A PROFESSIONAL clown of more than 30 years is performing without make-up at a Yorkshire festival, after being asked to “de-clownify” his act in light of the rise of clown-based pranks.
Pete Turner, known as Peanut the clown, had been asked to entertain at a beer festival in Keighley, but the council running the event asked him to “take the clown out” of his act in light of the recent clown craze.
“They contacted me and they asked me to ‘de-clownify’ my act,” he said.
Keighley Town Council later contacted the 58-year-old to tell him he could keep the clown in his act, but after a discussion with his daughter he has decided not to use his make-up, instead wearing only a red nose.
“At the moment I’m on egg shells and I’m having to be very careful,” said Mr Turner. “I haven’t lost any jobs yet through this but I’ve been asked to take the clown out of my act.
“I think the people doing these pranks are somewhere between having mental health issues and just pure bullying. We’ve got to stand up to it because otherwise it will become a normalised thing, and that would be awful.”
Mr Turner says it is not necessarily the pranks’ effects now which are a problem, but issues with the image associated with the clowns may affect the industry in the future.
“My biggest concern is with children and how they relate to clowns. The connection we’ve made between the clown’s make-up, which is called the motley, and the image of homicidal murder is a problem.
“What will happen is when they see me work, that’s the image that will come into their heads. If they have this association at a deep level, people won’t book clowns, they will book something else.”
When asked what clowns really should represent Mr Turner, from Leeds, said: “Kids hate being frightened but they love a scary story. If they hear a story about someone else that’s okay because they can distinguish between what’s real and what isn’t.
“Clowns talk about life’s dangers and difficulties in a way that children can comprehend it, without the horror. Maybe that’s why the pranksters and film-makers put genuine horror in there, because they found it could be a powerful thing.”
Luke Maunsell, 21, councillor for Keighley Town Council said they had a meeting about the issue: “The clown craze has been a problem and we didn’t want any trouble to come from it and worried for his safety. We decided he should go ahead with his act but we will observe it through the day.”
Fellow professional clown Ian Thom, 64, from south east London, has been working in the industry for 40 years. He said he was concerned about the pranks, especially after seeing a friend from the US say on Facebook he had been getting a number of cancellations.
“If I don’t do a job I don’t get paid. That’s it,” said Mr Thom. “It’s exhausting. We feel we’re being taken over by idiots just looking for their 10 or 15 minutes of fame. They are not clowns. None of them.”
Asked what message he would like to give to the pranksters Mr Thom said: “Sooner or later you’re going to jump out on somebody who has an asthma attack, an epileptic fit or a heart attack and by then it will be too late. The police now have all the powers to arrest you guys for disturbing the peace and we’re right behind them.”