Trapped in the Tumblr Closet: Master Puppeteer Wayne White
“I’m a middle-aged man who’s living out a 5-year-old’s fantasy.” So says Wayne White, artist extraordinaire most famously known for creating the puppets behind Pee-wee’s Playhouse. Versatile — and lauded for his eccentric, colorful work — in almost every artistic medium, White creates word paintings, comics, psychedelic sculptures, music videos, and, like the Southern ol’ boy he is, plays the banjo.
But how exactly does one get into puppets? For White, it was all about avoiding a college term paper a few decades ago, and the rest is history — as chronicled in the recently released documentary Beauty Is Embarrassing, an award-winning film on White’s life by Neil Berkeley. We sat down with White and Berkeley to discuss Cheerio-throwing puppets and the magic of the moving image.