28 January 2009 12:44
Seattle, WA — Thom Seck, the editor of French gay bimonthly magazines dedicated to X rated gay world, Gay Video Star and Gay Video International interviewed me for an upcoming article in his magazine. In the interview transcript that follows I share how I define my relationship with Derek, views on the SM community and my upcoming directorial venture with Titan for a new line of fetish movies in the works. Since I get many of the same questions in messages from my readers here, I thought I post the interview…
As far as I know, you have been acting for 4 gay studios including TitanMen (Fear, Breakers, Chainsaw, Folsom Prison, Folsom Undercover, Funhouse and Home Invasion). You even have an exclusive contract with TitanMen. Why did you decide to play in adult films?
I never would have gotten into the industry if it weren’t for my involvement in the leather/SM scene. I was at a run called Inferno sponsored by the Chicago Hellfire Club about three years ago when I met my boy Derek da Silva. I didn’t know it at the time but he had been working in the industry for a number of years doing SM and wrestling films. After a visit to Seattle, he asked if I would be interested in topping him for a video and suggested it would give us a chance to see each other again.
Well, a few days after that conversation, Derek called to tell me Daddy Zeus was coming out of retirement to direct a trilogy, he had been cast in the first film and they were looking for a top. He put DZ and me in contact, I sent down some photos and before I knew it I was heading to Palm Springs to shoot my first adult feature.
How did you get in connection with TitanMen? Why did you agree to be a TitanMen exclusive? Are you still keeping on exclusively with TitanMen?
Shortly after that first shoot, Derek was contacted by Titan to perform in the next production in the Folsom line of fetish/SM features and he pitched doing an inverted suspension, water torture scene. He knew I could do the rigging and trusted in my ability to top the scene so he put me in contact with the folks at TitanMen. It was a great shoot and I loved working with Brian Mills and the crew. When they asked if I would be willing to come down for another, I jumped on the opportunity.
That second shoot was for Chainsaw, directed by Joe Gage whose work I have long admired. Again, I had an extremely positive experience working with TitanMen, and then Brian Mills approached me about becoming an exclusive. We talked about the direction Titan was taking with its SM content, what I could bring to the studio and agreed that it would be a good fit.
And it has been an excellent fit. Bringing really heavy yet responsible BDSM play to the screen and, with the help of Titan, a broader audience of current and potential players has become a passion. I’m making a contribution that I’m truly proud of.
Thus far my work with Titan has been exceptionally rewarding on a multitude of levels. Paramount among these is the collaborative nature of our work together; the fact that I became a major contributor to the productions of which I was a part helped fuel my creative desires. Working as an exclusive with one of the most recognized, and among the very best, of the studios in the business has helped me get my message of safer sex and risk mitigation in SM scenes to a much broader audience than I had ever expected. It has also been an honor to be associated with a studio that shares my values and the values of my community of family and friends.
On your web site which works as a blog (www.tonybuff.com), you use the words “art films” instead of “porn films.” Why?
I call them ‘art films’ because most of the features I do are more than just skin flicks and I want to keep that in mind as I help create them. Capturing this thing of ours [BDSM] on screen, creating features like Fear and Folsom Prison… these are not your standard sex films. They capture an aspect of male sexuality that many would rather condemn, censor and deny. They document the kind of radical sexuality that is at the heart of our queer liberation. They spark our sexual imaginations, confront social mores and present new constructs with which we can frame our lives. They engage us in a way that not only gets us off physically but mentally and emotionally as well. As such they become, in my opinion, a truly artistic medium.
The first time I saw you in a movie; it was in Fear. Not only was I attracted by your look, but your scene with Derek da Silva and Tober Brandt amazed me because of its brutality. In my review, I even made the comparison with Gengoroh TAGAME’s mangas. Always with Derek, you offered us unforgettable performances: you electrified him with a Stun Gun in Folsom Prison and you used him as a human punching ball in Funhouse. In your web site, we can see that your live shows with him can even be bloody.
How do you define your relationship?
Thank you, that’s very kind. The relationship I’ve built with my boy Derek is the greatest source of happiness in my life. In simple terms, my relationship with Derek can be described as a polyamorous, Dom/sub relationship. Of the archetypical Dom/sub relationships common in the men’s leather/SM scene, ours most closely resembles the Sir/boy relationship.
What do you think when some people say that the nature of your relationship is “abusive”?
