Base - Writing - propped
I watched a biography about him recently on Netflix and I really admired him, learning how he started off always wanting to be a puppeteer like Henson, and basically made his own dreams come true. More than he ever thought, since kids especially adore Elmo.

If this is true it just taints the whole thing. :/ I think you're right about him playing Elmo - the puppeteers do a lot of travelling and events where kids get to 'talk' to the characters. Parents aren't going to be comfortable with that.