DENVER – “Scary clown” hysteria has made its way to Colorado and it’s threatening the livelihood of professional clowns.
Lorene Stadig is a hairdresser by day, but in her spare time she plays the clown “Banjo” and serves as the President of the Colorado Clown Alley. She graduated from Clown College 33 years ago and now dresses up for parades, parties and to cheer up people who are sick.
“The clowning for me is about happiness and joy,” she told FOX31.
She wears a pink feather wig, a colorful clown suit and clown makeup. But, underneath her painted on smile, there is real sadness.
“It’s just very, very sad that they use our image as a scare tactic,” Stadig said.
She’s talking about images of frightening characters resembling clowns that are popping up on the internet from places all across the country.
“No matter how far back clowning has gone, there is always somebody that is afraid of a clown,” she said.
The current clown-phobia seems to go much deeper than that though. Fake news articles are spreading like wildfire across social media platforms, making people believe there is an increasing number of threatening clowns.
One recent article from a site called “The Global Sun” warns of killer clowns they say killed 23 people in Canada. The article has been shared almost 100,000 times. There is no indication from the web page that the information is not factual. You have to search the site for its hidden legal disclaimer, where it states that they publish satirical news.
“You cannot believe everything you hear or see. You just can’t,” Stadig said.
She worries people will continue to believe the hoaxes anyway, especially kids. She also worries people will soon begin to fear happy clowns too.
“I think they’re just not educated as to what clowning is. It’s an art. Unfortunately it’s a dying art, but we’re trying and working hard to get it back into the limelight again,” she explained.
Stadig told FOX31 some of her clown colleagues are losing business recently because people are afraid of them. They are now taking a stand against the “creepy clown” epidemic.
“Us as clowns worldwide are fighting this,” she said.
The World Clown Association issued the following statement in reaction to the clown scare:
“In my opinion, these horror characters are not clowns …they are taking something innocent and wholesome and perverting it to create fear in their audience. We hope the American audience realizes that there are different categories in entertainment. We want to be on the positive side of things.”