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Paul Reubens (A.K.A. Pee-wee Herman) Is Coming to Phoenix Fan Fusion 2019

Paul Reubens, better known as Pee-wee Herman, will be a special guest at this year's Fan Fusion.
Paul Reubens, better known as Pee-wee Herman, will be a special guest at this year's Fan Fusion. Glen Wilason
Phoenix Fan Fusion 2019 just added another iconic name to its star-studded roster of celebrity guests – and it's one that children of the ‘80s will instantly recognize. Paul Reubens, the actor and comedian behind Pee-wee Herman and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, has been announced as a special guest of the popular geek event.

And it's big news for anyone who’s a fan of Pee-wee Herman and his cinematic and television escapades.

Fan Fusion organizers announced news of Reubens’ appearance on Thursday via social media. He’s one of many big names that are scheduled to be at PFF 2019, which will take place from Thursday, May 23, to Sunday, May 26, at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Previously announced celebrity guests include Jurassic Park’s Jeff Goldblum, Elijah Wood from Lord of the Rings, Firefly's Summer Glau, Billy Dee Williams from Star Wars, Doctor Who’s Catherine Tate and John Barrowman, Matthew Lewis from the Harry Potter film series, and The Princess Bride's Chris Sarandon.

According to the Fan Fusion website, Reubens is scheduled to appear at the event on Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26, only. Attendees will be able to purchase autographs from the actor for $80 each or pose for a photo with him for $100. Like other celebrity guests at Fan Fusion, he’s likely to participate in a Q&A “Spotlight” session.

Reubens became famous in the ‘80s for playing Pee-wee Herman, an eccentric and giddy man-child who sported a red bow tie and had a certain innocence and manic nature. He created a stage production called The Pee-wee Herman Show in L.A. in 1981 that showcased the character and was a major hit with crowds. It popularity resulted in an HBO special and a live-action film devoted to the character (1985's Pee-wee’s Big Adventure) that was directed by Tim Burton.

Later, Reubens transformed the stage show into the zany Saturday morning kids' show Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, which aired on CBS from 1986 to 1991. It’s Reubens' most popular and best-remembered project, and featured a slew of puppets (including Pteri the flying dinosaur, Chairry the Chair, and Clockey) and human characters like Cowboy Curtis (played by Laurence Fishburne) and Reba the Mail Lady (played by S. Epatha Merkerson).

Reubens ran into legal trouble in 1991 after being arrested for indecent exposure in an adult film theater, which nearly wrecked his career and turned him into a pop-culture punchline for a spell. A few years later, Reubens made a comeback after memorable performances in films like Batman Returns, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mystery Men, and Blow.

Reubens later revived the Pee-wee Herman Show in 2010 in L.A. and on Broadway. In 2016, he starred in the Netflix film Pee-wee's Big Holiday, which was co-produced by Judd Apatow and earned positive reviews from critics.

There's no word if Reubens will appear at Fan Fusion as Pee-wee or as himself, but we're guessing it will be the latter. Stay tuned.

Phoenix Fan Fusion 2019. Thursday, May 23, to Sunday, May 26, at Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North Third Street; Admission is $30 to $45 per day or $75 for a full event pass via the event website.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.