I heard late last year that Paul Reubens had revived his Pee-wee character for a limited run of The Pee-wee Herman Show at the Roxy in Los Angeles. I tried to find someone to accompany me out there for it, but there were no takers. Not that I had to go with someone, but if I was going to see Pee-wee, nevermind the whole playhouse - I would need someone there to pinch me so I would know it was really happening!
I have been a die hard Pee-wee fan ever since his show Pee-wee's Playhouse began airing when I was six years old. Some of my favorite childhood memories were of my Dad and I watching it together on Saturday mornings. And not until recently - when I decided to rewatch some of the original Playhouse episodes - did I realize how much his show had an impact on my personality. Everything from my taste and my sense of humor, to my love of kitsch, social commentary and all that's gay - seems to have been influenced by his show. The music on the show was even made by Mark Mothersbaugh, the leader of what would eventually be one of my all time favorite bands, Devo! It was obvious that Pee-wee penetrated my very psyche in ways that I had not yet realized.
And when his 1991 arrest went down for masturbating in an adult theater in Florida, I was crushed. Reubens denies the allegation, but it never mattered to me, even as a kid. I was so upset for the way the media crucified him and made him look like some sort of creepy pedophile just because he had his own children's show. Nobody does that to my Pee-wee! Here's an excerpt of me preachin' on his behalf in one of my zines when I was just a kiddo:
So, when I heard earlier this year that due to the success of his L.A. show, there would be a month long run of The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway, I had to be there! As soon as tickets went on sale, I grabbed two tickets right in the front for a whopping $500! I didn't care how much it cost me - I wanted to see Pee-wee's pores! Up close and personal with Pee-wee!!!
And even after my injury this year and all the hell I have been through, I refused to miss his show and even scheduled my surgery so I would have enough physical therapy and recovery time in order to make it down to New York. We will never forget Pee-wee!
And it was well worth every penny and all the struggle for me to physically get there. First of all, Macaulay Culkin walked into the lobby right in front of me and I can't believe how goofy I got. I never realized what a Macaulay Culkin fan I was, but I suppose it was because of what a huge star he was when I was little. Oh, and he was there with Seth Green. Meh. Not so much.
Once my friend and I were seated and the lights went down... Pee-wee came out, and the only light in the room was a spotlight on him standing in front of the curtain RIGHT IN FRONT OF US... and then the curtain was raised to see THIS:
(Above: The magical stage from The Pee-wee Herman Show. I couldn't find a picture of the Broadway set so here is one from the show earlier this year in Los Angeles. Deal with it Missie!)
The second that curtain went up, I felt like a little kid again, filled with wonder and excitement. It was the playhouse right before my very eyes! Chairry was there, and Conky, Clockey, Mr. Window, Pterri, Globey, Magic Screen and even that bad ass Randy! Out of the original cast there was Miss Yvonne and Jambi, original characters like Cowboy Curtis and the King of Cartoons made an appearance and there were a bunch of new faces as well. There was even a Penny stop-motion cartoon shown on a screen that lowered down and an 1960's era instructional film which taught the crowd about good manners (with special sound effects added - hee hee).
I don't want to talk too much about the details of the plot or my favorite bits of the show in case you are going! I hate spoilers.
After the show was over, we waited by the stage door to see if Pee-wee would eventually come out. And low and behold he did! Armed with a handheld loudspeaker, he talked about what a great audience we were and how much each show really means to him. He kept repeating this over and over and spoke so earnestly about how he doesn't want us to think he takes his fans or anything for granted and how our support is so special to him. Then he said, "I think you guys are really cool."
Then the crowd was silent for a few seconds. So I yelled, "We think you're cool too Pee-wee!" Just like Miss Yvonne or Chairry would. It was awesome. Awww, shucks Pee-wee. Thanks for such an unforgettable night!