Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Paul Reubens

Of all the cretinous villains in the world, few people have been less cretinous and villainous than Paul Reubens; while murderers and rapists run around free, while thugs have been known to occasionally seize the government and demonstrate contempt for both their own constitution and international law with impunity, while genocides and a hundred different forms of hate crime seemingly proliferate unchecked at home and around the world, police in Florida brought down the full force of their authority on a bored actor who, in July 1991, decided to rub one out at a Sarasota porno theatre.

PhotobucketNot a park or a playground, not a mall or a McDonald's - certainly not the men's room at the Minneapolis Airport - but the South Trail Adult Theatre screening of Nurse Nancy.

That the scandal was out of all proportion to the crime is almost a given, especially occurring when it did, just as the tabloid press in America was achieving an almost British intensity; yet the fact that Reubens was ostensibly a children's entertainer seems to have given his critics more than enough ammo to kill his greatest creation Pee-wee Herman.

In the end, it may have all been an extreme example of wish fulfillment; Reubens had grown tired of the character and was thinking of retiring him anyhow. Faced with the prospect of once more squeezing into the tiny suit and potentially becoming a grotesque parody of himself, Reubens found a way out - albeit an embarrassing and highly public one. Paul/Pee-wee's travails were extensively documented in an article for Rolling Stone magazine by Peter Wilkinson.

Reubens has since made numerous appearances in films and on television, beginning with a role as the Penguin's father in Batman Returns (1992); he's also turned up (often in disguise) as the 76th secretary on Murphy Brown, for instance, or as Archduke Gerhard Habsburg on 30 Rock, and so on. Currently, the scuttlebutt on Interweb is that Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Movie is in production and ready to make Pee-wee big again; in the meantime, you'll have to be satisfied with all of Pee-wee's offerings currently available on DVD including all five seasons of Pee-wee's Playhouse.

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