Buck Angel
Buck Angel

Buck Angel isn’t just a porn star, or inspirational speaker, or Transman, he is a shining beacon of what humanity should strive to become

“I’m not really even a porn star anymore, for some reason that’s the label that I got because I do make porn and I because I did perform in porn for so long but I don’t consider myself so much of a porn star any more but someone who’s more of an inspirational or motivational speaker.”

Late last year I got to sit down via Skype to talk to the most interesting, warm and friendly person I’ve met for a very long time. It’s rare to find someone with these qualities, who are so comfortable in their own skin that nothing is off the table to talk about and it’s with this ease I spent the next hour lost in a conversation with someone who I could’ve known my entire life.

Buck Angel isn’t just a porn star, or inspirational speaker, or Transman, he is a shining beacon of what humanity should strive to become. He epitomises the very essence of tolerance and understanding that should just come naturally to everyone. To just be without judgement. He holds differing views on the world from you and me at times and yet other times he’s right there with you, yet the whole time he never conveys that anyone is right or wrong, just that it’s different… in fact, with such ease you wouldn’t even know you differed on opinion. And that’s how it should be.

I was lucky enough to know a beautiful soul who has since passed away. Without her in my life, and her willingness to talk about her penis and later her vagina, and the whole process between, I would be clueless. She has an amazing daughter who has only ever known her as a female and not the ‘male’ that created her prior to the beginning of the change. Through knowing this child through to adulthood, and the family dynamics that were created between her mother and my friend, I began a journey of realising that families are so very diverse and not the least bit unclear as the ’50s had us believing.

I strongly recommend everyone go to Buck’s workshops, his Q&As and watch his documentaries while he’s here in Australia. An opportunity like this may never come again for some. Transpeople are beautiful souls but some are terrified by what the rest of the world thinks of them. Anyone who’s had to come out of the closet regarding their sexuality knows what that can feel like. Yet for a Transperson there is another level again… they have body modifications, gender changes and possibly even sexual preference changes. Some change completely, others only partly and yet they are who they are. But it’s this complexity that scares them to talk about it. They fear that society will reject them.

If we all take the time to educate ourselves through people like Buck who are willing to discuss these topics, then in time, with better understanding, it might just become so commonplace other Trans will feel comfortable talking about it as well.

Talk me through the process of starting in porn and moving into public speaking…

I started in porn and the reason I started in porn was that I worked in the adult entertainment business behind the scenes. I was making a fetish film and through that, I realised there was no representation of a man like myself, a Transsexual man in the adult industry. This was over 10 years ago. It has changed drastically since then because of the internet, etc. but when I realised this I found it to be quite shocking since so much representation of Transwomen, men who become women so I just decided to put myself out there and decided to celebrate my body in a sexual manner.

That’s how it started really and after 10 years it’s kind of exploded but I got tired of feeling like my message wasn’t getting heard outside of people who watch porn, if that makes sense, I think my message is bigger than just about sex, it’s about body positivity, becoming yourself, and it’s not just about being a Transsexual man and it’s not just about being a gay person, it’s just about being “you” and whatever that means. So I needed to get outside of the porn industry, so I reinvented myself because people wouldn’t look at me or listen to me. I think people get a little turned off when they hear “porn star” which is completely understandable, but I wasn’t reaching anyone maybe because people were immediately stopping at the door when they heard porn star, so I reinvented myself as someone I consider to be more of an inspirational or motivational speaker in a sense.

So when you got into porn how did you get past people thinking you were just a butch woman?

Right. Yeh, my vagina is something that people do immediately identify me as a woman with. Understandably so, for all time we’ve always said a man has a penis and a woman has a vagina and then here I come, ‘actually, that’s not true. I’m trying to rewrite the history of humankind and say that I am a man who has a vagina. It took me for sure about 8 years of continually putting it in (for lack of a better phrase) in people’s faces that I’m a man with a vagina. It’s just been in the last 2 or so years that the whole dynamic has changed and people are calling themselves men with vaginas or people are talking about being a woman with a penis. It seems to be a little bit more ok now. People always used to want to claim that I was a woman or a really butch woman because I had a vagina.

What do you do now in order to get your message out?

Now I do a lot of public speaking at different types of venues like universities, schools, different kinds of workshops, etc. A lot of my talk does talk a lot about sex, but then I am a sexual pro-sex person but it’s not just about that. Recently I made a documentary film called “Sexing the Transman” which touches on a lot of the transition that a lot of Transmen go through and how it affects their sexuality which is something that people aren’t talking about either. For myself, when I went through the change I previously identified as a gay woman and then through my change, I started to have feelings towards men, which was really shocking to me because I was never attracted to men before and it happens a lot to Transsexual men and why taking hormones or changing your gender could also in a sense affect your sexuality. Which is pretty intense I think.

