LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

Thursday, October 29, 2009

READ THIS! "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List" Book Review


KATHY GRIFFIN: A D-Licious Book!
 
     Gay guys love Kathy Griffin, and she loves us back. After her big break in "Suddenly Susan", and before she cemented her status in pop culture with "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List", the raunchy star went back to standup comedy roots... and she largely credits the gay community with her successful renaissance: "...Let's face it, my experiences performing for the unshockable gays helped make those Laugh Factory shows a no-holes-barred outlet for me. Usually there are all kinds of agendas at a standard comedy club: the audience is talking, they're drunk, they're bored, they're trying to out-funny the comedian, the guys are hitting on the girls, the first dates are going badly. But when I'd play at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center's theater, the crowd has already had their wine in the lobby, and they're just captive audiences, ready to laugh. There's nothing like the energy of a gay audience, and what began to happen at the Laugh Factory was that gays were coming to see me, and then the breeders folded in, and eventually as the show started getting more and more buzz around town, the place filled up regularly. I really believe a lot of couples and straight guys, who normally wouldn't have given me a chance previously, now came to see what I did as funny. Leave it to the gays to scour a major city like Los Angeles and find the one place they could converge on a Wednesday night and turn it into the place to be. They've always had my back. What I love about the gays is that when I've been lost, they've found me."
 
     Her affinity for us homos is just one of the many things that the 48-year old actress, comedian, Emmy Award-Winner, and Grammy Nominee (for "Best Comedy Album", in 2008) shares with her fans in her new book, "Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin". More than just a collection of funny stories, it's the saga of her life and her unorthodox journey to stardom: the good (her friendship with Brooke Shields and her close relationship with her parents, who were supportive of her showbiz aspirations), the bad (dealing with the entertainment industry), the ugly (her plastic surgery nightmares, complete with some graphic photos)... and the hybrids of all three (her marriage and other romantic adventures). Of course, before you ask, there's also a lot of celebrity dish. Most palpable is Griffith's writing about her relationships with her fellow funny men and women (including Andy Dick, Lisa Kudrow, Phil Hartman, Janeane Garofalo, Jack Black, Jerry Seinfeld, Joan Rivers, and others) as she fought for success in the world of comedy. Aspiring comedians out there will certainly appreciate her insider's look at the business of being paid to be funny... and, as some of you may already know, it's NOT always fun. Once "Suddenly Susan" was canceled, Griffin could have easily disappeared to the Island of Lost Sitcom Stars... but she never gave up. Our heroine played the Hollywood game as best she could, and then realized, "It was an A-List world, and my life was on the D-List. And then it dawned on me: That's the show!"
Griffin also gets some good jabs at some of her fellow celebs, including the "Twilight" kids, Whitney Houston, and Hillary Swank... but when she really lets loose, as she does on pop tart Britney Spears, it's pretty hilarious: "Britney Spears is an example of someone who may never be out of bounds, she's such a delicious font of crazy. I've met her a couple of times, and I can safely say, she's as dumb as a stick. I wish I could say there was a side of Britney you don't know about, that she's really a Rhodes scholar who hides her love of classical music and French literature because it doesn't go with her image. The truth is, she's a complete moron, and I'm surprised she can even function." That alone was worth the price of the book, but there's lots more where that came from!
 
     Of course, there are also Kathy's career controversies, including the overblown "Suck it, Jesus" incident on TV, and the totally ridiculous "Dakota Fanning incident" (See Chapter 18...). But you won't find Kathy stating she was "misquoted" or trying to distance herself from these incidents. As she states in her book, The Divine Ms. G. has a strict "no apologies" policy. Which may be one of the reasons why her fans love her so much. Comedy means never having to say you're sorry...
 
     The question is, Is Ms. Griffin worried about losing her "D-List cred" now that she has a Number One best seller? Inquiring gays want to know...
 
     Visit www.KathyGriffin.net for more!
 
Jed Ryan
 

NOW HEAR THIS! MADONNA: "CELEBRATION": CD Review


MADONNA: "CELEBRATION": Come And Get It!
 
     If you're looking for a serious thesis about Madonna's role as the ultimate gay icon (Yes she is, hands down. But debates are welcome!) or how she has endured as an American music phenom by constantly reinventing herself, then look elsewhere. This author has been there, done that... many, many times through the years. Let's talk about the "Music"! Whether you view Madge as a goddess or a media whore; as a good bitch or a bad bitch; or as underappreciated or overrated, you can't deny that this compilation of our heroine's most beloved songs is pure pop candy. In her earliest interviews, Madonna always said that her songs at that time ("Everybody", "Holiday") were about having fun and escapism-- and the feel of this collection as a whole is definitely more in that vein than the deeper lyrics and themes that she explored later on. That said, a few of her "unsung hero" tracks are here too, like 2003's "Hollywood". "Celebration" is available as a single 18-song CD or in a two disc, 36-track set. (PS: The i-Tunes Deluxe Version features 38 tracks, a bonus remix of "Celebration" the single, and another bonus track called "It's So Cool".)
 
     The singles picked from her 25 years in the biz range from her silly but catchy early songs like "Dress You Up" and "Burnin' Up", to her newer hits like "Hung Up" and "4 Minutes". There are also two new songs on the CD. One of them a goofily enjoyable song with rapper Lil Wayne called "Revolver" ("My love's a revolver; My sex is a killer; Do you wanna die happy?... Bang bang!), and another is "Celebration", which is the over-the-top climax of bona fide pop escapism I mentioned before -- sort of like 198 's "Holiday" on ecstasy. No doubt, most of Maddy's hardcore fans already have all these songs, plus all the remixes and bootlegs they got their hands on through the years... and a few other Madonna lovers may be upset that some of their personal faves may have been left out. (Where's "American Pie"? "Bedtime Story"? "Deeper and Deeper"? Or my personal favorite, 1993's "Secret Garden"...) The way I see it is: Each track is like a past sexual experience: some you may have liked better than others, but an orgasm is always a good thing. And, like great sex, that magic moment in time when you were "Vogue"-ing or cranking up the car radio to "Beautiful Stranger" might be gone forever... but oh, didn't it make you feel good at the time?!
 
     Since I always have my eyes on what's next in pop culture, in the past few years I have unfairly dissed my thirtysomething gay brothers for still worshipping Ms. Ciccione like it was 1985 and the video for "Lucky Star" was playing on MTV. But after re-listening to newly remastered versions ("From the Original Tapes!" the CD cover shrieks...) of timeless pop hits like "Like A Virgin" and "Into the Groove", then I realize that I might have been a little too judgmental on my fellow homos... and for that I'm profoundly, as Track 11 says, "Sorry"!
 
     "Celebration": You know you want it!

WATCH IT! "THE LISA JACKSON DOCUMENTARY" Movie Review


THE LISA JACKSON DOCUMENTARY
 
      Lisa Jackson is first and foremost a musician.  Therefore, it's only fitting that Becca Goldstein's film "The Lisa Jackson Documentary" open with footage of Ms. Jackson during a live performance.  She's screaming out to the audience, "Are you a rock and roll star?  I'm a rock and roll star!"  Throughout the movie, we get to see a lot more footage of Lisa turning it out with songs like "I Am A-O-K".  On stage, Lisa Jackson's "look" is sometimes influenced by the androgynous style of  David Bowie in the Ziggy Stardust era.  Other times, she adopts an "80's bad girl" look (Think Debbie Harry and "Like a Virgin"-era Madonna), with the lacy blouses, miniskirts, high heels, and a lot of makeup.  Musically, Lisa Jackson is undisputedly guitar and vocals-driven rock and roll, with the spirit of punk running through.  As those who have been in that scene know, that spirit was all about intense performance, pageantry, an "anything goes" mentality, and...breaking the rules!  Early on, Lisa Jackson probably realized that breaking the rules-- in this case, society's rules-- would be necessary for her own survival: The singer/songwriter started out life down South as a handsome, dark-haired boy named Steve.  But Steve knew that beneath the masculine surface, there was a woman inside. 
 
