Creepy clown sightings were all the rage last year. And because of that, it's sometimes hard to remember that a very small percentage of Americans make their living by performing as clowns at various children's parties and other functions. As if all the viral clown news wasn't enough to put the profession in a bad light, the first trailer for Stephen King's IT adaptation arrived last month. It was a gigantic hit with fans, as it broke the 24 hour trailer view record. But it also didn't set well with those who spent thousands of dollars attending clown college. And now some clowns are calling foul on the footage, and the movie itself.
Stephen King's IT will arrive in theaters this September, with little to no competition at the box office. It's guaranteed to be a massive hit. And it's also guaranteed to do for clowns what Jaws did for sharks and The Witch did for black goats. People are going to be terrified. That's great for New Line Cinema, the studio behind this remake of the old 90s miniseries. But it's bad business for Clowns across the U.S.
Mel Magazine brings us this initial report, claiming that professional clowns around the country are getting perturbed with this new take on IT, specifically the way Pennywise is handled, and his desire to harm children.
The country already experienced a pretty bad clown fall out leading up to Halloween last year, with a rash of creepy clown sightings plaguing the nation. But just as that news had started to die down, IT promises to bring Clown fears and phobias rushing to the surface yet again, and those working circuses and kids' birthday parties aren't ready for this heightened anti-clown movement that is continuing to grow out of hand. About the trailer and the upcoming movie it is promoting, Guilford Adams, a 42-year-old L.A. resident otherwise known as Gilly the Clown, had this to say, having worked the clown circuit for over 20 years.
"It's gonna be bad for clowns."
Says the Los Angeles based clown Mr. Nick (aka Nick Cane), who is 33 and may soon be seeking a new career.
"It's ruining our business."
It doesn't seem to matter that the original Pennywise, played by Tim Curry, has been around for decades, not to mention the book that first miniseries is based on, written by Stephen King. That doesn't matter to 48-year-old Roger Fojas, who goes by Ringmaster Roger and Humpy Pumpy, two clown names that sound like they came directly out of a Rob Zombie horror movie. He's worried that this new IT movie may be so successful at the box office, it leaves a permanent bad stain on his chosen profession in a way previous killer clown movies haven't been able to achieve. He thinks it will make parents stop booking clowns for parties. And says he's already experienced some of the IT backlash because of the very scary trailer.
Ringmaster Roger (or Humpy Pumpy, take your pick), claims interest in his Yelp page plummeted in the wake of the IT trailer release. It was hard being a clown before, but this is only making it harder. And could render the profession dead, sans the call for Clowns at Halloween time. But that is just one month out of the year.
A fear of clowns is nothing new. Kids have hated clowns since the first one painted his face. And the movement certainly wasn't helped along in the 80s, when career clown John Wayne Gary decided go on a killing spree, which tainted the community for eternity. His Pogo the Clown and Pennywise are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to killer clowns, though. Nasty, bad behavior clowns have been well documented throughout history.
And there have been plenty of killer clowns in movies over the past couple of decades, from Clown House, which was directed by a real-life pedophile accused of having oral sex with his underaged star, to the clown doll in Poltergeist, and even the spooky looking, yet loveably goofy clowns in Killer Klowns From Outer Space. All of these have helped embed a fear of clowns into our daily life. But IT is promising to be a cultural phenomenon when it is released this fall. And it promises to have an extra amount of impact at a time when the clown profession is in its death throes.
Fojas has gone so far as to compare being a clown to being a black male in the 1950s South. He says he was cast as a creepy clown on a reality show last year. And the crew did not take kindly too him. He explains his comments.
"I wouldn't say it's racist, per se, but it creates that kind of visceral reaction."
As outlandish as it may seem, Clowns did cry 'racism' recently in London, when a bookstore banned their kind with a sign that boldy declared 'No Clowns Welcome'. Mr. Nick says he had cops called on him while he was innocently walking to a gig as a party clown during the height of creepy clown fever. About that experience, he says this.
"We just experienced a nice break from the scary clown meme from last October. And just when things are starting to normalize, the IT trailer comes and it's like, 'Here we go again.'"
Right now, as silly as it may seem, the country is experiencing a clown shortage, which isn't being helped along by the impending arrival of IT at the local cinema. Young men and women are afraid to get into the profession now. And membership in the clowning trade organization has plummeted to an all-time low in recent years. Gilly the clown says this.
"It's a dying profession. And the people who do it and scrape together a living have to grapple with the fact that it's cool and hip not to like clowns. The ultimate prick in this [IT movie] is that it's going to turn young consumers away from an art form that's sweet and nice and not about the Kardashians and Minecraft."
The clowns against IT claim the movie is not only damaging to business, but it has left an emotional toll as well. These men and women got into the profession to bring joy and laughter into the lives of children. But when it comes to the lasting-effects Pennywise is liable to leave, it's hard to find the same kind of warmth. The current culture is being conditioned to fear and hate clowns. And that is going to reverberate to even the biggest and best working in the clown industry today. And these clowns claim a movie like IT will only serve to create a new generation of clown-haters. If you haven't seen it yet, here's the IT trailer that has so many clowns in an uproar.