top of page
  • Ryan House

“I Know You Are, but What Am I?”: Liminal Gender Identity and Queering the American Monomyth

“I Know You Are, but What Am I?”: Liminal Gender Identity and Queering the American Monomyth in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

The idealized American identity is predicated on these basic tenets: honesty, bravery, and generosity. As children, we learn about these core values through stories about the great Americans of the past. George Washington cuts down the cherry tree and cannot tell a lie. Paul Revere bravely rides through the country side to warn that the British are coming. The Pilgrims gregariously share their first bountiful harvest with their new neighbors, the natives. As we grow up, however, we learn these stories are more myth than history. They are simply untrue: Washington never uttered that famous phrase, Paul Revere was but one in an elaborate system of riders that night, and Thanksgiving began in the 1800s. Nevertheless, these myths impart on us a model for behaving that defines us as Americans.

In his essay “Myth Today,” Roland Barthes writes about the importance of myth as the way a culture signifies and bestows significance upon the world around it through the manifestations of its dominant ideologies. These myths are presented as ahistorical and apolitical so that they appear to be natural and self-evident. However, because these myths arise from hierarchal structures of power, they are always historical and political. Building upon Saussurean semiology, Barthes’ system of myth functions as a second order process of meaning-making. Whereas the process of signification in a linguistic system is denotation, Barthes argues that in myth, it is association. Myth, then, is a “‘metalanguage’ because it is a second language, in which one speaks about the first” (114, emphasis in original). To Barthes, the power of myth is its capacity to flatten language and limit the scope of possible meanings for any sign it uses: “it transforms history into nature” (128). In other words, it presents dominant ideologies as obvious and undeniable truths so that the myth reader does not even question the association between meaning and form. In this way, myth serves a double function: “it points out and it notifies, it makes us understand something and it imposes it on us” (115).

One such myth is that of heteronormativity, or the belief that the heterosexual orientation is natural and, therefore, correct. The indiscernibility of this myth comes from its presentation as default for reasons of biology, such as reproduction, and the traditional, such as representations of the nuclear family, religious conceptions of marriage, and socially-accepted norms of gender. This myth disseminates by declaring its opposite – not by holding up heterosexuals as the norm, but by denouncing queer folx as the aberrant anomaly. One way of combatting myths such as this is by offering alternative readings in order to question the artificial naturalness it presents. Alexander Doty writes about the importance of reading popular culture texts through a queer lens in an effort to “speed the process of removing mass culture queerness from the shadowy realm of connotation” (xi). These queer readings stand “simultaneously beside and within that [reception space] created by the heterosexual and straight positions…[and]… is often a place beyond the audience’s conscious ‘real-life’ definition of their sexual identities and cultural positions” (15). In this way, these queer readings provide alternative signifieds for the myth’s already slippery signifiers and poke holes through the dominate ideology that the myth reinforces to allow even straight, cis-gendered individuals to experience a queer reception of a text. This paper will illustrate how such a reading of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure reframes popular societal imaginings of American values, particularly in terms of gender and sexuality.

“I Love That Story….”

In their book The American Monomyth, Robert Jewett and John Shelton Lawrence propose a variation of the classic hero’s journey popularized by Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell’s monomyth summarizes the basic narrative pattern of heroic mythology as “a hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered, and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man” (Campbell 23). Within this frame, Campbell proposes seventeen stages that detail the hero’s departure, initiation, and return, such as the call to adventure and the refusal of that call, the road of trials, and the escape. Jewett and Lawrence attempt to reframe this monomyth through American values, namely individualism and American exceptionalism, to illustrate how the hero’s journey manifests in American narratives. Whereas the classic monomyth emphasizes a hero’s rites of initiation, the American monomyth is focuses more on the redemption. As Jewett and Lawrence explain:

The supersaviors in pop culture function as replacements for the Christ figure, whose credibility was eroded by scientific rationalism. But their superhuman abilities reflect a hope for divine, redemptive powers that science has never eradicated from the popular mind. (6)

These narratives typically follow the template of a harmonious, Edenic community threatened by an evil force with which ordinary institutions are unable to contend. A selfless, incorruptible hero emerges from obscurity to rescue the community and, once the task is complete, fades back in to anonymity to live out his life in peace. These narratives underscore American exceptionalism through the notion that the ills of a community must come from without – some unseen, foreign entity spoiling paradise for the hardworking citizens. Moreover, it stresses individualism as the only path to redemption through the image of the lone hero.

