Interview with The L Word ‘s Daniela Sea

 
 

AE: I was also very intrigued to learn that you lived in India for eight months while passing as a man. It sounds like a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts to me. What did you learn from that experience?
DS: Yeah, I think that's a good way to put it—a spiritual pilgrimage, because it really felt that way to me. All my travels did, really. I definitely passed as a man sometimes before that, living in some of these different rural villages in Europe, so it was just more of an extended version of what I'd already done. It wasn't predesigned; I didn't think of it beforehand. We were heading east…so once we got to Pakistan, I realized you either dress as a man or a woman. You know what I'm saying?

I wanted to dress in traditional clothing to be respectful, and we were in a traditional city, a smaller city, staying as guests. So I dressed in women's clothing, and I had to hide my hair, and when I would go out in public [you had to] make sure your shawl isn't falling off your head. People were just so great there, but what I realized was that I wanted to pass as a man because then I could be more like myself—independent, free to talk to different people, free to be out later on in the night. The women are hanging out more in the homes and with each other. When I went to India from Pakistan and we crossed the border, we spent some time in a hospital because we were sick, and then when we came out I got my hair cut short, and I just started leaving my shawl thing off, and then got some boys' clothes [and] I started dressing like a man right there. I guess no one ever asked me, “Are you a man?” I just kind of took up space, and it's kind of like how it is here sometimes.

I guess the spiritual side came out for me in all my travels. Instead of feeling like I didn't belong—sometimes when I lived in San Francisco I felt like it was the only place I could ever live in the world—what I realized was that as a boy or as a girl or as some ambiguous androgynous thing, I could depend on strangers for kindness, and I could depend on the good heart of humans. And you know, a few times people may prove you wrong, but on the whole I feel like it gave me a new faith in people's will for good, and the fact that maybe peace and love and all that is actually a reality. I think people really want that in their hearts, even if we act out in ways out of fear which would be counter to that.

AE: That's really inspiring. Would you say that you are a spiritual person? Do you practice any kind of particular belief?
DS: Yeah, I definitely find a lot of helpful tools in different spiritual practices or books I've read. I definitely lean toward Buddhism; I feel like it's been very helpful for me, but as I start to read different kinds of teachings I have the feeling that the practice may seem different, but the lessons deep down within the old scriptures are kind of the same or similar. I don't know if that sounds crazy, but basically just to love others and to love yourself, and you know, live in that. So I guess yeah, I would say I'm spiritual. I don't feel like I'm pious or something. All different kinds of people are spiritual, whether they say they are or not. Actually, I feel like everybody is. I just happen to have some good books that I've read that have helped [me] out to understand more.

AE: I also wanted to ask you a little bit about your relationship with Bitch, because many lesbians know of you as Bitch's girlfriend. Do you two work together on projects?
DS: We do, we do. She definitely has her independent stuff that she does, which is her music and her writing, but for the last three and a half—since we've known each other—we've always collaborated in different ways. When we first met I came on tour with her and Bitch and Animal, and…I did a lot of the driving. I would do a lot of cooking with macrobiotic food.

AE: Wow, on the road?
DS: On the road. We lived on the road for two years together, and I feel like it was definitely a cultural exchange between the two of us. I learned a lot about what it's like being an independent artist. She's an independent artist…[and has been] living off of that as her only income for ten years, and [knows] how to [survive] not just income-wise, but just how to take up that kind of space and how important it is to be an outspoken feminist lesbian artist in the world. It's always taken different turns or something, how we would help each other or how we would collaborate, and in the last couple years we've been collaborating a lot on more theatrical [projects]. I've played music with her sometimes.

We're basically incubating a bunch of ideas right now. We're working on a script for a film; it might be premature to tell you, but we are. All in all, I just get so inspired by being around her, and I think she feels the same way, so it's definitely a great collaboration on a whole, our life together. We live together and we share everything—not everything, but you know.

