Usually this is just a switch...
$ emacs --no-windows
I prefer xemacs for perl development. I got used to it working on an Xtreme Programming project. I like the syntax highlighting better and the key sequences. Revision control and remote shell access via tramp is nice, too.
On some of my machines, I forget to change the environment variables for the CVS_EDITOR, and I end up with vi. It feels like I can't do anything with it. This is not because vi is incapable but because I don't know it very well. vi is an excellent editor.