At that unlikely intersection of pansexuality and transgender revelation, you’ll find comedian Chloe Koser directing traffic. Her one-woman show is called Never a Boy. It’s intended to tickle, enlighten, shock and spin you right ’round, baby.
“When people come into the show,” she says, “they’re instantly hit with a lot of very loud silly and lewd comedy. Sort of unintentionally, I’ve made maybe the dirtiest show I’ve seen on the UCB stage.”
The monologue may start there, but don’t get too comfortable, says the artist — who a year ago was presenting as a straight married man.
Pillar to Post
“Right,” she says. “It segues pretty quickly into something that’s much more intimate and personal. In fact, it’s kind of a flip-flop where the two big pillars of the show are comedy and trauma.”
Koser says it’s her first one-person show, and it’s intention is simple. “It’s really just me — trying to be understood by everybody. There have been a lot of queer shows for queer people. But this is really a queer show for everyone.”
“Yes,” she allows, “there are moments that allow me to count the trans people in the audience. But my directors are both cis straight men. The arc of the show is ultimately one of wanting to be seen. I’m looking to be understood in a way that I don’t feel I have been since I’ve come out as trans and pansexual. It’s my journey of the last three years.”
Long and Winding Road
Her story is both unique and universal. “I want to get across what my personal growth and healing has been like, which is still happening. There was an earlier version of the show that was a lot angrier. I made that as I started coming out. And it’s not as representative of where I am in my life and the complexities of coming out.”
Koser says the show was about the harm caused by “living a lie that I thought was the truth.” She recalls being so repressed that “when I came out to my wife, she said, ‘You told me a year ago.'”
The half-hour show, winnowed down from an hour, feels “like a ski jump” to her now.
“It ends in a place of joy in the face of loss,” she says. “It ends with a song about the challenges of being trans that leans towards being silly and empowering. At the risk of burning a bit, it veers into a bittersweet place before ending on what may be the show’s silliest note.”
Declaration of Reclamation
The lasting impression? “Probably a very important undercurrent is I feel like it expresses that despite the pain and the lost years, it ends with me living a life that I was always too scared to wish for — dreams that were too painful to imagine.”
Despite the amount of soul-searching and seeking just the right punch lines, she’s satisfied with where the show is — for now. “I think people hear pansexual and transgender, and they picture a polka-dotted dragon. But my life has been the typical, normal, often boring life of a woman. There wasn’t a male part and a female part. It’s just the story of a normal girl.”
Koser says she never really adopted the idea that she was born a woman in a man’s body. “I disagree with that whole ‘wrong body’ idea,” she says. “My penis was a woman’s penis. And that’s not how people think of it, but that’s the truth of it. Whenever someone’s said welcome to womanhood, I immediately understand they have a narrow definition of womanhood that doesn’t include me.”
She knows that’s a lot to transmit in a half hour, but she sees it happen from one performance to the next. “I want audiences to take away that I’m a regular person and one of the funniest people they’ve ever seen. Ultimately I am a comedian — and I don’t want people to be able to breathe when I’m done.”
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Last modified: October 15, 2019