Queer History Lesson: Every Member of the Chuck E. Cheese Animatronic Band Was Bisexual

History textbooks and dominant narratives on history often leave out the contributions, lived experiences, and contexts of LGBTQ people, leaving our own community to have to document our lives, struggles, and victories. We can’t trust the straights to tell our stories, so we have to tell our own. We have to pass our knowledge and records down to the next generations of queer people, and we have to look back into the past to reconstruct an archive in order to preserve and also to move forward. It’s this general ethos that guides me toward sharing an important queer history lesson today: We must as a community acknowledge the contributions of the Chuck E. Cheese animatronics to queer visibility, as every single member of the band was bisexual.

So, where do we start?

What are the Chuck E. Cheese animatronics and how did they come to be in a band?

Once upon a time, the establishment you may know as Chuck E. Cheese (an abbreviated version of the titular mouse’s government name, Charles Entertainment Cheese) was known as Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre, which was a family restaurant with arcade games that also featured “entertainment” in the form of animated and animatronic characters. It was founded in 1977 and went bankrupt in 1984, when it was acquired by competitor ShowBiz Pizza Place. With the merger came a new name: ShowBiz Pizza Time. In 1990, all locations were named to Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza and then Chuck E. Cheese’s in 1994 and then Chuck E. Cheese in 2019. Changing your name three times in the span of four years? I think the LGBTQs know something about that.

Since its origins, Chuck E. Cheese née Chuck E. Cheese’s née Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza née ShowBiz Pizza Time née Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre was known for its animatronic performances. These shows varied depending on the location.

Who are the Chuck E. Cheese animatronics and what are their personalities?

There have been many animatronics through the years, and some early characters were forced into retirement when newer, hotter animatronics hit the scene. Here are some of their names and personalities:

Crusty the Cat (who could indeed be described as crusty) was an original character in 1977 but then was replaced by Mr. Munch (gentlemanly) in 1978. Other original animatronics include Pasqually the singing chef (cocky), banjo-playing country dog Jasper T. Jowls (affable and goofy), singing trio of crows the Warblettes (mean), and Charles (lovable bro) himself.

In 1979, animatronic “cabarets” were added to the mix, featuring folks like jazzy piano-playing hippo Dolli Dimples (bitch), circus elephant B.B. Bubbles (femme icon), and moose Artie Antlers (thinks he’s funnier than he is). All three were retired in the 80s.

Which of the Chuck E. Cheese animatronics were bisexual?

All of them. Every single one of them.

Also, everyone in this video? Bisexual. Including the humans.

Where are the Chuck E. Cheese animatronics today?

Dead.

In 2017, it was announced that Chuck E. Cheese — going through a massive rebranding like a dyke after a breakup — would be eliminating animatronics from all its locations.

Which is why it’s more important than ever that we pay tribute to these bisexual animatronics and their queer legacies. Search for their stories online. See what you can learn from them. Their tales reveal the fraught nature of being a full-time performer and the corruption of the music industry, which is constantly pushing talent out to make room for the shiny new thing. But during their heyday in the 80s and 90s, they carved out a special place in the entertainment world for bisexual music and live performance.

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 813 articles for us.

3 Comments

  1. ugh. more like pretenders. the ShowBiz crew were all queer icons. i mean, Billy Bob and Mitzi? queer excellence. not to mention Dook and Looney. as usual pseudo-queers swooped in to steal the spotlight. #JusticeForMitzi #pinkwashing #gaynimatronics

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