For queer children of the 90s, Nickelodeon was rife with
interesting (and often times strange) programming, which made queer characters
all the more accessible. The ten characters listed below represent the wealth
of queer characters that could be found on the cable network. Although this
list is far from complete (I’m sure many will be angry that such fan favorites
as Angelica Pickles are absent from the list), it still represents the wealth
of campy characters that were afforded to us as children.
10.) Dottie from “Weinerville”
“Weinerville” was one of the strangest childhood oddities to
arise from Nickelodeon. It was also one of the first instances I can personally
remember of seeing a man in drag…sort of. The town of Weinerville was populated
with half-human, half-puppet characters (mostly played by Marc Weiner). Dottie,
the mayor of Weinerville, was by far one of the strangest inhabitants of the
fictional city. Sporting feathered blonde hair (which was sometimes structured
into a bob), Dottie bossed around her emaciated assistant, Zip, who would risk
his life to do even the most menial of tasks. Each show began with Dottie
looking directly into the camera, saying, “Oh well! Welcome to Weinerville!”
and letting out an operatic scream.
9.) Tippingdale “Tippi” Dink from “Doug”
Whereas Bud Dink got himself into a series of dimwitted
antics, his wife, Tippi, was the voice of reason. Her sarcastic monotone let
audiences know that not only was she a only a stoic character, but she was
secretly running the strings in her household. Tippi was the Bea Arthur of
“Doug,” and her intelligence helped her become the mayor of Bluffington…even if
she still had to bring Bud and his zany inventions along. She was an empowered
woman who relished in making sarcastic comments, but still knew how to give
8.) Stimpson “Stimpy” J. Cat from “The Ren and Stimpy Show”
Stimpy was the loveable feline who, when not coughing up
hairballs or annoying his canine companion, could be seen chasing his farts.
Stimpy’s optimism and self-confidence were often times characterized as effeminate
traits (even accompanied by girlish screams). On one of the more memorable
episodes, Stimpy gave up his butt fat just so Ren could turn them into six-pack
abs. How “Ren and Stimpy” was produced for Nickelodeon, I will never know, but
the show did give us a campy feline character (even if he was batshit crazy).
7.) Aunt Miriam from “Rugrats”
Though her appearances on “Rugrats” were brief, Aunt Miriam
was definitely a memorable guest star. She was the eccentric relative in a
forest green outfit who hid her baldness with a blue beehive wig. She was the
adult counterpart to Angelica, but with a campier style and mentality.
6.) Heffer Wolfe from “Rocko’s Modern Life”
One of Rocko’s more endearing friends, Heffer Wolfe was a
larger-than-life character with a heart as big as his overalls. Adopted by
wolves, Heffer was oblivious to his bovine difference until Rocko pointed it
out during a family dinner. Yet Heffer was still embraced for his large size,
his stupidity, and his love of life. In one episode, he even becomes a mother
when he warms Filbert’s eggs (unknowingly transforming one of Filbert’s
offspring into a bespectacled steer in a diaper). Whether he is modeling
underwear or getting liposuction during Rocko’s appendectomy, Heffer is two
tons of fun and definitely a fan favorite (no matter if you are gay or
5.) Alex Mack from “The Secret World of Alex Mack”
With an influx of Saturday morning superhero cartoons and
live-action shows, it’s only natural that kids would imagine themselves as having
superpowers. Yet “The Secret World of Alex Mack” managed to transform that
desire into something more tangible for angst-ridden teenagers. Alex Mack was
your typical tomboyish girl until she was doused with the radioactive GC-161.
From that point on she was able to transform into a puddle of goo and move
things with her telekinetic powers. She balanced her teenage angst with her
desire to keep this secret from her parents (something to which many of us can
relate, even if we don’t have radioactive powers), all the while donning a
variety of beanies and backwards baseball caps.
4.) Charlotte Pickles from “Rugrats”
The epitome of a career woman in the 90s, Charlotte Pickles
was an iron-fisted executive who spent more time on the phone than with her
bratty daughter, Angelica. She was often times described as a domineering woman
who barked orders at her man servant, Jonathan, but Charlotte was a pragmatic
woman who tried to make the best decisions in both her personal and
professional lives. She is also one of very few people who can rock a ponytail
while wearing a dress suit.
3.) Bev Bighead from “Rocko’s Modern Life”
Bev Bighead was an interesting cross between Peg Bundy from
“Married…With Children” and Mrs. Roper from “Three’s Company.” She was a
man-hungry sadomasochist who often times insinuated that she wanted to sleep
with Rocko. In spite of her stagnant sex life, she still looked gorgeous with a
tuft of orange hair and a string of pearls. She dominated her household with
her raspy voice, and kept her husband, Ed, in check.
2.) Elizabeth “Betty” DeVille from “Rugrats”
You may have noticed that Angelica doesn’t rank on this
list. My reasoning was not only that I wanted to spread the wealth amongst many
characters from different Nickelodeon shows (although “Rugrats” and “Rocko’s
Modern Life” appear more than once), but also that many of supporting women in
“Rugrats” were much more campy and queer than Angelica, with Betty DeVille
being the most blatant. With the physicality of a body builder, the hair of an
80s rock star, and the t-shirt of a staunch feminist, Betty was never afraid to
speak her mind and clearly wasn’t afraid to put on the pants in her marriage (her
husband, Howard, could be seen sporting an apron on many occasions).
Beth Denberg from “All That”
many children who grew up in the 90s (or I may just be biased and am speaking
for myself), one of the most memorable comediennes was Lori Beth Denberg from
“All That.” Her bubbly personality, hilarious delivery of lines, and ability to
play both straight characters and loose cannons, gave her a comedic prowess
that endured for many years. Whether it was playing the nonsensical Ms.
Fingerly, the queer Connie Muldoon, or the (extremely) loud librarian, Denberg
managed to make the most of her tenure at “All That.” And I’m sure that most
(including yours truly) remember her for the “Vital Information” she gave in
regards to prom dates, teenage angst, geriatric dating, and mayonnaise storage.
Mentions: Angelica Pickles from “Rugrats”; Judy Funnie from “Doug”; Grandma
from “Hey Arnold”; Dagget Doofus Beaver from “The Angry Beavers”; Helga Pataki
from “Hey Arnold”; Beebe Bluff from “Doug”; Joyce Wergley (aka Mom) from “The
Adventures of Pete and Pete”; Rosie Ianni from “Space Cases”