Children’s TV Performers: they’re colorful, cute, and cooky, and unfortunately sometimes, downright creepy. Maybe it’s because we’re no longer kids ourselves and the charm has worn off. But unlike the Wiggles, entertainers extraordinaire with a very serious jazz-hands-for-pictures policy (to prevent even the slightest insinuation that they’re inappropriately touching a fan), there are many, many children’s performers who have turned out to be rotten apples. Whether it’s actors, directors, puppeteers (puppets, why does it have to be puppets!), or even America’s Dad, here are the Top 10 Children’s Performers Who Were Secret Perverts.
10 Paul Ruebens (aka Peewee Herman)
Paul Reubens, the actor most famous for playing Pee-wee Herman, is beloved by fans and co-performers alike. Between his television show and movies, the Pee-wee character entertained millions of children for a decade. But unlike Pee-wee, Reubens himself was not quite so innocent, seeming less into talking furniture and more into vintage porn.
Reuben’s first public sexual offense was in 1991 when he was caught masturbating in an adult movie theater and arrested, facing charges of indecent exposure and lewd public acts. Luckily, he was able to atone for the incident with community service in the form of anti-drug PSAs. He quickly recovered but in 2002 faced a similar charge when police searched his home and found a massive collection of porn, which they claim included child porn. Reubens maintains his innocence, claiming the images in question were either teenage models in art photos or child porn that had slipped into his collection via bulk porn purchases that he never entirely sifted through. It seems authorities were inclined to believe him, and he accepted a lesser charge, though, deserved or not, a lingering stigma follows Reubens to this day.
9 Sasuga Minami
Technically, this performer is an accidental pervert, which feels strange to even put into a sentence. In order to learn about Sasuga Minami, we’ll dive into Japan’s children’s TV show culture, where wackiness is the name of the game. The show “Miburi TV,” translated to “body movement,” was designed to get kids off the couch or tatami mat and up and moving with crazy dances, fun music, and colorfully dressed performers. Sasuga Minami was one of these performers who inspired kids with her zany-ness: colorful onesies, Bantu knot hairstyles, and accidentally, shirts with English phrases like: “I love p—y,” “I love c—k,” and “Love, f—k yeah!”
Clearly, these were not the messages meant to be portrayed on “Miburi TV” and were simply the result of being “lost in translation,” like a bad kanji tattoo. There did not really seem to be any complaints, but regardless, the phrases were removed from all of her outfits. These days Sasuga Minami is carrying on with her life’s work and is dancing with kids in refugee camps. Honestly, we love her for it.
8 Youtube: Elsagate
For all of you out there who don’t have children, you probably didn’t know that Kid’s Youtube is an actual thing. But you probably have seen a family plop their kid down with a tablet in hand to keep them quiet during their meal, and often they’re tuned in to Kid’s Youtube. Kid’s Youtube works by filtering age-appropriate material that brings up a new video to watch once one is over for continuous playing. And that seems to work… until it doesn’t.
For reasons beyond any rational person’s understanding (seriously, don’t even try to understand why), back in 2017, a multitude of YouTube channels that had entirely inappropriate content slipped through the algorithm’s cracks. Channels like Pranksgame and Toyscouter, would have characters like Disney’s “Frozen” ‘s Elsa, Spiderman, and other princesses, superheroes and animal mascots engage in all sorts of vile behavior: kidnapping, bondage, “pranks” such as fooling someone into drinking urine or feces, getting nails through their hands and feet, and other violence or sexual material. It wasn’t even limited to animated shows, and oftentimes featured real actors.
7 Super Mario Logan
Someone call Nintendo; this is NOT the Super Mario we all know and love. A primary example of Elsagate that somehow slipped past Youtube’s control is Super Mario Logan, sometimes known as Super Bowser Logan, a Youtuber with ten years of video making under his belt and over 9 million views.
This person uses disturbing puppets as his drug of choice, portraying a wide variety of his homophobic, racist, misogynist, and somehow even worse views, all directly aimed at children. These puppets often feed into harmful cultural stereotypes and portray violent or sexual tendencies. One parent discovered their young children had been exposed to Super Mario Logan at a friend’s house when they began to sing the highly suggestive “Wanna see my pencil?” song. The pencil in question is… not a pencil.
