When PBS had me sign the temporary NDA, they were banking on the fact that 20 years down the road, bygones would be bygones. But my grievances are many, and they have outlived that lemur. In light of Steve from Blue’s Clues re-emerging onto the childhood nostalgia scene, I’d like to offer a cathartic moment of my own, reminding everyone that not all '90s content is fuzzy and warm. Sometimes it’s fuzzy and diabolical.
Back in ‘99, I was a recent college graduate with a dream of making it in “the biz.” I considered myself lucky to land a personal assistant gig on a major television series, even if said gig was lugging a lemur around set and fielding his fan mail. Soon after starting the job, those rose-colored glasses came crashing down. That seemingly adorable lemur you all idolized was an abject terror. He has plagued me from beyond the grave. It ends now.
Jovian, the lemur who played the titular Zoboo in Zoboomafoo, was a lawless, dramatic, and spiteful instigator. I wasn’t just his handler. I was his fixer. He made me abandon all of my morals to clean up after his unseemly deeds. We lost so many good crew members to Sesame Street due to his nightmare behavior on set. One lighting guy said, and he’ll back me up on this, “I’d rather clean spiders, mold, and cigarettes out of Big Bird than ever work with that lemur again.”
And don’t get me started on the drugs. I didn’t go to Tisch so I could buy cocaine for a lemur. Plus, lemurs need three times as much snow to get going. Do you have any idea how much coke I purchased!? Dude was absolutely zooted all the time. And when he wasn’t bouncing off the walls, he was hungover and showing up hours late to set. Do you know how degrading it is to buy PediaLyte for a lemur? It’s almost worse than the coke.
He trashed dressing rooms—just lemur feces all over the floor—and whipped batteries at cameramen with his tail. I’m talking about full-on camera batteries. And don't underestimate him just because he’s a lemur. Guy was packing heat. Have you ever seen the RANGE of a lemur hellbent on inflicting as much pain and suffering as possible?
There’s been a lot of talk about which celebrities bathe themselves and their children regularly. A lot of people willingly outing themselves as having never washed their legs. Jovian was as grubby as they came. DID NOT BATHE. Just haphazardly picked through his fur in between his monthly $500 salon appointments. Also, can we pause for a second? $500 to trim some fur? That’s insane. I should have quit the first time he gave me head lice. Or maybe by the sixth time. I should not have put up with getting head lice eleven times.
For a star of a children’s show, he sure hated children. He bit so many kids on set, we had to add rabies shots to our first aid kits. Try explaining THAT to legal. Then, THEN, when we asked him to sign some headshots for the kids to help smooth things over, he just scrawled out “Suck My Lemur Dick!!!!”
For as long as I knew Jovian, he harbored a vendetta against Mr. Rogers. He would constantly check their respective shows’ ratings; I’d find him bleary-eyed, pouring over the numbers and stewing into his beans. PBS worked really hard to bury this, but at the Emmys, Jovian showed up on a particularly gnarly Garbanzo-bean-bender, battery in tail, and whipped it at Fred just as he took the podium to give the keynote speech. America’s famously mild-mannered sweetheart sputtered with rage, and Jovian threw another battery at him. Fred rolled up his sweater sleeves, kicked the podium over, and bellowed, “Get ready to meet your God!” His bodyguards had to hold him back. They torched all the footage so there’d be no proof of this shocking exchange, but the truth is Fred Rogers threatened to murder that lemur in cold blood.
Looking back on it, I should have been smarter. I should have seen this coming from the beginning. When I first entered his dressing room, ducking my head and timidly shaking his tail in greeting, he simply stared—cold, distant—and said “welcome to hell.”
I never saw him again after I walked off set on my final day. I heard he became a recluse, picking up painting and declining any requests for interviews. Do I wish I’d seen him one final time? Yes and no. I did, however, receive an anonymous box of loose batteries and garbanzo beans in the mail a while back. Maybe that was his way of apologizing. Maybe it was a taunt. I can’t know for sure. So I’m turning to you, the people, to set the record straight on who this asshole really was. Go get him, Internet. Suck my lemur dick.