     Whether or not she's performing, Lisa Jackson is appealing to watch. In street clothes and without makeup, she has the androgynous appeal of a cute New York City boy; when done up, she evokes a earthy, European-style beauty.  Throughout the film, Jackson displays an impish quality whether she's opining about the empowering qualities of taking estrogen, getting her electrolysis treatments, or giddily declaring, "Vaginas can be icchy-- but I like them!"  Other aspects of her personal life are shown, including Jackson visiting her hometown in Georgia, where her Southern accent mysteriously resurfaces.  Director Becca Goldstein also gets a lot of lively input from Lisa's peers, many of them musicians and artists themselves.  The first one we meet is Jayne County, a transsexual music artist in her own right.  Although Jayne needs a little prompting (Remember, this rock star has been in the NYC music scene for a L-O-N-G time!), she offers some of the funniest moments in the documentary. Ms. County states she admires Lisa because, as opposed to a lot of the drag and transgendered performers she knew, Lisa wrote her own music, sang in her own voice, and played her own guitar-- which was presumably rare when genderfuckers were just starting to appear on the queer music and performance art scenes.  The late Dean Johnson of the Velvet Mafia calls Lisa's persona that of a "warrior goddess" and likens her to the berdaches-- the high-regarded Native American people who were of dual genders and reportedly held special powers.  Other interviewees include legendary drag artist Mother Flawless Sabina, Rose Royale, and actress Rosie Perez, who compares Lisa's gender outlawism ("A trans rock star!" Perez proclaims excitedly) with Little Richard, whose flamboyant  looks and antics broke the mold back in his day as well. 
 
    A documentary about a trans person always has the potential to be exploitative, or focus too much on the titillating aspects of the subject's life (i.e.: the actual sex change).  But "The Lisa Jackson Documentary" is never exploitative, perhaps because in mirroring its subject, we realize that Ms. Lisa Jackson is clearly in control of her own life and persona.  The film is really bolstered by montage-style footage of Jackson doing what she does best: making music (Her performance of "Fabulously Done" is a high point of the film.) and, well... just being Lisa Jackson.  In one scene, Lisa takes us to her "day job", where one of her co-workers calls Lisa, "one of the most down-to-earth people that I ever met-- and she just happens to be a trans woman."  Indeed, that's the gist of the documentary: Lisa Jackson is a down-to-earth person who happens to have an extraordinary story to tell.
 
    After a showing of the film,  Lisa Jackson and Becca Goldstein gave an exclusive interview to Jed Ryan.
 
JR: So, how long did it take to make "The Lisa Jackson Documentary"-- from the decision that you were actually going to do it, until the movie was finished?
LJ: We decided to do it in late 2005, and we started filming the whole year of 2006. It took a good two years to finish up the editing, and then all the press production. We had to do some fundraising and stuff like that. So, I'd say, all and all, that it was a good three year process, maybe three and a half years. Becca had started filming me without any real goals probably six month prior to that... which kind of led into making a movie. It was a long process!
 
JR: Do you find, throughout your career, that people-- especially the press-- have tended to concentrate more on your being a trans person more than on your music?
LJ: When I was heavily performing, especially in the beginning, I think that's what people focused on: the transition. It was like, a gimmick or something. And I was still somewhat unclear at the time: Was I transgender? Was I a cross-dresser? For me, I was working it out as I was going, figuring all these things out. So, I think they did focus on the trans issues a lot, but I think that once the music got better and the band got better, a lot of the focus did become more on the music... and also how I was expressing myself through the music. That was the connection. I never minded so much being labeled a "trans artist" as long as it wasn't holding me back from anything. If people weren't being judgmental about it, I didn't mind.
BG: I think that if you would have kept performing, it would have been a bigger deal though... because towards the end, you wanted to break the mainstream barrier, not just be identified with the gay music scene...
LJ: Yeah, we weren't just playing at gay clubs. We were playing at The Knitting Factory and the Canal Room. We were the headliners. It was definitely getting to that point. I was very much an alternative type of person, but playing in a very straight venue. Which is good. You're not "preaching to the choir"! (Laughs)
 
JR: Jayne County, when I interviewed her years ago, called you her "spiritual goddaughter"!
LJ: I love Jayne. Jayne did everything that I've done, like, 20 years ahead of me. She was doing it when she was being threatened by a gun in a bar. Not to take anything away from what I've done, but she's very much a...
BG: Pioneer!
LJ: Pioneer, yeah. And there were a lot of those people in the scene. Dean Johnson, who's in the film... Hattie (Hathaway), who's running the HOWL Festival... All these people who really knocked down the door for someone like myself to really be able to go to CBGB and play. Like, I didn't have to beat down the door to get into CBGB; they had already done it. Which is great!
 
JR: Yeah!  What's your relationship like with the New York City music scene now?
LJ: I think that right now... well, I don't think about it! I am definitely not a part of the scene. And I don't really think about performing. I very rarely pick up my guitar. The only way I can really explain it is that: Once I quit performing with the band, I did expect to perform solo, and do my own thing. But I decided to take some classes and go to school. It totally opened the door for me with new ideas and thoughts about where I wanna go with my life. I think that as a trans person, I've kind of reached this place where I don't need to express myself through music anymore. As an artist, I feel that I've said what I had to say. There's not much pushing me to do that at this point. And, some changes have happened to me. Becoming famous really isn't that important to me anymore; playing music just to be famous is definitely not a goal! I just don't really have anything pushing me to do that right now. It's not a bitter thing. Maybe some burnout-- but it's just not there. My mind just totally went to a different place. My goals are very different now. I think that as trans people, you can get into a situation like I was in, where you think that music and performing is really all you can do. But once I got into school and the regular job that I have now, I realized, "No! I can have a regular life just like anyone can-- a job, and a nice place to live, and all this... just, stuff!" Those things weren't important to me before, and now they are-- and I don't know if that's the transition, or just me getting older. It's definitely a different part of the journey now!
 

READ THIS! WHAT WERE MARILYN MONROE'S "SECRETS"? Book Review


WHAT WERE MARILYN MONROE'S "SECRETS"?
 
   Celebrity biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli has just written a new book called "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe".  What could possibly be said about the late Hollywood sex goddess that hasn't been said before?  And why should we all still be interested in Marilyn anyway?
 
     Apparently, a lot of people ARE still interested. More than interested.  Fascinated.  Like Elvis, like Lucy, like Judy Garland, Marilyn's appeal has endured through the decades, with her private life being just as much talked about and written about as her movies.  Indeed, Marilyn Monroe is a gay and drag icon and one of the most imitated women ever.  (I point to NYC's annual Gay Pride or Halloween Parades in the Village as proof.)  With all that's been written about her, however, most of the "facts" about her life have been salacious, sex-oriented anecdotes without an inkling of a credible source behind it.  After all, it's easy to make claims about someone when they aren't around to dispute them.  In 2008, a book called "Hollywood Babylon: It's Back!" claimed as fact, among other things, that Marilyn (1) worked as a prostitute early in her career, (2) made a porn movie with actor Guy Madison, and (3) had sexual dalliances with Ronald Reagan, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Rory Calhoun, Orson Welles, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, and many other famous men and women.  Compared to this patently and proudly trashy book, Taraborrelli's new bio is a class act.  The mammoth (531 pages) book isn't really gossipy.  In fact, a lot of the more salacious stories about Monroe, most of them post-mortem hearsay anyway, aren't even addressed except for a few pages near the end of the book. Astonishingly, most of these rumors emanated from, of all places, the FBI (Which makes us ask, Didn't they have anything better to do?).  Taraborrelli is quick to point out that most of these claims were never substantiated, must less "proven"-- even if the FBI made them.  For example, you may remember how in 2007 a supposed tape of Marilyn performing oral sex on an unidentified male was purchased for $1.5 million.  This story made national news  Coincidentally, in late 2006, FBI files were exposed that such a tape supposedly had existed.  The interesting thing was: the buyer was never identified, the "broker" of the deal states that the buyer will never release the tape, and of course whoever wrote the FBI report can't be identified.  And, to state the obvious, no one has ever seen Marilyn's "sex tape".  Using the mentality of, "If no one has seen it, it's probably doesn't exist.", Taraborrelli points out that this tape is most likely a myth.
 
