Get Ready to Laugh
By Mike Jeknavorian
There never was anyone quite like Paul Reubens, and the world will probably never see anyone like him again. From his roots in Sarasota, to the creation of his own clown-like character, Pee-wee Herman, in the 1970s in Los Angeles, and then to a string of films, TV series and appearances, Reubens has rarely been out of the spotlight. But at age 67, he’s still going strong, including hosting a 35th Anniversary Tour of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and developing a new and dark Pee-wee movie.
MIKE JEKNAVORIAN: Mr. Reubens, thank you for talking with OutClique magazine. To begin, you’re working on a new Pee-wee movie, which has a decidedly darker tone than the previous incantations of that character. Eventually, someone other than you will play Pee-wee. Have you ever seen anyone do the Pee-wee character yet other than yourself?
PAUL REUBENS: No one else will ever play Pee-wee. That would happen over my dead b . . . oh, I see your point. Actually, it’s 2020 now. The technology exists for me to be computer generated and look completely real. However, if I didn’t have the budget, I’ve always liked the work of Christopher Walken.
MJ: Other than the new Pee-wee movie, do you have a dream role? For example, would you like to do more dramatic work?
PR: Funny you should ask that question. I’m in early talks to star in the remake of Silence of the Lambs. Other than that, my dream role would be to star as the monster in Frankenstein.
MJ: I heard one time that you’re a fan of Bigfoot. Have you ever been to the Bigfoot museum in California?
PR: If, as you heard, I was a fan of Bigfoot, wouldn’t I have been to his museum? Of course, I’ve been there. I have carte blanche there. I just had lunch with Bigfoot. He’s Sasquatch to me. He’s everything you would imagine. And really big. Take your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about his feet. But you know what they say . . ..
MJ: Did you ever see the classic Bigfoot movie, The Legend of Boggy Creek?
PR: I’ve never seen the Legend of Boggy Creek, but my friend and stuntman, Corey Eubanks, directed the classic, Bigfoot: The Unforgettable Encounter. I visited the set while it was being filmed. Lastly, Bigfoot has a cameo in the next Pee-wee movie.
MJ: At times, particularly early on in your career, you’ve been mistaken for your character, Pee-wee Herman. Considering that you’re so closely identified with your character, is that hard to deal with?
PR: Sometimes it can be confusing having an alter-ego. For example, when I’m at the supermarket, am I shopping for myself or Pee-wee Herman? If I’m at the mall, and I see a nice pair of slacks, is it me or Pee-wee that’s admiring them? That speeding ticket I just received . . . that was definitely Pee-wee Herman. Since he doesn’t really exist, no one would have to pay it.
MJ: What are your thoughts about other performers who were integrated with their characters, such as Mae West and Bela Lugosi? I would imagine that you’re aware that Lugosi was buried in his Dracula costume.
PR: As far as my thoughts on Bela Lugosi being buried in his Dracula costume, that is already in my will. To be buried in Bela Lugosi’s Dracula costume.
MJ: You have done a lot with your career, both with the Pee-wee character, and beyond him. What’s the most unexpected thing that ever happened to you when you were portraying the Pee-wee character?
PR: Someone ripped off my bike. It’s a long story. I’d have to lie down to tell it to you. Thanks for ruining my day.
MJ: You voiced a Star Wars character for Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World and Disneyland. Have you been to Galaxy’s Edge yet?
PR: I love Galaxy’s Edge. I’m not gonna marry it, though. Most people don’t know that I have an apartment there like Walt Disney had in Disneyland. I’m there all the time. I live there. Seriously. Why would I make something like that up? I wouldn’t. I also have apartments in Flintstone-land, most of the Six Flags locations, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But that one’s a timeshare with Bigfoot.
MJ: Your 35th Anniversary Tour of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is selling out everywhere. Also, I believe that you previously did a Q&A for Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and you talked about the movie for over two hours. If you’re talking for that long, how do you keep it fresh each time?
PR: It starts off fresh, but gets stale around the three-hour mark. I have trouble shutting up when I start talking about Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. By the way, it’s not a “Q&A.” It’s just an “A.” I don’t answer questions. I’m the only one that gets to talk. I just tell stories.
MJ: And finally, considering that you grew up in Florida, can Florida audiences expect any special content that’s Florida-centric?
PR: At the Florida shows, I plan on throwing in some palm tree references, the Gulf of Mexico, sea turtle nests, and Key West. I may talk about shell collecting, but I’m not sure yet.