Television in the ’80s to mid ’90s was a mecca for kids, especially in the realm of live-action entertainment. Two of the most successful shows – the over-the-top Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and science-minded Beakman’s World – enjoyed long runs by employing audience interactivity and twisted, yet unpandering, humor. But for Pee-Wee, much of its stand out appeal drew from a mix of imaginative – and, often, anthropomorphic – characters and wacky, candy-coated set design, both of which came from the mind of one of art’s most versatile personalities.
For over 30 years, Wayne White has made an indelible mark on the creative world. As a designer, painter, puppeteer, sculptor, and musician, White created images and ideas that are an integral – yet sometimes subconscious – part of the pop culture lexicon.
Part biography, part live performance, Beauty Is Embarrassing tells the irreverent and inspiring story of this one-of-a-kind visual artist and raconteur. Filmmaker Neil Berkeley traces White’s career from an underground cartoonist in New York’s East Village to his big break as a designer, puppeteer and voice-over actor on Pee-wee’s Playhouse,for which he won three Emmys. It follows Wayne’s success designing and animating for other children’s shows like Beakman’s World and music videos for The Smashing Pumpkins (Tonight, Tonight) and Peter Gabriel (Big Time) through a dark period of struggle and self-reflection before emerging in his present-day incarnation as a respected painter and performer. Like White, the film embraces the ragged edges and messy contradictions of life, art, and family with rabid humor and honesty.
Showtimes for Beauty Is Embarrassing are from Sept. 28th to Oct. 1st at the Melwood Screening Room. Tickets are $8, $4 with a valid student ID.