(via Liquid Atomic Gonads)
PEE-WEE’S PLAYHOUSE exclusive mini-interview with Caseen Gaines.
Caseen Gaines is an American writer whose first book, “Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse” is currently in the works. This behind-the-scenes look at the Emmy Award winning hit television show is to be published by ECW Press in August of 2011.
When did you first see Pee-wee Herman?
Even before I saw the CBS show, my grandpa introduced me to Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and the HBO airing of The Pee-wee Herman Show. I watched his VCR tape repeatedly and my parents supported my interest by purchasing Pee-wee toys for me, taking me to see Big Top Pee-wee, and turning the TV to Pee-wee’s Playhouse every Saturday morning.
Who was your favorite Pee-wee’s Playhouse character?
To be honest with you, I never really thought about it. Besides Pee-wee, because that would be too obvious of a choice, I always really liked Jambi. He’s really expressive and what kid watching the show didn’t love repeating his magic words in Jambese? It doesn’t hurt that John Paragon, the actor who plays him, is a really talented guy. Not a lot of people realize that he was also a co-writer and co-director on a lot of episodes and made substantial rewrites to the new version of his live show currently on Broadway.
Why have you taken it upon yourself to write this book?
When I heard Paul Reubens was bringing Pee-wee Herman back, it inspired me to do some digging around on the Internet for information about the original live show and the CBS series and was shocked at how little information was available online. Almost by accident, the very same day I emailed someone who worked on the show and they started telling me these great stories about what it was like on the set and working with Paul. I realized stories like the ones this person told me needed to be out in the public, so I set out to interview as many people as I could and try and land a book deal. I hit the ground running the day Paul’s team announced the Los Angeles run of his live show in August of last year and haven’t stopped since.
What has been the most beneficial connection you have made while gathering information?
It’s been great to have the opportunity to speak with so many people responsible for contributing to the Pee-wee Herman phenomenon. As I was just telling one of my interview subjects a few days ago, because I’ve heard so many different stories, I have a unique perspective on what it was like to have worked with Paul and on his projects. Also, it’s been awesome meeting so many Pee-wee fans, both online and in person, over the last year. I get a few emails a week from people expressing their interest in the book and those usually turn into great online conversations.
Not everyone shares the same enthusiasm that we do for Pee-wee or Paul Reubens and his career. Have you had any negative feedback towards the book?
I don’t know if I’d say I’ve had negative feedback, but I’ve had lots of people not really understand why I’d want to write a book about Pee-wee Herman or, more importantly, why it’d be worth reading. Regardless of whether or not people like Paul’s work, it’s undeniable that for a period of time, Pee-wee Herman was one of the biggest celebrities in the country. When you think about that, and the fact that he came literally out of nowhere and, due to his 1991 arrest, was taken away from his fans in an instant, you have a really interesting moment in pop culture that no one has taken a comprehensive look at. How he went from playing a 99-seat theater with a live show in 1981, to starring in and co-writing a feature film for a major motion picture in 1985, to having one of the most expensive and critically-acclaimed children’s shows on TV by 1986 and scoring a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after less than 3 full years in the national stage, is really interesting and has never been explored before in a book and certainly not with testimony by nearly 100 people who were there.
Now that you have submitted your first manuscript to ECW Press, is there anything you would do differently?
The biggest challenge I’ve had is where to end the book. When I finished my first draft, the book stopped at the Club Nokia dates earlier this year. Paul hadn’t set foot on Broadway and some of the details about his future projects hadn’t come out yet. Now the ending goes a bit further into the future.
We look forward to the final product! Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I’m really glad to have shared some things about the process with you and your readers. If anyone wants to reach out to me, I’m fairly accessible on the Internet. It’s one of the benefits of having a uniquely spelled first name! I hope you all enjoy taking a look inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse when my book is released later this summer.
PEE-WEE’S PLAYHOUSE will keep you updated with new information regarding the release of Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse. In the meantime, go ahead and follow Caseen on his facebook, twitter, and official website.
Photo is copywrited and used with permission by Ken Sax.
Pee-wee’s Playhouse might’ve been gone for two decades, but it is forever in our hearts. To honor Pee-wee’s comeback and one of the greatest pivotal moments in the history mankind, here is every single Secret Word of the Day that has ever been shouted on Pee-wee’s Playhouse!
Check it out HERE.
Long live Jambi.