Interview by Danny McFadden
Photography by Buck Angel
April 2, 2007
Raised a rather unhappy girl, Buck Angel is now more content describing himself as ‘the man with the pussy’. By his reckoning, he’s the only female-to-male transsexual porn star in the business. Prior to this current occupation, he was actually heading towards supermodel status when living as a woman. Buck currently resides in the Yucatan, Mexico, but travels regularly to LA, New York, London and Berlin to make and promote his work. He has a recent DVD out called Buckback Mountain, a title which kind of says it all. Some people ask Buck to work because of his freakishness, but he’s actually a really sweet guy. We’ve never met, but we talked over the phone.
|Buck as a girl in the 80's, working her ass off as a fashion model|
Danny: You’ve recently been on an American talk show, no?
Buck: Yeah, I was on Maury Povich’s show.
What was the angle for the interview?
The main focus was on why would I change from that beautiful woman to this…this man. I had those pictures of me from when I was modeling and that was a huge thing for the producers. They just didn’t understand why I would go from that to this. They were really interested in why I wasn’t comfortable with that body and with being a model when a lot of girls would die for that opportunity. Especially when I had become this macho bald guy with tattoos instead.
Do a lot of people assume that you must have been a really butch woman to have become the man that you are?
All the time — but I was not some big, fat bulldyke. I’ve had comments that I must have been an ugly woman to want to become a man and, you know what, I wasn’t. But — while it sounds like a cliché — inside I’ve always felt like the man you see now.
So how was it being part of the fashion industry?
That was horrific for me. I ended up an alcoholic and a drug addict because I was so unhappy. I had no idea that there was a way out of my situation — nobody ever told me I had an option to become a man, because it was all so new. I got sucked into modeling — I don’t even know exactly how it happened — and I ended up on the books of both Elite Model Management and Z in London while doing a lot of work in Paris. At one point I was on the verge of becoming a top model, but I was just so wasted on drugs and alcohol and really disgusted with myself. I mean, a make-up artist would do my face and be so excited, but I couldn’t bring myself to look in the mirror. The whole thing was really traumatic.
Were there any aspects of the work that you enjoyed?
The money and the travel interested me. Now — looking back — I’m really excited that I did do it, because I think it adds more depth to my sex change.
How far do you think you could have gone with that career if you’d wanted to?
I was at the forefront of that androgynous thing in the eighties. I had so many opportunities, but I couldn’t get my head around it. So I screwed everything up. I was going to be represented by another agency in Paris and they were waiting for me at the station, and I never showed up.
Who had you been working for?
Remember the Boy label from London?
I did that and more of that kind of thing. Some sports stuff. A little runway, but mainly print. I wasn’t doing the big fashion names because, I think, my look was really new. Really different. It hadn’t really connected with the top, top designers of the time. The whole Jenny Shimizu thing and the Calvin Klein ads hadn’t really happened yet. The agencies were pushing me, but it was mainly through the younger designers that I was getting work.
Do you think that the fashion business has an unconventional approach to gender anyway?
How do you mean?
|Buck as Buck Angel, letting it all hang out...|
Well, not just the androgyny. Even Tyra Banks is telling teen girls to learn how to walk by copying drag queens.
I know! It’s twisted! I think it would be fascinating for me to do a fashion show as I am now. For Gaultier, perhaps? That would be amazing.
When you buy clothes, do you go out of your way to avoid anything that could be perceived as…
Yes. Effeminate. Did you develop an aversion to, like, floral prints after all those years of being dressed as a little girl.
I’ve never avoided that because I think it’s detrimental to my appearance as a man, it’s just that I’ve never been attracted to that style. Actually, I was in Berlin at the Hustler Ball and did a campaign for Designers Against Aids: so I’m there with all of these porn stars and, of course, what do they pick out for me? A pink T-shirt! Prior to my change, I’d have thrown a fit, but now I’m secure enough with my masculinity to wear that. You could even put me in a dress and it wouldn’t bother me now.
The idea of you wearing a dress is funny.
I know. You put me in a dress and I look like some ugly man in a dress. No, I’m really a leather/Levi’s kinda guy.
I was talking about you with a friend and — this may be a stupid question — but he asked whether you pad-out your trunks for the beach.
