Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Evil Clown Wares

The following link offers a dizzying array of evil-clown themed merchandise, everything from costumes and masks to battery operated dummies, statues and other evil clown ornament/decorations:


Enjoy. ;-)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Coulrophobia as root of Clown Vandalism


Is phobia behind the clown vandalism?

SARASOTA -- Sure, some of the vandalism that has plagued downtown Sarasota's clown statues is probably pranks or quests for kudos from peers, akin to high school students nabbing street signs as trophies of machismo.

But the public art exhibit has taken a far worse beating than Chicago's cows, Bradenton's geckos or Venice's pigs ever did. And some psychologists say that's because these seemingly cheerful statues pack a powerful symbology.

"Clowns by their very nature are frightening beings that evoke fear," said Sarasota psychologist Eddy Regnier. "The clown is also a symbol of frivolity and fun, and people who suffer from depression, whose lives are not going well, often want to destroy them."

Vandalism began almost immediately after the October debut of the "Clowning Around Town" public art exhibit that benefits TideWell Hospice and Palliative Care.

Limbs were snapped off. Props disappeared. A clown was beheaded. And two were unbolted from their 300-pound concrete slabs and abducted.

It could be that some people look at a clown and see parts of themselves they hate: foolishness, sadness and weakness, said Sarasota psychologist David Peters.

"There's always something pathetic about the clown, and that's what generates the humor. But for some people that generates annoyance and anger," Peters said.

Public art usually undergoes some level of tampering.

Washington, D.C.'s 2004 panda exhibit took a hit, with one stolen sculpture turning up in the Anacostia River. But of the 150 statues scattered about the city, only two were severely damaged.

Even the 300 cow statues in Chicago only endured a couple of tippings and a few sets of sawed-off horns.

"Part of it I think is where they were located," said Marcel Bright, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department. "They were in areas where they were out in the open."

They were also animals, creatures that in real life do not typically evoke complicated human reactions.

Informed that Sarasota's exhibit features clowns, Bright fell silent. Then he said: "Oh, that's scary.

"Clowns, you can have a better understanding. People have this thing about clowns: You either love them or hate them."

It was not always this way.

Slapstick comedy, the essence of clowning, entertained crowds for centuries before fear entered the stage. In ancient societies, court jesters mocked kings when no one else could. Hollywood's popularity in the early 1900s came from clownish films featuring actors like Charlie Chaplin and Harry Langdon.

Then 1970s serial killer John Wayne Gacy dressed as a clown to entertain children at parties in his Chicago neighborhood. The following decades brought a tide of horror movies with clown villains. Pennywise terrorized children in Stephen King's "It." "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" turned humans into cotton candy cocoons and drank their blood through curly straws.

Coulrophobia, the clinical term for fear of clowns, was coined, and modern clown humor shifted from water-squirting flower gags to riffs on the entertainers.

Homey the Clown on the 1990s television show "In Living Color" was a convicted felon who entertained children as a condition of his parole. When kids asked him to perform, he smacked them on the head with a stuffed sock and said, "Homey don't play dat."

Mold the modern clown image into 6-foot-tall fiberglass statues, and they become easy targets, ripe for smashing, chopping and theft, psychologists said.

"If you're at a circus or at a parade, there's not really much you can do other than avert your eyes or walk away. But here is a situation that generates a lot of discomfort, and you can act out on that feeling," Sarasota psychologist Karen Saef said. "The people who are doing this destruction are not trying to prove a point. They're having their own destructive sequence with these clowns."

Many people spoke out against the clown art exhibit when city commissioners first considered it. Some even saw this coming.

But not the folks at TideWell.

"We didn't expect to be dealing with this two months after they'd gone on the streets," said TideWell spokesman Dave Glaser. "Especially when you consider what this project is all about."

For exhibit organizers, every bit of damage is money taken from a child in need.

And they don't play dat.

Friday, December 15, 2006

More on Stolen Clown Statues

Scandals surrounding Sarasota's clown statue iniative have been a source of amusement to me for well over a year now. From the first announcement of the city's plan to erect 70 large fiberglass clowns last fall, there has been a barrage of criticisms from locals ranging from artists to a surprisingly high number of coulrophobes. As early as November 2005, before the statues were put up, the chair of Sarasota's Public Art Committee expressed serious concerns about vandalism and possibly even protests from a sizeable "anti-clown" faction.

Interestingly, this is not the first time Sarasota has hosted a large public exhibition of clown-related art. In 1999, Japanese painter Bummei Okabe came to Sarasota to do a four-month exhibition of more than 150 clown paintings he'd created.


Live, from Sarasota, it's clowns on camera

SARASOTA -- James Goethe has decided to confront Sarasota's clown vandals.

The owner of Hypercube Technologies, he plans to lend his spy services to the gaggle of downtown statues, some of which have been bashed, beheaded and, most recently, stolen.

His company will install 24-hour surveillance cameras next week at two clown locations, on Main Street across from the Hollywood 20 movie theater and at Five Points.

"I was watching TV one night when I saw that the clowns were being vandalized," said Goethe, who will also set up a live Web feed from at least one set of the fiberglass statues. "It kind of angers me."