Robert Alan Brookey and Robert Westerfelhaus offer a “progressive refiguring” of the American monomyth in their reading of To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995), albeit with less than ideal results (142). The authors argue that by situating the protagonists as gay male drag queens, the film offers an accessible and acceptable form of queerness to mainstream audiences. However, by positioning the drag queens within the moral superiority occupied by the monomythic hero, the film ultimately reinforces the marginalization of these figures through “a discourse of deification” (ibid). In order to pass into the mainstream, these characters must be on their best behavior. Thus, this queering of the American monomyth “simultaneously tames and contains gays and gay experience” (ibid). In what follows, I will briefly trace Brookey and Westerfelhaus’ argument to set up my claim that, while To Wong Foo certainly emasculates the American monomyth, it still conforms to the gendered expectations of mainstream American culture that Pee-wee’s Big Adventure disrupts and successfully queers.

To Wong Foo follows the plot of a typical Western film: the protagonists, stranded in an isolated town, assist the locals in overcoming a threat from outside forces. Brookey and Westerfelhaus argue that in adopting this narrative form, the film is queering the American monomyth through the use of “feminized heroes/heroines (men in drag) who solve the personal and social problems of the members of an isolated community through interpersonal interaction and the containment of masculine aggression” (145). Moreover, Chi Chi, played by John Leguizamo, is under the tutelage of the two older drag queens who instruct her on how to move from being a drag princess to a drag queen. The steps that Chi Chi must undertake for this transformation mirror the characteristics of the monomythic hero: being pure of mind, bravely confronting adversity, sacrificing for the good of others, and “being larger than life” (149). Thus, by the authors’ estimation, these characters must conform to the very figure that they are purported to dissolve, even if diversifying the modus operandi through which it functions. Rather than queering the monomyth, the film assimilates queerness into dominate, mainstream ideology of heroism. Gay film critic Robin Wood suggests that the acceptance of queerness into society is an inadequate goal because queerness cannot fit into a mainstream society that is structured around norms of marriage, procreation, etcetera. The result of this assimilation is, as Brookey and Westerfelhaus note, the ultimate remarginalization of these queer figures at the end of the film. A better solution, and perhaps the only solution, is a complete reconfiguration of that ideology that accounts for a queer point-of-view. In his Big Adventure, Pee-wee embodies a liminal space between masculinity and femininity, freely moving between the two. This quality prevents him from being tamed or contained by neither the characters in the film nor the audience.

“Paging Mr. Herman”

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure was released by Warner Bros. Pictures in August of 1985, marking not only Pee-wee’s (and star Paul Reubens’) first foray into a feature film, but also director Tim Burton’s first major studio picture. The film, inspired by Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948), centers on Pee-wee’s cross-country search for his missing bike. Along the way, he hitchhikes with the escaped convict Mickey, wins respect from an outlaw biker gang, and bikes through several movie sets on the Warner Bros. studio lot. In the end, the studio heads are so impressed with Pee-wee’s story that they decide to turn it into a movie. The film ends with the film’s cast of characters reuniting with Pee-wee for the premiere of this film-within-a-film at the local drive-in.

The film was a financial box office success, grossing over $40 million in North America on its relatively modest $7 million budget. Critics, however, were a bit mixed in their appraisals. Gene Siskel gave the film zero stars on the grounds that he found Reubens’ act unable to sustain a full-length film, stating that “Pee-wee is tolerable only in pee-wee doses” (5). Likewise, the New York Times’ Vincent Canby calls the film “the most barren comedy I’ve seen in years, maybe ever” and negatively compares Pee-wee’s brand of histrionics to the physical comedy of Marcel Marceau, Jacques Tati, and Jerry Lewis, saying “like them all, he desperately wants to be funny but, unlike them, he isn’t” (C15). Tellingly, Canby ends his review with a somber notice to parents: “you’ve been warned” (ibid). Meanwhile, David Ansen, writing for Newsweek, called the film “Mattel Surrealism, a toy-store fantasia in primary colors and 50’s décor…. a live-action cartoon brash enough to appeal to little kids and yet so knee-deep in irony that its faux naivete looks as chic as the latest retrofashions” (62). Of course, there were other markers of success, as well. According to Reubens himself, the television show Pee-wee’s Playhouse was born out of an offer from the president of children’s programming at CBS at the premiere of Big Adventure in Los Angeles (Reubens). The film also helped to launch the career of not only Tim Burton, but Danny Elfman, the film’s scorer and a frequent Burton collaborator. Big Adventure spawned two sequels, Big Top Pee-wee (1988) and Pee-wee’s Big Holiday (2016), though neither lived up to the financial or critical success of the original film. Since its initial run, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure has attained the status of cult-classic due in no small part to the over-the-top antics of Pee-wee running amok through Burton’s whimsical world.

