When I was 13, I was hanging out with “bad” kids and wasn’t doing well at public school, so my brother and I were sent to “Our Lady of the Sea” Catholic school in Bremerton, Washington. I didn’t know anything about religion, especially Catholicism, but I do remember looking at some large art books and seeing the famous portrait of St. Sebastian shot by four arrows. This tortured painting made a huge impact on Yukio Mishima, the Japanese literary giant who later committed ritual suicide. When I saw that graphic image, I said to myself, at least we don’t shoot arrows at people anymore. I was wrong. What happened to Pee-Wee Herman on July 26, 1991 and afterward was the media and public firing arrows at Herman’s heart and reputation.
On that date, Paul Reubens aka Pee-Wee Herman was arrested for public indecency. He had been hanging out at South Trail Cinema in Sarasota, Florida, where they were playing Nurse Nancy, Turn Up the Heat, and Tiger Shark. (Interesting fact — Nurse Nancy was directed by Fred J. Lincoln, who years later used to give me headaches for not chaptering his movies correctly. I had to redo multiple projects over and over. I couldn’t stay mad at him though, since he also played “Weasel” in Wes Craven’s classic 1972 horror film The Last House on the Left.)
Anyway, they busted Pee-Wee while he sat watching this classic. He’d been visiting his parents in Sarasota, so out of respect for them, had probably gone to the theater to “relax.” Even if he was masturbating, so what? It was a porn theater and he wasn’t bothering anyone. I can’t believe how hypocritical America was by going against him. Not to mention that four days beforehand, Jeffrey Dalmer had been caught killing people in Milwaukee. And Pee-Wee’s “crime” got way more press than the cannibal from Milwaukee’s. Evidently jerking off is far worse than killing, raping and drilling holes in people’s skulls. SMH.
America clearly needed to grow up. And there was only one major star who was courageous enough to support Pee-Wee. His name?
Dr. Bill Cosby!
We all need to be more kind and have more nuanced views on human behaviors. So let us pray for America, and most importantly pray for St. Pee-Wee! If you don’t agree with me, I got four arrows for you!
(End note: I think Pee Wee was completely innocent. The cops accused him of masturbating with his left hand. He’s right-handed. Experts from the Masters and Johnson research team were going to testify that they had never found one person who masturbated with their non-dominant hand. So there!)