Buck Angel has lived through several lifetimes. Born a girl in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, he made a living as a model (and developed a serious crack habit) before deciding to become a man, 18 years ago. As the "man with a pussy" he went on to marry a woman, and make award-winning porn. Now, he's keen to mainstream, by becoming an author, educator and lecturer.
Do you remember the first time you realized you wanted to be a boy rather than a girl?
I always felt like a man. It wasn’t ‘I think’; it was ‘I am’. My parents treated me very much like a boy. They called me Buck. They didn’t treat my sisters like that. My sisters are both butch too; they have that masculine energy. But mine was male energy. That’s not really normal but it felt normal to me. Going through puberty at 15, things started changing. That was a breaking point for me. I got into drinking and smoking pot; had a psychological breakdown. I was extremely shy. I always wore a baseball cap. I couldn’t make eye contact, start up a conversation.
How did you parents deal with that?
Looking back I feel really bad for my parents. I don’t blame them for anything they did. You have to understand: My dad was a professional football player; my parents are Republicans. And I became a hardcore drug addict. But now my relationship with them is amazing. I’m their son. They make a huge effort.
Tell me about your process of transitioning.
It started 18 years ago. I saw a documentary about a transsexual and it was like an epiphany. I knew it was going to save my life. I had to do everything on my own. There wasn’t even the internet when I was going through it. I had to go to bookshops and look for books on transsexuals. Finding a doctor, that was difficult, but I found a doctor in LA. He was such a sweetheart. He started shooting me with testosterone. I was very nervous about it, so worried about what I was going to look like, but I knew that without it I was going to commit suicide. I saw immediate changes. In one month I lost my period. The hair took a while but I started building muscle quickly. I went to ten different doctors about my breasts. That cost me a lot of money, but I got two jobs to pay for it. I eventually found a doctor who did, not a mastectomy, but a gynecomastia. I can’t tell you how pleased I am about my chest. Now I take testosterone every week. In Mexico it’s a lot cheaper and I can get it over the counter. I’ll inject it once a week for the rest of my life.
How did you move into the adult film industry?
I think it was over 10 years ago or so that I made my first fetish film. It was for my own company, The Pro Dominatrix, that I started with my wife at the time. We made dominatrix and fetish (foot, smoking, bondage) films in our dungeon in downtown Los Angeles. I taught myself to use a camera and edit. We put them on VHS and sold them through the website. Then I started trying the Buck stuff. I have done 15 Buck films; most under my own label, Buck Angel Entertainment. I control my image. I only release one or two movies a year because I do not want to over-saturate the market with my product. I really love all my films. I have seen such a growth with my work and also with the talent that I am able to cast now. In the beginning it was very hard for me to cast, as people were scared to be in a film with me because they had no idea how this would reflect on their career. The adult entertainment business is very conservative in a sense that you can not really do crossover gay, straight work. But, I did it. And one more film and then I think I’m done with making adult films.
What will you do instead?
I’m becoming more mainstream. I speak at events, talk in schools, and it’s such an honor to speak to people like that. I recently appeared at Idea City [a conference in Canada similar to Ted]. There were scientists, astronauts, photographers—all different types of people. I’m not an educated person. I barely graduated high school, but it doesn’t matter—I’m an expert in my field! I talk about my sex change, my life before the change, how sad and depressed I was, how I felt like nothing could change for me. Basically how if you want something bad enough you can have it. I am not a trans activist, I am an advocate for people who do not fit in the "box". I want all people to feel inspired by my message of self acceptance. I really want to help change the world view on this.
How did you become politicized in this way?
It was never a thought in my mind. I just wanted to make adult work because there was no one like me in that world. I never thought I was going to be an activist. I was never confident with my genitals but now I can embrace that part of my body that I hated for so long. And I want to share that with people. Not just people with issues with their genitals. My goal is to help make the world a better place for all of us. This hatred that is out there is very scary and I think that it is because people do not know how to deal when they see something different. Because we grow up being told this is how society is, when something does not fit that idea people freak out.
What’s your home life like?
I have an amazing life. I’m blessed. I moved to Mexico four and a half years ago. The US was forcing me out. When Katrina hit New Orleans, where me and my wife lived, we left and we’ve never looked back. We have an acre of land in Mexico with a home, guesthouse, my own gym. I have a gardener and a cook. I live a rockstar lifestyle there. I’m away a lot, but when I go home I stay at home. I go to the gym, eat, hang out. I don’t party. My wife travels all over the world too, so a lot of times we’re both on the road. We’ve been together eight years and I’m very lucky to have a person like her. As far as she’s concerned, the porn is a job. It has nothing to do with her. She’s very supportive of everything I do. We’re normal business people, successful people. We’re really normal.