Beauty Is Embarrassing

Beauty Is Embarrassing

  • BY Neil Berkeley | IN Arts & Culture
    Premiered January 21, 2013

About the Film

Part biography, part live performance, Beauty Is Embarrassing tells the story of this one-of-a-kind visual artist and raconteur. The film 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 onPee-wee’s Playhouse for which he won three Emmy awards. It follows Wayne’s success designing and animating for other children’s shows like Beakman’s Worldand 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. The film, like White, embraces the ragged edges and messy contradictions of life, art, and family with rabid humor and honesty. MORE

For two years, filmmaker Neil Berkeley traveled with White through Houston, Miami, New York, Chattanooga, Nashville, and Los Angeles retracing Wayne’s steps from childhood to parenthood. He peeled back layer after layer of Wayne’s singular creative process and his astonishingly prolific career. In addition to the 300+ hours of footage shot by Berkeley and his team, the director discovered hours of video which White shot throughout his career including never-before-seen behind the scenes footage of the making of Pee-wee’s Playhouse — now included in Beauty Is Embarrassing.

Wayne White’s trip to the top came relatively early in life but was followed by a fall that felt all too real. Yet, as Wayne explains in the film, there are sometimes second acts in life that take us to new heights — without compromise. At its core, Beauty Is Embarrassing shows what it takes for one uniquely talented, profanely hilarious, and utterly uncompromising artist to make it in America.

The Filmmaker

Neil Berkeley

Neil Berkeley has been working as a designer and director in film and television for over ten years. His work includes main title design for some of TV's most popular shows and he has directed several national commercials. He has also developed main titles for documentaries including The Cool School, Johnny Cash’s America, Air Guitar Nation, and Respect Yourself: The Story of Stax Records. Since 2009, Mr. Berkeley has operated his design-based production company, BRKLY. Beauty Is Embarrassing is Mr. Berkeley's first feature length documentary.


Film Credits

Directed by
Neil Berkeley

Produced by
Neil Berkeley
Chris Bradley
Morgan Neville
Milan Erceg

Executive Producers
Eddie Schmidt
Aimee Bothwell
Bart McDonough

Written by
Neil Berkeley
Chris Bradley
Kevin Klauber

Edited by
Chris Bradley

Additional Editing by
Kevin Klauber

Assistant Editor
Claire Chandler

Neil Berkeley
Chris Bradley

Sound Recording
Neil Berkeley
Chris Bradley

Archive Producer
Susan Ricketts

Original Score
Tim Rutili

Music Recording and Mixing
Griffin Rodriguez

Additional Musicians
Ben Massarella
Wil Hendricks
Butchy Fuego
Jim Becker
Griffin Rodriguez

Additional Score
Harold Barefoot Sanders III
Aaron Kaplan

Mix/Audio Post Production
Isai Espinoza

Production Coordinator
Melissa Mirch

HD Services
Different by Design
HD Cinema

Brian Hutchings

Online Editor
Matt Radecki

Additional Digital Services
Nathan Anderson
Shotgun Digital

Graphics and Animation

"End Credits"
Created by Brkly
Creative Director: Milan Erceg
Art Director/Illustrations: Wayne White
3D Animation: Michael Murdoch
3D Models: Michael Wynne, Noah Rappaport
Producer: Liah Corral

"Big 'lectric Fan"
Created by Brkly
Art Director: Anthony Maiuri
Animator: Andrew Julien
Producer: Liah Corral

"Mimi Pond Cartoon"
Created by Brkly
Art Director: Neil Berkeley
Illustrations: Mimi Pond
Animation: David Kerman
Roto Artists: Natalie Huynh, Lindsey Vaerst, Julie Shin
Producer: Liah Corral

"Wayne's Sketchbook"
Created by Brkly
Art Director: Anthony Maiuri
Animators: Jay Kee, Julie Zack
Producer: Liah Corral

"Car Wreck"
Created by Gentleman Scholar
Creative Director: Will Johnson, William Campbell
Illustrators/Designers: Heather Aquino, Will Johnson, William Campbell, Joseph Chan
Animators: Heather Aquino, John Patrick Rooney, Nicole Smarsh,
Rachel Yonda, Joseph Chan, Sang Shin
Executive Producer: Rob Sanborn
Producer: Tyler Locke

Production Accounting
Phil Gordon

Legal Services
Dean Chealey
Boren, Osher & Luftman
Amanda Luftman

Music Clearing and Licensing
Gerald Talbot

Archive Footage

"Mrs. Cabobble's Caboose"
Footage Courtesy of Nashville Public Television

"NYC Footage"
Courtesy of Reinhold Kocaurek

"Pee-wee's Playhouse"
Footage Courtesy of Paul Reubens
©Herman World Inc.

"She's Got Issues"
Written and Performed by The Offspring
Video Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing

"Big Time"
Written and Performed by Peter Gabriel
©1986 Peter Gabriel Ltd
Video Courtesy of
Dir: Stephen Johnson

MTV's "MTV News" And "Week In Rock"
Used with Permission by MTV
©2012 MTV Networks. All rights reserved. MTV
All related titles, characters, and trademarks owned by MTV Networks
A Division of Viacom International Inc.

Photos and Images
Wayne White
Mimi Pond
Elizabeth White
Prudence Fenton
Raw Magazine
"Wayne White" by Stephen Berkman
Getty Images

Film Publicity
Nancy Willen, Acme PR


“Is There a Ghost”
Written by Benjamin Barrett, Creighton Bridwell, James Hampton
Published by Birdsmell Brand Songs (ASCAP), Say Hello to America (ASCAP),
Walker Texas Music Arranger (ASCAP)

“Blue Ridge Mountain Blues”
Performed by Wayne White
Courtesy of Future You Pictures Publishing

“Flyboys Theme”
Performed by The Flyboys
Written by John Curry, Scott Lasken David Wilson, Dennis Walsh
Published by American Lesion Music (BMI) Licensed Courtesy of Frontier Records

“Cripple Creek”
Performed by Wayne White
Courtesy of Future you Pictures Publishing

“Country Boy in Paradise”
Written by P. Michael Quinn
P. Michael Quinn, Vocals and Ukelele
Brian Kotzur, Drums
Roy Agee, Banjo and Trombone
Paul Liiehaus, Electric Guitar
Michael Doster, Upright Bass
Tony Crow, Piano and Jaw Harp
Mark Nevers, Engineer
Published P. Michael Quinn Publishing

“Pee-wee’s Playhouse”
Performed by Cyndi Lauper and Mark Mothersbaugh
Written by George McGrath, Mark Mothersbaugh, Paul Reubens
Published by Pee-wee Herman Music Co. (BMI)

“I’m Ragged But I’m Right”
Written by Johnny Cash
Published by Song of Cash Music (ASCAP)

This program was produced by Future You Pictures, LLC
in association with Tremolo Productions.

Copyright © 2012 Future You Pictures, LLC. All rights reserved.

Wayne White says “My mission is to bring humor into fine art. Not art world funny but real world funny.” Do you think humor belongs in the world of fine art? And has Wayne White succeeded in his mission?
Wayne White says “My mission is to bring humor into fine art. Not art world funny but real world funny.” Do you think humor belongs in the world of fine art? And has Wayne White succeeded in his mission?