Even if you're not a connoisseur of gay porn, there's a very good chance you're familiar with the image of French adult-film actor François Sagat. The tattooed muscle man has emerged as more than just a skin-flick star in the last few years, working as a (clothed) model, and starring in queer arthouse fare like Bruce La Bruce's L.A. Zombie and Christophe Honor'sHomme au bain (Man at Bath); he even had a brief role in the torture-porn flick Saw VI. His career is chronicled in Sagat: The Documentary, which ran on French television earlier this year and makes its American debut at the Museum of Arts and Design on November 18 as part of the series "François Sagat: The New Leading Man." We caught up with the strangely sexy star via e-mail. [Note: Some links contained below are NSFW.]
You're only 32, and have cultivated a career well outside of the mainstream. How does it feel to have a museum doing a series about you?
It's amusing. It's new for me, and I'm very proud of it. It shows that everything is possible—in many ways—even in porn...as long as you make good choices. I'm lucky! My mother must be happy.
The MAD series is titled "The New Leading Man." Do you see yourself as a leading man? Is mainstream fame something you'd like to achieve?
I'm still really overwhelmed when I read this. I'm very honored and surprised...but I don't really think it's true [that I'm a leading man]. I'm just a product of the Internet that came along at a good time, that's all. Mainstream fame would scare me, so that is not my goal.
How did you make the transition from adult movies to artier far like L.A. Zombieand Homme au bain?
Well, I never stopped [doing] porn. L.A. Zombie and Homme au bain were just new, different projects that came along at a time when I wanted to take a break from porn—but I didn't retire, and there was no transition. And I'm still naked and interacting with partners in gay sex in those two projects...so, no big deal.
You've done some intense work on camera—from the elaborate makeup you wear in L.A. Zombie to some extreme sex in some of your porn work. Have you ever been asked to do anything that you refused?
Not really. No one forced me to do something I would be against.... If I had to do it again, I would have refused to perform in fisting movies; thank God I was only a top in those movies. I respect everything, but this is something that just [isn't] me.
One of your most distinctive features is your scalp tattoo. When did you decide to get that, and why?
I was bald very early, that's all. I tried to find a way to make my head dark with trompe l'oeil... the inspiration was the "shape-up" haircut.
You mentioned when we first got in touch that you've been shooting and directing. What are you up to behind the camera?
I'm doing a porn movie for Titan—very exciting. It's in two parts; I wrote, directed and art-directed everything with my codirector, the very talented Brian Mills. He helped me deal with the most difficult aspects of [understanding] what's possible and what's not in a job like this. Basically, I came up with the ideas, and he is taking care of all the technical aspects. I also took care of designing costumes. I did the drawings and some amazing people—Slick It Upand Charlie Le Mindu—manufactured everything for me, specially for this project. I'm also in the movie! The first part is out in December, the second part in March.
Homme au bain director Christopher Honor has said you "redefine the notion of masculinity," and you've been asked about that a lot since then. Is "redefining masculinity" something you're interested in?
That's the thing I never know how to respond to. I never found to be myself a masculine man. I'm everything but masculine! I put makeup on my face; I curl my eyelashes every morning; I have Madonna, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé on my iTunes; I wear G-strings; I love the color pink; I read Vogue; I wear high heels onstage. I guess Christophe Honor didn't see me in private!
You seem to have a sense of humor about yourself; do you think people take you too seriously sometimes?
I think so, yes. I think I can be funny...but, then again, people will always take me the way they want.
Do you get to New York very often?
I've been to New York at least ten times, but not enough time to know the city. I really enjoy New York and have some really good friends there. I feel peaceful there—maybe its because I'm not from there. But I could live in New York.
When you come here, do you have favorite things to do?
Yes, walking alone in the streets during summer and watching people...and having sex with fucking sexy men.
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The cult star inches closer to mainstream fame with an upcoming museum series.