Independent Lens: Beauty Is Embarrassing

About This Episode


For over 30 years, Wayne White has made an indelible mark on the creative world. As a designer, painter, puppeteer, sculptor, and musician, White has created images and ideas that are an integral — yet sometimes subconscious — part of the pop culture lexicon. To this day, he still gets up every morning to do the only thing his body and mind were made to do … create, whether the world acknowledges it or not.

Part biography, part live performance, Beauty Is Embarrassing tells the irreverent and inspiring 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 on Pee-wee’s Playhouse. It follows his successes as well as a dark period of struggle and self-reflection before he emerged 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. 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.