Pee-wee Herman’s refusal to conform to gendered norms and stereotypes places him in a unique position to queer the monomythic hero in ways the three leads of To Wong Foo fail to achieve. Rather than the typical masculine hero, or even the empowered feminine versions provided by Swayze, Snipes, and Leguizamo, Pee-wee Herman embodies a representation of queer men prominent in 1930’s Hollywood: the “harmless sissy.” This stereotype was regularly used as a foil to the leading male, propping up his rugged masculinity as a “real man” (Russo 5). Pee-wee, with his slight frame, exaggerated mannerisms, and extreme fastidiousness, seemingly mocks traditional ideas of heroism. Thus, this monomythic hero is not the ideal “real” man or even an adequately masculinized woman, but a bastardized mixture of the two – the “phony,” sissy male

Aside from the physicality of Reuben’s performance as Pee-wee, the film showcases another method through which Pee-wee queers traditional gender roles: cross-dressing. Throughout the film, Pee-wee negotiates the world around him through gendered codes of dress. His emblematic gray suit with red bowtie functions as his anchor to masculinity and adulthood as his body is not enough to identify him as either. We can see his anxiousness at being separated from this outfit when he is at his most vulnerable early in the film. After having discovered his bike stolen, Pee-wee is roaming the dark and rainy city streets when he comes across Madam Ruby’s, a fortuneteller. As he enters, Madam Ruby makes to remove his jacket and Pee-wee hisses defensively, clutching the jacket tightly around him. “Alright, you want to wear a wet jacket, it’s alright with Madam Ruby,” she says exasperatedly (Big Adventure).

While the gray suit signifies Pee-wee’s masculinity to the world around him, it is still a particular type of masculinity, i.e. that of the sissy. Throughout the film, Pee-wee adopts other uniforms that symbolize more heteronormative types of masculinity. However, in these instances, Pee-wee fails to live up to the gender roles associated with the clothing. For example, while being chased by a much larger man who mistakenly believes Pee-wee to have had sex with his girlfriend, Pee-wee dons cowboy garb (over the gray suit, of course) to blend in with the people at a rodeo. This change of clothing also brings about a change in demeanor as his usual jerky and flamboyant strut gives way to a slow, wide-stepped swagger. This transformation fools not only the pursuer (momentarily) but also the other cowboys, who hoist Pee-wee up to ride a bull. While he may accidently set a time record, Pee-wee is eventually throw from the bull and knocked unconscious. He may be able to dress the part, but the world of bull riding and cowboys is much too dangerous for him.

In the very next scene, Pee-wee runs afoul of The Order of Satan’s Helpers, a local biker gang, after he accidently knocks over their motorcycles. To avoid meeting the increasingly violent ends proposed by the agitated members, Pee-wee delights the gang with an impromptu dance number.

Pee-Wee dancing at the Biker's Club
Figure 1 "Tequila!" - Pee-wee's dance is not masculine and still not quite feminine.

In the next shot, we see Pee-wee exiting the saloon as a hero: a gang member’s arm around his neck, everyone cheering, and Pee-wee now wearing a leather biker jacket (again, over the gray suit). They lead Pee-wee to a bike, ostensibly a gift, and cheer when he successfully starts it on the first try, but the cheers end abruptly as Pee-wee immediately crashes the bike into bar’s road-side sign. Although he succeeds in winning over the angry bikers, Pee-wee is unable to live up to the masculine stereotype communicated through the leather biker jacket.

