Venus Via Mars: Transgender Comedian Rye Silverman Stands Up and Out

Rye Silverman (Photo courtesy Savage Rose Photography)
Rye Silverman (Photo courtesy Savage Rose Photography)

Six years ago when Rye and I last saw each other, she didn’t wear knee high socks and lipstick. She wore hoodies, jeans, and sneakers, and she was a he. Two writer/performer types from the Midwest reconnecting in Los Angeles is not an uncommon story. Slightly uncommon is the fact that Rye is now an ex-he (Facebook gender status: Gender Fluid and Transfeminine). After leaving Columbus, OH, behind we meet again at Comedy Palace in Los Feliz, where she was emceeing.

Getting stage time in LA is notoriously a huge hassle, have you found that to be true?

Theres stage time available almost constantly, but getting quality stage time can be a pain, sure. Turns out a lot of people want to be famous in a town that claims to make that happen.  

Where do you live in LA and do you like it?

Ive lived in (the Valley) for four years, I love it there. Im super close to the 101 and Laurel Canyon so I can get down to WeHo or the East side/Downtown quickly but Im also just far enough away that I can kind of escape home and decompress a bit.  

Would you considering selling out and starring in a sit-com about a group of funny transgender friends in funky Silver lake? Or maybe Modern Familybut with transgender folks?

Why, has someone said something? Is this a legit offer? Tell them to call me.

Was there a coming out moment to your comedy buddies about being a woman? How did it affect your relationship with the scene? 

I had a moment in 2009 when I came out for the first time onstage. Coming out is more of a process than people realize. I still run into people who I havent seen in years who are surprised by it. Also my own expression of my gender identity has expanded and evolved over time too, so when I initially came out I said Cross-dressermore and thats not really accurate to who I am, but theres traces of that in how people still deal with me. 

Is wearing sun dresses and panties more or less of a hassle than boxers and jeans?

In general a light dress is like the easiest thing in the world to wear. Its like going naked but without being arrested. Plus people think dress = fancy so you get points for putting in effort.  

Are you going to Pride Fest?

I always try to make it to Pride but Trans Pride is the next weekend and Ill really be more interested in going to that.  

What is wrong with the world? 

I think the biggest issue across the board is a lack empathy and perspective, and the utter death of nuance in any discussion. Theres little to no effort to take any time to try to understand that others may have a different experience than yours and that maybe theres something to that.  

Are you a hipster? 

Is anyone really a hipster? I dont think Ive ever met someone who self-identifies as one. If youre someone who throws the word hipster around you probably are one at least a bit yourself. You know who Ive never heard call anyone a hipster? My Mom and Dad. 

Does it bother you when entitled people take advantage of the assistance dog ethic and bring their disgusting, crusty-eyed little lap rats into restaurants and annoy the wait staff and customers with their narcissistic persecution theatre?

Sounds like it bothers you! Ill say that Im allergic to dogs, so it does definitely suck for me when someone brings one into a restaurant.  

Do you identify with the poetry of Maya Angelou?

On a very broad scale, yes. But I also hate when someone dies and then suddenly a lot of people act like they had some deep connection with something theyd barely thought about up through the day prior. I have a lot of respect for Maya Angelous work and her life, enough that I wont do that.

Do you believe in any conspiracy theories? 

All Pixar movies are set in one universe. Theres a dude online, he cracked the code. Otherwise, no not really, I dont think I need to. All the people taking over the world are doing it right out in the open.  

Follow Rye on Twitter @ryesilverman and Tumblr chicklikemeblog.tumblr.com

Jonathan Nawn has written for Park Science Magazine, The Ohio Tavern News, and three other publications. He has performed original work at Freehold Theatre, On The Boards (Seattle) and San Diego Fringe Festival.