Jenny Butler reviews the documentary, Mr Angel as part of the 2013 GAZE Film Festival in Dublin
Director and producer, Dan Hunt, explains the process of making a documentary about Buck Angel; an American educator, public speaker and porn star who happens to be a transsexual. Hunt speaks with genuine warmth about the 6 year project, which he dubs a’ labour of love’, entitled ‘Mr. Angel’. Hunt ends the brief introductory video with words that would be reiterated throughout the documentary: “If all of us had a little bit of what Buck has, we’d all be much better people”.
The documentary chronicles Buck’s life; from his early childhood days and turbulent adolescence, through to his harrowing early adult life as a supermodel who turned to substance abuse and self harm to cope with the ever increasing inner turmoil that almost ended his life, and right up to the present day, where we see him having embraced who he is and attempting to convey the importance of positive body image while expanding our thinking beyond traditional societal gender perceptions.
Away from big cities and adult conventions, Buck finds solace at his home in Mexico, which he shares with his wife, Elayne, and their pets. Their mutual support and love for one another is endearingly evident throughout the documentary, and echoed by Buck’s assurance: “If my porn ever interfered with my relationship with her (Elayne), I would stop today”, adding that life in Mexico with his wife and pets is “like a dream”.
An ardent businessman, Buck takes his work very seriously and he works hard – the latter is a point he mentions when dispelling the myth that the job of a porn star is all fun and conventions. He is also very much aware of the responsibility he has as a trans advocate – something he initially never intended on being.
Between scenes which follow Buck around conventions, business meetings and relaxing at home in Mexico, excerpts from an emotional interview with Buck’s parents, Bill and Patty, reveal the anguish and self-blame many parents encounter when they become aware that their child is Transgender. Their raw emotion provides a previously unseen side to the story of Buck’s life.
Buck is embarking on a journey to branch out from the adult industry and gravitate more towards being a motivational and educational speaker. His charismatic nature and upbeat outlook on life make him an ideal public speaker, and while it is clear that the world has a long way to go in terms of its understanding of gender, Dan Hunt’s documentary provides a fascinating insight into how Buck Angel is forging a path in the right direction.
For more information on the documentary and where it will be screened next, visit: www.mrangelmovie.com