Behind the Scenes of “Blood Ties”

 
 

It’s a dark world, full of vampires and death. It’s populated with supernatural killers and reluctant heroes. It stars a female bisexual private investigator with failing vision and her 450-year-old male bisexual vampire sidekick. And it’s coming to television screens in the United States on March 11, when Lifetime debuts Blood Ties, a Canadian-made series based on the novels by out lesbian fantasy writer Tanya Huff.

But in the television series, the bisexuality of the two main characters may be as invisible as a vampire’s reflection in a mirror. AfterEllen.com spoke with Huff at her home in rural Ontario, Canada, and she was blunt about how the show addresses the bisexuality of two of the characters: "It isn’t addressed. It’s there, but it’s more behind the scenes; it’s more implied than actually out. … But everyone’s hopeful they can slide things past network."

Last year, before Huff appeared at Gaylaxicon, an LGBT science fiction and fantasy convention, she asked the series’ producers about how they planned to handle the characters’ bisexuality. "I’d asked [series creator] Peter [Mohan] before I went, ‘You know, do we have an official line on the bisexuality?’ And he said, ‘Well, the official line in the writers’ room is that it exists; we’re just not telling network yet.’"

How does she feel about the de-queering of Blood Ties? "I think it’s unfortunate," she said, "but I also think that, you know, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. It’s kind of what happens now. It’s a compromise you have to make when you get onto television at all. The fact that they’re doing adult heterosexuality is actually fairly amazing, given the general consensus that adult heterosexuality is defined as Desperate Housewives."

Making the de-queering of Blood Ties harder — or perhaps easier — to swallow for lesbian fans is the casting of Christina Cox in the lead role of detective Vicki Nelson. Cox, who played the iconic lesbian role of Kim in Better Than Chocolate, was the hands-down choice for the role for both Huff and her wife, fantasy author Fiona Patton.

"Oh, I was thrilled," said Huff. "They were showing me the audition tapes, and I was practically incoherent when they showed Christina’s. In fact, I used to watch [her when she was on the series] F/X. … and back then I used to say, ‘You know, in a few years she’d be a terrific Vicki.’ And so when I saw her audition tape. … she looked great with every single actor they put her up against. It was just incredible. And now I’ve seen her do it? I honestly cannot imagine anyone else in the part."

Cox plays Vicki Nelson, an ex-cop who left the force when she started to lose her eyesight. She becomes a private investigator and is hired to solve a murder by the victim’s girlfriend, Coreen Fennel (Gina Holden). During her investigation, Vicki hooks up with a 450-year-old vampire named Henry Fitzroy (Kyle Schmid), the illegitimate son of Henry VIII.

"One of the things I love about Christina is how incredibly strong she is, and yet how incredibly sexy she is," Huff said. "I’m a little crushed out here. She just totally brings a real female part to the role. She’s just so female. She reminds me a lot of my girl cat, actually, who totally rules the roost with a velvet paw, and I think Vicki is very much the same way."

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