Once, when I was a kid, I caught a glimpse of a preview for Stephen King's It. You know the movie I'm talking about, if you're of my generation, because this movie likely fucked you up as well. In It, from what I've been able to glean from being completely afraid to watch it after seeing a glimpse of a preview for the film in 1990, an evil that haunted a group of children returns to haunt them after they're adults. One manifestation of that evil is Pennywise the clown, played by Tim Curry. Pennywise is a murderous, bulbous headed child-hunting being that lives in the sewers beneath a small town in Maine, and I've operated under the assumption that all other clowns also live in sewers and are evil but that maybe Pennywise was the most honest about it. Since my first terrifying encounter with Pennywise, I've avoided clowns on the off chance that they'd murder me.

I'm not the only one who has a mild case of coulrophobia because of Stephen King. In fact, I've never met anyone, child or adult, who professes an affection for clowns. I've never attended a birthday party that featured a clown. I've never heard of anyone going to a circus to see some hot clown action. Insecure college girls who will dress up as sexy anything for Halloween rarely choose to be a sexy clown.

A quick Facebook search for "clowns" led me to a results page featuring a group called "I HATE CLOWNS," which has more than 205,000 fans as well as many smaller groups that boast members that actually like clowns. The largest of the pro-clown groups has a little over 1,000 members.

No one likes clowns. They're scary, and weird.

A group of clowns in the UK hope to shift this anti-clown cultural bias.

Paul Carpenter, who performs as Popol the clown, has decided to head the initiative.

He said: "We want to say to people 'give us a chance' - we're not all crazed psycho killers.

"We had more and more people saying to us 'keep away, we're scared', so we decided to do something positive about it."

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Clowns help those afraid of their terrifying visages by first appearing to them without makeup. They then gradually get into costume while reassuring the clown phobia workshop attendees.

Watching a man transform himself into clown as he talks to me in a soothing voice doesn't sound like it would erase the nightmare of Tim Curry from my traumatized child mind, but then again, neither would a lapful of puppies. Sorry, clowns. I'm always going to avoid you.


Circus Offers 'Clown Selling' For People's Big Top Fear [BBC]