DVD Review - Mr. Angel - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DVD Review - Mr. Angel

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Buck Angel is now over the age of 40 and looks like he could have been one of the G. I. Joe characters or a figure conceived by Tom of Finland. He's not very tall, but he's very muscular with bulging biceps, thick shoulders, legs and pectorals, as well as rock hard abdominal muscles. He's bald-headed and has rather coarse, facial hair. He has several tattoos on his massive arms, across his very sinewy back and even one just above his pubic area. Buck very comfortably shows TV producer-turned-filmmaker Dan Hunt and his camera that pubic area.

It's easily revealed that Buck wears no underwear, so when he without hesitation or shame drops his pants, his form-fitting jeans, the audience immediately gets an intimate view of Buck's genitalia. Yes, Buck was a porn star, so full-frontal nudity is not a problem for Mr. Angel, but Hunt's camera is not a pornographic one. It doesn't leer or stare at Buck's shaved groin with any kind of prurient interest.

Unlike in the recent documentary Unhung Hero, Hunt realizes here that making a movie that talks so much about someone's genitalia can't or shouldn't get away with never displaying said genitalia. Whereas the subject of Unhung Hero complains about his penis, Buck Angel does not. This is probably because the 40-year-old beefcake doesn't have a penis. When Buck drops his pants, he puts his vagina on screen because as the audience learns, Buck Angel is a transsexual man.

A transsexual man is a person who was born female biologically but who feels it necessary to transform into a biological male. This is accomplished through drug treatments of testosterone and surgery to remove his breasts, so that his chest looks like that of any other man. He hasn't yet had the surgery to change his vagina into a penis. His reasons for not having the surgery to create a penis, or what's called "bottom surgery," are very similar to the reasons that fellow transsexual Chaz Bono stated in his documentary Becoming Chaz (2011).

One reason that isn't stated but is implied is the fact that for the past decade or so, Buck has marketed himself as "The Man with a Pussy." Buck is a porn star who makes his own videos and sells them, and this marketing hook makes him unique, particularly in the gay porn business, which is where he's mostly found. Despite his difficulties with selling his videos or getting distribution in the United States, and despite his protestations that he wants to be "normal," Buck Angel has carved out a marketing niche that if he all of a sudden got the bottom surgery, it would take away his uniqueness and his marketing edge.

A chief concern of Buck is because of his pornography past, his attempts to be more of a public speaker and educator are at times thwarted. He does have an online presence and uses his platform to reach out to other transsexual men to share his story and his experiences of which there are many, to advise or inform them of what to do about their changing bodies or communicate to straight people what the issues are. Buck's goals are more altruistic than Colton Ford's in Naked Fame (2004) who transitioned from porn to the mainstream with the goals of becoming a singer and actor. Buck's goals are as he says, "to change the world," and more likely to help transsexuals to accept themselves as well as help the masses in turn accept transsexuals.

It's odd that during a public speaking event, Buck proclaims that his "vagina is awesome." He spends the entire documentary basically arguing that a person's gender or sexual identity is not defined by his genitalia and that one should be proud of the genitalia he or she has. Of course, he doesn't discourage others from getting bottom surgery, but he supports those who don't and advances that his actual and literal vagina doesn't detract from his masculinity or his manliness.

The logical next question, which is neither asked nor answered, is if Buck didn't feel the need to have the bottom surgery, then why did he feel the need to have the "top surgery"? If he could live with a vagina forever, then why couldn't he live with breasts? Again, on stage, in front of a room full of people, Buck speaks loudly, "My vagina is awesome." Why didn't he think his breasts were also awesome?

Other than that, Hunt constructs Buck's life story rather well. He hits on a lot of major points. Hunt interviews Buck's parents and sister, as well as Buck's wife, Elayne, a woman who is very much into piercing of all kinds. She's odd, but a lovely leftist who obviously loves and accepts Buck for who he is. The two clearly make a cute couple and their relationship is sweet and practically perfect.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but recommended for mature audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 7 mins.

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