My Lifelong Journey to Find Pee-wee Herman
My first attempt to meet him turned out to be a cover story for my parents' messy split. Thirty years later, I decided to find Pee-wee on my own terms.
I can’t remember a time before Pee-wee Herman. This is true chronologically, as Paul Reubens began appearing exclusively as his most iconic character years before I was born, but Pee-wee has also been a constant in my family story. My first trip to meet him was a cover for my parents’ separation and the harsh means through which it was achieved. As a result, I experienced what should’ve been the defining traumatic event of my early life as something else entirely: a big adventure.
In the mid-1980s, my mom and dad forged their identities in the punk music scene at the edges of the University of Florida. Pee-wee’s Playhouse had an in-your-face energy and subversive visual reinterpretation of old-school children’s television that made it required watching among their friends.
“You have to understand,” my dad explains every time we pass the apartment where my godmother, mom’s first bandmate, used to live. “Very few people had cable back t…
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