If anyone observes the two of us together and then come to the conclusion that it’s abusive, I don’t think, I know they don’t understand the nature of our relationship. Ours is a consensual relationship built on deep trust, open communication, mutual respect, shared responsibility and joint satisfaction. These foundations are not present in abusive relationships. Anyone with an understanding of the differences between a healthy Dom/sub relationship and abuse who has had an opportunity to witness our interactions together should be left with a positive impression of the connection we share. Frankly, the people that would classify our relationship as abusive just because they don’t agree with the way we play do a disservice to and belittle the very real and serious issues of domestic violence and abusive relationships.
S/M is a contract: each part agrees. But is it always the case? Don’t you have a “grey zone” when sometimes the master goes further than provided by the masochist?
Yes and no. I’m sorry… I don’t mean to give a convoluted answer, but as you suggest, it isn’t as easy as black and white. For those of us that play on the edge, where limits are pushed to the precipice and then expanded, consent is often blurred and restraint serves as both a facilitator and a safety net. Consent is always present however; in the trust the submissive places in the technical skills and abilities of the top to read the scene. This requires a tremendous connection best approached by experienced players.
Born in Pittsburg, PA in 1970, you were raised in southern California. After graduating high school you joined the Marine Corps at age 17, and studied philosophy and political science at California State University, Long Beach. In 2002, you served as Washington State Mr Leather. When did you first feel a passion for sadomasochism? When were you initiated? Is it during or after you were in the military?
Well… I was tying myself up, cutting my clothes off with knives and playing out abduction fantasies in my head before I even hit adolescence, so you could say it started at a pretty young age. As far as an initiation goes, I guess that would have to be when I became part of a family while I was still in the Corps twenty years ago… God, has it really been that long? Ours was more a military/SM family than a leather family. All of the immediate and most of the extended family were either prior service or currently serving in the Navy or Marines. Our common experience in the service carried over to our family dynamic and I took my place as the ‘newbie’ learning as much as I could about this new world of SM.
It was in that family that I earned my collar. It wasn’t my collar at first of course. It belonged to a man I respected and trusted enough to place myself in his charge. While I will not go into all the details here (the ravages of AIDS in the late ’80s and early ’90s tore many loved ones from those of us who lived through those years), but when he passed on, the collar was left with me.
It took ten years for me to transition from that orphaned boy with a collar in his hands to the one with the skills and confidence to top my own scenes. It would be another five before I found the boy who now wears that collar.
What would be your advice for someone who is attracted by S/M but doesn’t know how to make his fantasy safe for him and his partners?
Personally, I think it’s important to learn from a skilled practitioner. I would encourage people to seek out experienced players that share their particular fetish or fantasy and learn from them. Each type of BDSM play requires different degrees of skill and conditioning. I truly believe the best way to learn the sadomasochistic arts are through practical application with someone you trust that has the knowledge. This is one of our tribal traditions… this passing of tribal knowledge, from one person to another, is critical to the cohesion of our community and insures the safety of SM players now and in the future.
You have deep connections with American leather and S/M organizations such as Washington State Mr|Ms Leather Organization, Seattle Men in Leather, the Dragon Clan and the Chicago Hellfire Club. Do you have also connections with European organizations?
Because of my association with the Hellfire Club and work in the industry I’m lucky enough to know a handful of truly amazing players there, but I don’t have any direct connections with leather/SM organizations in Europe.
Do you plan to make some live show for instance in England, in the Torture Garden Club (this club is open for gays, straight, transgender who are really into fetish and S/M)?
Derek and I have been teaching and performing at events across North America, but haven’t been invited to appear at any events in Europe yet.
You say a lot of things about yourself in your web site. When you use the word “family”, “daddy”, “uncle”, “boy”, it is to describe your close relationship with people in the S/M community. Does all your life now turn around the S/M community?
My life is pretty much an open book. Truth is this isn’t role play for me. I’ve created and am living a queer identity. My leather family is the family I’ve helped build and the relationships in my life are the ones I have chosen. I’m blessed. I now make my living writing, teaching and sharing my passions with likeminded individuals. While the leather/SM community doesn’t encompass the whole of my existence, I unapologetically embrace it as part of my identity.
Have you got some “secret” hobbies and passions like cooking, collecting stamps, video games, animals?
I have a cat. His name is Thomas and he’s trained to use the toilet. I’m kind of a control freak, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a top. I practice Tai Chi almost daily, as both martial art and meditation. And when I need to blow off steam, I enjoy running tactical pistol drill at the range.
Do you think it could be possible for you to be in love of someone who is not into S/M and don’t want to be part of it?
Could I be in love with them? Sure. But that wouldn’t be enough to sustain a meaningful relationship. I know myself well enough now to recognize that SM is a necessary part of my deepest relationships.