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March 20, 1987 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-03-20

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Friday, March 20, 1987


Hawaiian shirt, blue jeans and Converse
high-top tennis shoes.
— WAYNE WHITE, on the first time he saw
Paul Reubens
I'm very recognizable, particularly with
a crew cut. You can't disguise a crew cut.


Is it Pee-wee or is it Paul? 'The Pee-wee
Herman Show,' an L.A. theater piece that
became an HBO special in the early-
Eighties, listed Paul Reubens as playing
Pee-wee Herman, in addition to co-writing
and co-directing. After touring the club
and college circuit, Pee-wee Herman, sans
Paul Reubens, began popping up on Late
Night with David Letterman, squealing
nonstop about toys and unattainable
celebrity girlfriends and, like, everything,
I mean, you know, okay okay okay? Letter-
man suffered his guest with benign embar-
rassment, as if Pee-wee might actually go
pee-wee on the upholstered chair. The
movie Pee-wee's Big Adventure, in which
our hero battled the forces of evil to recover
his missing bicycle, hit theaters in the sum-
mer of 1985. It cost $6 million and earned
$45 million — not including bucks yet to
come from foreign markets (the French will
probably love him), network, cable, syn-
dication rights and videocassette pur-
chases. In the credits, Paul Reubens was
listed as a co-writer. Pee-wee Herman ap-
peared as himself.
lb promote the movie, Pee-wee traveled
to big cities and met the press, with his lit-
tle gray suit, little pink lips and little high
voice. Paul wasn't available for interviews;
Pee-wee was. That, his managers and
publicists maintain, is the inflexible Pee-
wee policy. But sometimes it flexes. Faced
with a New York Times reporter, Peter J.
Boyer, Paul gave the interview, not Pee-wee.
"I was a little amused at that," Boyer says.
"Whichever persona he showed up in
would've been fine with me. I get along
wonderfully well with nine-year-olds."
As the publicity campaign for Pee-wee's
Playhouse went into high gear, the ground
rules allowed no questions about Paul
Reubens or about Pee-wee Herman's work
methods. His office explained that I would
be talking to Pee-wee, but he wouldn't be
using his Pee-wee voice. I wondered if I
should use a different voice. I thought of
checking Sybil and The Three Faces of Eve
out of the library. .
The non-Pee-wee voice turned out to be
soft, low and polite and sounded like Pee-
wee on Thorazine. Our conversation was
tiptoeing through the narrow range of per-
mitted topics when suddenly the rules
snapped and Pee-wee/Paul started talking
about identity separation.
"My only fear about this subject is that
it becomes more of a subject because I'm
unwilling to discuss it. The problem, to me,
is that I have two names, and beyond that,
there's not much of a story. This feels more
right. I'm able to do all the things I want
to do with this arrangement much better.
There are so many things I would like to
do, so many people I probably am, that it
becomes a lot less complicated for me."
He discusses nasty rumors. "No, I don't
have forty gray suits. Actually, my suits

are all completely worn out right now, so
I'm having some new ones made. I have six
pretty beat-up suits."
He claims not to know how many sizes
too small they are; the main thing is they
fit perfectly wrong. And that's not the on-
ly thing wrong: "I've heard, I've even seen
written reports of ten different people that
discovered me in Hollywood. I really don't
care about setting it straight at this point.
Maybe eventually I'll write a biography
and tell my side — Pee-wee Herman: My
He laughs. I laugh. At least he's called
it a biography, not an autobiography. Paul
Reubens could write a biography of Pee-
wee. Pee-wee could write a biography of
Paul. And they could both write blurbs for
each other's books.

I think to be an individual is a difficult
thing, and it's become more and more


He saves every bit of energy for the
time when the camera comes on, and he
becomes Pee-wee that second.


The first time my mother saw Paul on
late-night TY, she called me the next
night, promptly at five o'clock, when the
rates change. That was the kind of lady
she was. And she said "I don't care

"I'm still doing Pee-
Wee Herman. But if
I'm locked into that
one thing for now,
I'm trying to do as
many different
things within that
context as I can."

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