Mesh tank top, henley tank top, and aviator sunglasses by Marc Jacobs. Underwear by 2(x)ist. Cut-off shorts by Dockers. Beret available at Galaxy Army Navy. Dog tag necklace by David Yurman. Watch by Puma.
I caught this amazing article of Francois Sagat in the latest issue of Out magazine (with Glee's Darren Criss on the cover) and not only is the article on Francois excellent rise from gay porn to mainstream films and performance art excellent, but the pictures are phenomenal. Check out a behind-the scenes look at the photo shoot courtesy of Gay.com and read the entire article below...
By Tony phillips
Photography by Terry Richardson
Styling by Grant woolhead
Tonight, the men and women circling François Sagat are less an entourage than a safety precaution -- without this human buffer, the metal spikes protruding from Sagat’s left shoulder could easily wound an innocent bystander. It’s a literally dangerous fashion choice, but this is Halloween, and the 31-year-old French porn star is rolling through Susanne Bartsch’s party in the bowels of Manhattan’s Hudson Hotel at the witching hour. Sagat complements the medieval-looking shoulder pad with a bedazzled G-string, white Adidas trainers, and a sheen of metallic body glitter. Lots of metallic body glitter. It looks a bit like the Tin Man took a wrong turn at the rainbow and ended up in Studio 54.
Luckily for the revelers on the dance floor, Sagat and his shoulder spikes will remain onstage tonight -- he is judging Bartsch’s annual costume contest. She introduces him over the mic, and he walks between the pair of giant inflatable gams spread wide for the thrust stage. Sagat hits his mark at the runway’s edge, executing a fairly professional half-turn, but the crowd continues dancing at peak-hour frenzy and pays him no attention. Sagat is famous for his porn work, most recently with Titan Media, but this New York City trip is a conflation of high fashion and Hollywood dream machine -- two spheres where Sagat has yet to make his name. He is shooting for superstardom, but Bartsch’s alternative fashionista crowd isn’t having it.
"They jerked off watching him," Titan director Brian Mills explains, "Then he’s onstage, and people are suddenly very disoriented about how to relate to him." Mills, one of three Titan partners, has been directing porn for 18 years, so he knows a bit about this subject. "Gay men," he says, “no matter how out they are or how much porn they consume, relegate this genre to a dirty little box." He says gay men aren’t used to seeing performers like Sagat in public. "They usually do it alone. They have this fascination with him, but they’re often hesitant or even afraid to express that."
Though maybe it’s all a question of venue -- in certain environments, Sagat’s fans are far from shy. Mills recalls Sagat’s last San Francisco appearance at Folsom Street Fair, the world’s largest annual leather and S&M showcase. Before long, the porn star was forced to hide out in the Titan-branded Honda Element when the crowd got too unruly. "I’ve never seen anyone in this business get that kind of attention," Mills marvels. Sagat is arguably the most famous gay porn star in the world today, instantly recognizable by his trademark scalp tattoo, but he does his best to defy such an easy definition. He hasn’t made porn since his run as GayVN’s 2007 Performer of the Year, but his two art house films are lingering between postproduction and release. He’s French, but works in the U.S., and while he’s both topped and bottomed in gay porn, there’s a public obsession with his fucking women.
There’s even ambiguity in his own self-produced performance videos, which range from an earnest bathroom rendition of Britney’s “Gimme More” lip-synched through toothpaste foam to a clip of Sagat slamming the steroid Deca-Durabolin into his right ass cheek, accompanied by a Presets score. The same anything-goes philosophy applies to his porn career, where he is known for his "I’ll fuck anything" professionalism, but his colleagues are more discriminating. Everyone interviewed for this story -- including Mills, who initially passed on Sagat because of the scalp tattoo -- has rejected Sagat at some point.
Cut-off button-down shirt by Banana Republic. Leather shorts by Bottega Veneta. Dog tag necklace by David Yurman. Backpack by Marni. Watch by Puma.
In the back of the darkened house, someone screams "Bring back the East Village!" Promoter Daniel Nardicio has just announced that the Avenue A restaurant hosting this New York City premiere will screen the "festival cut" of Bruce LaBruce’s undead porno L.A. Zombie. In it, Sagat plays a schizophrenic homeless man who thinks he’s an alien who can reanimate the dead with gay sex -- not surprisingly, the uncut film features depictions of homosexual necrophilia. The management objects to this version. It’s not the first time Sagat’s star turn as the titular zombie has been censored. Last summer, the original cut was pulled from the Melbourne International Film Festival (or MIFF), and in response, the corresponding underground festival (MUFF) screened it in an act of public disobedience.
New York City will have to wait a couple of more months before the hardcore version pops up as video booth programming in Manhattan’s few remaining peep shows. The guerilla-shot film vacillates wildly between close-ups of Sagat’s horned, alien cock spurting dark jism and moody long shots, one featuring a fanged Sagat reflected in a Ms. Donut coffee shop window, a nocturnal prowler like a figure in one of Edward Hopper’s barren cityscapes. In the last reel, Sagat drinks from the Los Angeles River, that toxic stream immortalized in Grease. After the credits roll, LaBruce, cocktail in hand, takes the tiny stage with Sagat, dressed down in jeans and a cut-up R2-D2 tank top.
LaBruce, who has clearly availed himself of the premiere drink tickets, details a flow problem between the hardcore and festival cuts. In the milder cut just screened, Sagat sports a prosthetic penis that curls like a boar’s tusk, while in the hardcore version the nude scenes progress to actual sex, with Sagat’s real penis sheathed in a condom. The lack of continuity between raw and gloved bothers LaBruce enough that he consulted a post-house agency about digitally removing the condom, but it proved too expensive. As LaBruce discusses this process, Sagat does a slow burn beside him. He says nothing, but he’s clearly pissed. In 2008, the actor filmed a French PSA where he demonstrates how to wear a condom. The ad, which has been relegated to XTube in America, still matters to him.
Before they leave the restaurant, LaBruce and Sagat cluster around the maître d’ stand, shooting for a Canal+ documentary about Sagat. LaBruce explains that they first met when he was casting a photo shoot for French gay magazine Têtu. Planning to recreate Godard’s Nouvelle Vague masterpiece Breathless, he looked at Sagat for the gamine Jean Seberg role. And passed.
The day after the New York City premiere, LaBruce meets me for breakfast at a West Village diner. Sagat may not make a good Jean Seberg, but LaBruce is quick to praise his acting skill, saying that for his film to work, "it has to be played completely straight, and that’s what he managed to do. There wasn’t one moment when he broke out of character." He then breathlessly details Sagat’s ability to cry on cue and "fuck like crazy," even when paired with an actor "who was out of it on drugs and couldn’t get a hard-on."
Author Dennis Cooper, who plays opposite Sagat in his other film, Christophe Honoré’s Man at Bath, is equally impressed with the porn star’s talent. He says Sagat is "very modest and kind of insecure in a funny way, but he’s a very good actor." The film is a mostly improvised piece that follows the separate paths of a gay couple as they split. Sagat’s character remains in the Parisian suburb Gennevilliers while his lover jets to New York City.
"I have a long scene with him," Cooper explains. "I’m some weird American art collector in the suburbs of Paris. He comes by for money and has sex with me. On this occasion, I’ve just had sex, so I’m not interested, but he gets up and starts doing these poses. I tell him he’s kitsch. I look at him and see everything about him in one second."