Magazine article Out

The Divine Miss P

Magazine article Out

The Divine Miss P

Article excerpt

ON THE EVE OF A NEW MUPPETS MOVIE, A WRITER HONORS MISS PIGGY'S PLACE IN THE GAY PANTHEON.

Not long before I came out to my parents, we were sitting at the dinner table when the conversation turned to the Muppets. "You were obsessed with Miss Piggy," my mother said. "You wanted to be her."

"That's not how I remember it," said my dad. "He was in love with Miss Piggy."

"No, he wanted to be Miss Piggy," my mom insisted.

"I'm pretty sure he was in love with her."

I shrugged noncommittally and cleared my plate.

The truth is that it was a little of both. As a child, I was enthralled by Jim Henson's menagerie; my Muppet lunchbox followed me from apartment to apartment and remains on my windowsill today. If the Muppets celebrated individuality and a community that can be forged among outsize personalities, then Miss Piggy shone the brightest.

I idolized her- for her glamour, her bravado, her karate skills, her poor French. I envied her confidence, but I also wanted to curate her wardrobe. She was my first exposure to flair. She was also the prototype for every female friend I've had. First there was Ivy, my nursery school "girlfriend," who joined me on sugar highs; then Laura, the outspoken star of our high-school plays; Allysha, the voluptuous bottle blonde I met at an improv audition at Yale; and now, Rachel, the zany Nebraskan playwright with the ad-exec husband. None are "hags." Like Miss Piggy, they're high-maintenance beauties with determination.

A few years ago, The New York Times ran a piece about the introduction of a new female character on Sesame Street. Noting the lack of girl Muppets, the writer accounted for Miss Piggy by saying, "You have to go back to Dynasty reruns to find a more jealous, vain, and domineering female role model on television." So, fine. She's not the best "female role model." But I'd argue that Miss Piggy is the ideal gay role model. Her exaggerated femininity, undermined by a zaftig figure and a tendency toward aggression, has more in common with the best drag queens than with Dora the Explorer. (And let's not forget that she's voiced by a man.)

Diva worship is a hallmark of gay culture, and Piggy deserves a place in the pantheon. According to the Muppet designer Bonnie Erickson, she originated as "Miss Piggy Lee"- an homage to Peggy Lee. …

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