Natasha Muse – East Bay, California

“I hope that we can make that transition where we understand that people have a basic right to food and shelter and medical care, and just give them those things and not insist that they perform some kind of labor or menial task just to ‘earn’ that.”

“I’m a comedian and a performer. I do stand-up comedy. I am not good at acting. I feel like that’s a weird thing – I think a lot of people think that because I’m comfortable on stage and I’m comfortable talking to people and strangers and off-the-cuff that I can also act well…I get chances to audition for things, it just does not go well. When I feel like I need to pretend to be somebody I’m not…that’s when it all falls apart for me. I think acting is really interesting, as an art, just because it’s so similar to what I do, superficially, yet what’s actually going on is really different.”

“I’ve been here almost 21 years. I grew up in New Hampshire. Southern New Hampshire, just outside of Boston. I lived in Boston for a couple years and then moved out here. So Boston kind of got my feet wet as far as living in the city.”

“[Where I grew up] was kind of like an overgrown town. It was almost a city – it was like a city for New Hampshire. So there wasn’t a lot of public transportation, but a lot of people.”

“I feel just going from living in a suburb to living in a city, like everything took me – not by surprise, but everything was different. Everything was open late. I’m kind of a night owl, so it was nice not to have to go to Denny’s because that was the only thing that was open. It was cool to see people who weren’t just white. People who weren’t just straight-seeming. Yeah, you go to a city and you just – it was like people you would only see on television. Especially because it was back in the ‘90s so it wasn’t like television was really good at representing people positively. They were usually side characters. So it was interesting just to see all these different types of people living together…it was kind of a breath of fresh air, in a way, to just be immersed in all different types of things going on.”

“Boston is kind of a college town, but I wasn’t going to school there, I was just living there, and it was fun to see the town fill up with students at the beginning of the school year and then during the Summer is got kind of quiet in a way.”

“Even just visiting Boston, I was like ‘I really want to live in a city’. I could just tell this felt good. I’m not good at owning a car. I was in New Hampshire until I was almost 20 and I owned four cars and just like went through them all, didn’t know how to take care of a car. My last car I bought for $100 and I would have to park it at the top of a hill and get in and let it roll and pop the clutch just to get it started. Which was perfect for me because spending $100 on a car was like exactly the amount of investment I wanted to put in a car. Then when it was time to let go of it I donated it – I got to say ‘I donated a car’…and felt like a big hero because I donated a car to a charity organization.”

“Basically, I am trans, so I came out here to deal with that. Moved out here without having ever been to the West Coast at all. I couldn’t afford to just go visit San Francisco, I didn’t know anybody – this was before the internet, so I didn’t even know how to arrange that – so, I heard some friends were moving out and I asked if they had extra space for me to tag along. And I did that partly because San Francisco is known to be kinda ‘gay-friendly’ which I sort of conflated with being trans-friendly. Also because I knew I needed to put distance between me and everybody I knew so I could work on becoming the person – or discovering myself without trying to fight too hard against the context or framework that I was already in through people that I knew. Because no matter how much you change, with somebody you see every day it’s like you don’t recognize the change.”

“It was really hard for me at first and I didn’t know what I was doing. And I’m not really a very outgoing person – I can be in certain situations, but it’s not really my nature to be gregarious and make connections. So it was really hard like, cold-calling endocrinologists, which was really rough because I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just like flipping through the phonebook, which is what you had to do pre-internet – just talking about it I feel the dust settle on my skin. Like, ‘Back in my day!’.”

“I started [as a comedian] about nine years ago. I used to work at a place called Asia SF, in the city. I used to lip-sync to songs and I got the chance to be on the microphone and introduce the acts – this was a dinner theater type situation – and there’s like this patter that the host will say, and there was a set of jokes you sort of ‘inherited’ as the MC. Did those and I kinda kept adding to it, making it sort of my own, you know, new jokes, getting funny and really enjoying that aspect of performing more than lip-syncing to numbers. And then I basically I wanted to keep doing that in a different context.

“There was a place that taught comedy classes near where I lived, which is a weird way to get into comedy, but for me it was a way to figure out how to still be a performer but take it outside of the restaurant that I was working at. So, I really enjoyed doing stand-up and just kept doing it. It was nice, because I kept doing it and got good enough to get asked to do shows and it kind of just grew from there. It was a good fit to like something that seemed to be something I was okay at – good enough at.”

“Being trans was so hard for me in New Hampshire, and coming out to myself was just a long process, and then I ended up getting involved in doing probably more drug than I would have otherwise. But then it actually ended up being a cathartic thing for me. And I feel like I had moments of clarity where I realized that I was trying to be somebody I wasn’t, but ‘for’ this mysterious audience. I basically came to the conclusion where ‘if I’m not living my life for myself, then who am I living it for?’”

“You know, when I was coming out to somebody, I told them that I was trans and I was trying to come out to them, and then she told me I’d be a really ugly woman. And that was horrible, but it also was kind of like ‘Oh, but I would rather be that than any kind of guy’ and that was this weird shock, and it hurt, but then it was like ‘But that’s okay. If that’s the worst you can do, I can deal with that.’ So her truth kind of peeled some layers back for me.”

Limited edition print available (alpha edition):
Giclée (Archival Inkjet) print w/ quotes hand-lettered on mat in silver pen.
1.25” Matte Black Frame, 2.5” Black Mat, Archival Hinge Mount, UV Glass.
15″ x 21″ (Framed: 22.5″ x 28.5″)

Natasha - Limited Edition Print, Alpha Series
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