     Taraborrelli gives a meticulously detailed, almost textbook-like, survey of the world's most famous blonde.  The author seems hellbent on proving the accuracy of his statements-- as much as facts about a star who isn't alive to verify them could be proven.  He includes over 30 pages of his sources.  "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe" concentrates on Marilyn's internal struggles throughout her life, largely thanks to a combination of genetics (Her grandmother and mother both suffered from psychological disorders.), her tumultuous upbringing, her drug use, and her mistreatment by the people in her life.  The book goes into a lot of vivid detail about the lives of Marilyn's grandmother, mother, and "aunt" Grace, plus Marilyn's assorted surrogate families-- and their lifelong influence on the actress.  In fact, it's 115 pages before "Norma Jeane" even becomes "Marilyn Monroe".  Depending on just how much the reader is truly fascinated by the star will determine how much they will tolerate EVERY little detail about Monroe's family and upbringing-- even such details such as Marilyn's grandmother's hairdos.  For this reviewer at least, it was cute at first, then got tiring.  In addition, even after Monroe becomes a star, her mother Gladys is a recurrent, mostly negative omnipresence in Marilyn's life and in his book-- whenever she reappears for a chapter, the book comes to a screeching halt.  But most likely, that was the same effect Gladys had on Marilyn in real life.  As for the "secrets", well... they aren't really secrets as much as Taraborelli giving us the facts, and then allowing the reader to make their own educated hypotheses on Marilyn Monroe's life.  If you believe what Taraborelli's research has to say, then logically, the likelihood of an affair with President John Kennedy was high, t he likelihood of an affair with Robert Kennedy was low.  As far as her death, the likelihood of suicide was high, the likelihood of murder was low.  Taraborrelli also writes a lot about Marilyn's adventures with the FBI, who seemed just as fascinated, or even more so, with Marilyn's life as the general population was-- something a lot of people may not have known. 
 
     J. Randy Taraborrelli doesn't go into Marilyn's legacy as a gay icon and her role in American womanhood, which is what I'm particulary interested in.  That's for other books, I guess.  So, why does M.M. remain such an enduring presence in pop culture and American history?  Dish Miss' own Lady Clover Honey summarized it in one sentence: "She was the epitome of beauty, femininity, and glamour." 
 
     Isn't that enough?
 
(J. Randy Taraborrelli did not return requests for a comment about his book.)

CHANNING, IS THAT YOU?


CHANNING, IS THAT YOU?
 
     Hollywood's newest It Boy Channing Tatum is everywhere lately.  The 29-year old star of this summer's big budget popcorn fllick "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" has no less than eight (!) movies on the way and/or in pre-production.  He's also currently playing coverboy for "GQ" Magazine.  How appropriate, considering that Tatum was a fashion model before turning to acting.  He modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch, Dolce & Gabbana, Nautica, American Eagle, Emporio Armani, and Aeropostale.  Not content with just standing and posing, he moved on to acting in commercials before his big break: being cast in Ricky Martin's video for "She Bangs". On the big screen, Tatum helped make the teen-oriented 2006 flicks "Step Up" and "She's the Man" into modest hits, and then went other roles in both independent and major studio films  But it seems that somewhere along the way, the 6'2" hottie apparently dabbled in other areas of showbiz as well: At age 18, he performed in a Chippendales-style revue called Male Encounter at a now-closed Florida nightclub under the stage name "Chan Crawford" for about a year.  You can watch the video of Channing plying his trade, courtesy of Us Magazine (The more salacious content of his act has been censored, unfortunately...):
 
 
     Channing Tatum is going to be one of the busiest guys in Hollywood in the next few years...so, it's unlikely he'll be going back to stripping any time soon-- unless it's for a role. (Chances are he'll get paid more than the $50 a night plus tips that he got paid back then...)  In the meantime, Tatum's fans will have to be content with the actor parading around in his briefs in the 2008 war drama "Stop Loss", or being frequently shirtless as a street hustler in the new-to-DVD "Fighting"

NOW HEAR THIS! GERALD GOODE "For Those Who Have": CD Review


GERALD GOODE "For Those Who Have": CD Review
  
     With a background of house, acoustic rock, and even punk, Gerald Goode delivers an impressive solo debut with his CD "For Those Who Have". The 32-year old singer and former DJ excels at creating the perfect synergy of mid-tempo electronica and pop with standout tracks like "Better than Myself" and "The Letter". Think of it as the coolest club-flavored lounge music you're likely to hear. Goode's multi-dimensional sound can perhaps best be described as "urban exotic": it's street smart yet uniquely experimental too. The music is expertly arranged, and Goode is definitely not afraid to dabble in lots of high-tech aural indulgences. But there's more than that. You'll soon discover that this guy can really sing-- particularly with songs like the quietly beautiful "True" and "You and Your Device". Goode's voice is soulful yet strong and edgy, with a streak of vulnerability running through. Yet his vocals and his music never compete with each other; there's seemingly perfect chemistry. "Better than Myself", the album's opener, is a great example of Goode's voice and the music coming together so well. The song features a smooth yet stimulating and invigorating rhythm. "Better than Myself" is a mini-masterpiece; Goode reinvents the love song for 2009 and beyond. "The Letter", the next track, also features an amazing rhythm. Next up is "Beautiful", but don't expect a remake of the song of the same name by Ms. Aguilera or "You're Beautiful" by Mr. Blunt; Goode's song is cooler and edgier than either of those two overplayed hits.
 
     Not all the songs on "For Those Who Have" are in designed for chilling out with a cosmo in hand, however. "My Life" and "Mad" (in which Goode's voice evokes a young, unblemished Jon Bon Jovi) are more rock-flavored. "My Life" is in the tradition of the timeless power ballad, complete with rock guitar interludes and a general vibe of youthful abandon. Goode's voice is pushed up to the forefront. "True" keeps the arrangement sparse, with minimal instrumentation, to again showcase his voice. In both these tracks, Goode never sounds more soulful or produces more of an impressive range. "When I Was Younger" is another standout; it features some genuinely thoughtful, provocative lyrics, and becomes more anthemic and bold as it progresses.
 
      "For Those Who Have" is largely a one-man show.  Goode wrote or co-wrote all the songs on "For Those Who Have", and also plays keyboard throughout.  The result is an expertly produced, truly self-styled hybrid of soul, pop, rock, and electronica.  His lyrics and voice cover the whole range of human emotions: the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the not-so-beautiful...but even when Goode sings about such themes as heartbreak, he makes it sound lush.
 
 
 

WILL LEVI JOHNSTON SHOW HIS JOHNSON?


WILL LEVI JOHNSTON SHOW HIS JOHNSON?
 
     Get ready to see Levi without his Levis.  The 19-year old native of Wasilla, Alaska (Population:10,265, seven of which are Palins...  ) became a household name when he came out as the father of Sarah Palin's teen daughter Bristol.  At the 2008 Republican National Convention, the young lovers served as such a cute model of Republican "Do what we say (abstain), not what we do (have unprotected sex)" politics.  But by March 2009, Johnston had called off his engagement to Bristol, was dissing his would-be mother-in-law (which is so much fun, and so easy to do lately!), and started thinking about what he wanted to be when he grew up. But what can a high school dropout and unwed teen father do?  Turn to showbiz, of course!  Rumors of modeling, a reality TV show, and a book deal surfaced.  And the wannabe star has indeed put himself out there: he posed shirtless with baby for "GQ", appeared on the Tyra Banks Show, and got himself a manager named Tank Jones (Wasn't that a 1970's gay porn star?).  But the latest gossip, according to Gawker.com's Brian Moylan, states that Daniel Nardicio, self-proclaimed "gay marketing consultant" for "Playgirl" magazine and well-known New York City man-about-town, reached out to Johnston to appear in the popular mag for gay men-- uh I mean, for women.  Levi's lawyer Rex Butler (Wasn't he a 1970's gay porn star too?) confirmed, "There are people out there that want to see such a shoot of Levi and we are ready to do it if the proposal is right." Reportedly,a deal was reached, and it's a go.  The next question seems to be, just how much skin will Levi show?  And, "Playgirl" isn't the only one offering Levi money to peel off his thermal undies.  The gay skin mag "Unzipped" reportedl y offere d an undisclosed sum to see Levi's hockey stick. Another site, LeviNaked.com, is boldly offering the teen breeder  $25,000 for a "solo jerkoff video" on their website StraightCollegeMen.com.  $25,000?  That's a lot of hockey pucks.  No word yet from conservative centerfold Sarah Palin on her would-be son-in-law's latest naked ambition... 

