Even if the name "Wayne White" doesn't ring a bell, I know you remember Pee-wee's Playhouse, which permanently imprinted young minds across 1980s America as the nuttiest kids' show anyone had ever seen. I remember my mother regarding it with a distinct mistrust, no doubt because under the bright colors, goofy puppets, and positive messaging she could smell the funk of the sketched out New York art scene that had spawned it.
That is where artist White got his first career break, but as the biographical documentary Beauty is Embarrassing makes clear, it was not to be his last. Actually, the film walks a line between autobiography and biography, borrowing heavily from a one-man presentation that White's performed recently, explaining his life's work through the live telling of his life. As these things do, it has the ups and downs of any real life rise and fall story but it's not super dramatic. There are no drunken car crashes or suicide attempts, and one of the things that's made clear is the extent to which White having supportive parents, a loving marriage, and good kids came to his benefit. It's more like an inspirational pep talk from a benevolent and successful professor who happens to drop F-bombs every other 10 seconds.
NW Film Center is hosting the film beginning this week, Nov 2-5, but a little extra notice for the fact that White will be in attendance at the Nov 2 screening (7:30 pm). That's good intel for those who find post-movie Q & As to be the among the most uncomfortable experiences in the known world, but anyone with a genuine interest in White's work (remember the Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight" video?) will want to stick around. If the film's snippets from his one-man show are any indication, he's a hilarious, genuine, no-bullshit kinda guy.