Četvrtak, 6 Oktobra, 2022
HomePuppetDelight Month: Richard Hunt and the Queer Muppets Hiding in Plain Sight

Delight Month: Richard Hunt and the Queer Muppets Hiding in Plain Sight

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I've been studying Robust Pigs because the very early 2000s. As a large Muppet fan and a younger homosexual man coming into my very own, I used to be thrilled to discover a website written from a hilarious and campy perspective that was all about my favourite childhood buddies, The Muppets. Time has definitely handed, and as a little bit of an “elder statesman” for queer-identifying Muppet followers at this level, I’ve been wracking my mind for what to jot down about for Delight Month this yr for Robust Pigs. I’ve undoubtedly wished to contribute, however I’ve been intimidated by the unbelievable articles my group friends have written. We’ve seen so many viewpoints from so many queer views. It’s made me query what I, a easy, cis white homosexual man, may provide. However then, my thoughts unsurprisingly drifted to the work of Richard Hunt.

I feel it’s important to view Hunt’s work by means of a queer lens as a result of a stupendous streak of gayness is working by means of it. He was certainly one of a number of LGBTQIA+ group members who labored extensively with Jim Henson and The Muppets however the one overtly homosexual member of the core troupe of Muppet performers.

In keeping with his Muppet Wiki web page, Hunt joined The Muppets at 18, desirous to be taught and entertain. Unsurprisingly, Hunt’s most recognizable character is Scooter from The Muppet Present. Scooter is eager to please, hilariously humorous and entertaining, identical to Richard was. I’d additionally argue that the character embodies parts of the “Finest Little Boy within the World” trope many homosexual males usually fall into. The “Finest Little Boy within the World” conveys the concept of the extremely competent closeted homosexual man who “can’t probably have time for relationship” as a result of they’re so busy being over-achievers. Though Scooter makes his share of errors on The Muppet Present, he's at all times over-eager to make a very good impression and be the most effective little gofer he could be. I’m not going to argue that Scooter was coded as notably homosexual on The Muppet Present, however Hunt had such an affinity for Scooter that it’s powerful to search out the place Scooter ends and Richard Hunt begins.

Right here’s a unbelievable clip of Richard performing as Scooter at his highschool reunion. Utilizing Scooter to inform his story in a relatable and comedic means is fairly wonderful.

There’s a stupendous vulnerability to Scooter that might come from the facet of Hunt that was perhaps extra suppressed than he ought to have been throughout his life as a homosexual man. There’s additionally a little bit of snarkiness to Scooter that seems like a queer protection mechanism. Scooter may dish it out with the most effective of them!

Hunt expressed himself otherwise along with his portrayal of The Electrical Mayhem’s Janice. The argument may very well be made that he took parts of the Laurel-Canyon feminine musician aesthetic and elevated them to the realm of Camp. I hesitate to go as far as to make use of the time period “Drag” to explain Janice as a result of she will really feel refreshingly grounded, regardless of how her ethereal character usually results in her most goofy bits. Frank Oz most undoubtedly took Miss Piggy into the realm of Drag, however in distinction, Janice is a comedic character being performed by a male performer in a means that offers her quiet dignity. Hunt’s queerness and admiration of feminine characters undoubtedly performed a component in what makes Janice so enduring.

There may be additionally one thing splendidly, inherently queer in Hunt’s musical performances as Janice, and I want he had executed extra of them. He had a killer singing voice, evidenced by his turns as Wayne from Wayne and Wanda and Sesame Road‘s Placido Flamingo. However Hunt’s easy supply as Janice on such classics resembling “Rockin’ Robin” and “With A Little Assist From My Associates” are the place he really shines. They've a gender-bendy facet to them that I cherish. These musical numbers had been really forward of their time.

If one does wish to watch a Richard Hunt efficiency that may very well be categorized as nearer to Drag, look no additional than Sesame Road and Gladys the Cow. Gladys is pure fabulous glam, larger-than-life, and one fancy sow. She seems like Richard Hunt’s tackle a Miss Piggy-like character, and we love her for it. Gladys influenced numerous different queer children and me rising up, and we're undoubtedly the higher for her and her very critical, grounded, secure presence on Sesame Road. I child. To not confuse Gladys with Hoots the Owl, she was at all times a hoot.

Richard Hunt handed away of AIDS in 1992. At the moment, the circumstances round his demise had been saved quiet within the mainstream media. This sadly isn’t a shock, contemplating the stigma across the illness on the time. The late 80s and early 90s had been an period when there have been a number of queer leisure idols for LGBTQIA+ children, however they had been taken away from us after we wanted them essentially the most. Probably the most painful instance for me is Pee-Wee Herman, who fortunately didn't succumb to AIDS when so a lot of his queer contemporaries did, however utterly disappeared from the zeitgeist after his movie-theater incident. I rely Richard Hunt as one other a type of examples of idols for younger queer children who I want may have caught round longer. I feel it might have been useful for me as a child and lots of others to know that he was an openly-gay performer working with the Muppets, and I want he had been extra publicly celebrated for his queerness throughout his life.

Whereas scripting this piece, I popped onto Twitter to ask members of the LGBTQIA+ Muppet fan group what Richard Hunt meant to them. The responses had been staggering and transferring. Many individuals identified that Richard sharing his presents with the world helped them really feel extra assured to dwell genuine lives. That he was often known as the Muppet performer at all times desirous to entertain his fellow performers and on-set friends even when the cameras weren't on. He had a spirit that was thought-about extraordinary to work with, and that’s very inspiring for our folks. Consumer @MuppetMulaney described him as “absolute sunshine.” Muppet duplicate builder Emily Engel associated that she heard a narrative from Richard’s sister that he carried out usually for the native children with a Scooter puppet on his arm at his summer season home in Cape Cod, and now-grown members of that group nonetheless cease his household and share with them that they keep in mind these magical and private performances. 

Richard Hunt was valued by his household, buddies, and associates when he was alive, however his impression pales in comparison with his legacy after his demise. He has impressed numerous LGBTQIA+ creatives to comply with their goals and dwell on their very own phrases. I definitely am a type of folks, as are many studying this. It's genuinely tragic when the AIDS disaster claims somebody earlier than their time, and Richard Hunt was forward of his time in some ways. All we have to do is to have a look at the true rainbow coalition of his plethora of followers to see that he left an unimaginable legacy for queer Muppet followers. Wanting in the direction of his work could make us really feel like we're a part of one thing really extra important than ourselves and that our uniqueness is one thing to have fun.

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by Louie Pearlman



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