“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” hit theaters in 1992, but in 1991, Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure while watching a film at an adult movie theater. The arrest was truly ridiculous (IT WAS AN ADULT THEATER, GROW UP!), but given his reputation as the host of a children’s show, there was a media frenzy surrounding the situation, and his mugshot was plastered all over the news and late-night talk shows. Known for his bare face and short flipped hair as Pee-wee Herman, Reubens’ mugshot from the arrest showed him with long hair and a goatee. As a means of reclaiming his infamous photo, it was at his request that Amilyn was styled after this look. If the world was going to treat him like a monster, he was going to lean in and suck the poison out of the situation himself.
Reubens’ legal troubles were consistently a result of homophobic moral panics and as The Daily Beast writer Charles Bramesco correctly points out, “As lawmakers in conservative states argue that drag constitutes predatory grooming, the bad-faith agenda behind the repeated tarring of a public figure associated with the LGBTQ+ community for his private, outré tastes has only been rendered sourer and more transparent.” Reubens’ decision to own his mugshot with such severity that one of his most well-known characters became a reflection of that time of his life is an example of laughter truly being the best medicine. Good on the folks behind “What We Do In the Shadows” for being wise enough to honor him in this way, and introduce a new generation to one of the most overlooked vampires in the canon.