Pee-Wee Herman nastygrams Pee-Wee fan-fest to death

Pee-Wee Herman has nastygrammed the organizer of "Pee-Wee Over Louisville," a fan-festival organized by the guy who helped kick off the national Lewbowski Fests. The Pee-Wee festival is dead. I didn't give a damn about Pee-Wee getting caught beating off in a dirty movie theater, but this news makes me want to take away my daughter's Pee-Wee's Playhouse DVDs. I don't care what Pee-Wee does among consenting adults, but bullying his fans is really poor form.


  1. All the dude ever wanted was his rug back.  And a Pee Wee day.
    BTW, I’ve been to three Lebowski Fests, including one in Louisville (and Vegas and Hollywood) and they are a mega-blast of good times.

  2. Jeff Bridges is not Lebowski. Reubens IS Pee-Wee. They really should have tried to work more with Reubens on this before moving forward and avoided this trainwreck.

    Also, yeah, facts.

    1.  He was kept in the loop the whole time. It was a fan tribute that was also going to be a blast for kids. It wasn’t rude or opportunistic. Geeze.

    2. ah, thank you for the post-reply edit.  (unfortunately my edit privilege was yanked to post-reply-edit edit)  (nutz now i’ve post-replied edit replied to my self … ah well, tail-recursion optimizes best)   …and now: “Disqus: System Error!” kewl.

    3. Right, but neither did the Coen Brothers try and stop the Lebowski Fest in its tracks.
      They appear to be indifferent in things I’ve read when asked.
      On another note, most of the actors have appeared at one Fest or another or more than one.
      Pee Wee just seems to be acting like a dick. 

      1. The Big Lebowski has a lot of authors, the actors, the Coens, the original Dude, etc. but Paul Rueben’s is much more the singular creator of Pee-Wee. I think there’s also the question of artistic integrity, it’s plausible that whatever Paul Rueben thinks of the legacy of Pee-Wee would have been violated by this festival, and that might actually be a wise decision.

        1. The guy’s a fucking 60 year old fading memory in the “big picture”.  He should be so lucky that people still love his work..
          Also, the Big Lebowski may have a lot of players, but like all their movies, it’s 100 percent the Bros.

          1. There’s a lot of people who have a big emotional stake in any movie, but it’s hard to think of a character and creator more closely associated than Pee-Wee and Paul Rueben. I don’t know the details but he might still have a huge emotional connection to the character and felt really uncomfortable with fan-fest. I think he should have overcome it and let other people do things like the fan-fest, but I don’t think it makes him a bad person that he didn’t want this fan-fest.

          2.  Also note he’s still making new Pee-Wee stuff, he definitely hasn’t abandoned it.

          3. The guy’s a fucking 60 year old fading memory in the “big picture”.

            And yet, he has a million and a half followers on Twitter.

      1. I’ll post more as I get links. It was going to be a festival in a small park in Louisville, not that huge of a deal, although super fans were excited. His people were in the loop the whole time, lots of communication, but just decided to send a cease and desist. It was a fest created out of love, and was supposed to be a fun time for kids. Too bad it went south. It certainly wouldn’t have hurt his brand.

        1. “Just decided to send a cease and desist”?? Really? Nothing more than a flip of the coin huh?

          I’m guessing the organizers couldn’t come up with enough cash to pay Rueben’s price tag?

          1. I find that doubtful. I’m sure something changed, but I doubt licensing fees were the deciding factor.

    1. Reubens isn’t protecting anything because these are fans, not competitors.  If anything, he’s harming his livelihood by pissing off people who buy his movie tickets and watch his T.V. sponsor’s ads.

        1. That’s my initial reaction. LebowskiFest started the same way, and is a legitimate business now. People make money from it.
          Paul Reubens, whatever else may be the case, is the artist who created and owns this character. He may have looked at the connection to LebowskiFest and decided he wanted to keep control of his his business interest. It’s not automatically anti-fan.
          I’m curious to hear more details, sure. The folks here in Louisville are very much fans and love to gather with like-minded folk, and I don’t doubt their intentions . . . but let’s at least try to get two sides before we bash a creator.

          1. We must never bash the almighty cre-a-tors. The only human beings are artists. And washed up children’s television stars.

