April 01, 2004 01:50 PM

In his first interview since pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possession of obscene material, actor Paul Reubens is hoping to clear his name with a new interview in Entertainment Weekly.

Reubens, best known for his role as the quirky kids’ character Pee-wee Herman, copped a plea on March 19 following a two-year investigation. But in the interview he stresses that his guilty plea was simply a way to avoid drawing out the case any longer.

“I didn’t want to spend a million dollars and put myself in the poor house,” he tells the magazine. Reubens was fined $100 and sentenced to three years’ probation.

At issue were photographs in Reubens’s 30,000-picture collection that were seized by police during a November 2001 raid. The actor classifies his vintage collection as “kitschy, funny stuff from the 1940s, ’50s or ’60s,” but the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office found 170 photographs in the collection classifiable as obscene.

Although he admits that his collection contains a significant amount of nude or erotic art, Reubens said he does not consider any of it to be obscene. “I learned firsthand (that) two people can have completely different opinions of what’s obscene,” he said.

The 51-year-old actor added that people may consider him “freaky” or “different,” but that he is certainly not a pedophile. “I am not a child pornographer,” Reubens said.

The 2001 raid was a further blow to Reubens’s career, which he had been trying to resurrect since a 1991 arrest for indecent exposure at an adult movie theater in Florida.

Despite the setback, he expressed his determination to push ahead in Hollywood. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to let this destroy me,” Reubens tells the magazine.

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