WATCH IT! "THE OTHER MAN": Liam Neeson Chases Antonio Banderas: A Movie Review


"THE OTHER MAN": Liam Neeson Chases Antonio Banderas

     Messing around on your partner is never an easy business.  In "Unfaithful", a 2002 movie about a wife fooling around on her husband, a titilating moment (for the audience) comes when Diane Lane's adulteress character finds out that the young man she has been cheating on her husband with-- who has just been found murdered, by the way-- was married himself.  Her reaction to his "dishonesty" is priceless.  Oh, man!  The art of cheating can be complex.  We could have used more titillating complexity in the new drama "The Other Man".

      At the beginning of the movie, we meet an attractive English family at a fashion show: Peter (Liam Neeson), a tightly-wound CEO; his wife Lisa (Laura Linney),a high fashion shoe designer; and their daughter Abigail (Ramola Garai).  In a subsequent scene, while Peter and Lisa are alone, Lisa inexplicably brings up the subject of infidelity-- not quite a confessional that she did anything, but an unsettling subject of conversation nevertheless.  For Peter, it's the same initial feeling that you'd get if your partner or spouse, out of the blue, starts talking about threesomes.  Indeed, there's something unusual brewing beneath the surface of this family, including the dynamic between Peter and his beautiful yet moody daughter.  Later on, Peter retrieves retrieves a sexy voicemail on Lisa's phone (The man sounds a lot like... Antonio Banderas!), and he also discovers an ominous note which simply states "Lake Como". On Lisa's computer, he then discovers sexy photos of his wife topless in bed, as well as a man coming out of the shower.  The man looks a lot like... Antonio Banderas!   Peter learns that the other man's name is "Ralph", and Ralph soon becomes Peter's obsession (Calm down, guys, it's not in THAT way...sadly), much to the concern of Peter's co-workers and daughter.  With the help of a computer-savvy peer, Peter hits the jackpot: He is able to track down Ralph in Milan, Italy: a darkly handsome Latino in a designer suit who ritually plays solo chess in a cafe.  It's... Antonio Banderas!  Peter befriends the titular "other man", a mixture of arty eccentric and suave ladies' man ("Marriage is hell.  I prefer hotels and heaven", he states).  Before you know it, Ralph (who pronounces his name "Rafe")  ;is giving details about his relationship with Lisa.  It's maddening for Peter... but the husband's anger is tempered by his curiosity, and he keeps going back to "Rafe" for more deets about the affair.  

     "The Other Man" is from Richard Eyre, the director of the superb "Notes on a Scandal".  Like its predecessor, it's slick and well filmed.  But it's not quite as engaging, interesting, or (here comes that word again...) titillating as that predecessor.  Yes, there is a big twist in the plot... but after that unexpected revelation and its accompanying gasp from the audience, there's not much else to keep us excited about "The Other Man" except for the physical attributes of the two lead males Neeson and Banderas-- two such widely different examples of male attractiveness.  Oh, there's also the great scenery!  So, yes, "The Other Man" is a feast for the eyes.  But this reviewer was hoping for a little more, shall we say... "bite".  In one scene of the film, one of the characters comes close to repeating a pivotal act that was done in "Unfaithful", the movie I mentioned before-- but he stops short.  It seems that director Eyre wanted the movie to be a pure drama, and not drift into melodrama.  But in this case, a little melodrama might have made "The Other Man" a more passionate affair.

     Visit www.OtherManfilm.com for more.

READ IT! HOW GAY WAS M.J.? "Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson" Book Review

READ 

HOW GAY WAS M.J.?

     This past June on Gay Pride Day in New York City, a drunk mess of a Pridefest volunteer was going around spreading a rumor, which she absolutely, genuinely believed to be true: that Michael Jackson was confirmed to be the Surprise Guest Artist at the annual Dance on the Pier that year-- but he died on June 25th, just three days before the event. This was total bullshit, of course, but it was juicily believable: After all, M.J. was planning a musical return. What better way for a "straight" star to launch their comeback, to gain some much needed "street cred", and show how oh-so-2009 they are than to come out in support of the GLBT community, especially at one of New York City's best-kept-secret events?  

     It seems like Michael Jackson's sexuality has been a fascination with the media ever since the singer hit puberty. Did he like men? Women? Boys? Or was he asexual, as some claim? Only the man in Michael's mirror knew for sure. Celebrities of all varieties always complain that both their fans and the press alike often tend to have more interest in their personal lives rather than their artistic achievements. But with Michael Jackson, focusing on his music in his later years was pretty hard to do, especially with his criminal charges crossing the barrier from tabloid filler to "legitimate" news. Released only weeks after the singer's death, Ian Halperin's book "Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson" provides a lively, reader-friendly, and detail-packed survey of the eccentric star's years of decline, with almost all of the 273 pages devoted to the two child molestation trials and their effects on both Jackson personally and on his public image. In addition, the book confidently claims the star had gay relationships with adult men, as well as a fondness for cross-dressing. Halperin states that he spoke with two of Jackson's lovers: one a waiter, the other an actor "who has given solid but uninspiring film parts". The actor stated to Halperin, "He (Michael)was very shy, but when he started to have sex, he was insatiable. He was a bottom, but he was so thin, I worried that I would break him." More squeamish details follow. Halperin also speaks of a "burly, half-Asian" construction worker who was M.J.'s boyfriend when the singer lived in Las Vegas. Of course, the lovers remain unidentified. Halperin seems to be a credible source. Throughout the book, he gives the readers well-documented facts and his own research rather than relying extensively on hearsay or unidentified sources-- although of course we get a few of those. Halperin, in fact, eerily predicted in December 2008 that Jackson would be dead in six months. Later on, the author describ es meeting the dethroned King in person and having the singer quickly become a bit to, shall we say, overly friendly: "At one point during our conversation at the pizza joint, Jackson put his hand over mine. I was wondering if the singer was hitting on me.... He made me extremely nervous. I had visions in my mind of Michael leaning over and kissing me on the lips. Thank God he didn't. It was one of the most intense moments I have ever experienced looking into another man's eyes. I felt Michael's sexual energy from the get-go." The author claims that he spent "the next few weeks" wondering if M.J. was really making a pass at him or not that day. Poor guy... Overall, "Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson" is a fascinating read, although Jacko remains just as much of an enigma even after you've finished the last page.

     Curiously, GLBT's have always been cautious about claiming Jackson as one of our own, and have been slow to jump on Halperin's revelations about M.J.'s possible homosexuality-- despite our community's fascination with celebrity gossip and with whether or not a star "is" or "isn't". The reasons seem clear to me at least: M.J.'s artistic achievements and talent notwithstanding, our community doesn't, well... "want" Michael to be gay.  On one end of the spectrum, Jackson lost his cool factor years ago, and aybe just wasn't cutting-edge or fabulous enough for our community, who's always looking for the next big thing. One wonders that maybe if Jackson wasn't seemingly so much of a legend in his own mind, and wasn't so distanced from the public (and, arguably, pop culture in general), he could have emerged as a cult fave. But that never happened.  On the other end, there were those accusations about Michael liking boys.  Gay men have fought for years against the unproven, hateful association of homosexuality with pedophilia.  Embracing this Jackson as a gay icon, whether he was gay or not himself, was just to unsettling for a lot of us.

      So, the (ahem...) bottom line is: If someone asked me if M.J. was gay, I'd say, "Sorry, you'll have to ask him yourself".  Unfortunately, you can't ask M.J anything anymore...

Jed Ryan

LADY GAGA: MORE THAN A WOMAN?


Lady Gaga: More than a Woman?
    

     In late 2008, pop tart Christina Agiulera was asked if she borrowed elements of her latest look from rising club diva Lady Gaga.  Agiulera responded, "You know, that’s funny that you mention that. This person [Lady Gaga] was just brought to my attention not too long ago. I’m not quite sure who this person is, to be honest. I don’t know if it is a man or a woman. I just wasn't sure..."  Meow!  Looks like people are once again questioning whether this lady is really a gentleman.    A YouTube video of the 23-year old New York City diva supposedly showed a mysterious bulge between her legs when her miniskirt rode up during a June 2009 performance in England.  The quality of the video is too poor to tell precisely what that bulge is.  There was also a "quote" from Gaga in which she , supposedly declared her intersexuality: "It's not something that I'm ashamed of, just isn't something that I go around telling everyone. Yes. I have both male and female genitalia, but I consider myself a female. It's just a little bit of a penis and really doesn't interfere much with my life."  Lady Gaga's manager dismissed both the rumor and the quote to ABC News: "This is completely ridiculous." Through he years, actresses Mae West, Jaime Lee Curtis, and Megan Fox, as well as singers Donna Summer and Ciara, have all been rumored to have been either really men or intersexed at one time.  The question is, how far will the woman who demanded us to "Just Dance" have to go to prove that she does't have a "disco stick"?  Or, more importantly, should she have to?

