For years on his Pee Wee’s Playhouse TV show, and most concentratedly in Tim Burton’s classic Pee Wee’s Big Adventure film, Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) walked the razor’s edge between innocence and decadence, willfully ignoring the implications of his determined naivete while the audience howled knowingly at the innuendo while simultaneously delighting in the childhood importance of really neat things to call your own.
Unfortunately, real life intruded and the equation tipped precipitously toward decadence at a XXX theater in 1991, destroying the psychic balance and casting a garish taint over all that had come before, leaving many who had willingly walked the line (their children in tow) along with the character feeling betrayed and duped. When one creates so powerful and iconic a character — and for years Reubens never appeared in public out of character — one is obliged to not allow real life to impinge upon the persona.
Now, for the first time since 1991, Pee Wee Herman breathes again. On the occasion of the DVD release of Pee Wee’s Playhouse, the individual David Leterman called “one peculiar son of a bitch” (little did he know) joins Elvis Mitchell, host of the nationally syndicated public radio program, The Treatment for a special broadcast, Monday, December 6th, 2:30 to 3 pm (Pacific) on 89.9 KCRW and KCRW.com, where it will also be archived.
Mitchell also speaks with Paul Reubens, the creator and producer of Pee Wee’s Playhouse and the guy with the legal issues. No conditions were imposed in advance on this wide-ranging conversation.
Reubens discusses the history of Pee Wee’s Playhouse from its inception at LA’s Groundlings Theatre, his films and of course, the series that made his character a household word, the groundbreaking CBS Saturday morning live-action kids show Pee Wee’s Playhouse. And he talks about his plans for the next Pee Wee movie, a kind of Hollywood morality tale.
This should be something.