AE: You guys seem to lead very nomadic lives, though. Do you ever just long to have a stable piece of property somewhere?
DS: You know, a piece of property is right. I definitely feel like in the next two years, I hope to buy with friends a piece of property where we can live as a community and make art together. But I also know that with the work that I have done in my life and that I will be doing, that traveling will always be a part of it. So we've been lucky to have [our home here].… I haven't been here since May, but it's definitely our little nest, where we feel at home, and I know we'll make that anywhere we are. We also have a talent to make that wherever we are, even on the road. We're always cooking and making a home for our friends. I guess I never long for being in one place—I never have—but I long to have a place that we'll be able to come back to. But I guess I already have that, and I'd like for it to be more inclusive of other people.… Ideally it would be like everyone could stay in trailers or build a little shack on the land, you know.

AE: That sounds like an idyllic world!
DS: I just want my own kitchen, that's all. [Laughs.] I guess that's something that's so great about us being together: that we both are such nomads and we have been for several years. We have a lot in common, just around how we want to live in the world but also in the things we like to make. And she's such an inspiration. She's such a phenomenal artist and groundbreaking person in the world, and I feel like [she] has such heart in all the art she makes and has so much talent. I feel inspired by her every day.

AE: So I have to ask you: Do you know if you're going to be appearing in the next season of The L Word?
DS: I don't know that…. First, we don't know if the season will be picked up…for the next year. And then we find out; they go through their whole writing time, which is in that spring time, early spring; and then they write me in or they don't. So I don't know. We don't know for sure until springtime.

AE: So what are you working on now? Do you have any other films coming up besides what you're working on with Bitch?
DS: There are a few different projects. You know how films are…everything really is up in the air until it's like, “OK, we're doing it tomorrow” kind of thing. There are a few different projects which I'm working with. I have two different directors I'm working with on some ideas right now, and may or may not be filming something in the winter. I guess I'm just waiting to see, really, and I'm working on this thing with Bitch this winter when I'm done. I'm still not finished filming for The L Word, so I'm guess I'm waiting for that to be done to really dive in, but in December—I'll be done by the middle of December, and then I'll do my holiday thing. Bitch and I are definitely going to go visit her grandmother's [who's] 96. We're going to go over to England , that's where her grandma lives and my brother lives, and we'll probably go to the film festivals in February. John's movie will be premiering. We'll be doing stuff like that, and then working on the script.

AE: So you have a busy schedule for the next few months.
DS: Yeah, I do, and…just running any kind of business is a busy thing. But I'm happy to be back in my own little office, too. I have a little desk. My roommate and I and Bitch all share an office space and we all have our own desks and it's fun; sometimes we're all in there working on our stuff.

AE: That's cute.
DS:
I know.

AE: Did you miss your dog? Did you have your dog with you in Vancouver?
DS: Oh yeah, he comes everywhere with us. I missed him when Bitch went on tour—she took him with her.… When we go to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival every year [is] the only time usually that we put him away in a kennel.

AE: Were you there this year?
DS: Yeah. But I was shooting, so I couldn't come until Friday night and left on Monday afternoon, so it was short but sweet. But I knew I couldn't miss even a piece of it. So I missed Bitch's show, which was sad, because we had planned this whole thing…but you know, you can't do it all. I was filming—I can't remember what I was filming. [Laughs.]

AE: Well, thank you so much for your time; I really appreciate your being so open with me about everything.
DS: I'm really proud of [us] as a people—lesbians or queer people or whatever—and sometimes I think it's easy in this world to feel like we have something to be ashamed of, [that] what we do isn't as good, or it's not adequate compared to the rest of the bigger picture. I've had [some feelings] before where I feel like I have to be more uptight or not tell the whole story, but I just feel like I don't have anything to hide. Just like any straight dude—he's not hiding that he's married or something. So I have that policy of being open, and I hope that it works all right people interviewing me.

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