Transgender mayor knocks on reality TV's door

Transgender mayor knocks on reality TV's door

SILVERTON, Ore. -- The city's controversial mayor may be at the center of a new reality show.

Mayor Stu Rasmussen said Tuesday a production company is in town and is filming a "teaser" to send to several networks. He said he could not release the name of the company filming in town, nor the networks that might be interested.

Rasmussen unseated incumbent mayor Ken Hector, with whom he had long clashed - 1,988 votes to 1,512. Because Rasmussen's appearance is no secret, it was policy issues that dominated the campaign.

"I've blackmail-proofed myself," said Rasmussen.

The story of Rasmussen's election was first reported by JustOut, a bimonthly publication for Portland's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

"Stu never sought this recognition out," said Stephen Marc Beaudoin, the reporter who broke the story. "He's interested in doing a great job for the community that he loves. The gender identity thing is just a total backseat thing."

That comes across when Rasmussen speaks in his decidedly masculine voice. Though he dresses more like Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Rasmussen describes himself with a word assigned to Todd Palin.

"I am a dude," he said. "I am a heterosexual male who appears to be a female."

His longtime live-in girlfriend, Victoria Sage, told The Oregonian newspaper that she and Rasmussen have been an item for almost 35 years.

"I heard a quote, and I don't know who said it but I think it's fabulous, that Silverton is a place where Mennonites and transvestites can get along," she said.

The quote rang true when two cowboys came across the new mayor on a downtown sidewalk. "Good job, Stu," one of them said to the man wearing a leather skirt and maroon stockings.

"Congratulations, Mr. Mayor," called the other.

"All of this is for Silverton because Silverton is a very special place," he said.

But at the end of the day, Rasmussen said he doesn't want to be at the center of the attention.

But the mayor said he believes the show could be of service to the public.

"We'd like to think it's going to be educational. A lot of people do not understand how small towns work, how government works," he said.

Not unlike a modern day civics lessons, Rasmussen said.

"Well, we hope it's going to be more interesting than the civics class I had in high school," he said.

Rasmussen made headlines last year by becoming the first open transgender mayor in the nation. He has been a fixture in Silverton politics for more than 20 years, and had twice before been the mayor of this small city 45 miles south of Portland. Those terms, however, were before the breast implants and before the once-discreet crossdresser started wearing dresses and 3-inch high heels in public.

"Right after the election, for some reason, it (my story) attracted a great deal of attention," he said. "If you get outside of Silverton for some reason it's considered unusual that I'd be considered a normal person. But here in town, everybody's used to me and is like, 'What's the big deal?'"