Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Adrian Street & Pee Wee Herman

It was a double blow when it came to celebrity deaths, from within my bubble, yesterday.

First, I learned of the passing of 'Exotic' Adrian Street.

Street was a Welsh wrestler who started out his career here in Great Britain, but then travelled overseas.

He played an effeminate gimmick which, for its time, would have stirred up things with the audience. This kind of character has roots dating back to the likes of Gorgeous George, but Adrian Street for sure raised the bar with the extravagance. 

After finding out about Adrian Street passing away, I was told by a friend that Paul Reubens - who famously played Pee Wee Herman - had lost a battle with cancer.

I'll always remember the first time I ever came across the character of Pee Wee Herman.

It was inside an issue of the weekly Look-In magazine. For those unaware of the publication, it was like a TV Guide for children. There was a time in the 1980s when my father would buy it for me every week. I had my picture in an issue as well, but that's a story for another time.

The image inside the magazine was of Pee Wee with a red bike. Just like you'll see on the cover of 1985's Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

Pee Wee's Big Adventure

That's all I remember about my first introduction to the character. The magazine may have been giving away copies of the film on VHS or may have advertised that it was out in cinemas.

1987 was when I first watched the movie. I remember because my American relatives had it in their video library when they were based in Germany. With no access to TV, they would watch a lot of videos. 

Pee Wee's Big Adventure was one of the ones I requested to watch because I had recalled seeing it inside Look-In.

I loved that film. I recorded it when it finally made its way to TV screens and I also watched a follow-up movie Big Top Pee Wee (not as good as Big Adventure).

Thanks to satellite TV, I was also able to learn that the character of Pee Wee originated from morning TV programming for children. I am not American, but I would assume just by guesswork, that he was like a zanier version of Mister Rogers.

Pee Wee's Playhouse was on one of the children's channels over here in (possibly) the late 80s and (for sure) the early 90s, but I was slightly a bit too old for it by then.

I also recall renting out a stage show of Pee Wee's Playhouse from a local video shop in 1991.

The character had a renaissance of sorts in recent years. I recall reading about Pee Wee's Playhouse reaching the stages of Broadway as well as new material produced by Netflix.

While on his nostalgia tour, Pee Wee made stops on WWE programming. It was surreal to see him in WWE for those guest appearances because it was two separate things from my childhood coming together. 

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