No one ever asks for scary clowns, they just seem to arrive unannounced and utterly terrifying, dragging your childhood nightmares behind them like a sack of dismembered limbs.
Too much? Well, prepare yourselves, because it seems we’re in the season of the scary clown.
With It: Chapter Two arriving in cinemas today, September 6, another clown has arrived on the scene ready to invade your dreams and jockey for position alongside Pennywise. The scary thing is, this new clown is not just based in reality – it’s actually real.
You can watch the trailer here:
Rather than the scary, but ultimately fictional, world of Pennywise, here we have the real – documentary, in fact – world of Wrinkles the Clown.
Wrinkles, as you may have guessed, is a clown. However, rather than a clown you might hire for a children’s party or some light-hearted entertainment, for example, Wrinkles is clown who gets hired to intentionally scare children. Yep.
And now there’s a documentary about him. Of course there is. Because the only thing that stopped me from needing new underwear was the fact most scary clowns are fictional or dead (e.g. John Wayne Gacy). But now that’s not the case because this is 2019, and one very real scary clown is here because the ones in Westminster and the White House aren’t enough.
Wrinkles rose to notoriety a couple of years ago, when a video went viral of the creepy clown literally climbing out from underneath a child’s bed.
Amazingly, the video claimed it wasn’t a stunt or some clever marketing for a new film (until now, of course), it was just footage of Wrinkles doing his job. Wrinkles was reportedly hired by the child’s parents ‘to strike fear into a misbehaving child’.
According to the video’s description:
The child never actually saw Wrinkles when this happened, but admits feeling the bed move and hearing noise. She woke up, but was too scared to look. The video was made (from home security camera) so that when the child acted up, the parents could show it to her and threaten to bring him back if she didn’t improve her behavior.
The video gained so much attention The Washington Post tracked down the clown to ask him a few questions.
— Jenny Barron (@JennyWCVB) November 2, 2015
According to The Post, for a few hundred bucks cash, Wrinkles will make an appearance at your location of choice – party, gathering, your friend’s house, the bus stop across the street, to scare your kid straight.
Recalling one such job involving a 12-year-old boy, Wrinkles said:
He was scared of clowns and I showed up across the street from him at the bus stop and he just started crying in front of his friends and ran home.
His mother called back a few days later and said ‘Thank you!’ Now when he acts bad, she just has to ask him: ‘Do you want Wrinkles to come back?’
The clown didn’t give his full name, but revealed he’s a 65-year-old originally from Rhode Island, who moved to Florida to escape the cold weather and have a more relaxing retirement.
However, not wanting a ‘boring’ retirement of playing golf and shuffleboard, he decided to order a clown mask, create a few posters and business cards, and embark on a new career of sorts.
Sightings of "Wrinkles the Clown," Southwest Florida. pic.twitter.com/9TFbmr3wDP
— The Unexplained (@Unexplained) November 20, 2015
As Florida teens started posting sightings of Wrinkles on social media, Wrinkles started getting more and more phone calls, sometimes hundreds a day.
It’s fun. You get to be someone else. You get some people who are petrified and some people who want you to come home with them.
I’m just a good old-fashioned clown. When I was a kid, it was okay to scare kids and now they’re all whiny and scared.
I want to bring scary back.
Of course, being such a character, Wrinkles has received some strange requests, including some asking him to dump a body, while others ask him to engage in ‘lurid’ behaviour – all of which he declines.
Now, a documentary about Wrinkles is coming to screens from October 4 this year, thanks to Emmy-nominated filmmaker Michael Beach Nichols.
The synopsis reads:
Who is Wrinkles, and why is he doing this? With incredible access to the mastermind behind the mask, Wrinkles the Clown is a cryptic and playful exploration of these questions, as well as an inside look at myth-building and the unpredictable spread of imagination in the Internet age.
So the man behind the mask may not quite be an ancient cosmic evil like Pennywise, but I’d still rather not see him hanging around town, thanks very much.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.