          2. Not what anybody is saying. 
            But it shouldn’t be open season on artists when we don’t get what we want from them either. My initial response was (and still is) that the creator of Peewee hasn’t been heard from in this, so let’s scale back the  “Paul Reubens is a bully” rhetoric.
            And “creator” here is used in the literal sense, by the way . . .

      1. This might harm Reuben’s rep with his fans, but Pee-Wee is his creation and his public face. If someone, however friendly, wanted to set up a festival in my name, without actually coordinating with me, I’d be worried about what that could do. And a formal, “Please don’t do this thing,” is hardly bullying.

  3. This is not a commentary on this situation, where we don’t have all the information, but as a childhood Pee-Wee Hermaniac (THAT TERM DOESN’T SHOW UP ON GOOGLE I INVENTED IT ME ME ME COPYRIGHT TRADEMARK REGISTERED ETC.) I’ve been saddened by the Pee-Wee revival. The end of Pee-Wee in 1990 was coming whether or not he’d have been caught masturbating, and I think it forced Paul Reubens to explore his career in ways he might not have otherwise, rather than become a faded joke like Elvira. I don’t begrudge him whatever profit & renewed adoration he’s made by reviving the character, but he’s a 60 year old man now & it seems like all the genuine mirth has gone out of him, leaving crass opportunism. Sometimes things just have their moments & should be left there. Allow us our nostalgia without trying to recapture the moment, because you can’t.

    1. That said, I hope everyone has watched Beauty is Embarrassing, I felt that doc was wonderful.

    2. a faded joke like Elvira

      Here’s Elvira seven months ago.  If that’s fading, sign me up.

  4. Sorry to say this, but this sounds like a bunch of self entitled whining.

    The classy thing to do would have been to contact Paul Reubens before launching a kick starter instead of trying to guilt him in to it later.

  5. I never would have took Reubens for an idiot before; Now I do.  Such a shame it turns out he’s a schmuck.

  6. Can someone explain what I’m not getting?  There seems to be a lot of explanation missing from this.  I mean, okay, he sent a cease-and-desist – maybe that was a dick move, maybe it wasn’t.  I can’t tell, because there seems to be a “why” missing from all of this.  What was his problem?  Why did he send the letter?  What did/didn’t the organizer do?

  7. I’m interested in seeing more updates on this as the story develops more. I doubt it was a sudden arbitrary thing or a screw the fans kind of thing.  It’s likely a business thing or a legality thing.

    I can totally see this winding up being another  “this is why we can’t have nice things” case of a petty litigious society making it too risky to allow people to just to be cool and have some fun.  

    1. That is hardly the whole story. What does come to light is the organizer felt that it was okay to start the event after NOT hearing back from Reuben’s people. After he did get in touch with them “it became clear they were going to object” and he still kept going ahead. He does not going in to why they were objecting but it still seems to me that they acted in good faith, he did not. If a person does not want to be glorified then by all means don’t do it.

  8. from organizer Will Russell via WFPL:
    “I reached out to his office prior to launching the event and stated that I wanted to do it in a way that he was comfortable with. I received no response and proceeded with the site in late December. This March I received a call from Paul Reubens himself who put me in touch with his office and they stated that they wanted to help me in any way they could. After working with them for a couple months, it became clear they were going to object. I offered any compromise I could think of including changing the event title, the graphics and offering to set up a licensing/royalty deal and/or donate any proceeds to a charity of their choice. In spite of my efforts, I received a cease and desist letter on May 21 and canceled the event.”
    So, again, how is this bullying?

    1. It would be nice if he mentioned the sticking point(s) so that BOTH parties come out looking better.

      “How was this different than your past dealings with The Big Lebowski trademark owners?

      This all happened much more rapidly than Lebowski Fest. In 2002 when Lebowski Fest started, the Internet was a different landscape and we were not as connected as today. Social media as it stands today accelerated this event incredibly quickly and the Facebook Page gathered 4,000 followers in under a month indicating that fans have been waiting for someone to stand up and say, “It’s OK to like Pee-wee Herman.” The Lebowski people seemed to recognize that the organic fan festival was creating good will for their brand and perpetuating its relevance over the years.”

      It sounds like he jumped the gun and started moving faster than he should’ve. Don’t overplay your hand, dude. It’s not your property. The other one moved more organically.

