Pee-Wee Herman, Meet Social Networking
Unfortunately, Pee-Wee's social context has changed a lot since then. In the aftermath of his creator Paul Reubens' indecent exposure charges and two decades out of the limelight, Pee-Wee's network has dwindled. But what better time for a social butterfly to re-join the human race? The 21st century is synonymous with social networking and that appears to be all Pee-Wee has needed to 'Tequila'-dance his way back into pop culture.
Despite his character's retro chic allure, Pee-Wee creator Paul Reubens was savvy enough not to shun Facebook or Twitter. In so doing, the comedian has ushered in a Pee-Wee resurgence, which has not only bolstered his popularity with his original fans but also introduced a crop of new ones, many of them young cult-loving indie kids.
Pee-Wee most recent message to his fans is a video of himself, which he posted on Facebook. Prior to that, Pee-Wee treated a crowd in LA to his first-ever tweet:
Since this initial twitter post, Pee-Wee has amassed 34,000 followers in only two days (including stars like Nicole Richie and Le Var Burton) and became a trending topic, to which he replied: "Pee-wee Herman is a trending topic? I know I am but what are you? Follow me. @peeweeherman."
Pee-Wee Herman was born in the 1970s. Reubens created the character with Phil Hartman while both comedians were members of the LA-based comedy team The Groundlings. Pee-Wee's style and personality were inspired by a children's TV host named Pinky Lee, who was popular in the 50s. Reubens borrowed the grey plaid suit that became Pee-Wee's signature from Groundlings director Gary Austin and an acquaintance lent him his red bow tie. Pee-Wee's name came from a brand of harmonica called the Pee-weiny Herman, which was juxtaposed with the surname of a hyper boy Reubens new as a kid.
Pee-Wee caught the attention of HBO, who gave Reubens a special in 1981. Four years later Tim Burton turned the character into a more kid-friendly film star in 'Pee Wee's Big Adventure.' The cult classic led to a CBS series, 'Pee-Wee's Playhouse,' which aired from 1986 to 1991.
Reubens retired his red-lipped alter ego in 1991 in order to explore different roles. The move proved timely as, soon after, the children's TV host became caught up in an R-rated scandal. Reubens was arrested in Florida on July 26, 1991, for masturbating in an adult movie theatre. And despite an outpouring of celebrity and fan support, CBS stopped airing reruns of his show and Toys-R-Us removed its Pee-Wee toys from stores.
Sixteen years after his public downfall, Reubens re-appeared on Spoke TV's Guy' Choice Awards. The comedian had written a new Pee-Wee film that was greenlit in 2006. In addition, he had created a stage production (premiering this November in L.A.) starring the character. Reubens appeared on Jay Leno in character on September 23 and caused the show's viewership a 1 million jump in the 18-34 demographic. The social networking is obviously working. As Pee-Wee would say: "Connect the dots, la la la la. Connect the dots, la la la la."
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