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31 October 2008

Beware of the Clown

Who'd you think I was talking about? (No not him ... or him either, this isn't a political post!).

It is Halloween you know so of course it's time to don our costumes and often conceal the inhibitions that go with them.


In my former life I used to do some work for a very popular consumer product company that produced television shows, movies and CD's about a, uh, larger than life character. This character was like crack cocaine to kids and they couldn't get enough (of the character, not the crack). Of course that spawned consumer goods of all types from lunch boxes to pajamas to stuffed dolls. Kids lost their freaking mind with this character. Think of the equivalent of a 'tween going ape over Hanna Montana when she first hit the scene.

Well, as is often the case in cynic-land (from whence I sire), along came the criminal element that hi-jacked container loads of these toys so they could sell them quickly at a 100% profit, counterfeit everything they could get their hands on as well as the even darker criminal element: pedophile adults who dressed as this character in order to lure children into, well, you get the idea. Another notable problem was the guy with Turret's Syndrome who would wear an adult costume and host birthday least until he started lashing out at the kids using vulgarities. Think about your favorite childhood character screaming at you to "bleepity-bleep off". It wasn't pretty.

Needless to say, with visions of John Wayne Gacy, my client didn't find any of this even the least bit funny and made it a point to not produce ANY adult sized costumes or apparel of said character.

And sadly, this was not my only client with this problem. So each year around Halloween, I found myself marshaling the forces to try to put a stop to the wide spread, black market sales and rental of adult sized character costumes. Who knew, right? I even had to testify as a Subject Matter Expert on this issue in my state's legislature if you can imagine that.


Dressing up in costumes to entertain kids is a time honored tradition dating back to 1800 BC. Yet somewhere along the line the practice has obviously taken a darker turn.

Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns and it affects an estimated 15% of the population. Are you one of them?

Back in 2005 the town of Sarasota Florida decided to honor its clown heritage by installing dozens and dozens of fiberglass clowns all over town. After all, Sarasota has been the home to the Ringling Brothers Circus for over 30 years, 15 major circus companies are based there and more circus people live there than anyplace in the world. Clowns on parade seem like a natural fit, yes?

The measure was vigorously protested. The voters said “Clowns give me the creeps,” and "How would you like to be driving around downtown and see your worst fear everywhere and super-sized?”

Obviously there are good clowns and evil clowns. And then then there are clowns that are evil clowns regardless of what costume they wear. The challenge is being able to tell the difference.

Y'all be careful out there trick-or-treating, ya hear?


Dana said...

Hi! My name is Dana and I am a Coulrophobic. Now everybody together ... "Welcome Dana"

Actually, my fear is not limited to clowns, it's ANY mask or makeup that conceals more than half of one's face. As I am sure you can imagine, I don't do Halloween very well!

Michael M. said...

Welcome indeed! I guess you didn't enjoy Phantom of the Opera either, eh?

Tonya and other women I know have issues with clown's too. ... it has me wondering if there is a gender statistic here too? Hmm.

Judging from the available schlock at the costume stores, it seems that clowns are going out style for Halloween anyway....