Former Porn Star Buck Angel Is On a Mission to Help Trans Men to Masturbate
Danny Liao

Former Porn Star Buck Angel Is On a Mission to Help Trans Men to Masturbate

On the crowded patio of the Coffee Bean in Los Feliz, Buck Angel reaches his huge, tattooed bicep across the table and shows me an iPhone video of him stroking his clitoris using a silicon attachment about the size of a large button mushroom. I've agreed to watch it after admitting that I don't know how the Buck-Off — the sex toy he designed and the first ever invented for trans men to masturbate with — actually works. Angel, who has a shaved head and a ginger-colored mustache tinged with gray, squeals with excitement at the opportunity to demonstrate.

"If we don't educate, how are people going to learn?" says the 54-year-old nicknamed "tranpa" by young trans and queer kids who come to him for advice.

It's the kind of teachable moment that delights the porn star turned filmmaker, activist and weed entrepreneur. (His new business, Pride Cannabis, which sells THC vape cartridges, is marketed to the trans community, which Angel says "has been totally given narcotic prescriptions up the ass"; he sees marijuana as a more natural alternative). His eagerness to talk about sexuality and the human body has earned him speaking engagements at universities and conferences around the world.

His candid discourse about his vagina — along with his identifying as a transsexual, a non-PC term — has caused conflict with trans activists who argue their genitals are not up for discussion. But Angel sees it as an obligation. It's the reason he chose to appear on mainstream media programs such as The Tyra Banks Show, The Howard Stern Show and The Joe Rogan Experience, where he was often exploited and portrayed as a freak long before TV shows like Transparent ushered in a new era of transgender awareness.

Angel grew up in Van Nuys, where he was athletic, androgynous and often mistaken for "a little surfer California boy." A teenage track-and-field star, he ended up homeless and suicidal after getting kicked out of three high schools in a row for his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Now sober for 28 years (aside from marijuana, which he uses to treat his anxiety), he has never completed high school. He transitioned to male in the mid-1990s and began performing in adult films soon after, purely as a business decision. "I saw a niche that wasn't being filled, and I saw money," he says.

His career took off, and in 2007 he became the first and is still the only man to win Transsexual Performer of the Year at the sex industry's AVN Awards.

Former Porn Star Buck Angel Is On a Mission to Help Trans Men to Masturbate
Danny Liao

Recently, he transitioned again — this time from a porn star to an activist and filmmaker. Through his self-titled entertainment company, he produced a 2011 documentary about trans-male sexuality; he's determined to get more trans men to share their stories — and their bodies — in front of the camera.

Still, he says, he struggles with guilt about all the years he spent getting loaded and worrying his parents.

"I'm making up for lost time, really proving myself to the world," he says. "I should be dead, but I'm not, so that's a good thing. I'm here for a reason."

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