“It was probably the darkest period of my life,” she says, taking a slow draw off a menthol cigarette. “I felt like my family life was a sham and I didn’t have anywhere to turn to. If I hadn’t met Robert, I really don’t know where I would be today.”
Veteran cartoon actress Petunia Pig, famous for her role in the classic Warner Brothers Looney Toons series, is dressed in her trademark animated blue gingham dress. She’s consented to an interview with the Northern Light in the hopes of dispelling the storm of rumors that recently built up around the sexuality of her second husband Spongerobert Squarepants, better known to the world as Spongebob.
You may have heard the story. At a recent White House dinner, Dr. James Dobson of the Christian organization Focus on Family announced to the world that Sponge Bob is gay and was performing in an animated video of the Sister Sledge Song “We Are Family,” set to be released to American public schools on March 11 and, according to Dr. Dobson, designed to “desensitize very young children to homosexual and bisexual behavior.”
Dobson’s statements sparked a debate about morality in the media, but one question was never addressed: were Dobson’s claims true? Was Spongebob actually gay? Unable to take the pressure, Spongebob’s wife Petunia, who describes herself as “an intensely private pig” decided to go public with the details of her secret marriage to Spongebob.
“There’s a lot of intrigue and competitiveness in the world of cartoons,” explains Petunia. “Spongerobert was the first cartoon I felt I could really open up to. I felt that I could be honest about all the problems I’d been having with [first husband] Porky [Pig]. As the runt of the litter, Porky had a lot of baggage and insecurities and he never learned to deal with them in an adult manner. The ‘90s were hard on him. He felt he deserved a much more prominent role in the movie Space Jam. At that point, Porky lost control, started abusing painkillers, canceling performances of [his acclaimed one-pig stage show] Curly Tales. His intimate liaisons with several of the Animaniacs became public, and that hurt me a great deal.”
Squarepants, Petunia explains, was the only cartoon who wouldn’t judge her for her for her domestic difficulties. “Everyone else saw me as damaged goods, but Spongebob fervently believes everyone should be judged for who they are. I told him my problems and he’d give me that big, buck-toothed smile and say, ‘Gee, Petunia, I think you’re terrific!”
In June 2001 the couple was married. A second marriage was no easy matter for Petunia. Raised Catholic, she had to go against the structures of her church to get a divorce, and also had to wear several hundred pounds of cumbersome scuba gear in order to live with her new husband in his pineapple under the sea. Still, she describes the early years of her marriage as the happiest in her life, and the serenity was only broken after Dobson claimed to “out” her husband in public.
“Spongerobert doesn’t care whether people think he’s gay or straight,” explains Petunia. “But the accusation that he’s involved in some sort of propaganda conspiracy is just unfair. He doesn’t want to brainwash people. He just wants to entertain.”
Although the Bible at no point specifically addresses the sexual orientation of sponges or other aquatic life forms, Squarepants has experienced harsh criticism from Focus on Family, whose spokesman, Paul Batura, described Spongebob’s new videos as “an insidious means (for) manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids.”
Asked to respond, Squarepants said, “Gee, that guy sure sounds upset!” He then added, “Hey! Look what I can do,” and proceeded to insert the nozzle of his new reef blower up his left nostril. The rush of pressurized water from the blower inflated first his right eye and then his left eye to more than five times their normal size, after which Squarepants’ entire body swelled up and then released water from various porous vessels on his skin, which sent him careening about the room, ricocheting off walls and ceiling as he flailed his arms about wildly and laughed, “Buh-ha-HA-ha-HA-ha-HA!”
Although Squarepants identifies himself as heterosexual, he is an opponent of amending the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage, and is good friends with fellow cartoon Daffy Duck, who several years ago made public his same-sex marriage to Woodrow Woodpecker.
In a recent interview Duck said, “Intolerance is always going to be out there, but guys like Dr. Dobson find it incredibly easy to push people’s panic buttons by convincing them their children are under attack. You know, I’ve seen a Tasmanian devil swallow dynamite, I’ve seen a coyote walk on air, I’ve even seen my own bill rotate more than 360 degrees around my own head. But a grown man making a fuss about a cartoon character’s sexuality? That’s just hard to believe.”