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  • A charity in the Netherlands is the CliniClowns, people who dress up as clowns and visit children's hospitals in order to make them feel better. After doing this for years, psychological research shows that this backfires because too many children are afraid of clowns. Oops...
    • A Reuters article elaborates: "The study, reported in the Nursing Standard magazine, found all the 250 patients aged between four and 16 they quizzed disliked the use of clowns, with even the older ones finding them scary."
  • John Wayne Gacy was an American serial killer who was convicted and later executed for the rape and murder of 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and his arrest in 1978, 27 of whom he buried in a crawlspace under the floor of his house, while others were found in nearby rivers. He became notorious as the "Killer Clown" because of the many block parties he threw for his friends and neighbors, entertaining children in a clown suit and makeup, under the name of "Pogo the Clown". Otherwise he was described as a pleasant person when not doing his crimes.
    • To make matters worse the AP once accidentally used a stock photo of Gacy for National Clown Day.
    • Gacy also created disturbing paintings of clowns. He sold them while he was in prison, believing that his art would live beyond the grave. The person who bought the paintings burned them all after he died so he wouldn't be remembered.
      • At least one of his paintings made it to the Louisiana swamp metal band Acid Bath. They had sent him a demo of their stuff, and he liked it so much he sent them a painting. When the Kite String Pops uses it as album art. It's rather fitting, really- that shit's fucked up, son. Incidentally, their second full-length actually had a painting by Dr. Jack Kevorkian who actually does violins on one of the songs.
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  • In his book Mysterious America and elsewhere, Fortean Loren Coleman has documented numerous cases, beginning in May of 1981 but intermittently continuing up to the present day, of malevolent activity by persons unknown, dressed in clown attire, toward targets such as elementary school children. However, given that no such perpetrators have ever been apprehended, the "phantom clown" reports continue to remain unexplained.
  • Lon Chaney, Sr., "The Man of a Thousand Faces", and perhaps the single most iconic (as well as genuinely frightening) horror actor from the silent film era, once made the observation that "There is nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight."
  • The Juggalo subculture has shades of this. It didn't help when in the summer of 2012 the FBI officially designated them a gang.
  • There was a mysterious clown appearing all around Northampton during September of 2013. No one knew who the hell he was, but at least one resident of Northampton became a vigilante called the Clown Catcher, focused on capturing the clown. See an article about it here and the 'official' Facebook page for the clown here... and then he eventually revealed himself a month later, as described here.
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  • In October 2013, Mexican drug kingpin Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix was assassinated by a gunman dressed as a clown, as detailed here.
  • In Portugal, there were several urban legends regarding a gang known as "Boca de Palhaço" (Clown Mouth). Apparently, they would approach students who were alone at night and would ask them if they wanted to be killed, raped or having a "Clown Mouth" (sometimes they would immediately reveal who they were, other times they would be disguised as harmless pranksters). The victims would usually pick the third option, not knowing what it meant. To their horror, it meant to "tear their faces", creating a real-life Glasgow Grin. Messages about them began being spread, and students became so frightened that they would not leave school unless their parents would pick them up. The police eventually revealed the tales to be nothing but a hoax, leading to people essentially forgetting about them. Doesn´t change the fact that whoever came up with this might be giving some "real" sick creeps a bad idea...
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  • The late Ouchy the Clown (his obituary is worksafe, but everything else is SEARCH AT YOUR OWN RISK) is "your premier provider of adult clown services." That's right, sex clown for hire with S&M clown porn for sale. His motto is "Popping up where you least expect me!"— and presumably giving an unnerving new meaning to the term "Big Top Clown."
  • There was an upturn in clown-related crime in France during 2014, to the point where local police had orders to apprehend people in clown makeup and impromptu anti-clown vigilante squads emerged.
  • Autumn 2016 saw a social-media-driven "scary clown" panic in the run-up to Halloween, initially in the USA and later throughout the world. It appears to have begun with news stories at the end of August reporting people in clown costumes behaving in a threatening way outside an apartment complex in South Carolina, and then blew up thanks to rumours, inflammatory stories on fake news sites, and some genuine trolls actually dressing up as evil clowns in public to frighten people. Not many of these reports were confirmed (news reports are mainly going off eyewitness accounts that may or may not be serious in nature), but for what it's worth, there have also been several reports of would-be Monster Clown impersonators getting attacked in turn or having weapons pulled on them by the people they target (this one, for instance, got both), which ought to give pause to anybody thinking that dressing up and threatening strangers would be a funny idea for a prank.
  • Tonopah, Nevada is home to the Clown Motel, which is not only decorated with hundreds of clown dolls, figurines, and other merchandise (many of which are rather unsettling on their own), but situated next to an abandoned graveyard.
  • Thomas Skelton aka Tom Fool, the last jester of Muncaster Castle, was said to do an act so evil, he was promoted from Villainous Harlequin to Monster Clown. He heard a scandalous rumor that the Penningtons' daughter was having an affair with a carpenter. Ever the trusted servant and steward of the estate, he told the master, Sir William Pennington, about the affair. He told Skelton to put an end to it. So, Skelton invited the carpenter to have a friendly conversation and got him so drunk he passed out. Then he decapitated the young man with his own tools. He was rumored to have said, "When the lazy dolt wakes up, he'll have trouble finding his head!" Ever one to please his master, Skelton presented Sir William with the young carpenter's head. History does not record Sir William's reaction. Thomas Skelton never faced justice, but karma did catch up with him. He drowned in the Esk River.
    • Another legend has it that Skelton was also fond of sitting beneath a tree outside the castle. If a stranger approached him to ask for directions, he'd engage them in conversation for a few minutes to determine whether or not he liked them. If he took a dislike to the hapless traveller, he was reputed to direct them straight down into the quicksands of the Esk, to drown, making his alleged fate all the more grimly fitting. Skelton still casts a dark shadow over Muncaster to this day: his unsettling portrait (in which he is holding his will, no less) still hangs prominently in the castle. Muncaster Castle itself has long been claimed to be haunted, and perhaps unsurprisingly Tom the Fool is considered to be the most notorious, active, and perhaps the most sinister of its many alleged ghosts.
  • In general, the clown industry hit some hard times in The New '10s, to the point that some started declaring it a dying industry and profession due to older clowns retiring or having to find new jobs to support themselves as party bookings continue to decline while younger generations have little to no interest in taking up the profession. While plenty do blame pop culture and certain bad apples like the aforementioned John Wayne Gacy for fostering the hostility the public has for them, many others simply point to the fact that people just find clowns creepy and unsettling or simply don't think they're very funny. Time will only tell how well the industry will adapt in the future.
  • A subversion? 'Creepy clowns' help 4-year-old fan celebrate the end of his cancer treatment with car parade. The kid's a fan of monster clowns, so...!

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