Rob Zombie Recalls Early Experience Working for ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse’
With the death of Paul Reubens earlier this week, Rob Zombie was among the musicians speaking out on the actor/comedian known to many as Pee-wee Herman. But unlike many of those commenting, Zombie actually had a working relationship with Reubens, as he was a P.A. on Pee-wee's Playhouse.
It was revealed Monday (July 31) that Reubens had passed at the age of 70 after a private battle with cancer in recent years. Reubens had crafted the character of Pee-wee Herman as a stand-up comedy routine and later expanded the character's world into movies and TV shows. One of those TV shows was Pee-wee's Playhouse, a popular Saturday morning TV series that at one point counted Zombie amongst its crew.
"So sad to hear about death of Paul Reubens. He was amazing," stated Zombie in his posting. "Back in 1986 I was lucky enough to be working at a place called Broadcast Arts in NYC when they announced they were doing his new show Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. It was a very unconventional set up with the playhouse built in a loft space on Broadway, not a sound stage. I can still remember his first day in the office. Everyone was waiting for Pee-wee to set off the elevator when the doors opened out stepped Paul looking exactly like his mugshot. He took one look at the live band playing 'Tequila,' rolled his eyes and walked straight into a meeting. Everyone was bummed. I thought it was hilarious. Only talked to him once. He asked me where the restroom was and I said 'right over there.' After the first season they moved the whole show to California and the rest is history."
During an appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Zombie revealed that his first band White Zombie had started while he was still working on Pee-wee's Playhouse while it was set in New York.
Speaking with Westword.com's Tom Murphy, Zombie elaborated a bit on his time with Pee-wee's Playhouse. "It was a cool job to have. But I was probably 19 years old. It was everything from delivering stuff to doing little crap work around the set. I don't even know if I was a P.A. Whatever is just below a P.A. I'm not even sure it counts as below a P.A., but that was my job. Lowest rung on the ladder -- that would be [the title I give myself for that job]," recalled Zombie. "It was cool, and I liked it. Besides being a fan of Pee Wee Herman, Phil Hartman was on the show. William Marshall, Blacula, was the King of Cartoons. There were all kinds of people I really liked on the show. So it was pretty exciting."
As we know now, the film and TV bug never left Zombie despite his enjoying a successful music career. He's gone on to direct commercials and major motion pictures in the time since his early days as a P.A. for Pee-wee. There was even a future Pee-wee tie in his career as he cast Pee-wee's Big Adventure lead actress E.G. Dailey in his horror flick, 31.
While Reubens was best known as Pee-wee Herman, he also had significant roles outside of that character in such movies as Blow, Mystery Men, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman Returns and more.