Oh, Pee-Wee Herman, my childhood was not a good time for you. It would be a couple of years before your infamous arrest when this particular track was on the radio, but let me just say that I think I speak on behalf of all the other kids my age who still believe you got a bum rap. I guess in a way, all the scandalous stuff we heard about you in that adult theater was actually just life getting us prepared for life after Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. In other words, hearing way more about someone’s personal life than we ever wanted to know.
I’m a firm believer that what goes on behind closed doors between two consenting adults (or in your case, one consenting adult), is nobody’s business but their own. Even back then when the media went crazy over your arrest and I heard parents wringing their hands over what that news would do to the children, I was asking myself, “Why the hell would you talk about this with a child?”. Also, I was wondering why this was news and why the hell were cops wasting time at adult movie theaters?
All I knew was that “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” was one of the best, most insane television shows ever made, and Pee-Wee Herman, like his kindred spirit Ernest P. Worrell, was an inspired character perfect for kids because he was just a weird grown-up kid himself. Back in the day, I was probably more inspired to grow up to be like Pee-Wee or Ernest than I was some sports star or movie star (although James Bond would’ve been cool).
Pee-Wee Herman was and is everything that’s great about being a kid writ large: full of imagination and fun and the occasional temper tantrum. I would have LOVED to meet Conky or sit on Chairry or jump inside Magic Screen. And to this day, when I see Laurence Fishburne I don’t think of Morpheus; I think of Cowboy Curtis. Or when I see S. Epatha Merkerson hawking high blood pressure medicine, I cry out “It’s Reba the Mail Lady!”
Watching “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” is one of my favorite memories as a kid, and I’ll argue it’s still one of the best shows ever made. It’s a great example of the power of imagination and how quickly silly grown-ups can crush it with all their silly fears and prejudices. I still love you, Pee-Wee Herman.