Mar 09, 2016

Dandy of the Week: Pee-wee Herman

Each week, Dandy Dicks will highlight a key figure in gay culture, be it past or present. These men are what we consider true Dandies, advancing the ideals of gay men everywhere and doing it with lasting influence and style. This week’s installment is on none other than Pee-Wee Herman! Everyone’s favorite faggy children’s icon is set to return to our screens through Netflix on March 18. For those who didn’t get recruited by his hilarious agenda in the 80s, or for those who just need a refresher, Dandy Dicks presents a brief history of everyone’s favorite perversely funny Dandy!

Wildly popular in the 80s, Pee-wee Herman was perhaps the queerest children's entertainer. Pee-wee was created by comedian Paul Reubens, who seemingly never publicly broke character throughout the entire decade. Pee-wee was a boy played by a man wearing rouge as bright his bowtie. He was never specified as gay, but he was a gleefully effeminate goofball, and he taught the wee ones that it's OK to be different.

In 1980, Reubens staged The Pee-wee Herman Show, spoofing children's TV shows from the 1950s, deranged with adult humor. With a successful run at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles, the show was recorded and televised by HBO the following year. In 1985, he was the star of Pee-wee's Big Adventure, the first full-length feature film by director Tim Burton, a road trip movie loosely based on the 1948 Italian classic Bicycle Thief. Always dressed in the same tight gray suit, Pee-wee also guested on SNL, MTV and Letterman. Pee-wee's rise continued in 1986 with Pee-wee's Playhouse, an actual children's program broadcast on Saturday mornings. It was a colorful and campy collage of live action, cartoons, claymation and computer animation that went on to win 15 Emmy Awards.

Pee-wee was loved by children and adults alike – although some parents found him questionable. The previous innuendo from the nightclub had been toned down for television, but there was still something subversive about him. In one episode, he remarks that he loves the fruit salad he's eating. His friends quip, “Then why don't you marry it?” He gladly accepts the challenge and literally holds a wedding ceremony with a bowl of fruit, gleefully skewering the heterosexual institution.

Pee-wee's cohorts (aside from all the puppets) were like the Village People on LSD: the pastel-clad Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne); the butch Captain Carl (Phil Hartman); Ms Yvonne, a biologically female drag queen; and Tito, a topless lifeguard with a chiseled chest. The most flamboyant of all, though, was Jambi the genie, a total queen from head to toe – except that he was just a floating head. Of course, that wouldn't stop him from sucking cock. (One could assume, anyway.) And the show's theme was sung by fag hag Cyndi Lauper.

In 1988, the cinematic Big Top Pee-wee lacked ingenuity (Burton did not return, replaced by Randal Kleiser, best known for Grease) – but the success continued on the small screen. Pee-wee's fans included Cher, Little Richard, Grace Jones and k.d. lang, who all appeared on his Christmas special. But the Playhouse was pulled from the airwaves in 1991 when undercover cops in a porn theater allegedly spotted Reubens masturbating. Although he was never actually found guilty of indecent exposure (he pleaded no contest to avoid a publicized trial), the idea of a children's entertainer watching porn exploded into a scandal across puritanical America. Pee-wee was essentially damned by the public and the character was retired.

After a few years away from the media, Reubens returned to acting, but taking on different roles on sitcoms (Murphy Brown, 30 Rock) and in films (Blow, The Smurfs). Over the past decade, he has been trying to drum up interest in a third Pee-wee flick, and a well-received stage revival in 2010 certainly helped bring Pee-wee back into pop consciousness. Now Jambi has finally granted his wish: Pee-wee's Big Holiday will premiere at SXSW, directly followed by an exclusive Netflix release on March 18. Reubens is back in the title role, joined by the likes of True Blood's Tara Buck and Joe Manganiello and Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Stephanie Beatriz. Paul Rust (Comedy Bang! Bang!) co-wrote, John Lee (Wonder Showzen, Broad City) directed, and Judd Apatow produced the film.

Thirty-one years on, Pee-wee's Big Adventure remains timeless. But now let's see how the filmmaker behind The 40-Year-Old Virgin handles a 63-year-old actor playing a little boy. We shall remain cautiously optimistic: as far as comebacks go, it's hard to top “I know you are, but what am I?”

Sources: Pee-wee, The Comic Book Cast

by Joey Hansom

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And who the hell am I? If you’ve been following the blog at all, you may have wondered out of which horny hole this perverted punk has stepped. I won’t reveal too much – a bit of mystery is sexy, right? But a few things may be in order.

First, I was born in that part of the world that most people think is actually Canada, but it’s not. I was born in Alaska. Who would have thought that place could produce more than oil and Sarah Palin – two decidedly unsexy things.

Second, I’m no stranger to sex on screen. I appeared in two arty porn films with DVD releases: one in San Francisco and one here in Berlin. There may be other footage of me out there, but if so, I don’t know where. And yup, I moved to Berlin from gay ol’ San Francisco, where I learned to be a proper fag and how to be a writer all at the same time.

There’s more from San Francisco coming your way via Dandy Dicks, so stay tuned.

But I left San Francisco. And took my heart with me. Five years now in Berlin and I can’t think of a better place to be. I’ve been making it here as a writer ever since and I’m happy to report there’s no going back.

I think I’ve given you enough of the basics. More you’ll just have to find out either through this blog or a little Google. But I hope with that you stick around Dandy Dicks – for this blog and of course, the boys!

Walter Crasshole