Let’s talk more about the change…

It’s a very difficult thing to go through, so when you’re changing your gender then all of a sudden your sexuality starts to change it’s really difficult to deal with, especially if you think you’re the only one. You don’t really feel like you can talk to anyone about it. My documentary “Sexing the Transman” really put that out there for a lot of other guys to realise it was ok for them to identify as gay men now. It’s part of becoming yourself in a sense.

Me: The Trans community can be quite guarded about letting people in and especially allowing people to know if they are pre or post-operative and to what level of transitioning they are in. It can be very frustrating to want to be better educated on the topic and yet also support the community while not offending anyone…

I’m not part of that, I’m very outspoken and get myself into trouble with the Trans community all the time but I don’t care, it’s not what my work is about and it’s not what you should feel like as a person who wants to ask questions. I think that is why I have been able to break through to (for lack of a better word) “mainstream” because I am able to talk to the people who want to ask questions and I don’t get offended by anything you ask me, because I can’t get offended if I want you to understand what I am going through; I have to be open to you to be able to ask any question you want to ask.

I also educate with humour, smile and happiness. I don’t get offended or mean and ugly and because of that, I know that I attract a really awesome, positive, energy in my life. People want to talk to me, people want to understand what it means to do this or do that and I have always said, especially to Transmen that you need to stop feeling like people are hating you or coming down on you because when you give that energy, it just reflects that, and people just think that all Transmen/Transpeople are all angry at the world. We’re not all angry at the world, and we shouldn’t be angry at the world.

As an educator, you’re able to not only educate fellow Trans but also gay, lesbian, straight, etc…

Exactly, my work isn’t just about the LGBTI community but about the world feeling comfortable. I had my change over 20 years ago and there wasn’t what there is now. No internet, community and all of the different kinds of resources we have now, so I know that I am a good resource because I went through so much. I wish there was somebody like me when I was a younger Transperson and I could look up to them and say ‘that’s what I can be like’ or ‘I can just be ok with myself’. I’m ok with myself, no one can offend me, I’m pretty out there, I speak my mind but not in a disrespectful way, but what I think is needed to be said.

Do you think the complexities of the Transman’s body physiology make it difficult for them to talk about their bodies with other people? Especially when there is still that ethos that a penis makes you a man.

Absolutely. The penis isn’t all that, trust me, lol, it’s overrated. It’s cool if you feel that you need to get a penis and it makes you feel masculine and male, I’m all for that, again it’s whatever you need to do but my own self and my own opinion and working in the adult industry and around that kind of thing, I really feel for myself the best thing I ever did was to embrace my vagina. It changed my life in so many ways. I was talking with someone the other about how a lot of women can’t embrace their vaginas and have a lot of issues around dealing with their vagina and I realised that I had forgotten about that. Just in the last couple of years, I’ve gained a huge fan base of women. All kinds of women, gay women, straight women, etc. and I realised why this is, is because I embrace my vagina and I think that they wonder “how can this man embrace his vagina and I’m still kind of a little bit weird about my vagina?” So I think my positivity around my vagina has attracted this whole new section of women that want to have that same empowerment that I get from mine.

With the younger generation experimenting more with their sexual identities from a young age, do you think they’re moving away from “labels” and pigeonholing?

It’s amazing. I started my work 10 years ago and it has been an uphill battle for me, not just with the adult work but with the Trans community as well. Many of them hated me when I first started doing what I am doing. They would say ‘you’re not representing us, because then you had to have a penis or you weren’t considered a Transman. So it blows me away that people are starting to understand that gender is that fluid and they don’t have to identify in any way. It’s really amazing to see this fluctuation and fluidity going on with gender and sexuality.

Terminology is a tricky topic with the Trans community…

I think that it is so important that the Trans community stops feeling that they need to school everybody on language because language is something that evolves constantly. The word “Tranny” is now a bad word but when I changed the word “Tranny” was a positive word (a term of endearment). I’m 50 years old, “queer” was a dirty word back when I was younger but now they have reclaimed it, so I ask the question ‘why are some words reclaimable and others are not reclaimable?’. Why can we say queer now but we can’t say Tranny? I’m all for reclaiming a word and making something negative something positive again. If we reclaim Tranny as a positive word then it can never hurt us again. Right? It’s always a positive thing.

