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Have clowns turned into monsters? Entertainers in region have their say

PUBLISHED: 16:16 15 September 2017

Gorleston Clifftop Festival pulling in the crowds on Saturday. Andy the Clown getting ready to juggle. Photo : Steve Adams

Gorleston Clifftop Festival pulling in the crowds on Saturday. Andy the Clown getting ready to juggle. Photo : Steve Adams

Steve Adams 2017 : 07398 238853

They were once the comical characters of our birthday parties, seaside towns and family fetes.

A scary clown costume hanging up in Top Hat costume hire shop. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY A scary clown costume hanging up in Top Hat costume hire shop. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But in recent years clowns have been given a sinister reputation in the media through Halloween “Killer Clown Cranks” and the recent trend in horror films and television to have monsters portrayed by clowns - most recently IT.

Released 27 years after the original American television series, professional clowns around the country have voiced there concerns that it could harm the clowning industry.

In Norfolk the PrimEVIL event, now a staple in Halloween entertainment at the Norfolk Showground, has begun advertising on billboards with a giant clown on them.

But entertainers in the region say film and other media releases will not have an affect on their business.

Clowns from all over the British Isles return to Lowestoft for the Town's annual Clown convention.
Clowning around on Lowestoft seafront.
PHOTO: Nick Butcher Clowns from all over the British Isles return to Lowestoft for the Town's annual Clown convention. Clowning around on Lowestoft seafront. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Andy the Clown, 45, from Lowestoft, says that clowns have had to evolve over the years as Hollywood adopted the older style Victorian ‘white face’ clown and turned it into a horror staple.

He said: “With Halloween approaching this always happens. We had it last with the Killer Clown Pranks. The media went crazy, and the same with the Northampton Clown so it feels like a repeat every year.

“It defiantly affects bookings during Halloween but afterwards they go back up. It is a seasonal trend.”

Andy the Clown has been a professional performing clown for 10 years but has been clowning for more than 30 years, performing around the world and a prestigious member of the World Clown Association.

Andy the Clown helped with preparing the infamous bacon butties at the Pakefield Church Autumn Cafe. Picture: Mick Howes Andy the Clown helped with preparing the infamous bacon butties at the Pakefield Church Autumn Cafe. Picture: Mick Howes

He says that the stereotype of the clown mask, often found around Halloween, has forced clowns to change their design.

“I think that the public are aware of the difference between a Hollywood Clown, from the movies, and a traditional performing clown you expect to see.

“As a clown I have had to evolve over time, changing my costume and make-up. This year I have had a complete image change. I have taken the clown image in the form of a mask away and made it more human.”

“I feel it is my job to educate people on the difference. IT is a Hollywood scary clown whereas I’m Andy the Clown. The happy fun clown.”

Lowestoft Journal community editor Andrew Papworth clowning around at the Lowestoft clown convention.

PHOTO: Nick Butcher Lowestoft Journal community editor Andrew Papworth clowning around at the Lowestoft clown convention. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Scary clowns in the media

Clowns have been portrayed as evil or scary for decades,

Clowns from all over the British Isles return to Lowestoft for the Town's annual Clown convention.

PHOTO: Nick Butcher Clowns from all over the British Isles return to Lowestoft for the Town's annual Clown convention. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

The film IT was released earlier this month, 27 years after the airing of the original TV series staring Tim Curry. The films monster, Pennywise, a shape-shifting demon that preys on children, is depicted as a Victorian styled closed with a white face and ruffled collar.

The latest series of the popular Netflix show American Horror Story has chosen to use clowns as the basis for the series. It features a clown called Twisty who was dropped on his head as a child, causing mental health issues. He then gains his ghastly appearance after being shot.

But most notably of late in Norwich was the trend of people dressing up as clowns and attempting to scare people in parks, by the road and in public places by chasing them or acting spooky.

This act was dubbed the “Killer Clowns” and saw one man arrested for chasing a women through Eaton Park in Norwich.

Lowestoft Journal community editor Andrew Papworth clowning around at the Lowestoft clown convention.

PHOTO: Nick Butcher Lowestoft Journal community editor Andrew Papworth clowning around at the Lowestoft clown convention. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Lowestoft Clown Convention

Every year in Lowestoft clowns from around the world make their way to Lowestoft to take part in the Lowestoft Clown Convention.

This year was the third annual Clown Gathering UK (CGUK) convention.

The event is a week-long even as performers gather to take part in workshops, trade props, swap ideas and participate in interactive sessions ahead of two performances which this year, took place at The Seagull Theatre in Pakefield.

The performers speak about the changing times of clowning and also to consider the future of clowning across the world.

The convention has seen many famous clowning faces with Arthur “Vercoe” Pedlar, who was born in 1923, and is a member of the International Clown Hall of Fame, Gingernutt, Smartii Pants and Salvo the Clown along with Lovely Buttons from America and Flubber the Clown from India.

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