I don’t know why I put on Underworld, the 2003 Danny McBride action flick about an ancient war between immortal werewolf and vampire clans. Well, at least that’s what I think it’s about. Truthfully, I hadn’t seen it since I was probably 10 when it would air as re-runs on cable. Besides, I was only really paying attention to Kate Beckinsale’s catsuit.
There is a story to Underworld. Something about an evil race of vampires mutated by a medieval plague, intent on eradicating werewolves who descend from the same bloodline, and mutated by the same plague. Both clans are also technologically advanced, capable of preserving elder vampires in suspended animation for centuries and wielding guns loaded with “UV bullets.” Don’t ask about the logistics of a bullet that harnesses ultraviolet rays. They’re not explained, and frankly, I don’t really care!
Underworld, behind the nebulous plot contrivances, is actually about Kate Beckinsale’s incredibly hot catsuit. At the time, it was probably a sexist choice, to construct a bland protagonist motivated solely by past “trauma”—her family was murdered, or something—who resolves that conflict by shooting guns and chopping people’s heads off with a sword. There has been plenty of feminist literature and online discourse, to this exact point. Rather, I’m more interested in my changing relationship to characters, at one point in my Tumblr-obsessed adolescence, I might describe as sexist caricatures of action protagonists.
But after years of chopping and screwing my own body, amidst my transition, the estradiol validate I inject through my ass has unclouded my vision. Danny McBride’s vision of Selene (Kate Beckinsale) might have been a brain-dead bimbo, but my vision of her is brilliant (and still a brain dead bimbo).
Selene is a hot, corseted vigilante who can kickflip in combat boots while her bob remains just perfectly askew. A brooding demon of the night whose very existence is a threat to the patriarchal society she was brought into against her will, mutated by science and imbued with powers that cause mortals to eventually hunt her kind to extinction. I see echoes of my own transness reflected back to me through her.
I’m also probably projecting. Actually, I’m definitely projecting. But who can blame me? The world is ending, like Selene’s own world, as the barriers between her vampires, werewolves, and mortals crumble. Onscreen, I watch as a vampire assassin does a wall jump while blowing a werewolf overlord’s brains out. I look at her and think, That could be me! That is me. I mean—the aforementioned catsuit is exactly what I plan on wearing while out in the streets in the coming weeks: flexible and ergonomic, it provides full-cover protection from all sorts of projectiles. It’s also hot. Did I mention how hot it is? Sorry, I’m getting distracted again.
Look, I’m probably not explaining myself well enough. This isn’t just a catsuit—it’s a power-symbol. An artifact that radiates the sort of energy I sought to capture when my doctor filled a syringe up with the hot bitch juice and told me to bend over. This catsuit is why I transitioned. Not explicitly, maybe, but my mom did first take me to see a child therapist after I watched Charlie’s Angels and asked her if Osh Kosh had what Drew Barrymore was wearing. Or was it when I informed her I’d be growing my hair out like Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft while copying action poses I’d learned from the movie? I can’t remember. My poor mom. She went through a lot with me!
You’ll probably need a visual reference for just how potent Selene’s catsuit was on my 9-year-old imagination, portending of what the future might look like for me. Below, you’ll find a clip of her slicing and dicing elder vampire Viktor with a vampire sword. (It doesn’t actually suck blood, I should clarify. It’s just a really old sword.) Beware of some light gore, if the sight of a head sliding off an ancient vampire god’s body is something that usually makes you squeamish.
Are you not moved? Do you not feel the immediate need to dial up the local leatherworker for a catsuit of your own? (Do local leatherworkers still exist?) If not, I don’t know what else I can tell you to explain the power of this catsuit. Already I am finding it unable to even continue blogging. It’s out there, somewhere, calling to me like a siren in the night. I wonder if Kate Beckinsale also felt its power when she first donned it. In interviews, she’s described the catsuit as “wild,” telling reporters she was “intimidated” by it during the filming of Underworld. During the release of the fifth Underworld movie, Blood Wars—yes, there are five—Beckinsale also said her costume “suits everyone.” I believe her. Just one question, though: Does she have any extras?