Belly-laughs with a bear: Donald Clarke on Seth MacFarlane’s new comedy,
LEAVE IT ON THE FLOOR We heart Sheldon Larry’s African-American musical , a low-budget extravaganza about a gay teen who loses a disapproving family and gains a flutter of LA drag queens. Can you really afford to miss out on such glitzy, infectious musical numbers as Justin’s
Gonna Call, an ode to Mr Timberlake? Fernando Valley. He explains that he looked like a “tomboy” and was treated as such by his parents. Childhood was, in fact, largely idyllic. The confusion and torment only properly set in with puberty. As a young woman, he managed to secure some modelling jobs, but the pressures of living with the wrong gender proved close to unendurable.
“I had a sex change 20 years ago. But I had to figure that out myself. From my mid-teens until 28, I suffered. I was on drugs. I was homeless. It wasn’t me. I shouldn’t be sitting here talking to you. It was crazy I survived.”
Buck goes on to explain that, 20 years ago, few medical professionals had any idea how to proceed with a female-to-male sex change. “I was told I was a lesbian. I knew I wasn’t. It was the same as being told you aren’t gay when you are. Look, I know what I am!” he says. “I found the doctor who dealt with transsexual women. He was the most amazing doctor. He said: ‘I have never worked on a guy before. You’re going to be my guinea pig. Are you willing to do that?’ He changed my life. I was a living experiment.”
Buck had surgery to remove his breasts – the only surgery he underwent – and began “shooting” quantities of testosterone. He explains that, more than the physical transformation, it was the psychological metamorphosis that made life bearable. “I became the person I wanted to become,” Buck says.
How did it all go down with his parents? He has already mentioned that mom and dad were fairly conventional blue-collar folk. “My parents are awesome,” he says. “They sort of disowned me when I was a drug addict. I can understand that. I was a mess. I was using them. For three years they lost contact with me. They refused to deal with my crap. But, after the transition, they came to terms. My dad has some problems. He’s very macho. That’s where I get it. Ha ha! I am their son and they are very proud of me because they once expected me to be dead.” GONE In 2007 retired NYPD officer Kathy Gilleran travelled to Vienna to assist in the search for her missing gay son, Aeryn. Using interviews, co-directors John and Gretchen Morning outline Kathy’s compelling struggle against homophobic Austrian authorities, lies and a possible conspiracy. ALL THE WAY THROUGH EVENING Rohan Spong’s documentary starts out as a profile of East Village pianist Mimi Stern-Wolfe but expands into a history of
He jokes that he inherited his macho look from his dad. It is interesting that, after making the transition, he elected to take on a muscular, cigar-chomping persona. As Sex
ing the Transman makes clear (not that we should be surprised), female-to-male transsexuals adopt all classes of manhood after crossing the divide.
“Yes, I always wanted to be a macho man, even when I was a girl,” he says. “I achieved what I wanted to achieve: to be a hypermasculine male. I wanted to have muscles. I wanted to be able to take my shirt off. I wanted for people to look at me and say: ‘That’s a man! That’s a man!’ I was always attracted to that sort of masculinity.”
Buck Angel has had a tough life. But he has also been fortunate. Twenty years ago he happened on the opportunity to make himself the person he always wanted to be. The world is full of people who, either mildly uncomfortable or seriously dysmorphic, believe themselves to be living in the wrong body. Buck was not only able to become a man; he was able to become a particular type of man.
Now married to the esteemed body piercer Elayne Angel, Angel recognises his good fortune and, when not making exotic films, spends his days spreading his life-enhancing philosophy throughout the universe.
“I never was an extrovert before,” he says. “But I then became a public speaker. My parents were amazed. I was so shy when I was young. It was never my intention to be so extroverted. I never intended to be so open. I don’t hold back. I talk about anything.”
The frantic chatter stills for a moment while he considers his journey. “If I can connect with one 15-year-old who is thinking of killing himself, it’s worthwhile. I really do feel that I am saving people’s lives.”
Sexing the Transman plays at the Light House Cinema, Dublin, tomorrow at 2.30pm. The Buck Angel Effect – a conversation and workshop – follows at 4.30pm how a musical subculture became ravaged by Aids. In response to the deaths of far too many friends, Stern-Wolfe founded the Benson Aids Series, an annual concert of works by composers lost to the epidemic. Director Spong and heldentenor Gilles Denizot will attend GAZE’s closing gala. WEEKEND Andrew Haigh’s delightful, dreamy British romance became a crossover hit last year as audiences flocked to see out and proud Glen hook up with shy Russell for an unforgettable weekend. Tomorrow’s screening is free and an exhibition of still images from the film by Irish photographers Quinnford + Scout will adorn the Light House Cinema’s walls for the duration of this year’s GAZE festival. REVEALING MR MAUGHAM Playwright and novelist W Somerset Maugham was a spy during the first World War and an enemy of Aleister Crowley before he became the highest-paid writer of the 1930s. Armistead Maupin and Alexander Mccall Smith contribute to Michael House’s portrait of one of history’s most prominent homosexuals, noting his ever-colourful domestic arrangements. Carol Channing: Larg-KEEP THE LIGHTS ON er than Life Erik is a New York documentarian; Paul is a closeted lawyer with a drug problem. Can they overcome and make it as a couple? Arthur Russell features heavily and welcomely on the soundtrack of Ira Sachs’ Teddy-winning feature film. GAZE 2012 is at the Light House Cinema, Dublin 7, until Monday gaze.ie
SEXING THE TRANSMAN Buck Angel’s award-winning porn-doc claims to be the “most progressive sex education film ever made”. Sure enough, transgendered hero Buck visits with trans guys and gals and their partners (including comedian Margaret Cho) to figure out what goes where for the FTM/MTF scene.
CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE At 91 Carole Channing is still a bodacious Broadway babe. Director Dori Berinstein listens as the Hello Dolly star outlines her career as a singer, actor and comedian and recalls her romance with Harry Kullijian, the Modesto businessman who became Channing’s fourth husband 70 years after they were high-school sweethearts.
VITO Vito Russo’s seminal text The Celluloid
Closet reclaimed the unheralded but obvious LGBT subtexts from the Golden Age of Hollywood and changed film criticism forever. The preeminent gay film critic’s life and achievements are recounted in Jeffrey Schwarz’s fascinating documentary.
JOBRIATH AD He was hailed as the “American Bowie” and the “true fairy of rock” but Jobriath’s debut 1974 album was an epic fail, leaving the overtly gay rock star to forge a career in cabaret and a residency in the Chelsea Hotel. He died from Aids in 1983. Marc Almond and Joe Elliott recall Jobriath’s influence on the proto-glam scene.