When Clowns Go Bad

In a purple wig and light-up nose, Coco the Clown busted four hookers in Tampa, Fla. Officer Tim Pasley, posing as Coco, engaged women in conversation until they offered him sex for money, when backup officers would swoop in to make the arrest. You'd think that would make him a good clown, but real clowns have been offended that Officer Pasley played off the bad-clown image, making their jobs harder. Pasley admitted to a local newspaper that the idea for Coco came from a producer for Fox's COPS TV show.

GOOD CLOWN: Dr. Hunter "Patch" Adams

The doctor portrayed by Robin Williams in 1998's Patch Adams is sending 30,000 pounds of donated medical gear to Kabul, Afghanistan, along with a troupe of clowns to help hand out the goods.

BAD CLOWN: Larry Harmon's Bozo

Larry Harmon bought the rights to TV's most famous clown in the mid-1950s and marshaled an army of Bozos who performed on local shows in Chicago, New York, Boston and dozens of other cities. But that's not enough for Harmon, who has, on many occasions, taken credit for creating Bozo. That honor really belongs to legendary record producer Alan Livingston, who created the Bozo look and sound for TV, records and picture books. Credit also goes to Pinto Colvig, who appeared on Bozo records and first portrayed Bozo on TV in Los Angeles in 1949. Harmon has denied that he's taken credit for being the original Bozo (a title not everyone would covet). But The Wolf Files unearthed Harmon's own promotional literature, which states otherwise. Bozo always said, "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice." Harmon should listen to his own inner-Bozo.

GOOD CLOWN: Earnest Desire

Michael Fandal might be a clown in prison, but he's on the right side of the law. This 53-year-old retired New York City policeman works at Horizons, a juvenile detention lock-in facility, as a teacher, showing troubled youths how to have good clowning fun. He started performing while still on the force, sometimes tying balloons to the girdle holster that concealed his pistol. "I could stand on my head without my gun falling out," he said. "The kids never knew. It was hidden under my clown suit."

BAD CLOWN: Insane Clown Posse

Members of the hard-core rap group wear clown makeup while singing about sodomy and promising beatings for their enemies.

GOOD CLOWN: Onionhead

The Universoul Circus endeavors to bring circus entertainment to minority communities. Star Onionhead developed his clowning skills on the mean streets of the Bronx, incorporating rap music, basketball and traditional clowning skills. "My clown's a 'playa clown,' " he says. "I give respect and I get respect."

BAD CLOWN: Flasher the Clown

Flasher never really exposed himself. Bob Manion, 61, had entertained thousands of parade watchers for more than 20 years in the annual Walnut Festival in Walnut Creek, Calif. In his act, he'd rip open his trench coat to reveal his pet dog sitting inside his pants. There was no flashing of skin. But two years ago, he got booted after someone complained to police that clown peekaboo acts were offensive. Festival organizers say Flasher will be invited back this year, as long as he changes his act and obeys the rules. So, at least for this bad clown, there's hope.

Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.

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