How many of you hesitated before clicking on this post? How many of you uttered an audible, "Noooooo!" before deciding to read this week's Creepy Corner anyway?
Clowns, especially in recent years, seem to be many a Creepy Cornerista's kryptonite. Something about what's hiding beneath that everlasting, garish grin is entirely unsettling. Is it their historical connection to foolish, bawdy behavior unsuitable for "civilized" society? Is it that so many professional clowns have worn a smile for audiences but have had deeply disturbed personal lives like the great Joseph "I'm Grim-all-day so you can laugh all night" Grimaldi?
Or is it that there seems to be an inherent darkness in the "mischief" of clowns? Aside from the John Wayne Gacys, the Pagliaccis, and the Jokers that feed the seed of Coulrophobia (fear of clowns), could it be that a clown's "wacky" or "comedic" behavior is just too close to crossing the line into homicidal behavior?
According to Smithsonian.com, Dr. Brenda Wiederhold, "a veteran psychologist who runs a phobia and anxiety treatment center in San Diego that uses virtual reality to treat clients" (virtual reality CLOWNS???) explains:
Most people, she says, grow out of the fear, but not everyone—perhaps as much as 2 percent of the adult population will have a fear of clowns. Adult clown phobics are unsettled by the clown’s face-paint and the inability to read genuine emotion on a clown’s face, as well as the perception that clowns are able to engage in manic behavior, often without consequences.
We don't know what a clown is up to, and to me that's the worst part. It's that "unhinged" quality in the stereotypical clown persona that chills me. Maybe I'm just a cranky old Creepy Corner dweller, but with all that glassy-eyed merriment, I'm never sure if a clown is going to make me die with laughter, or laugh at me while I'm dying... because he stabbed me.
When I was a kid, I was POSITIVE that my mom's beloved clown doll — she called him "Swagman" — was going to murder me in my sleep at night while crying out, "There can be only one!" Clowns were not a cheery part of my childhood. But really, what freaky kid really LOVED clowns?
And to those professional clowns out there (yes, I do know a few), I know you're not all stabby maniacs. But you have to admit that many of your predecessors (and some peers) are the stuff of nightmares.
So to fuel those nightmares, Creepy Corneristas, I offer you a few of my "favorite" bizarre clown stories and incidents. This is one of those Creepy Corners that makes me want to sleep with the lights on. Otherwise I'm pretty sure the clown under my bed will come out and stare at me while I pretend to sleep.
The Clown in the Corner
Alright, I know everybody probably knows this urban legend, but it still gets me every time, so for the handful of you out there who haven't had the pleasure, here it is:
A teenage girl was hired to babysit for a wealthy couple. After the kids had gone to bed, she went to watch TV in the den of the couple's large home.
Turning on the light in the room, she noticed an intricate, life-sized clown statue in the corner. She tried to ignore it as she watched TV, but couldn't help but find it distractingly creepy. Unable to ignore it any longer, the girl called the couple to ask if she could cover up what she believed was an expensive clown statue.
The couple immediately told her to get the kids, leave the house, and call the police — they did not own a clown statue.
When the police arrived, they arrested an intruder dressed as a clown hiding in the den.
The Ronald McDonald Dolls
In September of 2004, police officer Eric Dau and his wife Sherrise were driving to their home in Camanche, Iowa around 12:30am, when they saw an unexpected familiar face ahead of them.
A few hundred familiar faces.
Driving into their mobile home court, Eric and Sherrise were horrified to see approximately 500 Ronald McDonald dolls lined up in the middle of the six roads of the court.
Spaced equally, about two or three feet apart, nobody knew where the hundreds of clown dolls had come from. Volunteer firefighter Dan Vosatka had been on the roads at 10pm that night and had not seen any dolls at that time.
"It could have been a scheme. Some criminal would expect that a woman might stop to pick up a doll and assault her," said Eric. Uh Eric, woman or not, I think a lot of people might stop to investigate if they saw 500 Ronald McDonald dolls neatly placed in the road. (For the record though, I would be GONE.)
Things got even weirder when a grey van showed up and started picking up the dolls. Still in uniform, Eric went over to question the van occupants, a man and a woman, about the dolls. They claimed that they lived in the mobile court too and "'...had spotted all those dolls in the road and were picking them up before something happened to them.' Rain was expected during the night."
Rain. That was the concern.
When Eric checked the roads the next morning all of the dolls were gone without a trace. Did the people in the van pick up all 500 of the Ronald McDonald dolls? Or did the dolls just toddle back from where they came?
At the time, McDonald's had not sold the doll for four years.
A real estate agent in Oregon, Renee (who prefers not to use her last name), always had an interest in the paranormal. So when she found a supposedly haunted clown doll on eBay, his $500 price tag did not deter her from buying him.
Soon after the doll arrived strange things started happening. The doll, whom she named Vincent Hitchcock (after Vincent Price and Alfred Hitchcock), would disappear then reappear in entirely different locations (the previous owner had warned her that "he moves"), and most notably she once found him with his arms raised straight up in the air.
Even eerier is that when Renee left a voice recorder next to Vincent Hitchcock, she heard the "gravelly voice of a man" yell, "Wake up!" When Renee played the recording for her daughter, the girl claimed that the voice on the tape was the very one that had woken her up in the night.
Whether truly haunted or just the product of an imagination bent on having a haunted doll, there is no way that I would pay $500 for that spooky little clown man to come live with me.
All Those Internet Clowns
Of all the clowns, these are the ones that freak me out most.
I know, I know most of them can be explained away as hoaxes or pranks, but COME ON, if you saw one of those guys waving at you from the side of a dimly lit road, or just STANDING there under a street lamp, YOU'D BE SCARED TOO. (How are you doing late night, dark porch, Creepy Corner readers? See anything out there?)
The clowns have been spotted over the past few years in cities like Northampton in the UK, Staten Island (later revealed to be part of a horror movie publicity stunt), and Wasco in California. Earlier this year a clown was seen in Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago. Julia Graham and her husband say that the clown ran at them, climbed the cemetery gate, then slowly waved at them — all around 10pm at night.
In October of 2014, the town of Wasco was in something of a "clown panic." Several clowns began showing up around town with balloons, posing in public places for photos that ended up all over social media. One such Twitter account, @RealWascoClown posted, "I am the creepy, evil-looking clown that is roaming the streets of Wasco, California at night. Come Find Me I will give you a balloon." (The account has since been deleted.)
And though the original Wasco clowns were harmless enough, part of a photography project a husband and wife were doing, more "imposter" clowns soon joined their ranks and reports of clowns armed with bats, knives, even a machete, began coming in. The neighboring town of Bakersfield adopted more of a zero tolerance attitude towards the clowns, even arresting a 14-year-old boy who dressed up as a clown to scare smaller children.
Here's a ridiculous Tomo News US segment about the Wasco and Bakersfield clowns. Click for the creepy clown pictures, stay for the weird computer animated reenactments (spoiler: fictional CGI old lady on Rascal whips out her MACHINE GUN and shoots a marauding clown).
Though fortunately the majority of recent creepy clown appearances occurred without any real violence, I'm still not ready to adopt my mom's darling "Swagman", despite her attempts to gift him to me.
She might be trying to pass on a family heirloom, but really I suspect the clown wants blood.
Are you afraid of clowns? What clowns scare the shit out of you? Did you love clowns as a kid? Do you love clowns now? Seriously, no judgement, I really want to know why you love them.
Tell us all the clown stories.