Pee-Wee Herman
A Close Look At The Charges Against Him.

Pee-Wee Herman is a television and film character created by Paul Reubens. Pee-Wee was incredibly popular and successful until 1991, when Paul Ruebens was arrested for indecent exposure. Pee-Wee's reputation was destroyed, and many believe he was treated unfairly. Was he?

Show Notes:

*This is not an exact transcript, but rather an outline of my notes.

Couple things–

Another shoutout to ELLEN TEMPLE FAGAN

*Virtual Concert on 6/25 (I’m not actually as bad a singer as you may think :D)

*GiveaGiveaway!way/winner announced 6/24

Pee-Wee Herman, also known as Paul Reubens, was born in 1952 in New York but grew up in Sarasota Florida. He was interested in entertainment and performing from an early age. He frequented the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circuses, and he loved the show I Love Lucy and making people laugh. When he was 5 years old, he asked his father to build him a stage so that he and his friends could perform on it.

In high school he was the president of his school’s Thespian Society, and he started acting in local regional theater productions. He auditioned for the Juliard School of performing arts, but was not accepted. He was accepted into the California Institute of Arts, or CalArts, north of Los Angeles.

In the 70’s, Paul joined the LA based improvisational comedy team, The Groundlings. He remained a member for six years, working with Bob McClurg, John Paragon, Susan Barnes, and Phil Hartman. Hartman and Reubens became good friends, and often wrote and worked on material together.

By the way, I’m gonna cover Phil Hartman eventually.

Pee-Wee character was created in 1978. The idea for the character began as a man who wanted to be a comedian, but was terrible at telling jokes.

The name– “pee-wee” was the brand of his harmonica and “Herman” was an energetic boy from childhood.

In 1980, Paul auditioned for Saturday Night Live but lost to Gilbert Godfried.

–CAN YOU IMAGINE BOTH OF THEM ON THE SHOW AT THE SAME TIME. That would have been so loud and nasally!!--

So Paul decided to start his own show. “The Pee-Wee Herman Show” made it’s debut as a stage show at the Groundlings theater in 1981, and eventually made its way to the Roxy theater in West Hollywood, where it was filmed and aired by HBO, and the show sold out for 5 months. He would do a matinee show that was kid-friendly, and then a late-night show that was for the adults and had his more risque jokes and themes.

Before long, the Pee-Wee character was making guest appearances all over the place. He was in the Cheech & Chong movie Up In Smoke playing a bellboy or like a receptionist of some kind, he was in The Blues Brothers playing a waiter. He appeared on Late Night with Letterman, and it wasn’t long before his character became super well-known. And it was always Pee-Wee Herman in full character, not Paul Ruebens. He insisted that his name in the credits had to say “Pee-Wee Herman” playing himself. He would even nickname his parents “Honey Herman and Herman Herman.”

He became famous in an underground way as the weirdest, wackiest comedian.

1985, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure was made on a $7 million budget. It made $40 million and got great reviews.

The following year, Pee-Wee’s playhouse made it’s debut on CBS and ran for 5 seasons, until Paul got burnt out from playing the character and opted not to renew for a 6th season and took a sabbatical.

He laid low for a while, but just 8 months after the series ended, Paul Ruebens would make headlines. On July 26, 1991, Paul was in Sarasota visiting his parents, and he was arrested for indecent exposure when he was caught masturbating in an adult theater.

I want to read this article from the LA Times from 1991. The beginning is pretty funny.

“Pee-wee Herman, a.k.a. Paul Reubens, was arrested by three cops in Sarasota, Fla., for touching himself in a darkened adult movie theater. He was charged with indecent exposure.

Me, I don’t get it. The guy was practicing safe sex. We should put him on an AIDS poster and offer him a public service spot.

Instead, CBS canceled summer reruns of the Emmy-winning “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and Disney-MGM Studios stopped showing a tape starring Pee-wee at its theme park in Florida.”

The film he was watching was one of these 3– “Tiger Shark,” “Turn Up the Heat” and “Nancy Nurse.”

Reubens had, according to the police, offered to perform a children’s benefit if they didn’t arrest him. It didn’t work.

“Reubens came up $22 short of the $219 bail he needed to get out of jail. So a sheriff’s deputy, who had known him for years, gave him the extra money. And she was immediately hit with a one-day suspension.”

When this news got out, parents were absolutely outraged. This article makes a really interesting point about that.

As I said, Paul would do a kids version of the show and an adult version of the show. In the adult version, Pee-Wee was a pervert.

“He portrayed the kind of guy who would touch himself in a darkened movie theater. More than most movie stars, Paul Reubens portrayed exactly what he was.”

In an interview, he was asked “what were you thinking?”

