Tag Archives: Pee-Wee’s Playhouse

Big Screen Berkeley: Beauty is Embarrassing

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Even if you’ve never heard the name Wayne White before, you’ve probably seen his handiwork. An artistic polymath and obsessive junk collector whose influence on late 20th-century pop culture is greater than one might suspect, White is the focus of Beauty is Embarrassing, an entertaining and surprisingly uplifting documentary opening at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on Friday, September 14.

Born and raised in rural Hixson, Tennessee, White grew up in a home filled with folk art made and collected by his mother Billie June. An obsessive artist from the age of two, White’s drawings were already controversial by the time he reached high school, where the principal described his work as “not the drawings of a red-blooded American boy.”

Inspired by the sneering disapproval of his elders, White matriculated at Middle Tennessee State University in 1975, where – in addition to pursuing a self-proclaimed “education in braless hippie chicks” – he began designing and constructing puppets, staging bizarre theatrical shows, and making crude animated films. MTSU soon proved too small a pond for the ambitious White, who moved to New York City in 1980. … Continue reading »

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