July 5, 1997
BY VINCENT LAMBERT
When Jim Buck swaggered into the porn world last year in Mardi Gras Cowboy, VCRs across America went into overdrive. An updated—and relocated to New Orleans—X-rated version of the ’60s classic Midnight Cowboy, the film put this 28-year-old Southern stud on the map. With his tousled locks and bad-boy strut—not to mention his pierced penis—he caught the attention of eager porn fans and an industry that’s always in search of new faces. And although he may have had “star” written all over him, Buck is anything but your typical porn boy. This hazel-eyed Leo has two Master’s degrees—the most recent in arts administration—and is just as likely to quote Nietzsche or Camus in conversation as he is to casually reference “the theory of hybridity” or “Kinsey’s continuum of human sexuality.”
But on a recent visit to New York to film a new movie, Buck arrives looking more like a Chelsea boy than a farm boy. The strands of hair that used to dangle sexily in his eyes have been unceremoniously chopped in favor of a short military-style do. “My hair kept getting in the way,” he explains. “So I went home and took out my clippers and began cutting away. I cut off a big clump in the front by mistake, so it all had to come off. The hair was just an aesthetic of Jim Buck, anyway.”
Not that this self-imposed hair loss has affected Buck’s career. He has followed his winning performance in Mardi Gras Cowboy (All Worlds Video) with several new films. In Dr. Jerkoff & Mr. Hard (Big Video), he continues to showcase his comedic talents, playing a nerdy college professor who is transformed into a hunk after drinking a strange brew. In both A Tale of Two Brothers and Gold Diggers (both All Worlds Video), he’s been cast as a tough-talking wiseacre. He has graced the cover of Freshmen and been featured in spreads in such magazines as Obsessions and Mandate. Buck has also been nominated for Probe’s Men in Video Award as best new rising star. Not bad for a guy who’s been in the business for less than a year.
Born and raised in Laurel, Mississippi, Buck was always interested in the arts. “I’m an actor at heart,” he says. In high school, he even appeared in plays with indie film queen Parker Posey. But Buck left the small Southern town to pursue his education in New Orleans in the early ’90s. It was as an undergrad that he made his first steps toward porn stardom. At a local bar, Buck met a man who was the roommate of drag-superstar-waiting-to-happen Varla Jean Merman. Vidkid Timo, the writer and director of Mardi Gras Cowboy, was a friend of Merman’s and an aspiring pornographer with an eye for talent. He and Buck became friends, and seven years later, Timo offered Buck his first part.
“I love him deeply,” Timo says of Buck. “He's as smart as he is sexy, and I wouldn't think of doing a porn movie without him.”
But did the brainy schoolboy have any qualms about making the leap to screen stud? “I’ve found the best way to do things in life is to always say yes and never look back,” Buck says. “Don’t think about the consequences, just do it. Timo walked into the gym one day and said, ‘They want to do Mardi Gras Cowboy. Do you want to be in it?’ Sure, I’ve never done porno before. Why the hell not?”
And so Jim Buck was born—as a character in the film and as a nom de porn. “In my first interview, I actually toyed with the idea of playing out the character of Jim Buck,” the actor says. “Just like Varla created a character with an entire history. Jim Buck would have come from Louisiana and been a pig farmer and have this whole background, but about halfway through the interview I dropped it. I couldn’t keep it up. Jim Buck is just another name for me attached to my presence on video. I’m playing a role, so it’s not completely me, but it’s definitely a part of me.”
And Buck claims a part of him is actually shy. “I’ve not got the best body and I know that,” he says, “but I’m not really insecure with it. Although standing next to some of those boys, I should be. But I’m shy in other situations. In certain social situations, I’m not outgoing at all. I’m most comfortable with my friends and in situations where there’s intimacy, which may explain why I’m so comfortable on a porn set. It’s completely intimate; I mean, how much more intimate can you get than having someone’s tongue up your butt? That’s pretty intimate.”
Buck’s trademark Prince Albert–clad cock is the product of an intimate relationship—a lasting token of “the man who broke my heart.” He says that his now ex-boyfriend thought piercings were sexy. “It stuck in my mind, so when he dumped me and I was delirious, I went to a local piercing salon and said, ‘I’d like a Prince Albert.’ I’m still not sure if it was to get back at him or to get him back,” Buck shrugs.
But it has certainly provided him with a memorable gimmick and makes him stand out in the sometimes cookie-cutter world of porn. “There’s a formula out there, and everyone tries to follow it,” he says. “But there are a lot of us who are tired of the formula. Porn can become a more flexible medium. Directors like Timo, Wash West, Mike Donner and Chi Chi LaRue are changing the formula. I could theoretically be lost in the shuffle. I don’t look like the typical boy. I don’t want to have to stay tan and shave my body hair and take out my piercing. The genre is changing, so it provides space for a variety of takes on material.”
Buck describes his next film and collaboration with Timo, At Twilight Come the Flesh-eaters, as a formula-breaker. “We say its like The Women meets Night of the Living Dead,” he laughs.
When he’s not busy making porn, Buck can be found tooling around New Orleans in his pickup truck or spending time with his dog, Gaston. Although he claims that “Jim Buck doesn’t get asked out on many dates,” the actor hints that he’s recently met a special someone who he’s been “bewitched, bothered and bewildered by.”
But whether discussing relationships or career, Jim Buck makes it clear that he has no time for regrets. “I’ve reached a point in my life where I refuse to wake up when I’m 70 or 80 or 90 and say, ‘Why the fuck didn’t I do that?’ Life is way too short. I’ve had nothing but fun doing porn. I’ve met and worked with great people. It’s been a completely positive experience. I’m a performer. I consider myself to be moderately expressive, whether it’s acting or writing or doing porn, it’s a way of getting up and entertaining people and being kooky and letting it out, whatever it is.”
Reprinted from HX magazine (1997)