DON’T SEND IN THE CLOWNS
THERE IS A DARK SIDE
by AL JACOBSON
Clowns and Clown Days
Since I write about politics a lot, I guess a few of you thought “DON’T SEND IN THE CLOWNS” meant I was off on another rant about politics. Close but no cigar…. Actually the picture above was tested for a new color checker used in photography for color alignment . There were so many primary colors and runoff the histogram on my NIKON DIGITAL looked like my last EKG! Mix it with shadowy early morning light from the wrong direction, and well you do what you can do with shadows and twelve feet up in a bucket and they say you got one minute because we had no permission for the bucket.
It was a celebration of all things that are good. It was a city celebration at Largo Park. We had good weather, they had good crowds and they had clowns, lots of clowns and if you didn’t get into the rib tickling fun you were missing something. This traditional fun day at Largo's Community main park was primarily aimed at the kids with rides, face painting, clown antics, magic tricks, balloons, train rides, climbing walls, slides, live music, plenty of hotdogs, funnel cakes and candy.
The clubs are called alleys, coming from the common area between the tents at the Circus's where they would hand when not on stage.
COAI (Clowns of America International) is the largest order of Clowns in the world and it is always looking for new members. They encourage members to join local clown groups, troupes or alleys in their area.
Local clubs affiliated with COAI receive a charter and can purchase educational materials at a reduced cost. There are also two competitions available at the alley level. The first is the Charlie Award, which is presented to the alley that most actively promotes "International Clown Week" (the first week in August).
COAI believes your individual participation in an alley is essential in the growth and foundation of clown alleys and that alleys play a significant role in the propagation of the performing art of clowning, locally and around the world. A COAI individual membership is available to any person 16 years of age or older. Family members may be of any age. All members receive an attractive certificate suitable for framing as well as a membership card and all new members receive a 4” patch of the COAI logo to wear on your costume, jacket, etc.
Types Of Clowns - The Three Most Common (Some groups Recognize Four)
The original White Faces are the oldest form of clowns, Auguste (pronounced a-goosed) which is the Funny clown, and Tramps, usually are hobo faces. WIKIPEDIA had an excellent article on clowns and goes into detail.
Traditionally, the whiteface clown uses "clown white" makeup to cover his or her entire face and neck with none of the underlying flesh color showing. In the European whiteface makeup, the ears are painted red. Features, in red and black, are delicate.
He or she is traditionally costumed far more extravagantly than the other two clown types, sometimes wearing the ruffled collar and pointed hat which typify the stereotypical "clown suit".
It is important to note that a whiteface character does not always wear the classic whiteface makeup. Additionally, a character can wear traditional whiteface makeup and be an “Auguste".
Parts and Players
The whiteface character-type is often serious, all-knowing (even if not particularly smart), bossy and cocky. He is the ultimate authority figure. He serves the role of "straight-man" and sets up situations that can be turned funny.
The “ Auguste" character-type is often an anarchist, a joker, or a fool. He is clever and has much lower status than the whiteface. Classically the whiteface character instructs the auguste character to perform his bidding. The auguste has a hard time performing the task given which leads to funny situations. Sometimes the auguste plays the role of an anarchist and purposefully has trouble following the whiteface's directions. Sometimes the Auguste is confused or is foolish and is screwing up less deliberately.
The “ Contra-Auguste” plays the role of the mediator between the whiteface character and the Auguste character. He has a lower status than the whiteface but a higher status than the auguste. He aspires to be more like the whiteface and often mimics everything the whiteface does to try to gain approval. If there is a contra-auguste character, he often is instructed by the whiteface to correct the auguste when he is doing something wrong. The character clown may adopt an eccentric character of some type, such as a Hobo, butcher, a baker, a policeman, or a housewife.
Prime examples of this type of clown are the circus tramps Otto Griebling and Emmett Kelly. Red Skelton, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin would all fit the definition of a character clown. The character clown makeup is a comic slant on the standard human face. Their makeup starts with a flesh tone base and may make use of anything from glasses, mustaches and beards to freckles, warts, big ears or strange haircuts. Those were the good clowns, there is another side...
THE DARK SIDE OF CLOWNING
Using Google and WIKIPEDIA exhumed (literally) more than a few locations with the words "BAD CLOWNS" and produced even more referrals to the use of unsettling images. Look into www.badclown.com/CLOWNS.html A very unique website for bad clowns.
Sometimes you stumble into things. The young lady in the mirror shot way above was terrified of clowns, there were at least seven people I interviewed at various times within the perimeter of the Largo show who admitted they had a fear of clowns.
Mostly stemming from childhood and a few really had no idea where it came from or couldn't remember. In the Middle ages and the Renaissance period, clown’s often played the bad parts.
