“Just another variation in my sister’s skin.” – Felix Dawkins
The Hive Writers’ Notes – Karen Walton
“Nature, who has played so many queer tricks upon us, making us so unequally of clay and diamonds, of rainbow and granite, and stuffed them into a case, often of the most incongruous…” –Virginia Woolf, Orlando (1928)
Born. This. Way. Third Rule of #CloneClub: what you’re doing here—what we’re all doing here—is far more complicated than sex or gender. Tasty Tony, Trans Clone, Bandit Clone, Spanner in the Works and Bad Boy Breaking Cool… well he’d been on the boards since season one. Right beside him was a note: “naive.” We wanted to do a story about a new clone who wouldn’t know what we do, a story that might turn on someone’s right to know. By season two, these two ideas became one: what about an “unaware” trans clone arriving so deep in his own shitstorm, you’d think twice about telling him anything?
Creating Tony was an epic illustration of a six-month-long, whole-team effort, in which our pack of in-house artists invested heavily in an ongoing, all-informing research and dialogue exchange; each contribution making every choice stronger, better, truer. For us all, Tony had to be a new individual, who had confronted being born with a biological challenge: the original DNA gave this person an incompatible chromosome scenario. True to our convictions on the identity spectrum, this would not be the most interesting thing about him. But it would differentiate his take on clone-dom, in part and experience and attitude, from all others. A poignant analogy evolved with Tony’s off-screen story: survival goes to those who adapt.
“My sexuality is not the most important thing about me.” – Cosima Niehaus
Tony began, as all new clones do, with John and Graeme consulting Tat, at the tail end of season one. All were devoted to taking the vital issues of representation and depiction seriously. Soon after that, The Hive reconvened for season two and found Tony’s arrival a place, at least in principle, in our plot. And soon after that, the hush-hush visits to the Hair and Make-up trailer began, secret photos were flashed from locked desk drawers, creative and social-insight confabs where whispered around the cameras, between earlier episodes’ takes.
For me, this process was déjà vu Helena: by the time I was sketching out a full character, personality, and Tony’s role in the episode, I was utterly inspired by what Tatiana, Stephen Lynch (makeup), Sandy Sokolowski (hair), and Debra Hanson (wardrobe) had already given us: a beguiling piece of work I not only felt was his own man, but a bad boy I kinda wanted to date. So we credit all their devoted, personal hours spent designing and refining Tony—who also had to visually differentiate himself from Sarah’s own eff-it, outsider style.
Back at The Hive, armed with our collective will to present a trans character confident and uncompromising in his own identity, Tony became a sketchy dude grieving a dead best friend, who’d dispatched him on a mystery mission. Jordan, John, and Tat flopped an irresistible twist: what if Felix and Tony had a “thing?”Attacking any opportunity to throw our de facto seestra-fixer off his game was brain candy for me. The idea of putting Fee and Tony in a heady cage-match of The Hots was the just the extra oomph Tony’s time in town required.
“When did you come out? Tuesday?” – Tony Sawicki
Our goalposts firmly in place, we returned to our real-world homework. The work of others—and reactions to it—held vital lessons for us all. To us, the extra time and effort to present a caring portrait would be the difference between presenting Tony as a “stunt,” and presenting Tony as a full-blown human being. We all had so many questions: medical realities, the politics and passions of passing, or not, the complex acceptance issues in the straight and gay communities at large—and with someone like Felix in particular, the sexual slipperiness that developed but did not define Tony. How does testosterone actually affect a body, what makes someone masculine versus what society identifies as such? Where might Tony be physically, biologically, psychologically? Would he have had gender reassignment surgeries, and if not why not? How would our guy see other guys, and women? Could he really be sexually slippery? Does being trans mean by default you prefer your birth-sex, sexually?
Once we were better informed, Tony went through his final development as a player in our story, for our story. He was a new clone whom we now knew, he had his own story unlike any others. His interactions with each of the other characters were tweaked, tested again. Soon after that, The Hive was summoned to set. Behind a flat, we found a shifty-looking young man stepping out of our collective experience, and right up into our faces. He made the dudes nervous, and the women blush. We were supposed to be checking him out, for last-minute sundry qualms. But he was checking us out. Tony? Was finally, fully undeniably here.
Karen WaltonRead More