Disgruntled clowns protest in New York exposed as publicity stunt for It

Ben Arnold
UK Movies Writer

The release of ‘It’ may have pulled the 2017 summer box office out of an historic slump, but it’s not done a great service to the clown community.

The World Clown Association issued guidelines to its members on how to deal with the upsurge in fear of clowns among the public.

Meanwhile, working clowns have spoken of their dismay at having lost work due to the changing image around clowns thanks to the horror movie business.

“There’s definitely a negativity to the industry,” a South Wales-based clown who works as Mr T. Ricks told The Guardian. “Last year, especially, was really bad and I can only see it getting worse.”

There’s this report from Denver in the US too…


But while all publicity should be good publicity – ‘It’ director Andy Muschietti reckons so, saying ‘I think, if anything, clowns are benefiting from the publicity’ – it appears that at least some of the anger from the clown community was orchestrated.

A planned protest in New York last week by a group of disgruntled clowns, called ‘Clowns In Town’, and which made it onto the TV news in the US, has been exposed as a scam.

John Nelson, who was claiming to be a professional clown, told NBC 4 in New York that he had been losing money and business because of the film.

“Last week, my partner and I had six cancellations of birthday parties,” he said. “I have heard reports from other clowns, in New York and other cities, that they have been canceled as well.

“Our hope is to raise enough awareness so when people think of clowns they won’t think of scary murderers but people who dedicate their lives to bringing joy.”

However, on further investigation by morning radio hosts Len Berman and Todd Schnitt on New York’s 710 WOR, Nelson was busted.

Things started well enough, with Nelson telling Berman and Schnitt: “I’m not the only clown who’s been upset about this, that the movie ‘It,’ as well as the portrayal of clowns in pop culture over the last 20 years has really hurt business for us.

“It’s scary, it doesn’t make you want to go out and book a clown for a children’s birthday party.”

But when pressed with questions about how many clowns would be attending the protest, and the fact that News 4 went to Union Square Regal Cinema and found no clowns were in attendance, Nelson fessed up.

“This is gonna get me in a little bit of trouble because we were hired to do this for promotional purposes,” he said, before ‘walking back’ the comments once he realised he was on air.

It later emerged that the Clowns In Town website only popped up online two days before the supposed protest.

Both Warner Bros and New Line Cinema, who are behind the movie, have not yet commented on the matter.

But considering there has been legitimate concerns from actual clowns, such a stunt might be deemed more than a little insensitive, whatever director Andy Muschietti reckons.

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