Transgender vs Transsexual – same thing or different?: For me, there is a difference. I do consider myself more as a Transsexual person, which to me is somebody who wanted to switch genders. I always wanted to be a man, I identify as a man, that’s what I am, I don’t identify as a Transperson at all.  I am completely and totally a man. So to me, that’s what a Transsexual person is. A Transgender is a more umbrella term for people who don’t necessarily want to identify as a certain gender or certain sexuality. Which I think is so awesome that is out there but there are different kinds of dynamics in any group, like lesbians, so we all just need to respect whatever choice or gender or sexuality someone is. It would be amazing if we could all just get along.

Let’s talk about Transman health…

I am all about my vagina lol. I talk about my vagina all the time and for me, it’s very powerful as a man to say I have a vagina and I am ok with my vagina it doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just part of my body. I also want to say that I’m not anti-getting a penis, it just wasn’t for me. Because it wasn’t for me, I embraced my vagina and if I hadn’t embraced my vagina I would not be who I am today. I would still be worrying about what people thought about me, I would still be worried about having great sex, I would still be just not a ‘whole person. So by reclaiming and really becoming a man with a vagina in a sense, and saying it’s ok, the next step was to realise I have to take care of my body like a woman has to take care of her body, a man has to take care of his body if he has a vagina. It’s not an easy thing to make a gynaecologist appointment and go there as a man because the medical association/medical field still doesn’t really understand there are men like us out there. It’s still a while off yet but you have to get over what people think about you and understand it’s about you at this point and you really need to take care of yourself.

How do you feel about the Transmen who have had babies and put themselves out there as “pregnant men”?

That’s a good question. I’m friends with Tom Beatie the famous pregnant man in America. Honestly, whatever you want to do, whatever makes you happy, however, you want to identify is fine with me. I don’t get it, it’s not my thing, I can’t even imagine doing it because to me that feels very female but that’s ok, I’m not saying it is female, I’m just saying for myself, it feels that way. But I’m sure there are some Transmen that feel that they can’t imagine embracing their vagina, so I totally get that. I don’t really know much about being a pregnant man or how it affects the body. It’s all part of becoming the man you want to be. For me bringing a kid into the world is a huge responsibility and as long as you’re a loving, awesome parent and that this child has now become your life, more power to you.

So let’s talk about your coming tour to Australia…

Yeh, I hooked up with Jez from Dude magazine. We’d been talking about it for a year and then finally we decided ‘let’s do it’. He’s amazing. I’m over there for 3 weeks doing Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. I’m doing a bunch of shows, screening my documentary, then I’m going back to Sydney to do a Q&A for Mardi Gras at the film-reviews festival.

There’s a strong focus on your documentaries, will you also be doing any inspirational talks?

I think I’m doing some workshops. One of them will be what I call ‘Bucking the system’ which is an inspirational talk about my life and my change and where I came from and how I got to be this way. I had a really horrible young adulthood. I tried to commit suicide, I was an alcoholic and a drug addict and you know it’s really a miracle that I am sitting here talking to you, I really should be dead. So then there was a documentary made about me called “Mr Angel” and that will be screening, then I’ll do a Q&A about that too. Then I will be doing some health workshops around Transmale health because a lot of Transmen don’t really take care of their bodies. What I mean by that is that a lot of guys don’t go to the gynaecologist or have check-ups around those situations, for many reasons I think, and talking about how it’s really important to take care of your body. Taking hormones is not a joke if you’re taking hormones and you really need to think about the long term effects of that. So I will be talking about the health problems like doctors being unable to tell me certain things, so I had certain health problems because of long term testosterone use.

Is there anything else that you want to tell people?

First of all, I’m really super excited to be coming to Australia, it’s the first time that I’ll have been there and I have a pretty big fan base there and I have been wanting to come for a  long time. From my feeling with talking to Jez and some of the other guys over there, there isn’t really a lot of information going around the Trans community and the activism is only just starting there, but I feel that hopefully me being there can really start getting people more involved and starting to understand people like us exist. That’s the most important thing for me with my work, are people understanding that we exist and that sexuality and gender are not black and white. For example, if a lesbian decides she wants to fall in love with a man it doesn’t mean she isn’t a lesbian anymore, it just means she found a person that she is into. Or if a gay man falls in love with a Transsexual man, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t gay anymore. I want people to understand that sexuality is so fluid and that gender is so fluid that we need to stop putting everything into boxes. However you identify or whoever you are attracted to, it’s totally ok, it’s not the end of the world, you should be ok with who you are and not worry about what other people think about you.