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The Real Victims of Creepy Clowns: Actual Clowns A spate of incidents across the nation, in which bad actors try to scare the public, are making life tough for real clowns; ‘We are all sticking together’

October 7th, 2016 · No Comments

The Real Victims of Creepy Clowns: Actual Clowns
Wall Street Journal 10/7/2016
By SHIBANI MAHTANI

The word? Clowns.

“There was no one in costume, not one person in costume,” said Mr. Herdegen, a 75-year-old clown from Grand Rapids, Mich., who goes by the stage name Choo-Choo. “Can you believe it?”

It isn’t funny being a clown these days.

The nation has fallen into the grips of a creepy-clown epidemic with sightings of malevolent clowns spreading across the country. Schools have closed. Arrests have been made.

Two 18-year old women in Roseville, Mich. were arrested wearing these creepy clown masks on October 6. ENLARGE
Two 18-year old women in Roseville, Mich. were arrested wearing these creepy clown masks on October 6. PHOTO: CHARLIE LANGTON/FOX2
That makes for a lot of sad clowns.

Clown troupes are rejecting invitations to parades. Moms are canceling clown bookings to children’s parties. Clowns are staying away from sick children at the hospital, and some have faced arrest for trying to do their jobs of making people laugh. They fear going out in the attire of their chosen career.

“The fake clowns are winning right now,” says Tim Cunningham, a 38-year-old lecturer at the University of Virginia and a professional clown on the board of Clowns Without Borders, a nonprofit that travels the world to perform for underprivileged children.

He normally wears a full costume when he delivers lectures on the benefits of clowning. Now, he tones it down. Sometimes he wears his red nose. Sometimes, he feels the mood just isn’t right.

In Houston, a clown troupe affiliated with a church was driving in a van to their performance venue on Wednesday. At a traffic stop, a group of teenage girls looked into the van, screamed and sped off, said Judy Cornett, president of the Texas Clown Association.

When they arrived at the venue, someone in the parking lot reported them to authorities. The troupe has canceled other gigs scheduled for this week.

“We are all sticking together,” said Ms. Cornett, also known as Peep the Clown. “We are doing gigs together, making sure we aren’t out alone, and measuring whether we want to do gigs.”

It all began in late August in Greenville, S.C., with reports of clowns trying to lure children into the woods. A spokesman for the Greenville Sheriff’s office said investigators haven’t obtained any evidence backing up the clown sightings.

Since then, suspicious clown sightings have been reported in 38 states from California to Maine, according to social media accounts such as @Clownparanoia with thousands of followers.

In many cases, the sightings are unsubstantiated hoaxes.

Still, the scare has prompted schools to send out warning letters and police to issue notices to the community that this behavior is just “not cute or funny.”

Gerald Herdegen, a 75-year-old clown in Grand Rapids, Mich., says the clown community is facing some backlash amid the rash of creepy clown sightings across the country.
Gerald Herdegen was sitting with his fellow professionals in a convention hall in Merrillville, Ind., last week when a woman came out of the elevator, saw a word describing the event and started screaming to her husband that they had to leave.

Schools in Greeley, Colo., just a couple of miles from the University of Northern Colorado where Mr. Cunningham was delivering a guest lecture on clowning, were practically empty one day last week, he said, when most students stayed home amid threats that a clown was going to attack.

Vigilantes in some states have vowed to track down menacing clowns.

The environment is particularly dangerous—for real clowns.

Mike Wesley, a 62-year-old retired clown who lives outside of Columbus, Ohio, says he was sitting at a hospital cafeteria a few days ago in his civilian clothes when he heard the topic of clowns come up at the table next to his. The group of men was talking about hunting down and killing clowns.

“It got me kind of shook,” Mr. Wesley says. “I found a reason to leave.”

This week, the Orem Police Department in Utah said officers have answered dozens of queries from residents asking if they can “shoot or take action against someone that is dressed up as a clown.”

“That is not a simple yes or no question,” the Orem police said in a Facebook post. “We understand that clowns to some people are already ‘creepy’…however, if someone is standing on the sidewalk, dressed like a clown and they don’t have any weapons and they are just standing there…we can’t do anything.”

At the University of Illinois at Chicago this week, police responded to calls of a “creepy clown” on campus. They apprehended the man, but released him when they realized he was a student dressed for a performance art project.

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“It is very difficult to differentiate between an innocent or hostile clown, since either type has a creepy vibe anyway,” says Elijah Hernandez, a UIC student who witnessed the incident.

Fear of clowns, called coulrophobia, has bubbled up over the years, spurred on by pop-culture figures such as the Joker from the Batman comics and real-life figures such as serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr., who used to volunteer as a clown in his neighborhood.

Andrew Stott, an English professor at the University of Buffalo, who studies entertainment culture and labels himself a “reluctant clown expert,” says the Gacy case coupled with Stephen King’s 1986 novel-turned-movie “It,” was a “turning point and a watershed at which people began to become suspicious” of clowns.

“We look at clowns and think ‘what drives you to dress up this way?’ ” Mr. Stott says. “It is a terrible libel on what they are doing, but we can’t help it, we are very suspicious of strangers dressing up and approaching children.”

Maureen Draganowski, a 50-year-old clown in Elmhurst, Ill., who goes by the name MoMo, says the social-media-driven phenomenon is “ramping up and popping up everywhere.” At first, she says, it “didn’t even click that the phone hasn’t been ringing” to ask for bookings for parties.

“I just thought, goodness it has been kind of quiet! But it really hit home when there was an alert for clown sightings in the neighboring town,” she says. “It really is everyone’s turn to pick on us.”

The real clowns insist that they will survive the onslaught, with Clowns Without Borders starting a hashtag #WeStandWithClowns and other clown groups starting the hashtag #RealClownsAreAboutLove.

“Why do we laugh at clowns? Because they screw up,” said Mr. Cunningham. “But we will certainly bounce back.”

 

OK, SO WHERE DO I BEGIN?   I’M CONFUSED, YET SAD FOR CLOWNS, BUT ALSO AMUSED.   SCHIZOPHRENIC FEELINGS OF GLADNESS AND SADNESS FILL MY HEART AND MIND.    YES, “IT ISN’T FUNNY BEING A CLOWN THESE DAYS.” HOWEVER, WAS IT EVER FUNNY????  NO!  CREEPY.   I HAVE CLOWNFIGHTER.COM FOR A REASON… TO PROTECT THE WORLD AGAINST THE CLOWN EPIDEMIC THAT IS SLOWLY ENCOMPASSING OUR WORLD.
AND CLOWNS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN CREEPY.    BUT IS IT FAIR TO PROFILE CLOWNS?  WILL A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE PUT OUT A BLANKET CLOWN STATEMENT, OUTLAWING THEM FROM THE COUNTRY?   WILL WE ASK THE CLOWNS TO BUILD A WALL AROUND OUR COUNTRY AND MAKE THEM PAY FOR IT?  PERHAPS?    IT JUST MIGHT BE THE SOLUTION???? OVER AND OUT… WORD.

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