We all have fond memories of being plopped down in front of the electronic babysitter, basking in the glow of the cathode ray tube while Mommy and Daddy (or Mommy and Uncle Ray) have a little "grown-up time." But if they knew about the horrible darkness that lurks in the hearts of the men and women cavorting on the screen, they would have probably just brought us into the bedroom to watch instead. In this article, I'll cast the cold light of public humiliation on some of the nastiest scandals to come out of kids television.
Perhaps the most famous childrens' entertainer scandal ever, Pee Wee's crime was, in retrospect, relatively minor. The eternal man-child in the gray flannel suit (or at least his alter ego Paul Reubens) hosted Pee-Wee's Playhouse from 1986 to 1990, but after too many years in character, decided to take a sabbatical from Pee-Wee. That sabbatical, unfortunately, was kicked off by walking into a Sarasota, Florida porn theater for a showing of Nancy Nurse, whipping out his Secret Word and getting busted by the cops. Sure, everybody jerks, but for a televised eunuch like Pee-Wee, who was already considered pretty weird, it was the kiss of death. He made a brief comeback in 2001, only to have his porno addiction come back to bite him in the ass when the po-po raided his house and carted away thirty thousand items from his collection of "vintage erotica." Don't cry for poor Pee-Wee's masturbation, though – they left seventy thousand jerk-inspirers behind. That's a lot of porn, even by Hollywood standards.
Of all the reasons to lose your cushy gig as a host of a PBS series, being an advocate for buttsex is maybe the worst. And yet, that's exactly what happened to the comely Melanie Martinez, who for a time hosted The Good Night on the PBS Kids-owned Sprout Network. From 2005 to 2005, Melanie helped little ones wind down after a hard day with her puppet friends. But before she got the gig, she was most famous for portraying a troubled high school student in two videos on the Technical Virgin website, where she jokingly espoused anal sex and vibrators as a way for young women to "abstain" from sexual intercourse. When the public made the connection, PBS unceremoniously fired her (devirginized) ass, despite already knowing about the videos before she was hired – she even had them listed on her resume!
The Blue Peter Gang
Long-running British kids program Blue Peter has one of the most inappropriate names ever, and it's no surprise that its hosts tend to get themselves in trouble all the dang time. To catalogue all of the nasty things done by Peter presenters would take more tubes than we have allocated here, but here's a highlight reel. In 1968, the very first Blue Peter host Christopher Trace was forced out of the show after cheating on his wife with a Norwegian teenager. Host Peter Duncan was in a soft-porn movie called The Lifetaker. In 1987, presenter Janet Ellis made a shocking on-air announcement that she was pregnant (and not married) and leaving the show, prompting a producer to storm the stage and curse her out on the air as the closing credits were rolling. And, most hilariously, when photos of Blue Peter's Michael Sundin hit the tabloids showing him gyrating in his underpants with male strippers, the one-time world trampoline champion (is that actually a thing?) was given the pink slip.
Us kids of the 70s and 80s remember Sesame Street before that horrible assclown Elmo ruined everything – when it was a bunch of surly puppets and weird grown-ups on cheap sets hammering the alphabet into our soft heads. One of my favorite dudes on the Street was David, the skinny Black dude with the disco sideburns who got himself in all sorts of goofy situations. When David left the show in 1989, it was explained that he moved out of Sesame Street to take care of his grandmother – but the truth is far more disturbing. Northern Calloway, the actor who played David, was in reality a heavily bipolar psychotic, given to fits of extreme violent behavior.
Calloway had a nervous breakdown in Nashville in 1980, assaulting the woman he was staying with with an iron bar before going on a rampage of destruction through the suburbs, smashing windows and even stealing a backpack from a passing first grader! The cops found him in a garage screaming "Help! I'm David from Sesame Street and they're trying to kill me!" Despite this outburst, he was kept on the show for another nine years, during which he had multiple fights with other crew members. He died in a mental hospital shortly after leaving the show. One of these things is not like the others – if you guessed it's the serotonin uptake receptors in David's brain, you're absolutely right!