‘Scary clown’ meme is no laughing matter
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.
Freckles the Clown