    2. Well, since you’ve listened carefully to one side of the story, you must know all the facts. Nobody could say you aren’t at least as fair as Russell has been so far.

  9. Real story some guy wanted to start a business enterprise and make a mountain of money off of a character he didn’t own and got shot down.  

    Let’s not pretend these conventions are for fan love an adoration.  These conventions generate a fortune for the organizers. 

    The fan convention business is one of the shadiest money grubbing things going right now.

      1. Is it a non=profit.  Stop trying to paint that this not a business.  It has nothing to do with love of the fans.  It’s a guy who made money off one cult film and now wants to expand.

        Pee Wee has every right to control his character and trying to paint him as being some evil man who hates his fans is the real injustice in this. 

        Joe would you mind disclosing your involvement in this.  It’s clear you are not just an outside observer but as far as I can have not disclosed your role in this. 

        1. You’re serious? You honestly believe the organizer of a non-profit group never profits in any material way from what he does? And you’ve been on earth long enough to learn to type English sentences?

        2. (Had to switch to my BB account) My name is Jae, not Joe, um…Ryder. My role? I’m friends with the guy who was going to put this thing on. We are certainly not painting him to be evil, I’m just responding to misinformed posts on a Boing Boing article because I’m that kind of friend. This absolutely WAS about love, in fact, it was going to be the birthday party for his one year old daughter. He’s a big fan, and it was going to be a small festival in a neighborhood park in Louisville. Of course he has the right to control his image, as evidenced by the cease and desist letter. My question is, was that really necessary? In what way does this harm his brand or take money out of his pocket. Ask anyone in the Big Lebowski what the festival did for that movie, and they’ll say it’s a fun peripheral that adds to the experience for (niche, cult) fans; and, quite frankly, it helped bring the movie to a broader audience. Do you think 20,000 people go to these things or something? Nobody was going to retire on a Pee Wee festival in Louisville. It would have been lucky to cover costs, and that would have been just fine. Get off your throne, dude.

          1. My throne.  I’m not the one slandering a celebrity because my little for profit party in the park got canceled. 

          2. No one slandered Pee Wee Herman.  The “critics” in this case claimed that he issued a cease and desist — and this is very much in evidence.  To qualify as slander a statement must be false (never mind that this is printed so the term would be “libel”).

            You, on the other hand, seem to be legitimately libeling the organizers of the event by insinuating motives that you are not actually privy to.

          3. If it is suppose to be a birthday party for his kid, why try to make it about something else? 

    1. It’s for the fans, it’s hard work, AND it makes decent money. Smaller, less well-organized cons do tend to operate at a loss.

      I wouldn’t necessarily state that these fests are as shady as other big ones (Wizard’s properties come to mind.)

    2. This is laughable on its face.
      1) “Mountains of money”.  Not sure what that phrase means to you, but I can assure you that when it’s all said and done, the guys running these fests are not making anywhere near a mountain.
      2) It’s effectively free publicity for the object of the fest.  Before Lebowski Fest, no one could even remember the movie other than Coen Bros fans like me.  Even then, the movie initially left some fans scratching their heads.  Now the studio and the Coens have released how many versions of the disk?
      3) These conventions ARE for fan love, that’s who goes to them.

      1. So these fest are set up as non-profits.  Don’t kid yourself the organizers make plenty.

          1. No I didn’t forget the costs.  Your also forgetting T-shirts, kickbacks from autograph sales, sales of white Russians,  vendor fees…..  I’ve worked cons and know several organizers they make plenty.  If this thing was not making plenty they would not be putting on so many of them. 

          2. You didn’t mention the costs whether or not you forgot about them.  Not all cons make money — many lose money.  You’ve done nothing to demonstrate that this particular con was going to make money.  I’ve seen no mention of T-shirts or autograph sales — be difficult to pull that off since Paul Reubens obviously isn’t going to license T-shirt sales or autographs for this particular event (duh).  And white russians doesn’t really apply because we’re talking about the pee wee thing and not the Lebowski thing.

            Do you have a case to make?  Or are you just mumbling irrelevancies?

          3. I’m not the one claiming it was done for the love of fans either.  It’s a for profit venture just like Labowski is.  If it had been a success do think they wouldn’t have thrown these all around the country for profit like they do with their other con.  