(laughs) I used to do that but now I’m ‘the man with the pussy’, it would be really hypocritical of me to pack. I even go to nude beaches. I walk around and people are mortified. I tell you: it’s the most hilarious thing that you will ever see in your life.
It must be a really awkward situation for those people as I suppose it’s not polite to be checking you out in the first place?
Totally! But if they want to look, they can go right ahead. And if they want to ask me about my body, that’s fine too. When I’m in Miami or New York, I’ll go to the gym and walk around the locker room naked. It really throws guys, but why should I have to hide who I am? If I had only one leg, would I have to hide that situation? No.
Have you reached the end of your body’s gender reassignment procedure? I mean, do you still want your vagina?
(laughs) I never wanted my vagina! It’s actually a lot like being born with one leg where you learn to deal with it by getting a crutch or whatever. Of course, I’d have loved to have been born with a big, fat cock, but it didn’t happen. And I had to realize when I was going through my transition that I was never going to have that cock. For some people going through this, all they aspire to is having a cock. But for me — and other guys like me — we don’t need the cock: we want to be men and we want to feel like men. Maybe in 50 years, the surgery will be there to do it properly and by that time I may be dead or too old. So I’ve come to terms with it. I don’t even really consider myself a transsexual any more. For me, that means that you’re still going through that transition. And I’m not — I’m a man.
So when you describe yourself as ‘a man with a pussy’ it’s not just for shock value.
Exactly. It’s showing the world that I don’t care what it thinks about me. When I started doing porn I never wanted to be Mr Spokesman or anything, but I guess because I was the first — a pioneer — it has transcended porn. It’s more than simply saying ‘I have a pussy’ and becomes about demonstrating how there are different things in the world: especially all different types of sexuality. That needs to be done, because look, for example, at how down people still are on bisexuality. It’s really fascinating: even in the gay community, bisexuals are so looked down upon.
Aren’t people suspicious that individuals use the ambiguity that often surrounds bisexuality to hide their true sexuality?
But why is it such a problem? The thing is I am totally bisexual. I’m always being asked, ‘Are you straight, gay or lesbian?’ or whatever and I’ve never understood that. I’ve just never liked the labels. And what freaks people out is that Buck Angel doesn’t have a label.
Do you think you have an insight into the different ways that men and women think? Did you notice, say, your attitudes — particularly those towards sex — changing with the testosterone treatments?
Totally. Hormones had a huge effect on my mental state. I understand men so much more now. They think and act completely different from women. I really think that men should be with men and women should be with women. It makes more sense in terms of meeting each other’s needs — both sexually and emotionally. Now I feel very male — in as much as I’m more physical than emotional these days — I fall asleep straight after sex! Although I like to think that I kept some of my female traits like this heightened intuition I seem to have.
Was the Buck Angel name picked to represent a combination of masculine and feminine?
I’ve never thought about it like that. I did a lot of domination stuff in the past and the Buck name just really suited that. Angel is actually my wife’s name. Put together it’s a cool porn name, I guess.
Yeah, my second wife. My ex-wife was the professional dominatrix that was involved in that whole Hollywood scandal involving The Matrix’s Larry Wachowski, who is a real ass. So I ended up meeting my new wife, who’s the well-known body piercer Elayne Angel. She’s amazing. She’s attracted to both men and women too.
She lives in Mexico with you?
Yes. She’s currently writing a book on piercing here.
As a couple are you quite conventional? Do you wear wedding rings, for example?
Oh yeah, we are a lot like your average heterosexual couple. It’s bizarre, but that is how we’re perceived. Only we’re also very kinky, very bisexual. We have an open sexual relationship and have play partners that we bring in to have sex with. But we do still have wedding rings and look like the average man and wife. Well, with tattoos.
Do you have a big gay following?
Aren’t there a lot of gay men with a real fear of the vagina?
That word ‘vagina’ is so ugly! (laughs) I get emails from guys all the time who tell me that they’ve always been scared of pussy but they’re really attracted to me and would like to fuck mine. That’s a huge breakthrough. I’m like, ‘Dude, it’s like an asshole except it was made to be fucked.’ I think that the fear comes from the fact that it would usually be attached to a woman. It does fuck with their heads when they see me. Like wondering what it makes them if they’re attracted to me. I say, ‘It makes you horny and sexual — it’s no big deal’. But the films I do with all male actors do sell much better than the ones where I have women in them.