WATCH IT! "TAKING WOODSTOCK" Movie Review


"TAKING WOODSTOCK" : A LONG, STRANGE TRIP

     Picture this: New York, 1969. Clean-cut, nice Jewish boy-next-door Elliot Teichberg (AKA Elliot Tiber, played by stand-up comedian turned actor Demetri Martin) is an artist living in New York City. His parents are the owners of a third-rate, broken down motel in The Catskills, and we learn that they're on the verge of losing that motel. When the permit for a music festival called Woodstock (featuring Joan Baez, The Who, Country Joe and the Fish, and more) in the town of Wallkill is pulled, a light bulb goes off above Elliot's head: Why not have the festival on his parents' land? With a little help from his friends (including producer Michael Lang, played by angel-faced Jonathan Groff; and neighbor Max Yasgur-- a Eugene Levy-like character played by Eugene Levy), the event is greenlighted, the word is spread, and before you can say "Don't bogart that joint, my friend... pass it over to me!", the tiny town of White Lake, New York, is brimming with thousands of colorful, beautiful people psyched up for three days of peace and music. According to one of the characters in the movie, "There's half a million people here, and another million are trying to get in!"


     "Taking Woodstock", released to time in with Woodstock's 40th anniversary, is actually two movies meshed together. "The First Movie" is a comedy-drama based on Elliot Teichberg's real-life memoirs, with Woodstock-- and the changing culture at large it represents-- as the backdrop. Along the way, family secrets are revealed, sexuality is explored (Elliot bonds in a big way with a construction worker over a Judy Garland album. Hmmm...), and life will ostensibly never be the same for Elliot, his parents, or pop culture again. "The Second Movie" is a sprawling, almost documentary-style film about Woodstock itself. And, Ang Lee seems hellbent to bring us ALL of it: the music, the drugs, the politics, the anti-war attitude, the newly-exploding liberated attitude about sexuality, the "us-versus-them" attitude, and even such interesting deets such as the rain (and mud), and the lack of, shall we say, "facilities" at the festival. In possibly an homage to another iconic filmmaker, Andy Warhol, Lee features a few split-screen scenes, with two or three scenes competing for the audience's attention at the same time-- a la Warhol's "Chelsea Girls". Lee's commitment to bringing us every last detail-- with lengthy montages and an endless batch of groovy supporting characters and subplots-- is admirable.  We even suspect that some enticing subplots, like Elliot's dabbling in New York City's budding gay rights movement, may have wound up on the cutting room floor.  But it's just too much. At two hours, the movie feels like four. This reviewer can't help but wonder if The Second Movie may have worked better as a museum exhibit with mini-movies of Lee's gorgeous cinematography... or perhaps even doing "Taking Woodstock" in two volumes, a la "Kill Bill".

     Among a huge cast, Imelda Staunton as Elliot's mother stands out as yet another variation of The Jewish Mother caricature-- a very funny variation. Other actors really get it right too-- like Emile Hirsch as Billy, a PTSD-suffering soldier just returned from Vietnam; and Liev Schreiber as Vilma, a take-no-shit transgendered Korean War veteran. Others actors don't quite get it. As Elliot, Demitri Martin is cute but bland; every personal catharsis, from his LSD drug trip in an RV to his blossoming sexuality, come across as V-E-R-Y downplayed. Jonathan Groff, as Michael Lang, seems otherworldly-- more like a CGI than a real character. And, intentionally or not, most of the characters get weighed down by the sheer weight of the event going on around them.

     "Taking Woodstock"'s biggest asset is its tie dye-colored, behind-the-scenes-style perspective of how Woodstock went from being just another concert for profit to a huge "free" show (Thanks to all the crashers!) and subsequent cultural phenomenon... and it wasn't always a smooth ride.  Woodstock alumni, now pushing or in their 60's, are usually every protective of that event; they may unfairly dismiss any film about Woodstock with a "You had to be there!" attitude. Watching "Taking Woodstock" won't make you feel like you were there, but it's an earnest homage nevertheless. As for those of us born too late to remember bra burning, we may even come to realize that just maybe, our ex-hippie parents and grandparents just may have been at a lot more cool than we want to believe...

     Visit www.TakingWoodstocktheMovie.com for more!

BUCK ANGEL: THE X-RATED INTERVIEW



 BUCK ANGEL: THE X-RATED INTERVIEW!


     Here's a challenge: Ask 10 different guys "What makes you a man?"  After a lot of fumbling around for a response, you may get up to 10 different answers.  But I guarantee that at least one guy will say, "I'm a man because... I have a penis!"  Meet Buck Angel, who is an adult film star as well as a producer and director.  He performs with both men and women, although his films with men have proven to be more popular.  His movie "More Bang for Your Buck 2" was nominated for two Adult Video News 2009 Awards and a Gay Video News 2009 Award.  He's heavily tattooed, has a shaved head, and is buff enough to challenge any of the gym queens strutting down Eighth Avenue in Chelsea.  Now, here's the money shot: Buck Angel was born a woman-- and still has a vagina.   Buck Angel and his wife Elayne live happily in the Yucatan, Mexico, but Buck tours all over the world: performing live, promoting his truly renegade XXX movies, and challenging everyone's notions of gender and sexual orientation.  After months of playing e-mail tag with Buck, I finally caught up with the pioneer porn star while he was in New York City for Gay Pride. At his hotel, we discussed porn, safe sex, and how he doesn't always see eye to eye with the trans male community: "I'm not a 'transsexual man'.  I'm a man.  If you look at what the word means, it means 'transitioning', from A to B.  It's pretty basic, dude.  I'm not transitioning anymore.  I'm done.  A lot of guys live their lives as 'trans men', which is a whole different mindset.   I really don't consider myself that.  I am and I always will be a transsexual, but I live my life as a man." Let's just say that anyone who meets Buck Angel in person wouldn't even question his manliness!  The two of us don't just talk about serious stuff, though.  Mr. Angel tells me a few truly hilarious, behind-the-scenes stories about the porn biz-- to which he adds, "My life sometimes feels like a cartoon!"  Make that a cartoon for adults only!.


JR: Congratulations on your recent nominations!
BA: Thank you, man!

JR: I have to admit, I had something of a hard time finding your movies!
BA: Yeah.  A lot of people won't carry my movies... or else you're looking in the wrong section.  What happens a lot of times is that they'll purchase my films and they'll put them in the transsexual section.  That's not where my movies go!  I've had to go into stores and say, "What are you doing?  That have to be in the gay section!"  They don't believe that that's my customer!

JR: Do you ever get tired of people just labeling you "the man with a pussy?"
BA: Yes!  Most definitely.  That's why I kind of stopped going there.  In the beginning that was kind of like my whole thing: "Buck Angel, the man with a  pussy!"  But I think that it's a little too harsh for a lot of people to wrap their head around.  So I think now that I've built my name up, I can just be "Buck Angel" and people kind of know who I am.  And I think that people get really kind of offended when you're in their face that way.  Which was my goal in the beginning: to push it in people's faces!  Because, sometimes you can get people to see things more when you kind of shove it in their face.  But I think now I feel more comfortable just being like, "OK, I can just be Buck Angel", and people can look me up and see what's going on there.  I also think it limits me, and limits people who possibly might want to interview me, mainstream-wise.  If I was labeled "Buck Angel, the man with a pussy", then the New York Times isn't going to interview me... or you might not want to interview me if I wasn't a little less harsh with that label.

JR: I know... but people love labels!
BA: Yeah, totally!  Because it helps people define things.  People don't know... you know, when you think about it, most people are followers.  They're not leaders.  They need to be given the situation.  They don't really know how to think for themselves.

