Last week, world-famous porn star Buck Angel was in Stockholm, Sweden for Pride Week hosting a seminar entitled “The Buck Angel Experience” and participating in a porn star panel with fellow actors Scott Spears and Michael Brandon. In his seminar he spoke about his transition from a happy young child through drug addiction, multiple suicide attempts, and prostitution to become the comfortable and happy man he is today.
Born in a time when female to male transsexuals were invisible and medical support was sparse, Buck spent a number of years struggling with his inner feelings and nowhere to turn. From his mid-teens to mid-twenties he was living on the streets, prostituting himself for drugs. Photographs of Buck were sent to a modeling agency and he became a forerunner of androgyny in fashion, but he spent the year he was involved with modeling drunk and high, ultimately forcing him out of the business. Buck awoke one day in a gutter in LA with the realization that he would die if he continued living his life the way he was. He was checked into a rehab center and got sober.
“I was an angry, mean person before I started taking testosterone. It changed me. It has made me calm, rational. I think better, I look at life better, I’m happy. That stuff changed me for the better.”
Buck saw a documentary following the lives of four people, one of whom was a woman having a sex change to become a man. With the realization that the deep desire Buck had felt his entire life was a possibility, he sought out a doctor who had been performing male to female sex changes for thirty years. The doctor had never worked with a trans man before, but agreed to help Buck through his transition. His decision to not have bottom surgery was largely based on the lack of technology and the extreme cost. It was a hard decision for Buck to become comfortable with his vagina, but he realized that because he wasn’t going to have any bottom surgeries, he would need to get friendly. As a result, he became comfortable with his body.
“What are we always told in our whole lives? We’re told that to be a man you have to have a penis! There’s no way that you’ll ever be fully a man. And it wasn’t even just society telling me that, it was the trans community telling me that. The trans man community telling me, ‘You’ll never be a man unless you have a penis.’ And that is really such a fucked up message to give.”
Buck had been working behind the scenes with a trans woman making fetish porn, and realized that there was no porn with trans men so he started to make his own. After three years of trying to break into the industry, Buck won an AVN award. He is now stepping back behind the camera with a new series of porn with trans men.
“I really want people to understand why I’m here, and why I chose to take my message further than just pornography. It’s because I felt a need to share that I was fucked up when I realized that I was a man and nobody could help me. And I never want to see that happen again. And I think that my message of becoming comfortable with your body and understanding that what’s between your legs does not define who you are is extremely important in a world where we are told that if you don’t have a penis or you don’t have a vagina, you are not a man or you are not a woman and that is bullshit. So remember to rethink what it means to be a man and a woman, because that means many, many, many things. Be who you are no matter what, and do not conform to what society tells you you are. You are who you are because you choose to be who you are.”
OP: Where are you from exactly?
Buck: Originally I’m from Los Angeles.
And how do you identify yourself?
As a man! Some people would say trans man, but I don’t identify as a trans man.
Great! Have you seen a difference between the United States and Europe in terms of trans acceptance and recognition?
Oh, for sure, 100%. That’s why you see me more in Europe than you do in the United States. Not so much for the trans stuff, it’s more about my sex work. I find that my sex work is way more accepted in Europe than it ever has been in the United States. Little by little it’s being accepted a little bit more and I’m being asked to speak at more places in the United States, but because of my status as a porn star, which by the way – it has been really difficult to get rid of that tagline, as a porn star. I wish I would have never had that, it’s sort of put me in a box, where in the United States they won’t even touch you with a lot of things because you’re a porn star. With that said, I would say that because of my sex work I’m more accepted in Europe, but I also think that the trans movement is very big in the United States, but I find it to be a little bit more uptight than it is here. Especially with me.
Do you ever get tired of being a public figure and taking on the task of being “the educator” about trans issues?
No, not at all. In fact, I actually enjoy it and I think that the one thing that I want people to understand is that I don’t consider myself a trans activist, I consider myself an activist for people who don’t fit in the box. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself, because I don’t live my life as a trans man, and that’s great, a lot of men do, and a lot of men are activists for the trans community and I think we have a lot of those, but I don’t think we have a lot of activists where people can be free about their sexuality; free about themselves and about their bodies. That’s why a lot of trans men don’t particularly care for me, because I’m so about my vagina. A lot of them want to hide their vaginas, which again is totally fine, but I’m on the complete opposite side of that, and I’m talking about freedom of yourself. Freedom of your body, freedom to live as you want to be. And again, I live as a man. I’ll always be a trans man, there’s no getting away from that, but I want people to understand that you don’t have to be that always. You can move on from that.
Exactly. I also really appreciate that you’re very comfortable with your body and that you are active about that.
Which community do you identify with most?
(Laughs) That’s a great question! I love that question, actually! I do not identify with any community, because I don’t like communities. I have a hard time with communities. WIth that said, again, I think communities are important because I think it helps a lot of people. It’s sort of like A.A., you know, I did go to Alcoholics Anonymous, I’m twenty years sober. But I don’t go anymore because I felt like it was putting me in a box. And the thing is, I think communities sort of help you for a little while, but then what happens is that you get stuck in the community box. Let’s just use the example of trans men, what happens is they get stuck in that box, and then they think that you can only be ‘this way’ to be a trans man. You have to have this surgery, you have to have that surgery, if you don’t have this, you’re not that, and like, what the fuck?! We’re all different! It’s really not a cool thing to do that. So I think my answer to the question of community- I don’t fit into any community, I don’t particularly think communities are the best thing in the world after a certain amount of time, and you need to move on and just be yourself.
I totally agree. Last question: do you have any advice for trans porn star hopefuls?
Yeah! Just email me! I’m making a new series, my first movie will be out August 15th, it’s called “Sexing the Transman XXX.” So now I’m doing a new series of trans man porn because I want to step back and bring more guys into it. I don’t want to be in front of the camera anymore, so I’m hoping to really build the genre up now and really get more guys out there. I want them to understand that you’re not going to make a million dollars. I’m far from rich! I have to do many other things to make money. But you have to understand why you want to get into porn, and understand that that will always be part of your life. So I’m always weary when a twenty year old says to me, “I want to be a porn star,” you know? So I always write them back, “Why do you want to be a porn star?” It means nothing to be a porn star, trust me. I just want to put that out there for them and for them to understand what it is and why they want to do that. And I think making sure that you work with the right companies and that you’re always respected. That’s basically it.
Wonderful! Thank you so much!
Cool! Thank you!