‘Scary clown’ meme is no laugh­ing mat­ter

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Anne Neb­o­rak aneb­o­rak@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @An­nieNeb­o­rak on Twitter

The lat­est phe­nom­e­non of the “Scary Clown” has been an in­con­ve­nience for pro­fes­sional clowns.

PHILADEL­PHIA >> Pro­fes­sional clowns are happy peo­ple, be­liev­ing that they are bring­ing smiles to all. The lat­est phe­nom­e­non of the “Scary Clown” has them pulling their wigs off and be­liev­ing that this silli­ness will pass once Hal­loween is over.

Vin­cent Pagliano has been a pro­fes­sional clown for close to 40 years and is the chair­man of Na­tional Clown Arts Project Inc.

“I view it as an in­con­ve­nience to the real clowns who have de­voted their lives, hearts, to en­ter­tain­ing and bring­ing joy to folks young and old. I have ap­peared all around the world mul­ti­ple times,” said Pagliano.

“I sus­pect that if you re­ally look into this the phe­nom­e­non it is not some­thing new. Peo­ple mak­ing and sell­ing scary clown gear have been in the busi­ness for years. Sales must be good or they would not be mak­ing more masks to sell,” said Pagliano.

“Clearly it is media driven. A slow news day brought forth the story and it mul­ti­plied na­tion­wide. Hal­loween stores and on­line cus­tomers have pro­vided the means and some pranksters have bought into scar­ing other folks. Noth­ing new. I saw one news story on TV where a big brawny man stood shak­ing in his boots say­ing ... ‘we don’t know how to de­fend our­selves against them.’ To me it’s easy to walk up to the kid and pull off their mask and tell him to go home,” said Pagliano.

Freck­les of Freck­les and Friends, has been a clown­ing for three decades in the Delaware Val­ley.

She agrees that the scary clown is just a hoax to give those in­volved some­thing to talk about.

Hoax or not, ac­cord­ing to The New York Times, 12 peo­ple are fac­ing charges of mak­ing false re­ports or threats, or chas­ing peo­ple. Other cases in­volve chil­dren with over­ac­tive imag­i­na­tions, teenagers pulling pranks and oth­ers with their own rea­sons for adding to the hys­te­ria. At least one death has been linked to a clown hoax.

“We don’t need any­thing like this I re­ally believe it is per­pe­trated by some­body who wants to do some­thing. Col­lege stu­dents at Penn State were look­ing for the scary clown. It’s some­thing that gives them some­thing to talk about years later when they went look­ing for the clown even though it does not ex­ist,” said Freck­les.

Her fam­ily wor­ries when she goes out in her clown out­fit, or when she stops at Wawa or a gas sta­tion.

“It re­ally hasn’t af­fected me. I have been a clown for 30 years and for the last five to seven years I chose not to wear a wig and white make-up just a red hat, brown hair and painted on freck­les but if some­one wants me in full dress I can do that which I did for many years,” said Freck­les.

“Coul­ro­pho­bia (an ab­nor­mal fear of clowns) is a real thing. Many adults have been scared of clowns since they were a child. Peo­ple look to­tally dif­fer­ent wear­ing a full face makeup and a wig. One man told me he was afraid of clowns and he was in his car driv­ing and he saw a clown with makeup on. The clown put the wig on and he to­tally lost it and hit a tele­phone pole. It could have been me he saw,” said Freck­les.

Freck­les be­lieves that the scary clown phe­nom­e­non started with the minis­eries based on Stephen King’s novel “It” re­leased in 1990.

The minis­eries takes place in 1960 where, seven out­cast kids known as “The Loser Club” fight an evil de­mon who poses as a child­killing clown. Thirty years later, they re­unite to stop the de­mon once and for all when it re­turns to their hometown. In 2017 a re­make of “It” is be­ing re­leased with a scary clown called Pen­ny­wise.

“I’ve been do­ing camps and day cares for 15 years. I start out with a blank face and then put makeup and a wig on to show the kids how I look. It shows them they have noth­ing to be afraid of. We want to make sure these kids are not afraid as adults. I can read chil­dren’s faces and know whether to ap­proach them. I don’t ap­proach them if they don’t feel com­fort­able,” said Freck­les.

Pagliano was work­ing a church event this week­end where the band jested about him be­ing a scary clown.

“The band on stage called me up to tease me. I re­versed it into the ‘scary band’ thing, got big laughs. Don’t mess with a sea­soned clown per­former. Over­all, I was re­spected and had the kids fol­low­ing me all the time I was there. I was loved for the love I gave out. Real clowns aren’t scary and the dis­tinc­tion is ev­i­dent when given the op­por­tu­nity. I had the at­ten­tion of even the youngest of ages with smiles, laugh­ter and waves of joy … The clown brought a ray of sun­shine into a dreary wet day,” said Pagliano.

“We teach peo­ple in the clown arts who are sin­cere, good-hearted peo­ple. They learn how not to scare peo­ple but how to love and en­ter­tain in a good-hearted way. This sounds soupy and is not sen­sa­tional. But that is the truth. We don’t plan on chang­ing how we per­form and ap­proach peo­ple be­cause it is not nec­es­sary. I am booked all week­end and plan to bring the heart of a clown to my au­di­ences,” said Pagliano.

“Clowns are friendly happy peo­ple. This mess is hurt­ing the idea that clowns are happy caring peo­ple. I teach Zumba, too. I just want to make ev­ery­one happy,” said Freck­les.

“This story will go away in time, well un­til next Hal­loween sea­son any­way. We, clowns in the busi­ness, will go on and do what we do to the de­light of folks as we have for hun­dreds of years,” said Pagliano.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Freck­les the Clown

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