Kathy Evison loved the idea that her seaQuest character, Ensign Lonnie Henderson, was going to fit under the umbrella of 'strong and brave'. But once seaQuest's second season, and Evison's first, got underway, she saw where the scritps were taking her and laughingly recalls how she reacted to it.
The actress roars: "I started referring to Henderson as 'The Sea Slut' because I knew if I didn't somebody else eventually would. The reason I gave myself that nickname was because every time I turned around they were throwing me at men. And you could tell the scripts were being written by men because I was always making the first move."
Evison, who is having fun playing 'Sea Slut', continues ticking off her on-screen conquests.
"It's been hysterical! I've been on a date with Ted Raimi (Lt.Tim O'Neil). I kissed Peter DeLuise (Dagwood) when we thought he was going off to prison. I offered myself to Jonathan Brandis (Lucas Wolenczak) when we thought he was going to die. I threw myself at Marco Sanchez (Sensor Chief Miguel Ortiz) when I was possessed and I had an alien morph into my body so I could make out with Mark Hamill. I'm never quite myself when these things happen but I definately get around."
But the actress is also happy to report that Henderson is not simply on board for the pleasure of the male crew. "I do know that Henderson was created primarily to have another woman on the show. And it was really depressing during the first few episodes when I was not being given much to do. I thought, 'I've moved all the way from California to Florida so I could say "Aye, aye, sir"'. But they started writing new episodes and they had more of an idea of who Henderson was, I was given more to do."
And that more to do translated, according to Evison, means a more well-rounded character. "Henderson is a bit of a tomboy. She wants to be one of the guys in terms of not wanting to be shut out of things. Her attitude toward the male crew is 'Don't think I can't do this because I'm a woman or it's too dangerous'."
"I don't see Henderson as necessarily a bookwise, intelligent woman. But she does have smarts. There have been episodes where I save the day because I have the tools and I'm able to slam something together. I love the idea that they've made her more than a stick figure in a uniform but rather somebody who is stong, brave and up to dealing with the situations that arise."
And the actress jockingly relates how situations involving her character arise with regularity on the show.
"Let me tell you," she laughs. "Four years of acting class never prepared me for 'Okay! It's a big plant and it's attacking you! It's got your Teddy Bear and you're concerned.' I've also imagined this would be stuff that I would end up doing. There's so much in this show that you have to just go with your imagination. When an episode is finished, the computer generated images gives the audience what we're responding to. But we don't have that on the set so what we end up doing is standing around and trying to figure out what we're looking at and how we should respond. But basically I can't complain, especially when I get to hang out with eight good-looking guys."
And contrary to the Science Fiction stereotype, Evison does not consider Henderson anything approaching a superwoman. "Not hardly. In fact what makes Henderson so interesting is that she is very human. She makes mistakes. I'm only superwoman in the sense I'm good at what I do. I like what the writers have done with the character as the season has progressed. They've made her fun and a bit on the goofy side but she is definitely an integral part of what is going on in this show."
Evison stepped aboard the seaQuest as the result of her participating in a massive cattle call for another female character. "They were having this massive audition for the role of Wendy Smith," she relates. "I knew from the character breakdown that I really wasn't right for the part but I went in anyway with the idea that I could give it my best shot just for the experience. I did the audition and promptly wrote it off. Two and a half weeks later I got a call from my agent saying 'Go to Universal, you're reading for the producers of seaQuest for this role'. Well, it turns out that Lonnie Henderon was a character they had just come up with three days earlier to get another woman on the show."
"I went in not knowing that the character was going to be a regular on the show. The guy they brought in to read with the actresses turned out to be a friend of mine from acting class. I was the last one to read and, as I was walking out with my friend, he said, 'I hope you want to move to Florida because you were the best one who read today'. I went to the network on Thursday and, by Saturday, I was on a plane to Florida."
The actress recalls that her introduction to the world of seaQuest was in fits and starts. "They just kind of threw me in there. The first script of the season was already written so they just sort of wrote me in after the fact. It was pretty much the same with the next three episodes, they just kind of squeezed me in where they could. But after a while I got to do some fun stuff."
Evison claims that her favourite episode to date was 'Dead End' in which she pilots a shuttlecraft that gets sucked down into a cavern ten miles below the ocean floor. "It s a good episode for me because I got to be both intelligent and frightened at the same time. It was real tense. But it showed that Lonnie could be a thinking, working member of the crew."
And a crew that, with the addition of Evison and Rosalind Allen, have evolved into a much sexier show than seaQuest season one. "The idea of men and woman working together on a sub in the future just seems more real to me. It just seems logical that this is the way it will be in the years to come. In fact, by comparison, season one seemed more Science Fiction than reality because of how it portrayed women."
Kathy Evison was born in Boulder City, Nevada. The daughter of a National Forest Service employee, Evison spent her growth years living in a number of US national parks. The Evison family finally settled for a time in California at Davis.
"I majored in rhetoric," she chuckles, "but I started to do some modelling to get some money for college. I never thought I would keep doing it because I was raised in a family where that was not something you did. But, after I graduated, I decided that I really was not cut out for a 9 to 5 job so I continued to do modelling and eventually got into commercials. Then I thought, 'Maybe I should take an acting class'. I finally got the guts to get an agent and start going out on things."
Her early successes were, likewise, on the small screen, landing the recurring role as a college resident advisor on Beverly Hills, 90210 and a guest shot on the short-lived TV series The Heights before getting her feet wet on seaQuest.
Evison knows exactly what she would like her character to do in seaQuest's forthcoming third season.
"I'd like Lonnie to get into a little bit more of the action," she says. "I'd like to see them show off more of her brainy side. Considering how sparse my role was in the first few episodes. I'm basically quite happy with the way things have developed for me. It's difficult to get your moments when the cast is as big as this one is but I definitely think the show can go a lot further with Lonnie."
"But, if nothing else, the chances are pretty good the Sea Slut will have her moments," she laughs.