These failures to embody traditional masculine roles illustrates that Pee-wee clearly exists in a space between the masculine and the feminine. While he is not quite as masculine as a cowboy or biker, his gray suit marks him as not wholly feminine either. Pee-wee inhabits a liminal space between hegemonic discourses of gender and, perhaps, sexuality. Teresa de Lauretis, writing about the sex-gender system as a semiotic apparatus that assigns meaning to individuals within a society, notes that “movement back and forth between the representation of gender… and what that representation leaves out or, more pointedly, makes unrepresentable” allows for a different construction of gender (26). While Pee-wee finds only limited success in “male drag,” he finds much more success when he dons female clothing. In one example, Pee-wee disguises himself as a woman to assist Mickey, a fugitive, escape a police barricade. Donning a crocheted smock and pink neckerchief, Pee-wee assumes the role of a loving wife to Mickey’s stoic husband. When asked to step out of the car, Pee-wee assumes the gig is up, but the officer reassures him that “there’s no problem. I just wanted to get a better look at that cute little outfit you’re wearing” (Big Adventure).

Pee-Wee showing off his smock to the cop.
Figure 2 "Take a picture, it'll last longer!" - Pee-wee showing off his cute little outfit.

After the two drive off and Mickey disposes of his faux-facial hair, he too admires Pee-wee’s new look, who nonchalantly rides along in the passenger seat as if nothing is out of order. In another instance near the end of the film, Pee-wee disguises himself as a nun to gain access to a movie set and ultimately regain his stolen bicycle. Again, like with the housewife getup, cross-dressing allows him to move into spaces that would otherwise be unavailable. The ease with which Pee-wee slips back and forth into feminized and masculinized personae exemplifies de Lauretis’ emerging feminist subject: “one that is at the same time inside and outside the ideology of gender, and conscious of being so” (10). Thus, positioning Pee-wee as the monomythic hero, whose usual function is to reinforce hegemonic ideology, instead queers that expectation by dissolving the boundaries between genders.

In addition to gender, Pee-wee exists across another liminal spectrum: that of childhood and adulthood. Remarking on the typical observation from the popular press that Pee-wee is “‘thirty-five (or so) going on ten,” Doty notes that “it is within this complex and often contradictory attempt to work alternately or simultaneously with[in] the past (childhood…) and the present (adulthood…) that Reubens, through Pee-wee, expresses his ‘sissy boy’ and feminine gay worldview” (83). The aspect of Pee-wee that makes him most unnerving to some and endearing to others is this arrested development between pre-pubescence and maturity; this aspect is also his most interesting as it necessarily creates the unique perspective through which Pee-wee can show us the world. His Big Adventure, after all, is into the world of adults. Throughout the film, he files a report at the police station, drives a car on highway, washes dishes for a greasy-spoon diner, and parties at a biker’s dive bar, but does so as if he were a child. All of these are adult activities that take in adult spaces, and Pee-wee’s movement through them mirrors the journey of the monomythic hero through the supernatural world.

As the film begins, Pee-wee awakes in his bedroom surrounded by the markers of childhood: action figures, a Howdy Doody doll, and wallpaper depicting cowboys and Indians. The alarm emits a melody that would fit right in Disney’s Snow White, with its “fa la la” chorus and chirping songbirds, as Pee-wee bounces on the bed. As he makes his way out of the bedroom, he stops to ram a firetruck into Mr. Potato Head before sliding down the fireman’s pole to the kitchen. This room is no less whimsical as it consists mostly of an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine that makes Pee-wee’s breakfast as he gets ready for the day. As he heads out, we get a glimpse of the exterior of the house which, as one would expect, is just as kitschy.

Exterior of Pee-Wee's home
Figure 3 - While not "Pee-wee’s Playhouse," it is definitely a house of play.

Pee-wee’s house, the space that he creates for himself, is a space of childhood, and through its inclusion in the film, we are allowed to see Pee-wee in his natural state: at play. It is this childish nature that sets Pee-wee apart from the adults that he meets in his adventure and is exactly why he is suitable for the queer monomythic hero figure. J. Jack Halberstam argues that children provide a better model for imagining the world as it could be than adults who are already too immersed in their knowledge of how the world is to conceive of anything too different. This is because of the profound ways in which children differ from adults:

They inhabit different understandings of time, and experience the passing of time differently. They also seamlessly transition between topics that adults would ordinarily not connect in polite conversation … and often, they place the emphasis differently that adults might…. the pre-socialized, pre-disciplined, pre-restrained anarchic child comes at the world a little differently than the post-shame, post-guilt, post-recognition, disciplined adult (xxiii-xxiv).

