Happy birthday to Paul Reubens, the man behind his much more familiar character Pee-Wee Herman! These two are celebrating sixty-one years on this little planet of ours, with many shared accomplishments and accolades along the way! I mean come on, the guy got his start at The Groundlings where he created the character, then went on to produce a one-man show that sold out for five months, earning an HBO special. He became an instant success and a cult figure, starring in two movie all about him, 1985′s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and its 1988 sequel, Big Top Pee-wee, and starring on the Saturday morning children’s show Pee-wee’s Playhouse for four years, from 1986 to 1990.
That’s a super impressive resume, and he’s a beloved character to a whole range of people…and yet. I’m a human being, so my rude brain fixates on the scandalous, no matter what. So because I’m an ass with the memory of a gossipy elephant, the main thing that I remember Pee-Wee for is getting busted for indecent exposure in that adult movie theater. It was like…twelve years ago, in 1991, and he’s done a lot of great things before and since, but I fear it will always be the first place my brain goes.
It’s always such a shock when a celebrity gets in trouble with the law, but when it’s for something sexual, I feel like it’s even weirder. We have such a specific idea about who these famous people are, that any deviation from that is really confusing and fascinating at the least, and disturbing and devastating at worst. To me, at least. And I’m tired of keeping my feelings behind closed doors! (Said an internet blogger.) So today, in honor of Pee-wee’s birthday and my crappy attitude, let’s just go all out and discuss his sexual brush with the law, and nine other celebrities who have found themselves in similarly (or not at all similarly) compromising legal situations. Not just nude photo scandals and sex tape leaks, remember — real situations where the law got involved. Read on.
1. PAUL REUBENS
In July 1991, our friend Pee-wee was arrested in Sarasota, Florida, for masturbating in a darkened adult movie theater. His attorneys were able to arrange a way for him to plead no contest to the charges while still maintaining his innocence, so he did that in 1992 and was ordered to perform seventy-five hours of community service to keep the arrest off his record. He had also been arrested previously, in 1971 for ‘loitering and prowling’ near an adult movie theater and was later arrested in 2002 on pornography charges, most of which it seems were ultimately dropped.
2. HUGH GRANT
On June 27th, 1995, Hugh was arrested on Sunset Boulevard for ‘misdemeanor lewd conduct in a public place’ for receiving oral sex from a Hollywood prostitute named ‘Divine Brown’. He pleaded no contest, paid an $1,180 fine, and was placed on two years probation and ordered to complete an AIDS awareness program. His girlfriend at the time was Elizabeth Hurley, who surprisingly forgave him, and the two went on to date for five more years, splitting amicably in the year 2000.
3. R. KELLY
The ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ singer has repeatedly been accused of inappropriate sexual relations with underage girls over the years, but in 2002, a videotape emerged that appeared to show him in the actual act of having sex with and urinating on an underaged girl. Although he was accused in 1996 of having sex with a fifteen year old when he himself was twenty-four, a case which was settled for $250,000, and he married the late singer Aaliyah when she was only fifteen, he was found not guilty in 2008 on all fourteen counts, which had already been dropped from sex with a minor down to child pornography. Pretty disgusting.
4. ROB LOWE
We know him now as the adorable Chris Traeger on Parks And Recreation, but in 1988, Rob was in hot water for a minute after a sex tape was leaked showing him having sex with two women, one of whom was twenty-two, like Rob, and the other of whom was only sixteen. He has repeatedly insisted, however, that he didn’t realize the younger girl was underage, a story supported by the fact that she had been at a bar at the time of their meeting.
5. BILL CLINTON
I mean, we all know this story. In 1998, a story emerged that President Clinton had had an extramarital affair with a twenty-two year old White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. This wouldn’t be too remarkable for a sitting president, except that he lied about it under oath, leading to impeachment charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. He was cleared in his Senate trial and continued his presidency, but he’s forever made famous the sentence “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
6. JOHN TRAVOLTA
There are some celebrities who are continually dogged by gay rumors, and John Travolta is pretty near the top of that list. And never more so than last year, in 2012, when he was sued for sexual assault and battery by a male masseur who alleged that John fondled his penis during a massage. Another masseur joined the lawsuit, but after John provided proof that he wasn’t in the area during the alleged encounter, the charges were dropped.
7. WOODY ALLEN
In 1992, when Woody was married to Mia Farrow, she discovered nude pictures of her adopted daughter Soon-Yi in his possession. Soon-Yi was twenty at the time, but the relationship is alleged to have started when she was nineteen and Woody was fifty-six…and also her stepfather, in case we’re keeping track. During the raging custody battle that followed over Mia and Woody’s two adopted children and one biological child, Mia accused Woody of sexually abusing their adopted daughter Dylan, who was seven at the time. Those charges were dropped and Woody and Soon-Yi have been married since 1997.
8. KOBE BRYANT
In 2003, Kobe was accused of sexual assault after having sex with a nineteen-year old hotel employee in Colorado. His accuser alleged that Kobe had raped her, but the case was dropped in September 2004 after she refused to testify. Kobe did admit to an ‘adulterous sexual encounter’ with the woman, but denied that it was an assault. However, he did ultimately apologize, saying that although he believed the encounter was consensual, he recognized that she did not. A separate civil lawsuit was filed against Bryant, which was settled by the two sides for an undisclosed amount and unspecified terms.
9. CHARLIE SHEEN
Oh man. Where to even begin. He’s been arrested for various reasons over the years and has a known predilection for prostitutes and pornography, but the situation I’m mainly interested in was in 2010, and it initiated his downward spiral. In that incident, Charlie had to be removed drunk and naked from his room at the Plaza Motel after causing an estimated $7,000 worth of damage. Porn star Capri Anderson was in the room at the time as well, and had locked herself in the bathroom because she feared for her safety. The two had been drinking and abusing cocaine, and Capri planned to bring charges against Charlie for getting violent with her and refusing to pay her $12,000…ahem…service charge. But the two now live together, so I guess all is forgiven.
This is a sad, strange world we live in, huh? Sigh.