JR: Yeah, it's a shame it has to be that way!  So, what's the hardest part about being an adult film star in 2009?  People might have their conceptions about what it was like years ago, but I know that the business is always changing.
BA: What's happening is that you have so much going on right now with technology.  I produce and I own all my own stuff.  It's not like I'm just a porn actor and I get paid to be in somebody's movie.  I have my own production company.  So, you really have to stay ahead of the ball game with understanding how technology is changing.  People don't go into shops-- like how you said you went into the shops to look for my DVD-- because people aren't producing DVD's as much anymore.  I don't produce that many DVD's anymore.  I produce one or two a year.  But I produce a lot of content that goes on my websites.  So, I make more money on the Internet than do actually by people going into the shops.  And that's with a lot of smaller companies like me.  We're all kind of pushing ourselves towards the Internet.  Mobile!  That's like the new big thing now.  Mobile technology.  Who would have known?  Like, even Apple.  There's a new Apple app that's a porn app; I just read about it in The Post today.  More people are using their phones and I-Phones and all this mobile technology to download pornography than they are using their regular laptops or computers at home.  So, I think that the biggest challenge is being aware of technology-- because that's what's gonna take me to that next level... which is world domination! (Laughs)

JR: (Laughs) I can see that as your next artwork: Buck Angel holding up the world in an Atlas pose!... I'm old school.  I still buy DVD's!
BA: I love DVD's!  And I will always produce a DVD because of people like you.  You know, VHS still sells!  People still purchase VHS.  To me, that's like an 8-track tape.  I'm like, "Wow!  People still watch that?"  But yes, there are a lot of companies that still produce VHS.  But also, for me to be eligible for an Adult Video Award, you have to produce a DVD once a year and it has to be distributed to a certain amount of stores... So that's the only way I can still be up for a porn award, is by producing a DVD.

JR: Oh, I did not know that.  Interesting... Now, what's your relationship like with other porn stars?  Do you have any that you consider "friends"?
BA: Yeah, I would say... but I don't "hang out" in the industry!  Because, really I am more at home in Mexico.  Chi Chi LaRue is a very good friend of mine.  She's totally awesome.  Not so much "big name" porn stars-- but more so I would say that companies, and people within those companies, have always been big supporters of mine.  If there's anything I need, people are always there.  I think that in the beginning, it wasn't like that for me.  It was very difficult.  When I first started, nobody would talk to me.  Nobody would take my movie, nobody would help me or show me how to make my website, or even really want to see me succeed.  They were freaked out by me in the beginning.  Maybe the first year and a half... It was weird.  People were just completely freaked out by me in the industry.  I had to prove myself.  I had to prove that I wasn't this fly-by-night, and that I was producing a product, and that I was bringing something new to the industry that was worthy and worthwhile; something that was really going to shake up the industry, which I did.  Once I proved that, and once I proved that I was really the straight-on businessman which I am, and showed that I'm not just some person who's just coming in and having his thing and leaving in two weeks, which happens a lot...

JR: Yeah!
BA: ... then they realize that Buck is really bringing a valid new genre to the industry... and then I think I started getting a lot of respect from people in the industry.  And that's when a lot of people just really started opening their arms to me, and really wanted to see me succeed.  I wouldn't be here if the industry didn't accept me.  I was the first person of my kind to win an AVN Award ever in the history of porn.  So, to win that Award from my peers and from my industry was huge for me.  That just took me to that next level, with them saying, "Yeah, we really respect you, Buck, and whatever you need from us..."  So, that's kind of cool.  The industry is very competitive.

JR: And, it's not as "anything goes" as people would think it would be!
BA: It's not!  The industry is very vanilla in a sense, very conservative.  You'd think the sex industry wouldn't be conservative, but they are!  They truly, truly are.  When I first came and I was the man with a pussy, they were like, "Uh uh!  That's even weird for us!"

JR: Why should it be weird?  When it comes down to it, any fantasy is valid!
BA: Yeah!  Why is "clown porn", which is huge, more valid than what I'm doing? (JR laughs.) I think because, like we were talking about earlier, I shake up the whole gender/sexuality/not-fitting-in-the-box thing.  Whereas clown porn is just kind of fetishy stuff...

JR: Now, clown porn would scare me! (Both laugh)  So, which movie would you say you're the most proud of?  What would you say is your clowning... uh, I, mean crowning achievement?!  
BA: From my production company, I'd say "Buckback Mountain".  I was really kind of bummed when it didn't win an Award at the Gay Video News Awards, because I was up for a Award for "Best Alternative Porn", and I thought-- and I'm not just saying it because it is my movie-- "This is the ultimate alternative gay porn!"  It was!  And I was really shocked when I lost.  I'm very proud of that movie.  It's very well done.  I dumped all my own money into it.  I don't have anybody helping.  I'm doing this all on my own.  I don't have a big studio giving me ten grand to make a movie.  A lot of people think I'm making a thousand million trillion tons of money.  Yeah, right!  I wish!  They don't realize I'm doing everything myself.  Then there's a lot of people, especially trans men, who have a weird jealousy towards me for some reason.  I mean, there's a lot of issues there with them, but I think that they think that I'm making all this money.  But even if I was, I work my butt off.  It's not like I went out asking for a handout for me.  But they have this weird animosity towards me, like, "Yeah, Buck is making a million dollars."  Yeah, right...

JR: When it comes down to it, a lot of it is based on jealousy.
BA: Don't you think that's sad?  Why do people get so jealous of other people's success?!  It's not like I just walked into this.  You see how hard I worked to get even to where I am now. And, I'm nowhere near where I'd like to be.  So, the fact that people in my own community-- which is another issue-- get jealous of my success is very strange.

JR: I'm not surprised.  I think, when you achieve a level of visibility that others are aspiring to, and achieve a certain look that others are striving for...
BA: It's not like this was all given to me!  I work hard.  I go to the gym, I exercise...

JR: Yeah, I wanted to ask you about your secrets for being so ripped! Damn! 
BA: Thank you.  It's all of it; You know that!  It's diet, it's exercise, it's discipline!  And I'm very disciplined about myself.  I do that for my movies to sell to a specific audience.  When I got into it, I didn't know what by customer base was gonna be, because nobody had ever done this before.  When you're a pioneer in the film business, how do you know who your customer base is gonna be, especially in the porn business?  I just had no clue.  So, I made a video of me with women, me with women and men, and me with men.  And the one of me with men was my best-selling movie...and I said, "That's it! I figured it out."  So, that being said, what do gay men like?  They like nice bodies: you know, the aesthetics, the visuals...That's more important for gay men than it is for straight men.  If you look at straight videos, most of the men don't tend to be as fit.  Even though I really always wanted to have a nice body before my change, I took control and I realized what I needed to do to build my body up.  Going to the gym, and eating right, and discipline.  I mean it sounds hard, but it's not, once you get into it!  As a female, I was 110 pounds.  I put 50 pounds of muscle on my body by going to the gym.  It didn't happen overnight!  It took years and years...

JR: Wow!  So, what would surprise most people to know about you?
BA: That I'm a really nice guy! (Laughs)   People see me, visually, and see tattoos, and a shaved head, and the whole persona...

JR: I do really like that scene (in "More Bang for Your Buck" ) where you dominate that young guy in the leather hood!
BA: That's my acting persona, and when you see me having sex on camera, that's me.  That's how I really do like to have sex.  And so that was one of the things I wanted to do when I produced my films, was to really have sex and not act.  I'm not really acting in those situations.  I am in my sexual frenzy.  I'm very aggressive that way.  But as a person, day to day, I'm a really nice guy.  I'm a caring guy.  I think that I am sensitive.  I can't say that I kept those traits from being a female, but I do think that I have kept some of my understanding about what it is to be a female, from my sex change, and I wanted to do that.  I didn't want to just wipe out this whole kind of other side of me emotionally.  I wanted to keep a bit of my emotions and be able to be sensitive to issues, and be able to cry.  It's OK for me to cry.  Because men are taught that it's not OK to cry.  That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life.  How sad is that, really?  I'm as macho as the next guy, don't get me wrong, but when I heard about Michael Jackson dying, I cried.