6 Fergie Olver
Fergie Olver was a TV host of the show “Just Like Mom” back in the 1980s and a downright creepazoid. Think of him like an even less culturally appropriate Canadian version of Richard Dawson from the “Family Feud.” Olver liked to treat the young female contestants on his show truly “Just Like Mom.”
In particular, he liked to trick the girls into a kiss, even if they had already said no. In 2021, it’s not cool to trick even an adult into an unwanted kiss, but apparently at the time doing so to children was considered okay. The one saving grace out of this is that Olver only lasted one year on the show and was replaced in the second season with a husband and wife duo. His behavior lives on in infamy and he was parodied by Bryan Cranston in the sketch “Kid Smartz Game Show” on SNL in 2010. What an honor.
5 Ronald Brown
This is a bizarre case, where thankfully Ronald Brown was stopped before he could physically hurt anyone. Brown was an avid church-goer in his 50’s who would perform children’s puppet shows for the local youth ministry, as well as volunteer to drive children to church. He would even host young boys at his house for pizza parties, even though he didn’t have any children of his own. But in 2012, he was arrested for possession of child pornography and conspiring to kidnap a child… in order to murder, cook and eat children as young as two years old. We’re calling it here—the only puppeteer that could ever be trusted was Jim Henson.
4 Seven Awesome Kids Network
After Youtube’s Elsagate, we’re going to take it one step farther into the darker side of the problematic children’s Youtube. While it is one evil to produce inappropriate content for children, it is another evil entirely to exploit young children for profit. There is a growing trend of “family prank channels” like Daddy of Five, which often feature children being forced to engage in a spectrum of disturbing behaviors, ranging from simply being nonconsensually filmed to being the butt of physically harmful “jokes.”
The Seven Awesome Kids Network, established in 2008 and featuring six separate channels, went beyond even that. In 2018, the owner and produce of SAK, Ian Rylett, was arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior with a 16-year-old minor, one of his actors, including demanding she strip for him, groping her while she did so, then threatening to fire her if she did not comply. Other girls, aged 8-18, had complained about his creepy behavior on set prior to this, as well.
3 John Wayne Gacy
Most entries on this list are famous children’s performers who are found out to be perverts, but John Wayne Gacy is the opposite. He is one of history’s most notorious serial killers, whom many are surprised to learn was also an actual children’s performer.
He was convicted of 33 murders, along with numerous charges of assault, torture, and kidnapping, and may have committed even more murders that have yet to be discovered and/or proven. But he also used his “Killer Clown” persona to entertain children. As Pogo the Clown, Gacy entertained sick children at hospitals, worked charity events, and often did so for no compensation. He simply enjoyed helping people in need. But I guess 33 young men also “needed” to be kidnapped, tortured, and killed.
2 Jimmy Savile
Imagine seeing a sexual assault on live television. Sound utterly impossible? Well, welcome to Jimmy Savile, host of British TV morning show “Top of the Pops,” where said assault occurred in 1976. You can see and hear her discomfort, as she states that, despite her physical protest he refused to move his hand. This, among many other assaults, was well known by the BBC and Sky News at the time. And this is the very bottom of his list of offenses.
Savile has been accused of child abuse dating back to the ’60s. He also previously protested against the treatment of consumers of child pornography, saying they did “nothing wrong.” Former Sex Pistols vocalist John Lydon stated back in 1978: “I’d like to kill Jimmy Savile; I think he’s a hypocrite. I bet he’s into all kinds of seediness that we all know about, but are not allowed to talk about. I know some rumors.” He added: “I bet none of this will be allowed out.” Savile died in 2012 and multiple inquiries and documentaries have been made about how this predator got away with it for so long.
1 Bill Cosby
It’d be impossible not to include Bill Cosby on this list. His ratio of cultural adoration to monstrous perversion is higher than anyone else’s. In other words: no other celebrity has ever been so high and fallen so far. Cosby was America’s dad. “Fat Albert,” “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” and “The Cosby Show” were iconic. And unlike the possible innocence of Paul Reubens or the simple mistake of Sasuga Minami, Cosby’s offenses were intentional and horrific.
All told, more than 60 women accused Cosby of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault, ranging from the ’60s through the ’90s. Most have details in common, including Cosby spiking their drinks or in some other way drugging them in order to render them unconscious and rape them. He is currently in prison after being found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. Though he is attempting to appeal that verdict, numerous other cases against him—both civil and criminal—are in motion, as well.