Jun 8, 2016

Pepe Le Pew, the Bisexual Looney Toons Skunk

We know about Bugs Bunny's forays into drag in the old Looney Toon shorts, but what about Pepe LePew?

The faux-French accented skunk was named after the Pepe Le Moko character (Charles Boyer) in Algiers (1938), who reportedly signaled his amorous intent to Hedy Lamar with the request  "Come wiz me to ze Casbah" (although the line never appears in the movie).

Charles Boyer (1899-1978) was bisexual, by the way.

In Chuck Jones' hands, Pepe LePew became an amorous but odiferous skunk who mistakes a cat with a white paint stripe for another skunk and falls madly in love.  His aggressive manner and "odor de pew" compel his intended to flee, so he's off on a wild pursuit.

It's usually a female cat, but in 4 of his 17 cartoon appearances between 1945 and 1962, it's a male.

In Odor-Able Kitty (1945), it's a male cat.  Pepe is not dissuaded.

In Scent-imental Over You (1947), it's a male dog.

In Scentimental Romeo (1951), Pepe follows the female cat into a Tunnel of Love, where he makes out with a human male by mistake.

In Dog Pounded (1954), Pepe pursues fellow Looney Toons star Sylvester.

That's 23%.  Pepe is definitely bisexual.

In his later appearances, Pepe has occasionally noted an indifference to the gender of his romantic partners:

On an episode of The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries (1995-2000), Sylvester gets a white stripe down his back again, and is amorously pursued by a male skunk, who explains that he is Pepe's fourth cousin: "What can I say?  It runs in the family."

Sylvester and the female cat Penelope both get white-striped in the direct-to-video Tweety's High Flying Adventure (2000).  Pepe pursues them both.

Sylvester tries to explain that he is an inappropriate partner, not because of his gender, because of his species:

 "You've got it all wrong. I'm not a skunk!"

Pepe responds: "Love can never be wrong."