Our medical folks have an unofficial or unsanctioned name for CLOWN-PHOBIA though careful research indicates otherwise. It's called correctly "Coulrophobia" Coulrophobia is abnormal or exaggerated fear of clowns. The term is common, but it does not appear to be used in Psychology. It is common amongst children, but is also sometimes found in teenagers and adults as well.
Sufferers sometimes acquire a fear of clowns after having a bad experience with one personally, or seeing a sinister portrayal of one in the media. A design study carried out by the University of Sheffield found that children are frightened by clown-themed décor in hospitals. Coulrophobia can also be said to extend to a fear of covering up one’s face with paint—the idea of hiding recognizable features under a layer of face-paint can also unsettle Coulrophobia sufferers.
Simply put, it is usually the result of a bad encounter with an unfamiliar, scary, overwhelming to a child, larger than life, semi human looking force during childhood. A clowns face is static and the inability to smile or change confuses children.
Bad Clowns are Not New
The Joker (http://batman.wikia.com/wiki/) The Joker is a super villain and the archenemy of Batman. He was first introduced in Batman #1 (spring of 1940) and has remained consistently popular. The Joker is a master criminal with a clown-like appearance. However, his facial appearance was inspired by the character of Gwynplaine from the movie " The Man who laughs". Gwynplaine had been a victim of gypses who had cut off his lips so it appeared as if he were always smiling.
Initially portrayed as a violent sociopath who murders people for his own amusement, the Joker later in the 1940s began to be written as a goofy trickster-thief. That characterization continued through the late-1950s and 1960s before the character became again depicted as a vicious, calculating, psychopathic killer. The Joker has been responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life, including the paralysis of Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle) and the murders of Jason Todd (the second Robin) and Jim Gordon's second wife Sarah Essen.
Interpretations of the Joker's appeareance in other media include Cesar Romero's in the 1960s Batman television series, Jack Nicholson's in Tim Burton's Batman, and Mark Hamill's in Batman: The Animated Series and other DC Animated Universe shows. Wizard magazine listed him the #1 villain of all time in 2006. As played by Nicholson, The Joker ranks #45 in the American Film Institute's list of the top 50 film villains of all time.
Heath Ledger signed to play the Joker in July 2006, for director Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight and won a posthumous Oscar for his performance. He was also ranked 8th on the Greatest Comic Book Character of All Time list, which was released by Empire (notably being the highest ranked villain character on the list), as well as being the fifth Greatest Comic Book Character Ever in Wizard Magazine's 200 Greatest Comic Book Characters of all Time list, once again being the highest ranked villain on the list.
In the Batman related cartoon series Batman Beyond, a group of antagonists who take after the deceased Joker dress in clown outfits similar to the original villain and call themselves The Jokerz. The Stephen king Novel "IT" as well as the TV movie revolves around seven children who are haunted by an evil shape-shifting creature that often takes the form of an evil clown named Pennywise.
"Tripping the RIFT" has the Dark Clown Empire, led by Darph Bobo. The Clown, the archenemy of the golden age heroes Magno and Davey in comics books by ACE COMICS. Konrad Beezo and his son Punchinello are the antagonists in the novel Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz. They are joined by two minor villains, Honker and Crinkles, who are arguably also "evil" clowns.
Emmett Kelly, America's famous clown-creator of Weary Willie" perpetuated by his son and grandson, suffered clown-related personal problems. Grandson Paul Kelly, found guilty of murder, claimed Willie had taken over his personality.
Serial murderer John Wayne Gacy gained infamy as Pogo the Clown. Red Skelton's Freddie the Freeloader and other quasi-clowns experienced more downs than ups. Enrico Caruso broke hearts as the lovelorn Pagliacci -- smiling on the outside, crying on the inside -- in the opera by Leoncavallo.
Who are These Bad Clowns
It really started getting interesting when I delved into some of these sites. Some of these modern day bad clowns take their work very seriously and serve as the “ Anti-Christ’s of the clown world”. Some obviously like the "bad clown image" and some simply hate "good clowns". The best site was BADCLOWNS.com. If they wished to attain grossness, I give them a nine out of ten. They have their own version of the Clown Rules. Insanely, I must admit they do a good job at whatever they are doing.
1. I will keep my acts, performance, and behavior in a manner that suits my sly intentions, especially when in costume. I will remember that a bad clown will entertain others by making fun of himself, AND as many innocent bystanders one can find.
2. I will conduct myself in a manner deemed acceptable by the Association Of Badclowns, molesting, and terrorizing spectators and individuals only when appropriate. This may be applied under self diagnosis. Biting should only be used as an exception.
