Pee-wee Herman has long existed in a queer space, though one only subliminally alluded to. Paul Reubens’ feminine boyish persona, oscillating between effeminate gay man and asexual man-child, has long played with ideas of gender expression that comment on an underlying queerness. From the drag queen genie Jambi in Playhouse to Pee-wee’s episodes of crossdressing, from his makeup and exaggerated feminine gestures to the fluctuating inflections of his comical voice, Pee-wee has been deconstructing gender and sexuality norms all along while disguising it as campy comedy. Yet Pee-wee never directly acknowledged the queerness of his imaginative universe and even struggled with embracing it, as an early episode of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” shows. In the Season 2 episode “Pee-wee Catches a Cold,” the host reveals the daily secret word as “Out,” and then immediately falls ill, as if weakened by the idea of being out to the world. But after a 28 year absence from the big screen, Pee-Wee is finally coming out.
In this age of delayed sequels, Paul Reubens has achieved something almost miraculous with Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, delivering a film that is just as joyful, hilarious and wonderfully weird as you hoped. 31 years after Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Reubens has returned to his iconic and enduring character for a new Netflix movie in which Pee-wee Herman is inspired by Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello to take his first-ever vacation. We had a chance to speak with Reubens and Manganiello following the world premiere at SXSW, where the two discussed their bromance and whether or not Pee-wee's Big Holiday is a prequel.
Judd Apatow knows a thing or two about manchildren. He’s built an entire career chronicling the exploits of immature boys straining for maturity against the pull of their juvenile urges. Apatow’s latest producing effort, though, presents an entirely different sort of overgrown kid: Pee-wee Herman, who’s less of an adult with the impulses of a child as a child in the body of an adult...
Whatever your feelings on FOX’s Gotham, few would argue that Robin Taylor’s Penguin proved an early highlight of the show, accented by screen legend Carol Kane as his eccentric mother. Now, the Penguin family lineage grows even odder, as Pee-wee Herman himself, Paul Reubens signs on to play Penguin’s father (again) in Gotham Season 2.
In our exhausting time of remakes, reboots and nostalgia-driven adaptations, it’s refreshing to be excited for a new Pee-wee Herman film. Paul Reubens’ classic character is so joyful and lovable that it’s hard not to be thrilled about a new Pee-wee movie, even if it is tugging on our old nostalgia strings. Adding to our excitement is the latest addition to the cast: Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello, who apparently (and appropriately) plays a biker.