t really my type, anyway. I like Marilyn Monroe types. I’ve never been offered to shoot straight porn, and it’s not necessarily something I’m dying to try. I would do it just for the performance.

What would be your dream role?

I’d love to be a superhero with evil powers, like being able to burn people to death. That’s an ego thing, to have superpowers. Everybody dreams of having powers. It’s basic, but that’s the first thing I can think of.

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