by Josh Goller
John Wayne Gacy ruined the gig for the rest of us.
When they dig thirty bodies out of a clown’s crawlspace the whole game goes to hell faster than a pie to the face. Jester-Americans were reduced to second-class citizens, the perception of our calling transformed from ushers of unbridled joy to the creepiest motherfuckers since mimes.
It might be different if the guy at least had a scrap of talent, but with a pedestrian paint job and red-and-white striped snoozer of a suit, he had no business clowning, and even without incarceration and lethal injection he had about a seltzer bottle’s chance in hell of making it out of the birthday party circuit.
And don’t get me started on Stephen King; that hack and Tim Curry can piss up a silly string.
But the killer clown stereotyping didn’t stop me, though prejudice temporarily forced me into other lines of clowning. Until the goring, I defended our nation’s cowboys against raging bulls, risking life and limb comically scurrying through dirt to save true blue Americans from harm’s way. I was a fucking patriot, face painted in stars and stripes forever. Jumping into those steel barrels, I could hear the children over the barrage, a sound more jubilant than laughter.
I could hear awe.
But did a horn to the hamstring from that big bastard Brutus earn me a purple heart? Shit no. I didn’t even get my red nose back.
So now, every day, I apply a white base and triangle my eyes in purple, painting my mouth in the brightest shade of green greasepaint they make. I adorn my inflatable gloves and hula-hoop waistband checker pants. Walk a mile in my oversized shoes and you’ll know why.
I drive around the park in my flower-printed El Camino, giving clown car rides to those kids whose parents don’t get in the way. I help the children up jungle gyms, blow raspberries onto tummies as they clamber across monkey bars, forge balloons into shapes of the puppies their mommies forbid.
I make mirth. I create laughter. I’m an artist, a joy-giver, a stranger with candy.