Even before serial killer John Wayne Gacy dressed up as Pogo and stuffed the corpses of young men and boys beneath his porch, many of us have been terrified of clowns.

Some won’t even attend the circus because of them, while others harbor their fear in secret, quietly trembling at the sight of bright red afros and oversize shoes.

MarcyMom up close and personal with a clown/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

MarcyMom up close and personal with a clown/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Clowns may not be the only creepy performer – they share the stage with mimes, magicians and Barry Manilow – but, at least for me, they are at the top of the heap.

Why do we find these things creepy?

Clowns – The main reason folks fear clowns has to be their makeup. Unless it’s their billowing costumes, seemingly unwashed hair, boat-size shoes or bulbous red noses.

Clowns are hiding behind a hideous façade where, dressed like that, they can only be planning hideous actions. They are also quite invasive and may not go away even when a kid – or adult – bursts into tears.

We must wonder how McDonald’s overcame such a barrier, or why it made a clown its spokesman in the first place. Not that a giant purple thing or cheeseburger thief are much better choices.

A Nursing Standard magazine survey found 250 kids, ages 4 to 16, said clowns were “universally scary.”

So let’s send them to children’s hospitals.

While not many of us run across clown in our daily lives, except when we’re stuck in Tucson traffic, coulrophobia is not a fear that can be rationalized or made to disappear. It is so widespread that entire websites, blogs and T-shirt lines are devoted to the fear and loathing of these creepy things.

Mimes – Mimes can be seen as clowns with more form-fitting clothing and no voices. The lack of speech is a good thing, for you can block them out by simply turning around.

But mimes still may follow you around unless they are confined to their invisible boxes.

Dance of Illusion's Susan Eyed/Ryn Gargulinski

Dance of Illusion's Susan Eyed/Ryn Gargulinski

Magicians/Illustionists – Why some folks loathe magicians is an easy one – magicians mess with our reality. They make us see things that are not there, pull stuff from our ears and rearrange New York City landmarks.

I’ve not had a problem with magicians or illusionists, except when they move the Statue of Liberty.

One Tucson duo, Dance of Illusion’s Roland Sarlot and Susan Eyed, is a major exception to the magician creepiness rule. They rule. Their Club Congress New Year’s Eve bash included Eyed levitating several feet in the air.

The two spend their summers performing their recreated parlour shows in Coney Island, but also tour internationally. They were just in town this weekend and I meant to plug their show but I was too busy fearing clowns to remember in time.

Barry Manilow – The main reason some may have an aversion to this Brooklyn boy is because, with that nose and hair he could, perhaps, resemble a clown.

Others just think his music is lame. I’ve not really had a problem with him, other than the fact “Copacabana” tends to run endlessly through your head.

One of my friends adores Manilow so much she only stops short of having a full-length poster of him above her bed. Another so despises the chap that he threw a brand new Barry Manilow CD out of a speeding car window.


Eek!/Ryn Gargulinski

Eek!/MarcyMom photo

Which performer do you find the creepiest? Why?

Are you one of the few who actually likes clowns?