Sarasota's "Clowning Around Town" public art exhibit and fundraiser for TideWell Hospice and Palliative Care has been the repeated target of vandalism since the nearly 50 statues made their debut in October.

Last week, mischief escalated to theft when two of the beleagured bozos went missing.

Police found "When Pigs Fly" Saturday sitting in the alcove of a building on First Street.

But the search for the other statue, "Ra Ra Shish Boom Ba," continues some 40 miles beyond Sarasota.

The U.S. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg is investigating whether two of its crewmen had something to do with the abduction of the clown statue while their ship was docked overnight at Marina Jack last Monday.

The marina is just a few blocks from the perch of "Ra Ra Shish Boom Ba" on the corner of Main Street and Gulfstream Avenue.

Officials are releasing few details about the investigation, but said they are working with the Sarasota Police Department to return the statue to its corner.

"We hope to have this issue resolved as quickly as possible with the return of the clown," said Chief Warrant Officer Neal Feustel, commander of the cutter Vise, on which the suspects were stationed.

"We want to make things right with the citizens of Sarasota."

TideWell has spent more than $3,500 on clown repairs, said spokesman Dave Glaser.

Goethe, a Sarasota native, said he may expand his surveillance to a few other locations.

His company will also fix a camera on some of the clowns that will send a live image to the exhibit's Web site, www.clowningaroundtown.org.

And he has plans in motion for a Web site where people in Sarasota and beyond will be able to virtually bid on the statues when they are auctioned off after the exhibit ends in April.

"That way we can have a lot more people bidding on it so we can raise the price up," he said. "There are a lot of poeple that are fanatics about collecting clowns."

As reward for his efforts, Goethe will get to have some input on the design for the exhibit's 50th clown.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Missing Clown Statues in Florida


Two downtown clowns missing
Others have been vandalized; these two apparently stolen


SARASOTA -- It's not the typical abduction case.

One of the missing is described as a clown, wearing a yellow shirt with black and red pants, holding flying pigs.

The other is mustached, wearing a multi-colored robe over a purple shirt, pink and purple striped pants and a Shriner's hat.

Both have unusually large shoes.

"When Pigs Fly" and "Ra Ra Shish Boom Ba," two of the nearly 50 fiberglass clowns sprinkled around downtown Sarasota, were apparently stolen, the latest trouble for the public art project that has suffered spots of vandalism but has remained intact until this week.

The 50- to 60-pound statues are bolted to 300-pound concrete slabs, but the thieves apparently unbolted one side, then tipped them over to snap the screws on the other side, said Dave Glaser, spokesman for TideWell Hospice and Palliative Care, which is sponsoring the fundraising exhibit.

"They're not super difficult to get off, but it does take some effort," Glaser said. "It's really, really disappointing because this whole program ultimately benefits children."

The missing clowns disappeared sometime between Monday and Thursday. "When Pigs Fly" was located in Pineapple Park, 300 S. Pineapple St., and "Ra Ra Shish Boom Ba," was at the intersection of Gulf Stream Avenue and Main Street.

"It's difficult to fathom why, other than a prank of some sort," Glaser said. "You're not going to display it in your front yard, and you're not going to sell it most likely."

Sarasota police took a report on the missing "When Pigs Fly" statue, spokesman Jay Frank said. It is valued at $3,500 for the $1,500 fiberglass mold, the $1,500 artist stipend to paint it and $500 for other costs.

Officers can see if any nearby security cameras captured anything, "but there's not much we can do," Frank said.

Police have agreed to keep an extra lookout for the statues, Glaser said, and TideWell has also paid for extra security.

Since they hit the streets in October, clowns have been beheaded, broken off at the feet and vandalized. A couple were in for repairs this week.

"He's pretty much been busy," Glaser said of the artist who has been repairing them.

Glaser noticed "When Pigs Fly" was missing Wednesday, but thought most likely it was in for repairs. But when someone else noticed it was gone, he called and found out that wasn't the case.

"It's been hard to keep track of these," Glaser said.

Another clown is in the police evidence locker as part of a case.

Police arrested one man after a woman heard a crash, turned around and saw him standing alone near a downed statue at the bayfront park at about 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 4, Frank said.

The woman heard a crash and took down the man's license plate. Police followed the tip and found William P. Rain, 41, and arrested him for criminal mischief. Rain told police he was just standing there when the statue fell over, Frank said.

The value of that clown was estimated at $8,000.

The clowns will be on display until April, when they will be auctioned off to benefit a hospice program for children with terminal illnesses.

"Ultimately, we've got to have these in good shape so they're of value of us," Glaser said. If the group continues to lose them or they are damaged, it might have to pull the art exhibit off the street.

"What an obvious shame that would be," Glaser said. "There have been critics of the program" but the majority of people are enjoying it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Suspicious Clown Sought in Break-in

The Eagle Tribune (North Andover, MA)

LAWRENCE - A clown wandering the halls outside a doctor's office is the only suspect in a break-in there earlier this week.

Police don't know for sure that the person dressed as a clown was the same person who forced open the rear door of a 101 Amesbury St. doctor's office late Monday or early Tuesday. But a nurse there said the clown was the only suspicious person in the building.