SFX Issue 99

Christmas 2002



He could eat anyone from Robot Wars for breakfast. He’s Bender and he doesn’t like you…

“I would have nachos and take a crap. All at the same time. That would be awesome,” proclaims a thoughtful Bender on the first thing he would do if he were human. Excrement, it seems, and the ability to excrete, is what separates the robots from us humans. We may consider this bodily function a burden, a filthy curse or maybe even a fine nitrate-rich fertiliser but one thing’s for sure – it’s an aptitude those robots can never take away from us. Something that clearly troubles Bender as a flaw in his design. “I would take a big ol’ craperooney. Right there in the crapper. I would use your crapper, if I could. I have a lot of issues with crap.”

You’ve caught me getting philosophical with the self-styled “pimpin’est, baddest robot in the land” but, rest assured, the converstation rarely reaches the dizzy heights of these erudite musings. Hang on… take a step back. Isn’t he a… I thought he was an… an… anim… no. Nah, can’t be. I’m talking to him over the phone.

“Every beer is good beer. Every beer is sacred. I’ve always loved beer. Ya know what? I like the stuff with the extra yeast on the bottom!”
This is a fact that may come as no surprise to fans of the docu-soap (for Bender is real, you know – I’m talking to him right now) Futurama and the exploits of the intergalactic delivery company, Planet Express. But I think I surprise Bender with a fact of my own; our low-land cousins in Belgium produce over 150 brands of beer alone! And it’s premium stuff to boot! “I would drink through Belgium!” he barks down the phone and then reiterates: “If I had the choice, I would drink THROUGH Belgium! I would like to do that... very much. In fact, I would make you pay for it!”

Beer, you see, is the elixir that drives this here robot. Without dangerously excessive levels of alcohol consumption, this bending-unit runs the risk of… becoming sober. And, thus, losing all control over his body – an idea he fears.

A compulsive kleptomaniac himself, Bender was taught a valuable lesson about the sanctity of preserving one’s own body. On one occasion it was stolen from a pawn shop by ex-US President Richard Nixon’s head-in-a-jar. So, did he feel dirty when he finally got his body back off Nixon? And, more importantly, did the slimy toad hide any important dossiers inside Bender’s bowels?

“Actually, no, he didn’t but…” He pauses as if traumatised by something terrible. “He was messin’ with all my stuff! I mean he kept touchin’ my baby! I said, ‘GET OFF MY BABY!’” He stops to explain. “I got a baby I keep in there. He kept touchin’ it. There… it was… It was wrong!”

A baby? So Bender has a sensitive side? I think better of pursuing this line of questioning however as I can only assume that, if there is indeed a baby inside of Bender, it could only have been stolen from a maternity ward. I tactfully put this to him. “Oh, you know… I rent it out for parties. He’s a party baby, he’s a’right, don’ worry about him,” he continues, adopting a dismissive tone and then changing tack slightly; “I got other things I have in there that are important to me! Y’know, there’s a porn collection, empty bottles for recycling so I can get more booze – I got all sortsa stuff in there. I don’t like people touchin’ my stuff!” It’s at this point that I over-step the mark and point out, again, that “his stuff” is probably all stolen. Before I can back-track and metaphorically kiss his shiny metal ass, he erupts; “I’ll wrestle ya right NOW! Keep it up, pal! I’ll bust yer balls, buddy!”

It’s a threat I don’t take lightly either. Earlier on during the interview the conversation turned to fighting. Impressed by Bender’s energy in the ring during bouts of Ultimate Robot Fighting League I explain to him that we have a TV show here called Robot Wars . Robots built out of lawn-mowers, wheelchairs and vacuum-cleaner parts attack each other with flamethrowers and pick-axes. He’s not impressed.

“Listen, flamethrowers! C’mon! I belch flames! Give me a break! They’re running around on wheels! Oh, big deal.”

Are you still pursuing a career in the Ultimate Robot Fighting League as Bender The Gender Bender, then, I enquire? “Ah, listen, when I had to put on a tu-tu, I said, ‘Forgettaboutit!’ But I’ll tell you one thing, I’m a REAL toughie.” As the Gender Bender, Bender was contractually obliged to dress like a girl. I just can’t help myself and tell him that he looked real tough in a blonde wig. “C’mon! I’ll wrestle! Right now!”

So if fighting competitively is out of the picture (unless it’s with me in the ring, I guess), what’s next for Bender and, indeed, what’s next for the Planet Express crew now their docu-soap has been canned?

“We’ll make a little stop in Belgium and then Amsterdam and back to Belgium again and then Amsterdam… I’ll live in Amsterdam. I love Amsterdam.” Maybe they could rename it Benderville after one of its most patented customers? “Isn’t there a sex museum called Benderville?” He pauses thoughtfully for a brief moment and then exclaims; “Isn’t Amsterdam one of the bender capitals of Europe!”
And with that I thank him very much for his time. “GOOD! Cuz I gotta go an’ get hammered.”

Many thanks to Futurama ’s John DiMaggio for taking part

Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.