            They make money throwing these things.  They are the ones painting the rights holder as the evil party pooper who wanted to ruin everyones  good time because he is an evil poopy pants. 

            It’s business venture, they were charging, and they did something that they probably know and are not saying that pissed of the wrong people. 

          4. On what basis do you assert that it is a for-profit venture?  It seems to me that this is not in evidence and you are merely asserting it.  Do you read minds?

            You also seem to be getting quite ragey and defensive over something that’s not really any of your business in the first place.  Why is that?

            And I’ve already pointed out that not all cons make money and there is no reason to believe from the facts in evidence so far that this would be one of them. Are you working from some super special secret information or is this more of your amazing mental powers?

        1.  You didn’t even address what I wrote.  Stop being a glib pain in the ass.
          “Make plenty”.  Don’t even know what that means.
          Also, it “costs plenty” to do these. 
          I’ve met these guys myself when I’ve attended the Lebowski Fests, and my first and lasting impression is that they do in fact love doing this AND the movie and the fans.
          I’m the biggest goddamned jaded cynic on the planet, and expect the worst, generally.

  10. I could still see if the organizer and the fans wanted to still proceed, there’s probably still ways they could get around the desist order.  People throw get togethers for pop culture things all the time that aren’t affiliated with or endorsed by the creators and stars of the thing they’re celebrating.  You just have to be a little more careful about how you do it.  You host a “Playhouse  Festival”, advertise it subtly, so that folks who were into it could tell what kind of event it’s going to be, but that it doesn’t specifically infringe on the copyrighted stuff or make any claims that mislead anyone into thinking that Reubens is a part of it or will be there. You use phrases that are associated but not necessarily copyrighted property like screaming at the secret word or “meca leka hi meka hiney ho” or “connect the dots lalalala”.  But you don’t say Pee Wee Herman on any of the official stuff.   You do it like everyone has to do their Super Bowl events.  Yeah, the NFL is totally crazy about protecting the word “Super Bowl”, so no, you can’t host a huge Super Bowl Party.  But you can totally host a Sunday’s Game Day extravaganza . Everyone knows what you mean. 

    Everyone could have fun, no one gets sued.  Pee Wee still makes money off the new fans and the old ones who’s fandom is strengthened by attending the event.  Heck, if it turned out that Reubens was sort of entangled in legal
    liability kind of stuff where he had to make sure and be clearly
    separated from the fest and disavow all alliance with it, if done right,
    he could still even show up, even as Pee Wee, in person.  It’s a free
    country.  You don’t have to officially sponsor an event to attend.  You
    can even attend events that you’ve openly publicly said should be
    stopped.  Or if he genuinely doesn’t like the event, he could not go and not be associated with and still totally disavow the entire event and still avoid looking like an a-hole that hates his fans because it’s clearly not something he’s sanctioning or involved with.  Everyone wins. 

    1. “if done right”

      And how do you know it was going to be done right? Time was overprioritized, from the discussion with the organizer.

  11. The thought of getting a Cease and Desist from Pee Wee Herman makes me giggle.  I’m imagining him writing it in full character, maybe even dictating it to Miss Yvonne,  and having Mailman Mike deliver it. 

  12. How dare he give a shit about the way strangers profit from his name and his branding! 

    Nice dragging up the old porn theater arrest.  You seem like a smart person.

  13.  I don’t think anyone was really “dragging up” the theater incident.  It’s not like it’s an obscure footnote kind of thing that no one ever thinks of in association with Reubens or Pee Wee.  It’s one of those things that was a great big high profile thing at the time and pretty attached to how a lot of people still view Pee Wee.  On a whole lot of  sites with less awesome commenters, a thread about Pee Wee wouldn’t have been a thread fairly well all about fan festivals and protection of the characters you create and the issue of this particular festival, but rather would have been almost instantly flooded with a bunch of icky (and at this point, tired) porn theater and masturbation jokes. 

  14. It’s like you’re unraveling a big cable-knit
    sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and
    knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting …


  15. It’s like you’re unraveling a big cable-knit
    sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and
    knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting …

  16. It’s like you’re unraveling a big cable-knit
    sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and
    knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting …

    1. Moderator note: Please do not make another comment unless you can provide a link to the cease and desist letter.

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