My new CFI blog on the return of Pennywise the evil clown! Horror fans around the world have waited for years to see one of the most terrifying clowns in cinematic history, and finally Pennywise returns later this week in the new version of Stephen King's It. As a post on Uproxx noted, "Who needs nightmares when you can be traumatized by creepy-ass clowns in person? The Alamo Drafthouse is celebrating the arrival of the 2017 cinematic take on Stephen King's It with a clown-only screening of the movie. The Austin location of the theater chain will cater to a clown-specific audience on September 9th with a special screening of It. All attendees are expected to be done up like a clown (I can count the Captain Spauldings already) and can also visit ‘an IT pre-party where we will have face-painters available for clown ‘touch-ups,' a photo booth, raffles for prizes, and other terrifying merriment.'" You can read the rest HERE.
I'm quoted in the August 2017 Journal of Law and Social Deviance on the topic of evil clowns, which was the topic of a popular CSI Special Report last year. You can read the law journal article HERE. You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo, and please check out my podcast Squaring the Strange!
I'm pleased to report that my book "Bad Clowns" was--however briefly--mentioned in a review in the "London Review of Books." Very nice!
From a review of my book Bad Clowns in Fortean Times magazine (Issue 349): “Benjamin Radford shows in his masterful survey that bad clowns have always been with us.... This is not a dry or scholarly read, and there’s a lot of welcome debunking. Bad Clowns moves colorfully and quickly, thanks to Radford’s acerbic wit. Verdict: A clown car just stuffed with insight and wit. 8 out of 10.” Not bad! You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
A nice correction/acknowledgement from Fortean Times magazine for having quoted from my Bad Clowns book without attribution. Classy, and appreciated!
From a review of my book Bad Clowns in Fortean Times magazine (Issue 349): “Benjamin Radford shows in his masterful survey that bad clowns have always been with us.... This is not a dry or scholarly read, and there’s a lot of welcome debunking. Bad Clowns moves colorfully and quickly, thanks to Radford’s acerbic wit. Verdict: A clown car just stuffed with insight and wit. 8 out of 10.”
My book Bad Clowns, which covered a very popular topic last year, is still making the news. A recent article by a psychologist explains that "Jesters and others persons of ridicule go back at least to ancient Egypt, and the English word “clown” first appeared sometime in the 1500s, when Shakespeare used the term to describe foolish characters in several of his plays. The now familiar circus clown – with its painted face, wig and oversized clothing – arose in the 19th century and has changed only slightly over the past 150 years. Nor is the trope of the evil clown anything new. Earlier this year, writer Benjamin Radford published “Bad Clowns,” in which he traces the historical evolution of clowns into unpredictable, menacing creatures." You can read the rest HERE. You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
Batman' has vowed to stop the scary clowns! (No, really--kind of.) In my CFI blog I take a closer look at what drives copycats. The rash of scary clown reports that have plagued America over the past two months have recently spread to other continents including Australia and Europe. It's gotten so bad that schools in the United States and Canada have been put on lockdown, and Ronald McDonald has (temporarily) been put on ice. According to Yahoo News, "Seems the scary clown craze is not only in America. There is an issue with people dressing up and frightening people in England, but they pissed off the wrong person: Batman. Someone in Cumbria, located in North West England, has been chasing off those dressed as clowns in the hopes of making children feel safe, according to The Telegraph." As I discuss in my new book Bad Clowns, This is not the first time that a costumed real-life superhero, of sorts, has come to the rescue of people in clown peril... You can read the rest HERE. You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
I was recently on the Project: Archivist show, it's always great to talk to those guys. Here's what they said about it: "Ben Radford returns this week to talk about his new book “Bad Clowns” those malicious misfits of the midway who terrorize, haunt, and threaten us. We talk about Dip Clowns, Clown Porn, Native American Clowns, Crotchy the masturbating clown and the great clown panic of 2016." You can listen HERE!
