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Meme day 16: Walter Skinner

[personal profile] dorinda said: Would you talk to me about Walter Skinner? I know it's a blast from the past, but oh, he'll always be my blast.

Why, yes, Dorinda, yes I would. I will always love talking about Skinner.

Back in the early days of the X-Files, most people I knew in fandom were still pretty monomaniacal about a fandom (because honestly, there weren't a lot of them out there, and so people tended to be pretty focused on one fandom), and most were still into The Professionals, Blake's 7, Starsky and Hutch, and the like...fandoms that had been hanging around for a while. I think a lot of people liked the X-Files, but not a lot of people saw it as a fandom by that point, me included. I loved the show, but it wasn't something I saw becoming obsessive about.

Enter Assistant Director Skinner. Even after his first, pretty sure it was a one-shot only, appearance at the end of season 1, I was fascinated by him. Despite his ill-fitting suit and antagonism toward Mulder, I thought, wow, he has major slash energy with Mulder. I was ecstatic when I found out he was coming back in season 2. And he didn't disappoint -- he was way emotionally invested in Mulder and Scully, and completely compromised by the Cigarette Smoking Man, and even though over and over the show wanted to emphasize that conflict of his desires, I never believed for a minute Skinner would fuck them over to get what he wanted.

Plus Mitch Pileggi was just sexy as hell, I thought -- he had slinky hips and that broad chest and those amazing shoulders that all the suits and ties couldn't hide. An incredible ass, too. There was one episode early in season 2 where he's bitching Mulder out in his office, and the backlighting illuminates the outline of his body in his crisp white shirt, and I was totally smitten.

Unfortunately for us Skinnerphiles, that was also the time Krycek was on the show, and he was the one most fans went ballistic for. It wasn't that there wasn't any love for him, but it was definitely not as pronounced as for Ratboy, as everyone called Krycek then. And I still remember one time leaving Sandy's house after we'd been vidding, and she was on the phone to someone, and she said something kinda humorously derogatory about Skinner to them while smiling at me, and I just sighed and said, "I find him strangely attractive." She thought that was so hilarious -- and forever after she gave me anything where people used a phrase like that -- comics, fanfic, anything she could find.

It wasn't that I had a daddy kink, like a lot of people who liked him did, or was into dominance and submission, the other huge kink that led people to Skinner fandom. There was just something about him -- his intensity, his sardonic humor, his willingness to bend rules for Mulder and Scully, how wounded he'd get when Mulder would accuse him of things. You could see how desperately he struggled with his choices, and that is something I love. Skinner also hit my competency kink in a big way; you don't get to be an assistant director by being incompetent, and he seemed to always be thinking or considering stuff, which Mulder was completely unaware of. Plus I'm always a sucker for a former Marine. Semper fi, baby.

And Mitch has one of those low, rough voices that do strange things to my innards, I loved the way he growled at Mulder when he was angry, how it almost purred when he was calm. He's one of those actors who seems to give off major hoyay vibes. As the show progressed, and so did his character, he got to be more physical, had more backstory, and it seemed to deepen the character's relationships with Mulder and Scully as he became more integral to the story. One other thing was the surprise of how well he did comedy; his put-upon looks and beleaguered line delivery in episodes like Small Potatoes and Bad Blood were comedy gold.

Sandy, funnily enough, eventually came around and began to see Skinner the same way I did; she was even one of the few people I knew who embraced Skinner/Scully fandom to a small degree. I was never the SG:A fan she was, but she would always save out Mitch's appearances on that show for me, especially if they showcased what she called his "snake hips." He didn't get enough to do in either of the theatrical movies, but hey, we'll always have the show. Even when Duchovny left, Skinner carried on, sometimes surprisingly well. There was an episode where he and Doggett are dealing with a case on their own together, and it was a testosterone wing-ding, I tell you -- two gravel-voiced former Marines going head to head and hoyaying all over the place. Almost made that season worthwhile.

A funny related story from about ten years ago: I went to lunch with one of our account execs one day at the design firm I worked at, who was gay and a little bit of a fan, though not really aware of it. He told me that while he'd been bedridden for a few weeks after an accident, he had been reading X-Files fanfic. I was not even remotely out about fanfic writing to anyone at that time, but he looked at me and said, "I just love Skinner. I read everything I could get my hands on about him." I concurred that Skinner was worth reading fanfic for. Then he asked me, without any warning or buildup, if I wrote fanfiction. And did I write Skinner/Mulder slash? I was frozen in terror. It took me minutes to compose myself, and I finally admitted that yes, I had written some.

I went home wondering, do I have a freakin' neon sign on my head? Why would he ask me that without knowing that I had even ever heard of fanfiction? I still don't know to this day. But I guess I must have worn my Skinner love on my sleeve even then.

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fenchurche
Dec. 20th, 2013 12:06 am (UTC)
He also has a really nice smile! I went up to Vancouver to see if I could watch some on location filming with someone I'd met in the X-Files newsgroup. We ended up finding where they were shooting and made friends with some PAs (not on purpose or anything, we just got to chatting with them and they figured we were harmless, I guess), who then let us stand up near one of the cameras while they were filming. It was the episode "Avatar" (that really Skinner-centric one where we get to see his wife... Jennifer Hetrick, who played her, is super nice, btw) and in between takes, he would look over at me, wait to catch my eye and then smile to get me to smile back. I never got a chance to talk to him, but that's always stuck with me. He's dazzlingly handsome when he smiles, too.
gwyn_r
Dec. 25th, 2013 12:50 am (UTC)
Oh man, I envy you so much. I went to see him at a Creation Con, much to my dismay, back in I guess...season 3? Maybe? And he was awesome, but my embarrassment squick got tripped so hard by the fans that I didn't want to go through the photo signing line, and I gave my spot and my photograph to a friend and he stood in line for me. I just couldn't deal, but I did always regret not getting to see that smile up close and personal.
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