I’ve never fully understood that over-the-top vomit-inducing reaction to vaginas that many gay men have.
Yeah, why would a gay man be so repulsed by it? It’s like straight guys who say the idea of gay sex makes them sick. I think that they really fear their attraction to it.
Do you watch porn at home?
Yes, my wife and I watch porn together. You’re asking what type of porn we watch?
No. I just wondered if people involved in porn… Well, there’s this sort-of joke where a gynecologist comes home from work after a long day and wants his wife to just, like, put it away…
(laughs) No, that’s not like me. I think that’s why I love my work. I love fucking. And I love going to work — especially when I have a connection with my co-stars. Some of the guys are great. And if I want to just jack-off at home, I will put a porn film on.
Tell me about your recent AVN award.
The nomination was for ‘Best Transsexual Performer’, which has always been won by a woman. So when I won, there were so many pissed-off transsexual women there. They didn’t understand that it was simply ‘transsexual’ and they can’t go and make two separate categories when there’s not another performer like me. I was in shock when they said my name. Then I stood up and started screaming like a chick.
Is your life all centered around porn?
Well, I’m a major workaholic. If I do relax and switch off from work, I usually watch movies.
Does that explain your current homage to Brokeback Mountain?
Actually, I didn’t even like the original movie.
So what do you like?
Right now I’m really into Prison Break. There are certain TV shows that I really enjoy. I love Oz.
Me too. I once interviewed the actor that played Chris Keller.
Yeah? I am jealous! What was that like?
Nerve-wracking. But that’s because I had a major crush on him.
(laughs) Anyway, I love the box sets. I get the DVDs and then I’ll spend a whole weekend watching 25 episodes. It’s perfect for me, as I don’t watch too much actual TV because I just can’t stand commercials. They drive me insane. I also really enjoy documentaries. Different kinds of conspiracy things — like stuff about 9/11. I’m a big conspiracy guy. Especially anything about the US Government.
Are you still able to vote in the US?
I kept my citizenship and will continue to vote. For too long, the whole election process has been bullshit anyway. We vote, but it doesn’t necessarily get counted.
Did this influence your decision to leave America?
Yeah — the Government is so scary. And I just got sick of the constitution being ripped apart right in front of me: my rights being taken away as both a citizen and a pornographer. And I didn’t feel safe there anymore. Plus my dollar goes so much further in Mexico so I could afford to buy this huge compound. I could barely get a one-car garage in LA for a similar price. The crime rate is almost zero in this part, the Yucatan. It’s simpler and safer. It’s too bad that I have to go back to the States, but I just signed a contract in Europe, so hopefully I’ll get to work there instead.
Yes, my videos are selling better in Europe and I think it’s because people accept the fact that I’m different and out there. The US seems to have so many hang-ups regarding sex and gender. Even in porn. Like I was approached by studios in LA that said things like ‘we want to do a series with you called Freak of Nature’. It’s sick.
So you don’t miss living in a city?
People think that I’m all wild and out, but I don’t really party. I mainly just do my Internet stuff and use the gym I built here. I’ve also got my three dogs — two I adopted here because the dog situation here is awful. You can’t imagine just how many you see running on the street. It’s very Third World. One of mine was on the streets for about three months and was just covered in ticks. I also have a Chihuahua that I brought with me from the States.
You actually took a Chihuahua to Mexico?
(laughs) Yes — I took it back to its roots.
Who looks after the dogs while you’re away working?
Oh, this could sound really horrible, but I have people who work for me here.
Do they know that you were born female?
In the beginning I didn’t tell them. I thought, ‘Why the hell should I?’ But then I have an office here that has pictures of me lying around, so I felt I had to say something. I have this woman cleaning the place and I was really worried that she’d see something and be really freaked-out. So I told her and she was so open-minded. It didn’t matter to her. And this, by the way, is some small village with really old-school people living in it.
Does anybody ever guess that you’ve not always been a man?
It’s interesting — nobody has any idea when they first meet me. When I tell people they’re like, ‘No way, that is totally wild — I would never have thought that in a million years’. And that, for me, is a really big compliment.