Laugh all you want, but for HotStuff the Clown — the current craze of scaring and terrorising the world with creepy clown costumes and fake knives is no laughing matter.
Alan Sloggett, who has been a professional clown for more than 30 years, admits he now fears for his life as a professional children’s entertainer because of the creepy clown craze.
Dressing up as HotStuff and Dotto the clowns for parties, fetes and other functions across Melbourne — Mr Sloggett believes the current craze may kill off the clown community.
“Clowns are part of my family, where I’d get called to work 10 birthday parties in a single weekend,” Mr Sloggett, who owns Comedy Clowns, told news.com.au.
“But every year the clowns have started to die off, and that’s been happening for the past 20 years. But this craze has been the worst publicity for clowns I have ever seen. As soon as I saw the first video of the clown with the knife, I thought I’d have to hang up my costumes.”
HotStuff the Clown has performed at children’s parties, adult events, hens nights and 21st birthdays during his career, with more than 10,000 shows under his novelty sized belt.
Mr Sloggett said the death of the clown industry has been a slow burn, and finds he is rarely booked for functions and birthday parties as either of his clown characters.
Putting on his first suit at just six years old, alongside his dad who was a magician, he became a professional clown in his mid-20s.
“My father died when I was eight years old,” Mr Sloggett said. “I always wanted to do magic for kids and the way to do it was to hide behind a clown’s face. I was very shy.
“I went to Moomba Parade, just like I did alongside my dad when I was 27, just to see if I still liked it [being a clown]. I loved it and have been hooked for life.”
But now, his life long love of making children laugh and smile as HotStuff the Clown has caused the 68-year-old to fear for his life.
“This publicity is having a very bad impact on us happy clowns,” he said. “I’d hate to be pulled out of my car because of the hype around the clown, I’m worried this craze will cause me to be attacked.”
Mr Sloggett, who also performs as a magician, said clown inquiries used to far outweigh any other character he’d play at a party — and it’s not just his business that’s copping the impact — but across the board.
“Twenty years ago someone told me they put ads in the phone book as a clown and magician,” he said.
“For every single inquiry he’d get for the magician, he’d have another nine calling to book the clown. But now, 20 years on, we will get one phone call for clowns, and the rest is for magicians. It’s very infuriating.”
The creepy clown craze began with reports of clowns trying to lure children into woods in the US state of South Carolina, which led to clown groups sprouting across America and mass clown hunts in other areas.
The spooky fad spread to Australia recently, with police in Victoria and South Australia among those issuing warnings against it.
There are Facebook pages dedicated to the trend in WA, including Perth Clown Watch, which claims clowns have been spotted with chainsaws, hammers, machetes and other weapons, but police have not been able to verify the incident.
It is unclear what started the craze, although some have suggested it may be part of a horror movie publicity stunt or an elaborate hoax.
The World Clown Association president Randy Christensen said the craze was being propelled by social media and the association did not consider people participating in it as clowns.
“We’re full of people that love children, bring smiles and want to help people laugh and bring comic relief,” he told 6PR radio.
“The people dressing up are trying to scare people, no professional clown would ever take part in anything like that.”
Mr Sloggett admitted that he has been asked to be a scary clown at some functions recently, which he found upsetting because that’s not the character he intends to play.
“I don’t know why people don’t find clowns happy, it’s very upsetting” he said.
“This hype only adds to people thinking clowns are scary. They need to stop scaring people — it’s having a serious impact on us.”
This article was originally published on news.com.au