Reporter Mike Balsamo has an error in his Associated Press story about clowns: Aurora Colo. theater shooter James Holmes did not in fact dress up as the Joker during his attack (as I explain in my "Bad Clowns" book, pp. 115-119 and also in this CFI blog). There are other errors as well, including that The Joker's hair is green, not red, and it refers to "working clown John Wayne Gacy." Gacy did not work as a clown, he was a building contractor who volunteered as a clown on a few occasions but was not a professional clown. You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
MMA fighter claims that he was attacked by two clowns, one armed with a sledgehammer and the other with a knife. When he saw them approach one night his martial arts training kicked in and he immediately crouched into a fighting stance. He fought them off in a valiant battle, and called the police to recount his heroism. Of course he later admitted he made up the whole thing... You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
I was recently on the NPR show "On the Media" (10/5) talking about the recent clown panic; you can listen here...
I'm quoted in a new article in The Guardian by Jason Wilson: "It started in Green Bay, Wisconsin. On 1 August, witnesses reported a clown walking around with black balloons. At the end of that month, in Greenville, South Carolina, a clown tried to lure some kids into the woods. Four days later, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the same thing happened. On 6 September, local news in Greensboro, just up the road, reported that “a person wearing a scary clown mask, a red curly wig, a yellow dotted shirt, blue clown pants, and clown shoes” was chased off by a local with a machete...." You can read the rest HERE.
Over the past month schools throughout Alabama have been threatened by several people claiming to be clowns. Responses to the threats—many of them originating (or shared) on social media—have resulted in increased police patrols and in some cases full lockdowns. Police in Flomaton Ala. investigated what were deemed credible threats to students at Flomaton High School that were shared via social media. A total of about 700 students at Flomaton High School and nearby Flomaton Elementary School were told to shelter in place while the schools, following protocol, were placed on lockdown for much of the day while dozens of police and other law enforcement officers searched the grounds for threats. The threats had originated from two Facebook accounts, "FLOMO KLOWN" and "Shoota Cllown"; the digital trail led FBI investigators to one adult and two teens. Twenty-two year old Makayla Smith of Flomaton was arrested for making a terroristic threat while posting as an evil clown and is being held on a $200,000 bond. This string of incidents may leave parents and teachers wondering if the "clown lockdown" is the new normal, and indeed a similar incident happened again in Irondale, another Alabama town. As the news website AL.com reported, "Irondale police Officer James Lewis, a school resource officer, said a student reported to police that a Facebook post hinted at the possibility of clowns showing up on campus at Shades Valley High School. Irondale police Det. Sgt. Michael Mangina said they have two school resource officers assigned to Shades Valley. In addition to those two officers, extra officers were patrolling the campus today. Mangina said they are monitoring the situation, but said they are not overly concerned. 'Part of the problem is the fact this stuff gets on social media and it explodes and it alarms people and it just spreads,'' he said. 'In today's climate, we're better safe than sorry.'" In a third Alabama school threat that week, two people dressed as clowns appeared in a Facebook video brandished a knife and ranted for several minutes about "coming for you in Troy, Alabama." Police identified the two in the video, which had been seen more than 50,000 times, as juveniles who attend Charles Henderson High School in Troy. Police did not charge the two boys because the video did not contain a specific threat to a person, building, or institution, but warned in a public statement that other potential copycats that such pranks would not be tolerated: "The Troy Police Department strongly discourages anyone from dressing as a clown or wearing a clown mask for any reason due to the sensitive and threatening environment that this type of costume is currently under." Not only have creepy clowns recently been reported in Greenville, S.C., allegedly luring children into the woods. No evidence of those clowns has emerged and they are widely considered merely rumors, but there have been a handful of people dressing as clowns and scaring people. Last month a pair of Canadian teenagers dressed as clowns were having fun in a park scaring younger kids, and in Wisconsin a clown seen at night was revealed to be part of a viral marketing campaign for a scary film. In some cases both adults and schoolchildren have admitted to making up stories of seeing threatening clowns. Any other time reports of threatening clowns would likely have been ignored or dismissed, but these copycat clown incidents come at a time when very real terroristic threats and school shootings are in the news. Parents can take comfort that no clowns are actually trying to abduct or harm kids—not a single credible report has surfaced of any child being hurt or even touched by a threatening clown in recent weeks. Still, teachers and police understandably err on the side of caution, deciding it's better to be safe than sorry. Social media plays a large role in inspiring these copycat incidents and police, who waste time and resources responding to these false reports, hope that the novelty of reporting fake clown threats wears off soon.