JR: So did I!
BA: No, I did... because I really feel like I do have a sensitivity in me, and I'm not ashamed to say that... and I think it's really super-important for men to get in touch with-- I'm not saying your "feminine side"-- but with your emotions, and say, "Gosh, if I feel really upset about something, it's OK for me to cry.  I don't care that you see me crying like that.  It doesn't make me any less of a man."  And that's the sad part: being taught growing up that it's OK for a woman to cry, but it's not OK for a man to cry.  It's ridiculous... It's a natural bodily function to want to be emotional and cry.  It's not a gender-specific thing, like only women can cry.  So, yeah, I'm a sensitive guy, and I'm proud of that.  I have no issues around that at all.  Really, I don't.  It's totally OK!  

JR: Now, while we're on the subject of the differences between men and women, how do we differ when it comes down to porn?  When I was a kid I was taught that with women and sex, it's all about the atmosphere, and the whole seduction thing, and the mood... and men are more into the visual aspect, which is why we love porn so much.  But then, later on-- I think in the early '90's-- some researchers suggested that women are just as visually-oriented as men are, and women pretty much react the same way to porn that men do-- which implies that women should like to watch it as much as we do. 
BA: I agree with that.  I just think that it's not 100% that way.  Obviously, men are the number one buyers of porn; whether you're gay or straight doesn't matter.  And that's because, yes, men are more stimulated visually than women are.  I do think that women like to be touched, but then that's a generalized statement.  Of course there are other things involved.  But I think that generally, men can be easily stimulated.  That's why it's totally easy for a guy to snap on a porn and get off in five minutes.  You'll very rarely see a woman do that.  It's hormonal.  Testosterone is a very powerful drug...and it makes you horny.  Men need to have a physical release.  That's just the way it is with men.  I can say this, because I've lived as a woman, and I've lived as a man.  So, books can say all the shit they want in the world, but I know.  As a female, I didn't need that sexual stimulation as much, even though I was a horny female, I would say.  Probably more than your average female.  But I didn't need to jack off every day, or I didn't need to release constantly, or I wasn't thinking, "My God, look at that guy's ass!", or "Look at that big bulge!"... I wasn't doing that!

JR: Yeah, it's amazing how you see a really good-looking guy or even a really hot picture or image, and then you can't concentrate on anything else for a while until you cool down!   
BA: Yeah, you can't control it. That's hormonal, dude!  And I totally get it now. That's how I am.  I'll see something and I'm like, "Grrrr!!!"  So, there is most definitely a physical difference between a man and a woman when it comes to porn.  So I do think that men buy porn more because of that situation, but I do think that things are changing.  I also think that what's happened was that women were always taught that it's not OK to watch porn, and that women have to be "a certain way", and it's not "ladylike" to watch porn, or it makes you weird.  Whereas now, with feminism and with women opening up more about their sexuality, it's easier for women to go out and purchase porn.  So, with that said, my fan base has actually started to expand to women, which is really awesome.  Because, that's a very, very difficult customer base to get.  Women don't pull the credit card out like men do; they're not like, "Oh, dude, I gotta see that right now!". I see more and more women becoming fans of mine through e-mails, or my being at a club and women coming up to me... Wow!  I never had women coming up to me like that before.  Or, women actually buying my DVD's.  I'm like, "Wow!  This is amazing!"  Most of my live shows that I do in Europe are in gay male venues, but a lot of times what I have seen now is more women finding out that I'm gonna be at this venue and showing up... whereas maybe two or three years ago, that was not the way it was.  So, that is showing that women are much more interested.  I think that I appeal to women because of who I am; because of me having lived as a female and now being a man.  They don't feel intimidated by me because of my penis. I think that a lot of women don't really know how to relate to a men sexually, and they think possibly that because I was a woman before, they feel more like they can relate to me sexually in that way.  I can't tell you that that's what it is, but I'm thinking that possibly they don't feel as intimidated by me.

JR: And, also there are a lot more women actually making movies in the business now too!
BA: Yeah, sure.  There's a lot more women in pornography making movies.  Most definitely.  So that market has opened up pornography to women, which is a good thing.  But the bottom line is, I'd say 90% of people who buy porn are men.   

JR: Well, some of the porn companies claim, or at least want us to believe, that men and women buy porn equally...
BA: I get the trade magazines, and I see that the ads are geared specifically towards men!  No way!  Most women I know wouldn't be turned on some of the ads I see there: raunchy, and not really respectful towards women.  And I think that's the other thing: Women feel like they need to be respected sexually.  Of course, there's some raunchy stuff that might turn women on-- but I think that as a whole, women don't want to feel like just cum bags-- like, we're using you to shoot our load in.  They want to feel part of it.

JR: A lot of men don't seem to mind feeling like cum bags, though! (Laughs)
BA: (Laughs) No, men love that!  Are you kidding?  The dirtier, the nastier, men love!  Women, I think, take it a little more personally.  Even on a date.  Think about it.  You go on a date with a woman, you kind of have to caress her a little bit... whereas, I can go to the club down the street, meet a guy and have sex with him, and in ten or fifteen minutes we're done and "Hey, dude, see ya later!"  Like, it's totally cool that way.  I personally like that much better than having to do the whole ritual.  It's much easier to have sex with men.  You do it, you're done.  You can grab a beer at the bar and it's totally cool and we'll never see each other again.  It's not an issue, 'cause there's no emotions involved in it.   

JR: How true! Afterwards, it's like, "So, does this mean we're dating now?"  And I'm like, "No, not really!" (Both laugh.) You also produce movies.  What kind of actors do you look for?
BA: If you know anything about purchasing porn, women purchase more gay porn than they do straight porn.  Because, women visually like to see nice-looking guys.  In a lot of the straight porn, the guys aren't so nice-looking!

JR: But that's changing, a little bit...
BA: It is changing, with the younger crowd of people making films, like Joanna Angel. She makes hip, tattooed, alternative porn.  I think they have nice-looking, younger guys.  But I think in general, most straight porn doesn't have great-looking guys.  From what I heard, the guys who are watching the movies kind of put themselves in the space of the guy. And if the guy's better-looking, they kind of get weird about it.  Which is like the weirdest thing I ever heard!  But with gay porn, obviously the visuals and the guys have to be better... so, women like that!  Visually they like to see nice-looking, hot guys.  So I see more women buying my more gay porn rather than my more bisexual porn.  So, I think I'll always be producing more with guys and less with women.  I haven't produced a film with a woman in like two years.  But I do get a lot of women who want to work with me.  In the beginning it was very difficult to find talent.  Nobody wanted to work with me.  Nobody wanted to do it.  I was like, "I can't find any guys!"  Oh my God, I was crazy!  But now I got lots of people who write me, and now I can be a little more picky.  It's kind of nice to be a little more picky about the guys you want to put in your movie!

JR: No doubt!  That must be fun!  Now, a lot of actors and actresses in the adult film business want to break into the mainstream movie and music business.  Do you have any desire to do that yourself?
BA: I do!  I actually just came from L.A. and met with a publicist and an agent.  I'm not sure if they're ready for me yet!  They wanted to meet with me, which is really cool.  So, a lot of people know about me in the mainstream industry, and I think I have a huge amount of fans in the mainstream industry-- from agents to actors.  Not necessarily will they admit it!  Because, again, I'm so ahead of my time and such a pioneer-- even though you'll see shows like "Weeds" and all these crazy television shows like "Housewives of Beverly Hills".  They go crazy and they touch on sex and sexuality.  But for some reason, I think maybe I push it a little too much.  I'm not really sure! I really think I should have my own reality TV show. I think it would really push boundaries out there.  One of the reasons why I started to get away from the whole "man with a pussy" thing was because of that.  I think it was holding me back because it was too "in your face".  So now I'm kind of just going as "Buck Angel".  If I could get into mainstream, I think it would be huge.  Not just for me as a businessman, but I think for people and society in general to see people like me, and to say, "That guy is totally cool with his sexuality and his gender."  So, hopefully, I think sometime it will happen... Somebody with big enough balls in the mainstream industry to say, "You know what, we want to cast Buck in this next thing."  Because, that's another industry that's very conservative... as much as they try to act like, "We're gonna do this and shock everybody!", it's still very, very conservative.  But I'd like to do it.  Not many people in the porn business have transitioned to mainstream.  Really, don't you think that I should even be on "The Simpsons" or something?  A Buck Angel character?

JR: (Laughs) Yes, definitely!...  Now, the subject of female-to-male sex change is going to be a very talked-about subject soon, with Chastity Bono deciding that she's going to make the transition.  Do you have any thoughts about that?