Pee-wee’s dual nature of the man-child, permanently positioned simultaneously within and without both childhood and adulthood, gives him a unique perspective on the world. This duality is perhaps best illustrated in the film during the scene in which he watches a sunrise with the diner waitress Simone from the head of a dinosaur statue. During the scene, the two share their dreams with one another: Simone dreams of going to France, and Pee-wee, misunderstanding the conversation, dreams of rolling a giant donut with a snake in a vest. Nevertheless, Pee-wee comforts Simone and intuits the best way to encourage her to “make it happen” (Big Adventure). That this intimate, adult(ish) moment unfolds inside of a replication of a dinosaur’s head makes it all the more appropriate – in order to speak openly about dreams, the characters must inhabit the space of a child.

Pee-wee’s childishness also enables him to complicate the monomythic hero’s standard exemplary qualities that position that figure as the righteous savior removed from the masses. He resists the “discourse of deification” that eventually marginalizes the leads in To Wong Foo. In Pee-wee, we have a protagonist that maintains some virtuous traits of the monomythic hero while simultaneously thumbing his nose at others. For instance, suspecting that Francis has stolen his bike, Pee-wee goes to bravely confront him directly – a standard for any mythic hero. It seems important to note here that Pee-wee’s brand of fisticuffs in this instance is no more violent than wrestling in an indoor pool. However, once this “fight” is broken up by Francis’ father and Pee-wee is asked to apologize, he offers an insincere apology and deceives both father and son with trick gum as way of a peace offering. This “naughty child” behavior keeps Pee-wee from ascending to the level of deity often seen in monomythic tales; this hero is still one of us, warts and all.

Likewise, his resistance to the sexual or, at the very least, romantic advances from women throughout the film stem more from his queerness than his virtue. Dottie, his friend from the bicycle repair shop, asks him twice to take her to the drive-in movies. The first time she asks, Pee-wee tells her, “There’s a lot of things about me you don’t know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn’t understand. Things you couldn’t understand. Things you shouldn’t understand. You don’t want to get mixed up with a guy like me. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel” (Big Adventure). As he walks away, we hear him barely suppressing a giggle and as soon as he hits the door, he lets loose with his trademark laugh. On Dottie’s second attempt over the phone, Pee-wee pretends to be experiencing interference in their connection by making static noises with his mouth before hanging up. In both instances, he rejects Dottie through deceit. Pee-wee remains the lonely, sexless figure of the hero, but not by way of any moral grandstanding. Rather, it is his pre-pubescent and/or queer disinterest in romantic relationships with women – and this is precisely the kind of thing that Dottie wouldn’t/ couldn’t/ shouldn’t understand. Although Pee-wee is fibbing when he tells her he is a rebel to get off the hook of dating her, it is sort of true: he rebels against the puritanical morality of the monomythic hero. At the end of the film, Dottie finally gets that date at the drive-in for the premiere of the movie about Pee-wee’s journey, but the two take separate bicycles.

Further complicating Pee-wee’s righteousness is the fact that he has embarked on this journey not for the redemption of his community, but to reclaim his stolen bike – a very personal endeavor. The salvation of others is the primary function of the monomythic hero figure, the one end to which all means point. So, how might Pee-wee still fit this figure when seemingly disregarding the very thing that necessitates it? Throughout his journey, Pee-wee encounters people from all walks of life: Mickey the fugitive, Simone the diner waitress, the biker gang, Hollywood executives, and so on. At the premiere of the film about Pee-wee’s adventure, we see all of these people congregating around Pee-wee to share this experience with him. Rather than the salvation of his given community, Pee-wee has cultivated an affective community over the course of his travels.

Pee-wee reuniting with Hobo Jack at the film premiere.
Figure 4 "Look, box seats!" - Pee-wee reuniting with Hobo Jack at the film premiere.

Halberstam calls this sort of social network “alternative intimacies” and argues that they have the potential to make a stronger society than traditional marriage and family-based models we all believe to be the natural basic unit of a community. As Halberstam notes, “marriage pits the family and the couple against everyone else; alternative intimacies stretch connections between people and across neighborhoods like invisible webs, and they bind us to one another in ways that foster communication, responsibility, and generosity” (110-111). So rather than neglecting to look after his community, Pee-wee is in fact strengthening it via the emotional bonds he establishes with individuals.

