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Fellow Travelers Costumer On Bondage Ties & The Hidden Meaning In Jonathan Bailey's Underwear

'Fellow Travelers' Costumer On Bondage Ties & The Hidden Meaning In Jonathan Bailey's Underwear

Jonathan Bailey and Matt Bomer in 'Fellow Travelers'
Courtesy of Showtime

The series' costume designer on choosing each character's underwear and how he made them last through the vigorous sex scenes.

While fans of Showtime’s new gay political thriller Fellow Travelers may be focused on hotties Jonathan Bailey and Matt Bomer removing their clothes, what they are wearing says just as much about their roles in the bedroom as any dialogue on the show.

Full of political intrigue and an epic romance, the decades-spanning limited series follows closeted men Hawkins “Hawk” Fuller (Bomer) and Tim Laughlin (Bailey) from the Lavender Scare in the 1950s to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the ’80s.

In a new interview withThe Daily Beast, costume designer Joseph La Corte revealed how he used the character’s clothing choices to highlight their differences and the power dynamic between the two.

Hawk wears blue tailored three-piece suits, showing his position in Washington D.C., while Tim wears brown jackets and knits. “[Tim clearly] came [to D.C.] with one suitcase full of clothes,” La Corte said. “You notice he repeats things—mixes and matches. He doesn’t have a vast closet.”

Just as much thought went into the underwear the two lovers would wear on screen—boxers for Hawk, who is clearly the top in the relationship, and tighty-whities for Tim. “We looked at all the different styles. We wanted to set Tim apart from Hawk, and the cheaper brand of underwear at the time would have been a brief,” La Corte explained.

The show’s sizzling hot sex scenes between Bomer and Bailey are so intense that La Corte couldn’t use vintage underwear. “[Vintage briefs] would never endure that kind of sex [scene], struggling and pulling on and off continually. So we reconstructed them all,” he said. “All of Hawk’s and Tim’s undergarments were built using replica fabrics of the period.” The costume designer is always prepared: They had 12 pairs total of Tim’s underwear, and Hawk had eight pairs covering the different eras with “three pairs of each one.

La Corte described the sex scenes between the two men as similar to a “stunt sequence” so he made a lot of vintage replica ties for a scene where Tim is tied up with his own tie and made sure to have multiple pairs of underwear for both men because you never know “when a button pops and you gotta keep going.”

Much thought was put into all aspects of the clothing that change as the characters move through the decades, even the type of undershirt Tim wears. In the show, Tim is seen wearing a “boyish” T-shirt under his clothing, while Hawk wears an athletic tank top—just one more way to show the power dynamic between them.

“A little secret: We had to cheat the T-shirt sleeves for Tim down an extra inch to cover up his bulging biceps, so that [his muscles] weren’t the first thing you noticed when he took off his shirt,” La Cortes revealed.

We are completely hooked on the historical thriller and it doesn’t hurt that two men who are gay in real life are playing the lead roles and have scorching hot chemistry. So far we’ve seen toe-sucking, the men exploring a dom/sub relationship (more daddy Hawk is always welcome), and bondage with a necktie. We are dying to see where the rest of the episodes take us!

New episodes of Fellow Travelers stream on Paramount+ with Showtime on Fridays.

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Ariel Messman-Rucker

Ariel Messman-Rucker is an Oakland-born journalist who now calls the Pacific Northwest her home. When she’s not writing about politics and queer pop culture, she can be found reading, hiking, or talking about horror movies with the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network.

Ariel Messman-Rucker is an Oakland-born journalist who now calls the Pacific Northwest her home. When she’s not writing about politics and queer pop culture, she can be found reading, hiking, or talking about horror movies with the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network.