To be sure, that for every bad clown, there are hundreds of good clowns. The Wolf Files has dug around for a few examples of each. The good ones are devoting their lives to entertaining sick kids, reforming juvenile delinquents, even traveling to war-torn countries. The bad ones, well, they speak for themselves.
Good Clown, Bad Clown
GOOD CLOWN: Mr. Yoowho
In lands ravaged by war, "Clowns Without Borders" performed in the streets, entertaining child refugees. Moche Cohen, the mime clown known as "Mr. Yoowho," says his group has traveled to such places as Bosnia, Turkey, North Africa, Nepal and Afghanistan. The group's motto is "No Child Without a Smile."
BAD CLOWN: Ouchy the S&M Clown
If you need a little more thrill than a squirt of seltzer down the front of your pants, Ouchy the Clown of San Francisco is at your service. He'll discipline you with a rubber chicken, or worse. In his own defense, he says, "I don't do children's parties." However, "If you're an open-minded adult, I'd like to meet and beat you."
GOOD CLOWN: Dr. Stubbs
Who's the biggest clown on staff at the renowned Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center? It's Dr. Stubbs, aka Michael Christensen, a co-founder of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit. Cynics assume entertainers pay highly publicized hospital calls scripted by public relations experts. But since 1986, Christensen has spearheaded a program that's placed 93 clowns on the clinical staffs of 17 hospitals around the country. They make about 200,000 bedside calls each year. Some convalescing kids might be a little freaked out by Christensen's hairy-legged, hobo clown. "It happens," he says. "The key is to wait at the door for the child to invite you in. It sometimes helps to let the child watch the clown put on his makeup."
BAD CLOWN: Koko the Killer Clown
Koko the Killer Clown, a featured attraction at a Coney Island sideshow, has spent recent years folding balloons in a soiled prison cap, mumbling caustic remarks to the audience through the smudged greasepaint on his lips. Koko (né Tony Torres), was once a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus clown. But when he caught his best friend in bed with his wife, he shot the man 69 times. Since he was a dwarf — and both men were standing — many of the bullets were lodged in the victim's crotch. Koko tells audiences at his Coney Island performances that he served six years of a 50-year sentence.
GOOD CLOWN: Mr. Twister
Even if you don't find clowns the least bit funny, you have to appreciate a guy who runs down the street ahead of meter maids, feeding coins into parking meters in downtown Santa Cruz, Calif., to help forgetful motorists. The folks watching his street act sure laughed, but not some city officials. They want local merchants to enjoy a high turnover of shoppers. And, of course, parking tickets are a source of city revenue. A cop told him his act was illegal and he was later given a summons. Seven years ago, city council members embraced Mr. Twister's plight and, in a show of solidarity, they donned red rubber noses as they voted to repeal the law.
BAD CLOWN: Coco the Cop