BA: Yeah, totally.  When I was in L.A. I was actually supposed to see her but it didn't happen; I missed meeting with her... (Buck realizes he referred to Chastity as "she" and pauses.)  I'm so sorry, see how I do that?  It's just so new!...  Who am I to say that that's not for real?  If he's felt like that forever, that could be a lot of what his issues were.  But who am I to say, or anyone else to say, that he's not a man?  If that's how he feels and he wants to do it, more power to him.  It's gonna change a lot.  It's good for me; it will bring more attention to me and my business, that's for sure.  I hope it goes well for him.  It's a big, huge process.  It's not just something that happens overnight.  I hope he chooses the right path of people that he hangs out with.  Because, everyone has their own opinion about how it should be done!  I hope he's just doing it for himself, and that there's not all these "community influences".  I think I have said in prior interviews that I'm "anti-community".  That might be a harsh statement.  I'm not so "anti-community" as I am "pro-individual", you know what I'm saying?  So for Chaz, I'm hoping that he doesn't get involved too much in that "community" way of thinking: "This is the way you need to be a man."  Don't let anybody tell you how you need to be a man, dude!  You need to be a man how you need to be a man.  There's a lot of guys out there who don't have top surgeries or bottom surgeries, or don't take hormones.  They don't do anything.  At face value they might look female to a lot of people, but inside their minds they feel like men and they consider themselves men.  That's their trip.  It shouldn't be anyone else's trip... The trans community can be very "boxy"-- and if they don't like what you're doing, you cannot be accepted into that community.  And that's one of my huge pet peeves about the transsexual community.  And that's why they don't like me, is because I'm saying, "That's bullshit, guys.  We don't need to do that!  You need to tell guys to be individuals."   Biological men are individual men, however they like to be.  And us as men, and changing, we have it hard enough as it is.  We should be welcoming to all; we should all feel good to each other and all feel happy with each other... but you know, they're not.  They're super judgmental.  It's yucky... and I'm not into that!  I'm not the leader of the trans community.  For some reason, they appointed me this, and then everyone got upset because, "Why is Buck the transsexual leader?"  And I'm like, "What are you talking about?  Where did that come from?"  So, they're so screwy!

JR: Again, a lot of it might be motivated by jealousy-- jealousy because of your visibility or success.
BA: But who did that?  I did that.  I invented this situation, I came up with this idea, I put my money into it.  I didn't ask anybody for any help with this situation.  I think they got pissed at me because I once did an interview here: A lot of guys here do these "Boob Removal Parties".  I don't know if you ever read that in the "Village Voice".  It was a big article about these trans men who have parties and invite all their friends over and it costs $10, or you donate money, for his chest surgery-- because he can't afford to get his chest surgery.

JR: I thought at first you meant they were actually doing the surgery at the parties.  Ouch!
BA: No!  Although some probably do that!  So, I spoke out about how when I had chest surgery, I worked two jobs.  I never asked for a handout. And to me, that's what a man is.  I'm not afraid to speak my mind.  It's only my opinion, like "Dude, why do you have to ask people for money to get your surgery?"  I felt more proud of myself because I did it all on my own.  I just really worked at making myself.  
  
JR: It's a weird thing.  You can be a role model, but when people start to perceive you as having more money, or more success, or more visibility than them, then it kind of switches around...
BA:  It's ugly.  It's shameful and ugly, and I don't want any part of it.  that's why I just don't even go there.  I do my community service when I travel.  I always try to find somewhere that I can donate some of my time.  Most of the time it's with an AIDS organization, because I lost a lot of my friends to AIDS in the early '80's and I have a lot of friends who are HIV positive.  So, that's like a huge thing for me.  I try to donate my time.  I would donate my time more to the trans male community, but they don't seem to have open arms for me.  It's sad...

JR: Yeah, it's a shame it has to be that way...  So, you mentioned HIV awareness.  How do you feel about the current rise of bareback porn?  It seems like it's all over the place now...
BA: Ewww!  Uh uh, no no!...

JR: There's one company...I'm not going to say their name...
BA: I know who you're talking about!  Thank you for not saying their name!  It's inappropriate behavior, especially in the gay community.  When you go to do a porn, you have to be tested.  If you're a legitimate company, you get tested, you show up with your papers, you give them to me, I look at them, I show you mine, and we both see that we're both clean.  Even though in my movies, we're always doing safe sex, but it's nice to know that you're still clean.  Rubbers break, things happen, cum shots go into eyes...anything can happen.  So, that's the really legitimate, smart way of making movies.  But that company, being that company, is one of the few in gay porn that do bareback.  A lot of gay porn companies are now doing condom-only.  They're really jumping on it.  I know my responsibilities as a pornographer.  People look at my movies.  There are people who definitely look at bareback porn and they are influenced by it.  They are!  They don't have brains of their own to say, "Oh my God, I should not be having sex without a condom."

JR: Or, they can't see that the movies are done for entertainment purposes only...
BA: They don't see that.  All they see is sex and they say, "Oh my God, these guys are doing it without condoms.  I can do it without condoms!"  They really think that way.  They don't realize that this is just a fantasy.  My movies are just a fantasy.  But if I don't put condoms on, then they just think it's totally OK to have sex without a condom.  And that's totally inappropriate behavior, especially for people who produce pornography.  It's disgusting. I'm a huge safe sex advocate.

JR: Bareback porn is like "forbidden fruit".
BA: It's totally forbidden fruit!  So is crack!  But it's not OK.  It's not 1950.  Even in your own personal life, unless you have a partner, you should not be having unsafe sex.  I don't get why people don't get it.  It's just not OK.  I don't have a dick so I don't know what it feels like to wear a condom.  I know what it feels like to be fucked with a condom on, and OK... maybe it does feel a little bit different to have a dick stick inside me without a condom, and maybe it does feel a little bit nicer... but it doesn't feel that much nicer to me that I would risk my life.  I don't get that your life is not worth more than a fuck... but then again, it's that whole male "I gotta get off right now!".   And a lot of guys do crystal.  When you're on crystal, you get crazy horny.  You get totally oblivious to the world.  All you think about is getting off and fucking for hours... and it doesn't matter; the last thing you think about is putting a condom on.  I'm totally anti-barebacking.  It's not OK!

JR: Your friend, Chi Chi LaRue, feels the same way about that...
BA: That's why she's awesome.  I respect her highly.  She's one of the best people in the industry.  She's a very good, honest person... and you don't see a lot of those people in the porn industry!  She's straightforward, she's just fun... and she was very supportive of me in the beginning.  
  
JR: There's an issue that I'm shocked that nobody has addressed: When guys get older, our dicks become less sensitive...and I think that's the reason a lot of guys stop using condoms. But nobody seems to want to address that issue.  Maybe guys don't want to admit it, or maybe it's too sensitive a subject...
BA: You hit it right on the head, dude.   Maybe there's something the drug companies can make to heighten the sensitivity on a condom, because that is something... and I know that's the reason a lot of guys don't want to wear them.   

JR: Having a penis is not all it's cracked up to be!  I'm not too big on popping a pill for every occasion, but if it's something that increases sensitivity down there and makes guys wear condoms more, I'm totally for it!  Now, the most important question of all: MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter?
BA: (Laughs) Facebook!  I'm a Facebook guy.  Because, I just like the app, and it's very easy to use.  All the people who have joined my Facebook are totally cool people, and it's been amazing for my business.  I have just met so many people who want to interview me, or bring me out somewhere...  If youre not on Facebook as a business person, you're making a big mistake.  Twitter's a little weird...I do use it, but I probably only update it once a day or so.

JR: So, what film would you recommend for anyone as the first Buck Angel movie they should see?
BA: To really see my sex in action, I would say "Even More Bang for Your Buck 1" or "Even More Bang for Your Buck 2"  Those are just two good, raw films with raw sex.  To get a feel for my sexuality and my sex, and what I'm trying to show, I think those are two really good films to watch!

One of the questions I wanted to ask Mr. Angel at first was "Who do your movies appeal to?  Straight men?  Gay men?  Women?"  After hanging out with Buck for a few hours, I realize that it was a stupid question.  Who's the audience for his movies?  The answer was simple: Whoever gets turned on by watching them!

www.BuckAngel.com