Cookie Monster: King of Gay Disco
Cookie Monster is the king of gay disco. No, seriously.
In the late 1970s, disco was sweeping the United States. Why? Damned if I know! But I was born in the 1980s, so maybe I am just missing whatever crucial element is needed to understand the urge to wear polyester pants and do the Travolta.
Jim Henson’s floppy felt-based lifeforms the Muppets have always been interested in both music and parodying pop culture, even in the education heavy Sesame Street. So when Saturday Night Fever was tearing up the box office and moistening panties everywhere, of course the Muppets were going to do a takeoff!
This leads us, inexorably, to Cookie Monster’s contributions to the coke-fueled party lifestyle that the Muppets briefly indulged in.
In 1977, the year Star Wars taught a nation of boys that wearing bathrobes in public makes you sexy, Cookie Monster pushed the Muppets in their first tentative steps towards disco with the song “Cookie Disco”, written by Christopher “Put Down the Duckie” Cerf and Sam “Bert’s Love Song” Pottle. It had to be Cookie Monster. What other Muppet was so hip? What other Muppet was such a sensualist? Is it really a big step to go from gluttony to disco? I think not!
“Cookie Disco” is clearly a parody of Issac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft”. John Shaft, you may remember, is the black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks. Cookie Monster, apparently, is not. As you watch Cookie Monster strutting across dance floor in his outlandish pink and gold sequined costume complete with goofy glasses, feathered headdress and thick beard of black hair ask yourself this: Wouldn’t Cookie Monster be popular in the gay dance club circuit today? He has a trio of dudes in tight, shiny outfits with high-pitched voices following him around and his appetites cannot be stopped. He wears chains. His entire massive body is covered in hair. Face it: Cookie Monster is a bear.
After the success of “Cookie Disco” as both a single (with B-side “We’ll Do It Together”) and as a part of the individuality-themed album Aren’t You Glad You’re You?, Sesame Street released two disco albums, 1978’s Sesame Street Fever and 1979’s Sesame Disco!. Nearly every track on both albums was penned by long-time Muppets songwriter Joe Raposo, perhaps best known for “Bein’ Green”. The one exception was a disco remake of Jeff “The People in Your Neighborhood” Moss’ bath time rubber anthem “Rubber Duckie”.
In fact, Sesame Street Fever is entirely disco versions of well-worn Sesame Street songs except for “Trash” and “Fever”, which feature Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, apparently sensing his career’s impending death and desperate for the cultural validation that only an appearance on Sesame Street can bring. Cookie Monster puts in a token appearance on “Fever”, but what you really came for is the disco-fied version of his ballad to gluttony, “C is for Cookie”.
The big change stylistically between “Cookie Disco” and “C is for Cookie” is that his three man backup group has been replaced by a trio of women identified only as “the girls”. Don’t think that somehow marks Cookie Monster’s conversion to heterosexuality, though. Haven’t you ever heard of a fag hag?
As a point of comparison, here’s Grover’s “ABC Disco”. The chicks are all over him!
Cookie Monster’s big number on Sesame Disco!, is “Me Lost Me Cookie at the Disco”, the sad tale of a young man who brought a cookie to a gay disco and lost it out on the dance floor. How do I know it’s a gay disco? Well, the only women in the entire club are on stage singing. This disco is a total sausage party. And look who is out there dancing! Bruce Monster, Harvey Monster, Clancy, Maurice Monster, Kermit the Forg (yes Forg, not Frog), and oh, Elmo. Don’t you try to convince me that Elmo isn’t gay.
Cookie Monster is strutting around a disco full of exclusively males, wearing a sequined silver bowtie and a shiny gold bracelet, and notice how you NEVER see his right hand! What’s he doing with that hand while he’s fumbling around demanding dancers help him find cookies? He looks like a drug addict who lost his bag of fun!
Is “cookie” perhaps some 1970s drug slang I’m not familiar with? Is Cookie Monster’s life really a sad metaphor for the out of control drug lifestyle of the disco era?
By 1981, disco backlash was in full effect, but that didn’t stop Cookie Monster’s “Me Going to Munch You, Munch You, Munch You”, an obvious parody of Barry White’s “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little”. White’s backing band Love Unlimited is also the source of Cookie Monster’s Crumbs Unlimited.
If you don’t know why this is evidence that Cookie Monster is the king of gay disco, I don’t know what will convince you.
Actually, you know what? Forget everything I just said. Cookie Monster is clearly gay for cookies, not for other dudes. All I’m saying is you probably want to avoid any frosted cookies if you’re ever hanging around Sesame Street.