3. I will not drink in excess any alcoholic beverage prior or during my clown appearance, unless the beverage is really tasty, or the temperature exceeds 80 degrees, or drops below 60 degrees. In those cases, excess consumption is permitted, but of course should be monitored.
4. I will do my best to make others feel comfortable, and lull them into a false sense of security before I spring my bad intentions on them.
5. While on appearance, in make-up and costume, I will carry out the directives as outlined by the designated authority. If not applicable, all hell may break loose. I will also abide by all performance rules, and will not complain in public. Exception being: obnoxious brats; getting toes stepped on; or rejected by female spectators. In addition, if clown perceives act isn't going to plan, he may, if required, elect to throw a tantrum.
6. I will remove make-up and change to street clothes as soon as possible following my appearance, so that I can not be associated with any incident which may be detrimental to the act of clowning, or to my personal safety, such as evading detection from infuriated fathers, husband, and boyfriends.
7. I will appear in as many clown shows as possible, to further inflict fear and confusion in mass proportions.
Their site is hilarious if you don't suffer from Coulrophobia. They seem to have taken reverse clowning to a new high and for some the bonds and friendships formed might be as intense as the clowns who portray the "good clowns". Thats a really strange statement for me to make from what I have learned BUT...
The Good Side and the Bad Side, Just as in Life and Politics
We live in a world of sides and sides have extremes. Perhaps those that thought when I refereed to clowns I was talking about politicians. We have Republicans and Democrats who are as far apart and as similar as the clowns. The extreme or wings of the party are "pretty flighty" at times.
In some cases like the bad clowns, they will try to give you the feeling they will lie, cheat and steal to to achieve their goals. I don't really think they are bad people, they just live in the bad moment and think it's fun just as good clowns. Sounds like politics!
Politicians often spin, twist, stuff, mis-speak and take bribes in political circles. We call that "politics". In most of the cases (anytime a mike is around) they portray themselves as the do-gooders of the society bringing joy and laughter to children and adults alike. Behind closed doors it's another story. We find out about drink, infidelity, drugs, sex and more than rock and roll.
In a prime example of the closeness, "Quote Bill Cunningham in his essay on Huffington Post" about the NY legislators. Comparing legislators to clowns as an insult to clowns."To compare these hard-working, well trained professionals to our state senate is an insult to anyone named Bozo, Clarabelle, or Emmett Kelly," Cunningham writes. "In fact, Jerry Lewis, America's internationally recognized symbol of zany comedy, should lead a protest march on Albany. These senators are giving clowns, comedians, and con men a bad name.
Both groups the Good Clowns and the Bad Clowns have their followers and membership rules are well explained in advance as you can tell from the article. What rang my bell was the membership in these communities sometimes different, yet similar exhibit the usual "club drama" problems.
Typically, the rules, regulations, positions, hierarchy, jealousy, longevity, competition, mis-trust, greed, and sometimes petty thinking some of the clowns I met exhibited. As clowns they were funny, entertaining, strange and totally a different personality from the way I saw or communicated with them as ordinary people. The clown costume gave them another look at things, possibly hiding other things. I sense there is more to this.
That opened another door... What do clowns really think behind the mask? What motivates them to become clowns period? Is the face paint a door to another personality? Is it a love of entertaining or entertaining seeking love, does the paint hide hurt? Many questions and a reason for another article. Later…
Clowns to Hollywood: Stop making us look like twisted murderers
10-16-2014 - It wouldn't be Halloween without a few psychotic clowns — and pop culture offers plenty of choices.
There's Stephen King's It, preying on the children of a small Maine town; Batman's Joker, raining anarchy onto Gotham City;
Ronald McDonald, luring young Americans toward childhood obesity.
Even now, new clowns are entering the horror canon; Gawker recently posited that American Horror Story's introduction of the deranged new character Twisty the Clown was the show's scariest scene ever.
But Hollywood's affinity for creepy clowns isn't sitting well with at least one man: Glenn Kohlberger, the president of Clowns of America International. "Hollywood makes money sensationalizing the norm. They can take any situation no matter how good or pure and turn it into a nightmare," says Kohlberger in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "We do not support in any way, shape or form any medium that sensationalizes or adds to Coulrophobia or 'clown fear.'"
Despite Kohlberger's protests, the days of the (non-murderous) clown might be numbered. The story adds that Clowns of America International has just 2,500 members remaining, down from 3,500 in 2004.
In 2008, a Glasgow children's hospital removed images of clowns from its walls after concluding that they were frightening to young patients. "Very few children like clowns," said a child psychologist at the time. "They are unfamiliar and come from a different era. They don't look funny, they just look odd."