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Pussy Galore-ious: Catwoman's Queer Appeal Through the Ages

Pussy Galore-ious: Catwoman's Queer Appeal Through the Ages

Catwoman (née Selina Kyle) clawed her way out of the closet as a "canon bisexual" this week, but the felonious feline has always been something of a queer icon. What little baby gay didn't dream of being Julie Newmar, or Eartha Kitt, or Michelle Pfeiffer — the only women truly fit to be called Catwoman?

Julie Newmar as Catwoman.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.

There was a boy in my second grade class who bragged about being the Pfeiffer Catwoman for Halloween. Just throwing it in my face. Naturally, my first reaction was jealousy followed almost immediately (since I was already reading at an 8th grade level) by shade. "Boy, that kid is gay," I thought to myself. I wanted that costume, dammit. 

Pfeiffer

And could you blame seven year old me? Michelle Pfeiffer was giving life in Batman Returns — part dominatrix, part Charlie Chaplin, all crazy.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.

There's nothing like a beautiful, unhinged lady with a whip and a bold lip to really properly enfatuate a young boy. Plus she got to kick ass, take names and lick whomever she wanted. I like to think it served as a roadmap for adulthood. 

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.

It's an epic performance and Pfeiffer skips away with the movie, yet where was the Oscar? 

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.

Kitt

While Pfeiffer's Catwoman was dark and comedic, Eartha Kitt's (from the iconically campy '60s tv show starring Adam West) had the subtlety — and ocassionally the wardrobe — of a drag queen.

Eartha Kitt as Catwoman.

Eartha Kitt as Catwoman.

Eartha Kitt as Catwoman.

Even The Joker's like, Miss Thing — tone it down. 

Further cementing her drag credentials, Eartha dropped more cheap pussy puns than a Lesbian Cat Lady Comedian Convention in the Catskills.

Eartha Kitt as Catwoman.

Eartha Kitt as Catwoman.

Also of note, as a lady of color, Kitt broke down a few walls and deserves more than a few snaps for portraying a sexy seductress in the racially charged years of 1967 and 1968, thus kicking open the door for Halle Berry — who subsequently closed and bolted that door shut.

Newmar

Still, West and Kitt shied away from any interracial canoodling — that was Star Trek's frontier — but West and orignal Catwoman, Julie Newmar, were giving off a very Ross and Rachel, will-they-or-won't-they vibe.

Julie Newmar as Catwoman.

Julie Newmar as Catwoman.

Though, let's be real — they won't. Because Catwoman's purring up the wrong tree. She tries throwing herself at Batman, but his thoughts wander to the one true love of his life.

Julie Newmar as Catwoman.

If Julie Newmar's not doing it for ya, it's a lost cause. I mean, try to describe her and not use the word "statuesque."

Julie Newmar as Catwoman.

It's no wonder three queens road tripped across America to be crowned by her. Meanwhile, I'm not fully convinced Catwoman wasn't having an affair with her own ward, Pussycat, played by the late Lesley Gore

Julie Newmar as Catwoman.

It's their sapphic party and Robin will cry if he wants to.

So with all due respect to Miss Vida Boheme, Julie Newmar is not the only Catwoman. Rather, Newmar, Eartha Kitt and Michelle Pfeiffer are the Holy Trinity of campy Catwomen who best represent the undeniably queer appeal of this quirky comic book heroine...purrrrrr-fectly.

A version of this article by Les Fabian Brathwaite, drag princess: P-to-the-R-to-the-IN-to-the-CESS, originally appeared on Out.

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