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.
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.