Reubens: “Well, obviously I wasn't thinking. You Know? I certainly wasn't thinking to myself you're a children's show host. Your show is stll on television. I wasn't making those lists. I felt like they were insinuating like, well, I was sitting in you know, a darkened movie theater, in my Pee-Wee suit.”

In 1971, at 18, he was arrested for marijuana possession and placed on a two year probation, and in 1983 he was arrested for loitering and prowling at either an adult bookstore or another adult theater, but the charges were dropped.

The charge Reubens now faces is a misdemeanor and he has entered a plea of not guilty. But the outcome of his trial doesn’t matter: He is destroyed. This is his punishment for being a lonely guy in our society.”

The arrest was widely covered, and both the character Pee-wee and Reubens became the subject of ridicule. CBS stopped airing Playhouse and Disney-MGM Studios suspended from its studio tour a video that showed Pee-wee explaining how voice-over tracks were made and Toys-R-Us removed Pee-wee toys from its stores.[12] However, Disney's Star Tours, which featured voicework from Reubens, remained unaltered.

Dude, Disney just doesn’t give a fuck, right? They hired fucking Brian Peck and Victor Salva after they became convicted sex offenders?? And like no shame, they just don’t even address it.

So I guess that’s beneficial for Paul Reubens.

Despite the negative publicity, many artists who knew Reubens, such as Cyndi Lauper, Annette Funicello, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Valeria Golino, spoke out in his support. Bill Cosby defended Reubens, saying, "Whatever [Reubens has] done, this is being blown all out of proportion." That’s funny. That didn’t age well coming from him.

The general public also appeared to sympathize with Reubens – the TV newsmagazine A Current Affair received "tens of thousands" of responses to a Pee-wee telephone survey, with callers supporting Reubens with a 9-to-1 majority.[12] He remained in a state of shock for weeks and was haunted by the arrest for several years, refusing to give interviews or appear on talk shows.[20][21]

At the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards Reubens made his first public appearance after the arrest. Taking the stage in costume as Pee-wee, he asked the audience, "Heard any good jokes lately?" and received a standing ovation. Reubens then avoided interviews and, according to a 1991 Rolling Stone article, had become weary of the character and wanted to explore new territory.

In 2002, police again arrested Reubens. Acting on a tip that he had inappropriate photos of children, police raided his residence, while he was on filming on the set of Elton John’s video for “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore”.

The charges against the actors stem from an investigation that police have said began a year ago with accusations from a 17-year-old boy. On Nov. 16, 2001, police searched Reubens’ Hollywood Hills home and seized personal computers and boxes of material a Reubens spokesperson described at the time as ”vintage erotica.” Acting on evidence taken from Reubens’ house, police then searched the home of Jeffrey Jones, the actor best known for playing the principal in ”Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and carted off what police told CNN were ”numerous items of evidence.” Police told CNN that the probe had since continued for months, but the arrests finally took place last week in order to stay within the one-year statute of limitations, which would have expired Saturday.

I checked and November 16th was a Friday, meaning it was literally the last day before the statute of limitations ran out.

Jones, 56, was charged with enticing the same boy to pose for sexually explicit photos (a felony) and possessing child pornography (a misdemeanor), the district attorney’s office told the Associated Press. Earlier reports had said Jones shot a video of the boy engaged in sex, but district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons told AP, ”The charges do not involve any sex act being performed or any video or film being taken.”

Jeff Brodey, Jones’ attorney, told the Times the charges were ”all about photos. There’s no allegations of any touching or any improper acts with a minor.” Reubens’ attorney, Blair Berk, issued a statement, saying, ”Mr. Reubens has never at any time knowingly possessed any artwork from his extensive vintage and antique art collection even remotely related to anything improper.”

A widely recognized character actor, Jones played the music-loving Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus, the mentalist Criswell in Ed Wood and the father in Beetlejuice.

“Pee-wee Herman” actor Paul Reubens was sentenced to three years probation Friday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor obscenity charge involving photographs seized from his erotica collection.

The former star of the “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” children’s TV show and two “Pee-wee” movies won’t be allowed unsupervised contact with minors during the probation period.

The charge resulted from a search of Reubens’ home in November 2001. Police seized about 30,000 images from his photography collection and personal computers.

Reubens, who didn’t appear in court Friday, pleaded guilty through his attorney to possession of obscene materials with the intent to distribute, and in a Thursday court hearing he acknowledged possessing 170 images of minors engaged in sexual conduct, Moses said.

2016 he did another Pee-wee movie for Netflix, Pee-wee's Big Holiday.

Today, he’s worth about $5 million.

Photos & Videos

Paul Reubens Mugshot

Jeffrey Jones