An ex-professional clown has slammed the recent ‘killer clown’ craze and fears the impact it will have on the industry.
Susan Tierny, of High Wycombe, used to be known as Pinky The Clown and has condemned a current American-born trend which sees pranksters dressing up in scary clown outfits to frighten innocent bystanders .
She said: “That’s not good for people that make a living out of being a clown.
“It’s not good at all, I don’t know how it’s come about. I don’t know how it’s happened.
“It’s really unfortunate that people aren’t thinking that this is actually what people do for a living.
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“It’s a bit of a shame really because things like that, any negativity or anything, and all of a sudden people say ‘we don’t want to book one of those funny or weird people because something’s happened’.”
Now known as entertainer Pinky, Ms Tierney said the outfit was already scary for young children.
She had to retire her own clown persona 20 years ago when a few youngsters reacted badly to it.
She said: “The reaction I got already from the red nose with the smile - sometimes [children] would cry.
“After a while I dropped the nose.
“I slowly changed my whole character in the end.
“I don’t wear the wig.
“Sometimes you don’t have to looks particularly scary at all to freak somebody out.”
Ms Tierny is also director of Merlin Entertainments, and says she will often check with customers whether they want a clown or ‘someone just being funny’, because of the negative reaction the outfit can have.
“There is a mask, there is a constant smile - you don’t know what's going on behind that. It’s a difficulty,” she said.
The trend has cropped across the Thames Valley and over the weekend police were called out to 14 incidents in 24 hours to reports of people dressing as killer clowns in Chesham, Milton Keynes, Bracknell and Abingdon.
It has also been widely reported in the national media, with sightings of a student with a chainsaw at Brunel University and a clown brandishing a knife chasing schoolchildren in Durham.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Crime Operations Chief Constable Mike Barton said: “Police forces have been dealing with some instances of people who are dressing up as clowns in order to frighten others.
“Anyone with concerns should report to police on 101 so that we can investigate.
“While some might view this as funny, the act of frightening or threatening others may be enough to warrant public order criminal offences.”