Earlier this week on Facebook the esteemed Geeky Vixen of the Adventures of a Geeky Vixen blog shared this 1984 music video featuring Elvira, Mistress of the Dark singing a song entitled “Trick or Treat”. While it’s an absolutely wonderful treat and especially great considering the time of year…it’s really her back-up singers that blew my mind!
It might be a bit easier to make them out in the music video but that is none other than Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) and John Paragon (Jambi)…and even a quick wave of the hand by Vincent Price!
Sandwiched between the release of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure in August 1985 and the premiere of Pee’s Wee’s Playhouse in September 1986, Joeski Love’s “Pee Wee’s Dance” remains one of the more fun rap songs from the 1980s. It’s catchy, silly and far from what rap music has become.
By rapifying “Tequila”, using clips from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and even getting Mark Holton who plays Francis in the movie to make an appearance, Joeski Love was able to create an underrated music video gem back in the spring of 1986.
I grew up in a very small rural town and we actually subscribed to cable when it first became available in the early 1980s. Unfortunately our cable company did not have MTV in its channel line-up. We didn’t get MTV until the summer of 1988 and by that time I had just graduated high school and would be headed off to college where I’d have to live in the dorm with no cable. So my entire preteen and teen years consisted of about a month of MTV.
Thankfully I had TBS’ Night Tracks, NBC’s Friday Night Videos and Nickelodeon’s Nick Rocks to get my fill of music videos. Since those shows weren’t 24 hours I had to either watch them or use a VHS tape to record videos the way cassettes were used to record songs off the radio. Luckily I was able to capture “Pee Wee’s Dance” on VHS and listened to it over and over. I never heard this song on the radio. It charted on the black charts but not the mainstream Billboard Hot 100. For me it’s a video song anyway. In order to listen to it I have to see the video with it.
25 years later it still holds up.
Thank you to YouTube for allowing us to preserve music videos. Especially video classics from one-hit wonders like Joeski Love. God knows MTV isn’t doing it.
It’s Saturday morning. Though we hate getting up at 6 or so during the week so we can go to school, this is different. This is Saturday…OUR time. First on our agenda ? Grab a big bowl of the sugary-ist cereal that we can find and–ZOOM–…Into the living room and stake a claim in the nearest chair or simply plop onto the floor right in front of the tv. Cartoons often repeated the same plots and character types over and over again, but did we care ? No. They were fun and, best of all, had nothing to do with school. One of the best shows that I remember from childhood is Pee Wee’s Playhouse.
What is it about nostalgia that makes us feel so good ? Our entertainment was oft times simple. But we were kids. We didn’t care. Sometimes, we wanted to be like our older brothers and sisters and so, watched whatever they watched. But every now and then, something caught our attention, something that we felt was just ours. It could’ve been something as simple as a cartoon. Or, in this case, a tv show.
Nothing made us happier as a kid than Saturday morning. After suffering through school all week, we just wanted to veg out in front of the tube with our friends. We’d go on adventures with the Gummi Bears, solve crimes with Inspector Gadget, or enter a strange and wonderful world of mirth and amusement. This world was Pee Wee’s Playhouse.
Pee Wee’s Playhouse was a strange show. It wasn’t action, it wasn’t animation, it wasn’t…..it wasn’t really a show you could classify as anything other than pure fun. It had bright colors, odd situations, and puppets for the kids. And it had subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, moments and jokes for the adults. This was a rare occasion where both kids and adults could like the same show.
The star of the show was a tall, gangly, man-child named Pee Wee.
The huge, red leather door would swing open and Pee-wee would enter a kid’s biggest dream ; a big room filled with all sorts of toys and games. Pee-wee steps up to a robot made from a jumble of a record player, typewriter, and junk, unplugging the robot from the wall. With a flick of a switch, the robot, Conky, whirrs to life.
As he does every episode, Pee-wee asks for the secret word. Conky does a spastic dance and a card or strip of paper slides from a slot in his (or was it her?) front. Pee-wee reads the word, the mention of which is an indication for everyone to scream.
Pee-wee’s Playhouse is so odd. But I think that’s what we loved about it as kid. There were tiny little claymation dinosaurs that lived in a hole in the walls. The window, flowers, and the clock spoke. The food in the fridge was alive…which really makes you wonder what happens to them when Pee Wee starts to makes snacks. There was a speaking Pterodactyl, a speaking cow, and countless other strange sights and sounds…including a part of the floor that would lift up and talk ! The Christmas special is even more strange. Pee Wee makes an entire room out of the seemingly hundreds of fruit cakes people give him.
Pee-wee’s Playhouse is the perfect kids shows ; loud, colorful, and pretty much nonsensical. But it is great fun.
I had wanted to go to the Pee-wee Herman show when it was playing out in LA, but since that was a continent away, I just kind of hoped that as planned it would make it New York City. Well last night I booked my tickets for one of their Broadway performances. So I will finally fulfill the dream I have had since catching the Pee-Wee Herman Show on HBO, seeing it LIVE. It is only a 6 week run and tickets are still available. Make sure you book yours today.
Pee-wee Herman rocked on his appearance of David Letterman’s Late Night. He brings with him a bag of retro Halloween treats that I so wish I had nowadays. They also do that crazy mouth trick that became popular on talk shows in the 1990s. Pee-wee does it much better. At the end they visit a haunted house together and play in the mad scientist lab.