Buck angel and allanah starr

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Marc Quinn stands proudly over his latest sculpture. It's brilliantly detailed, sensual and a little bit rude. A woman is having sex with a man from behind. At first sight, it's a simple conceit, a reversal of traditional gender roles. Only when you look underneath the bronze couple do you realise there's something more going on. The woman has a penis, the man a vagina.

Five years ago, Quinn made a series of sculptures of people with disabilities whose body defined them — most famously Alison Lapperarmless and with short legs, displayed on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth. Now he's made a new series featuring people who have defined their body, using plastic surgery and hormones, to turn it into something that reflects their inner self.

So, in the case of models Allanah Starr and Buck Angelshe was originally a he and he was originally a she, and to an extent he is still a he and she is still a she, and that's before we even consider the possibility of a third sex. Quinn has always been fascinated by the human body and the dubious concept of normality. Buck knew Quinn's work and loved the idea of posing for him. He told the artist about his friend Allanah, who had gone the other way and with whom he had made a film. The movie was a first in the pornography world.

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All rebuilt themselves in different ways. Beatie was born Tracy LaGondino and underwent a sexual reasment procedure in order to become a man. But he kept his female reproductive organs and became pregnant in by artificial insemination. He is now expecting his third. The huge white marble sculpture of him is astonishing: George Michael meets Michelangelo's David. The David reference is deliberate — it's not simply the scale, but the sense of innocence and purity.

Which makes even weirder the fact that the bloke with the beard is pregnant. More than anything, it's Beatie's pants that make this such an intimate and human work — the creases, the pulls in the crotch, the way one leg rides up. So it infantilises us, the viewer. Quinn established himself in Charles Saatchi 's Sensation show with Selfa frozen bust of his head made from 10 pints of his own blood. It was grotesque and gorgeous and, as so often in his work, turned the world inside out. Like much of the art produced by his generation, it dealt with time and degeneration — keep it at the wrong temperature and it melts into its original form.

His father was a scientist, and Quinn combined art and science to ask existential questions. What are we? What can we become? What is natural and unnatural? In a later project, he created a cryogenically frozen garden from flowers that in the natural world could never grow together.

One project tends to evolve into another. So the frozen garden led to his recent acid-trip garden paintings, and the sculptures of disabled people led to those we are Buck angel and allanah starr at today. His transsexuals also ask basic biological questions, he says. After all, every embryo starts out female. So that's the weird thing.

We're like, 'How strange' but every boy's done it!

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Allanah Starr has arrived at the studio to see her sculpture for the first time. As we walk up from the basement, I ask Quinn if he has shown his two young children the sculptures. His year-old daughter likes them. Starr is a formidable woman; elegant, sexy and smart. Only her lips look as if they've had too much work done. She is here with her tiny, elderly Cuban mother who lives in Miami.

Buck angel and allanah starr talks in a sultry, singsong voice, while her mother smiles sweetly to compensate for her lack of English. First, they visit the sculpture of her and Buck naked holding hands. Starr's mother walks round, inspecting it closely. He nods. We get on our knees to look, diffidently feeling our way along the sculpture until we find an erect penis. They are! It's strange how close the world of high art can be to that of Eurotrash. Hopefully at the gallery people will be lying on the floor, too," Quinn says. I ask Starr what her mum thought about the sex change. She translates the question and answers for her mother, who smiles beatifically.

She has to do what she wants. Starr has incredible greeny-brown eyes. Are they natural? She just didn't feel right as a man. She's had 55 operations, including six on her nose and six on her breasts. What are her plans for the future? Would she ever get rid of her penis? Quinn says she would lose her USP if she did, and she nods. But there are other considerations, aren't there, such as having a family? Across the room are sculptures of Michael Jackson's head and hand.

Jackson had agreed to model for Quinn, but died before he made it to the studio. The sculptures are based on paintings. Is the hand a separate sculpture because his glove became so iconic? Oh no, Quinn says, it's an allusion to the sculpted head and hand of Constantine the Great at Rome's Musei Capitolini.

Quinn studied art history at Cambridge University. As an artist, I think you're influenced by absolutely everything you see. You just suck it all in, then out comes something else.

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What does come out is incredibly diverse. As we move towards the next new piece of work, we pass a sculpture of a prisoner being tortured at Abu Ghraibpart inspired by Goya's crucifixiona contorted Kate Moss with her legs over her head, phallic, psychedelic flower gardens — "Drugs for people who don't take drugs, like myself, or porn pictures your mum can look at," Quinn says. He shows me a painting of Buck Angel when he was a girl. She was broad-shouldered, big-boned and extremely pretty.

Angel, who is in Holland when I speak to him, laughs uneasily when I say the word pretty. I modelled for a little while, but I wasn't your average fashion model, that's for sure. They had to pose me like a mannequin because I didn't have that femaleness about me. I just couldn't be comfortable in my body. I damped down those feelings by drinking a lot and doing drugs through my early teens. I always knew I wanted to be a guy. He didn't really identify with anybody or anything. He was suicidal. They weren't happy with that because of the stigma of having a gay daughter.

Fifteen years ago, at 28, he had a sex change. He had only one operation — on his chest — and the rest was achieved through testosterone injections. How would he describe himself now? When Angel changed sex, he lost most of his friends — mainly lesbians who regarded him as a gender traitor. All in all, though, he says, things couldn't be better. I have totally reconnected with my family. Sexuality is such a strange thing, he says. As a woman he was a confirmed lesbian. As a man, he now often sleeps with men. But that is largely in a professional capacity. Does he not want a proper penis he has an embryonic one — the result of the testosterone?

No, that's the funny thing, he says, he'd always thought the point of a sex change was to own a penis, but over time he's come to regard male genitals as merely symbolic or cosmetic. Also, there's a chance of losing your orgasms, and that was the deciding factor for me. For me, I am a man and that's what I'm trying to say to the world — my genitals do not define me. The sculpture of Chelsea Charms is lifesize and disarmingly small. She is virtually all bosom. What interested Quinn was the fact that, apart from her breasts, she has had no Buck angel and allanah starr surgery.

Buck angel and allanah starr

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