“Shhhh! I’m Listening to Reason!”

Myths serve an important function in a society – they justify the ways in which a society is organized. Barthes argues that one way they do this is to “transform history into nature,” or in other words, they obfuscate their prima facie arbitrariness by positioning their version of reality as a foregone conclusion. As Barthes says, myths are “not read as a motive, but as a reason” (128). While the slipperiness of myths can often make identification difficult, it also opens up opportunities to change them, and through them change the way we perceive our society and our lives. By queering the monomythic hero figure, we break through dominant ideologies of heterocentric patriarchy where men, by way of their innately superior characteristics, are the sole passage to redemption for the passive (and feminized) townspeople. This queering is not only a way of lifting marginalized communities to higher visibility, but also a way for straight, cis-gendered people to reconsider the ways that dominate myths have shaped their lives. Doty uses the term queer “to account for the existence and expression of a wide range of positions within culture that are “queer” or non-, anti-, or contra-straight…. [and] to mark a flexible space for the expression of all aspects of non- (anti-, contra-) straight cultural production and reception” (3). In other words, queerness is a vehicle to question the status quo. It allows one to investigate the motives behind the myths that have constructed the world around us and to remake ourselves in our own image.

However, it is important to remember that these queered myths cannot easily exist within the systems that created old myths. Queer film critic Richard Dyer writes that queer filmmaking is inextricably tied to the principles of heterosexual, commercial hegemony that allows for the dominance of the Hollywood system. The assumption that queerness can express itself on film ignores the connotations and conventions of the medium that must necessarily reinforce the system that allows for its existence in the first place. In other words, one must accept that one is working within a certain ideological framework and consider how those ideologies are always present within any work. Because film is interpretive, any “expression of the gay sensibility will tend … to offer a weak counterpoint to the reinforcement of heterosexual and sex-role norms” (Dyer). The Hollywood version of “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,” the film-within-a-film, shows us what that system will do to queer stories: make them over to appeal to mainstream audiences.

The film-within-a-film version of Pee-Wee and Dotty.
Figure 5 - P.W. and Dottie from the Hollywood version of Pee-wee's Big Adventure right before the bike is stolen by ninjas.

Reuben’s Pee-wee slipped through the cracks of the Hollywood myth machine to deliver this queering of the hero, due in no small part to the liminal characteristics I describe here. Exemplifying de Lauretis’ transcendent feminist subject, Pee-wee’s queerness allows him to move “from the space represented by/in a representation, by/in a discourse, by/in a sex-gender system, to the space not represented yet implied (unseen) in them” (26). Ultimately, Pee-wee’s big hero’s journey is into the realm of dominant ideology in order to pull back the veil on a queerer way of being in the world.

Works Cited

Ansen, David. "Hollywood's Silly Season". Newsweek, 26 August 1985, p. 62.

Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. Translated by Annette Lavers, Noonday Press, 1991.

Brookey, Robert Alan, and Robert Westerfelhaus. “Pistols and Petticoats, Piety and Purity:

To Wong Foo, the Queering of the American Monomyth, and the marginalizing Discourse of Deification.” Critical Studies in Media Communication, vol. 18, no. 3, 2001, pp. 141-156.

Campbell, Joseph (1949). The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton University Press. p. 23.

Canby, Vincent. "Screen: 'Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, 'a Comedy". The New York Times, 9 August 1985, p. C15.

De Lauretis, Teresa. Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film, and Fiction. Indiana University Press, 1987.

Doty, Alexander. Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture. U of Minnesota Press, 1993.

Dyer, Richard. “Gays in Film.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, Vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 15-16.

Halberstam, J. Jack. Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal. Beacon Press, 2012.

Jewett, Robert, and John Shelton Lawrence. The American Monomyth. Anchor Press/Doubleday, New York, 1977.

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Directed by Tim Burton, performances by Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, and Mark Holton, Warner Brothers, 1985.

Reuben, Paul. “A Conversation with Paul Reubens | Film 2011 | SXSW.” Youtube, uploaded by SXSW, 19 March 2011,

Russo, Vito. The Celluloid Closet: Revised Edition. Harper and Row, 1987.

Siskel, Gene. "Pee-Wee Herman gets laughs to match his name". ChicagoTribune, 12 August 1985, Section 5, p. 5.

18 views0 comments


bottom of page