Friday, August 28, 2009

The Leather Life Interview/Buck Angel, “The Man with a Pussy”

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #372, August 28, 2009)

Pioneering transsexual man and award-winning porn star Buck Angel, who bills himself as “The Man with a Pussy,” was recently brought to Minneapolis by adult toy boutique The Smitten Kitten as part of the store’s sixth birthday celebration.

You’re controversial. A lot of people have problems with what you do. Some people say porn is violence against women. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, obviously. By the way, I’ve also won a feminist porn award for my work. I think what I do empowers women as well as men, as well as everyone who’s never fit into a box.

You have a wife. Yes, I have a wife. You’re legally married? I’m legally a man. I had my birth certificate changed. If it’s just a matter of changing a birth certificate, why can’t two men or two women . . . Thank you! I get so pissed off! I have a vagina. My wife has a vagina. When I went to get married they didn’t ask me to drop my pants. I would like to do a huge campaign showing that I’m married, to a woman, legally in the United States of America. How is it possible that I’m married to a woman, and you’re not letting any of these people [same-sex couples] get married because you’re basing it on what’s between their legs?

How long do you see yourself continuing to do porn? I see myself doing porn, honestly, forever. But I don’t see myself in front of the camera after another couple of years. I’m looking to bring other guys into my production company and produce more porn with transsexual men.

Do you have other projects in the works? A book, and I’m trying to put together a reality TV show. Maybe people are ready for me, maybe not. And I’m working on an iPhone app!

Do you pack [i.e., wear a prosthetic phallus]? No way! Why would I pack? I’m “the man with a pussy.” I’m super proud of my pussy, so there’s no reason for me to pack. Though it’s okay for other guys to pack, it’s not an issue for me. Other transmen have told me they pack because of body geometry—a woman’s center of gravity is higher, and a man’s is lower. I’ve never heard of that. That’s interesting! Because my male center of gravity is up here in my head, in my brain. That’s my whole point of what I’m trying to get across to the world—it has nothing to do with what’s between your legs, it has everything to do with what’s in your head.

PHOTO: Buck Angel

Thursday, August 13, 2009

IML says Bye Bye Barebacking

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #371, August 13, 2009)

In his speech at this year’s International Mr. Leather (IML) contest and show, executive producer Chuck Renslow pointed to the rise in new AIDS infections (in the United States alone, someone becomes infected with HIV every 9-1/2 minutes) and decried the increasing popularity of barebacking (unprotected anal sex, which has long been known to be a primary method of spreading HIV infection).

It was an effective and affecting speech, but along with the applause came some puzzlement—because this year’s IML leather market, as in years past, was full of vendors promoting porn that showcased and glorified barebacking.

Renslow and the IML organization now have done the right thing, followed through and, quite literally, put their money where their mouth is. In a letter to vendors, IML recently announced that the promoting of bareback porn will not be allowed at future IML leather markets.

This announcement has set off a firestorm of discussion. Is this censorship? (No.) Will it drive barebacking underground, thereby making it more attractive because it’s forbidden? (I hope not.) Who is Renslow, anyway, to make this kind of pronouncement? (Continue reading.)

Renslow is a community leader who is saying what needs to be said. Barebacking is dangerous. It’s like riding a motorcycle (or a bicycle) without a helmet or driving a car without seatbelts—you may be okay for awhile, but then something happens without warning that’s serious and possibly lethal because proper protective measures weren’t used.

The situation with barebacking is the same as with smoking, obesity, drug abuse and other public-health problems. People must be encouraged to make good choices that are ultimately life-affirming and life-enhancing, as opposed to bad choices that might feel good or exciting in the short run but that ultimately destroy and degrade life. Role models matter here—showing hot men having hot sex while using condoms sends one kind of message (condoms are a part of hot, healthy sex). Showing hot men having sex without condoms sends another, more dangerous message (condoms aren’t necessary—or worse, sex is hotter without protection).

I, like many other people, have been saying for years that barebacking, except for seroconcordant, monogamous couples, is unsafe, insane, and a slow kind of suicide. Yet barebacking has continued. Maybe, when someone of Renslow’s stature takes this kind of stand, more people will listen and the message will finally get through to many of them.

This is exactly what community leaders ought to be doing, and I applaud Renslow and IML for having the courage and the willingness to take such a public stand, even when it could seriously and negatively impact the IML organization’s finances. This is what leadership looks like, folks.