I was recently interviewed by a Spanish journalist about the clown scares sweeping the country; here’s an excerpt: Q: What is your opinion on the recent sightings of terrifying clowns in the United States and other countries? A: The scary clown panic has spread across the country to dozens of states and even internationally, fueled by hoaxes, copycats, pranksters, rumors, and social media. The creepy clown panic became so serious that it was addressed in an October 4 White House briefing! Q: Why is this phenomenon occurring right now? A: There are several reasons why this scare clown panic is happening now. The most important is probably the effect of social media. People see these scary/funny clown photos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and get inspired to dress as a clown and participate in the scares. Plus, of course, the news media is reporting these stories a lot. Q: What could be the motivation of those people who dress as clowns to scare people? A: Most of them are doing it for fun and attention, they want to make the news—but do it safely and anonymously, without facing any consequences. Even if the police come, there is very little they can do since dressing as a clown is not illegal. There are a handful of reports of minor injuries, but nothing serious, no abductions or murders by these hoaxers. After all, if you really want to assault or injure somebody, you don't need to dress as a clown to do it! Q: According to your book Bad Clowns, why is the clown in all societies and cultures? A: The clown character, historically and culturally, has always been an ambiguous person—neither good nor bad, but sometimes either or both. The clown is a trickster figure, as is the Devil, of course, so there has always been an element of the unexpected, the scary or threatening in the clown. But the type of clown most people are familiar with these days is of course the good, happy clown. So these scary clowns subvert that idea, and that's one reason they are so interesting and compelling. Q: According to your book, why are many people afraid of clowns? A: There are several reasons why people are scared of clowns, but one is that clowns are masked, and people are uneasy around masked strangers—for obvious reasons! Plus, the makeup is often garish and exaggerated, which looks okay from a distance (for example from the seats in a circus), but looks scary close up.
I'm quoted in a new LiveScience.com piece on clown scares! "But the humor of these characters wasn't always harmless. Secure in their status as jokers, royal jesters could direct amusingly insulting potshots at even the king himself, said Ben Radford, author of "Bad Clowns" (University of New Mexico Press, April 2016), which explores the dark history of these comical buffoons. "A jester might make a sly joke about how many mistresses a king had or how fat he was," Radford told Live Science. "Their role allowed them to do that. As the jester, they were the only person in the kingdom who would be given that license." You can read the full piece HERE. You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
Bad Clowns, by Benjamin Radford, blends humor, investigation, and scholarship to reveal what is behind the clown’s dark smile. This book describes the history of bad clowns, why clowns go bad, and why many people fear them. Going beyond familiar clowns such as the Joker, Krusty, John Wayne Gacy, and Stephen King’s Pennywise, it also features bizarre, lesser-known stories of weird clown antics including Bozo obscenity, Ronald McDonald haters, killer clowns, phantom-clown abductors, evil-clown panics, sex clowns, carnival clowns, troll clowns, and much more. For my history of evil clowns, see my Utne piece HERE. You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
Creepy clowns have recently been reported in Greenville, S.C., allegedly luring children into the woods behind a block of apartments. It's scary and alarming -- but whether they're real is another matter. Most of the handful of reports are from children, though a few are from adults. No one has actually been harmed or even touched. The children believe the clowns live in a house located near a pond at the end of a trail in the woods, though when police investigated they saw no signs of suspicious activity or anyone dressed as a clown.... You can read the rest of the story HERE. And, of course, you can read more about this mysterious menace in my new book Bad Clowns! You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
My book "Bad Clowns" got a nice review in the "Times Literary Supplement"! You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
Looks like my new book "Bad Clowns" even made it to the Wikipedia page on clowns. Very cool! If you haven't read it yet, there's still a few copies left at your local independent bookstore, or at Amazon.com! You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
From Steve Terrell at The Santa Fe New Mexican: He’s written factual studies about the mythical chupacabra, about spooky New Mexico folklore like the tales of La Llorona, of monsters who live in lakes. But in his latest book, New Mexico author Benjamin Radford turns his attention to a subject that for some people is much scarier than any of those legendary creatures. You can read the rest HERE. You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
I recently appeared on 2 KASA Style and had a short but fun interview talking about my new book "Bad Clowns." You can watch it HERE! ALBUQUERQUE (KASA) – ‘Bad Clowns’, the phrase alone sends shivers down many people’s spines. Those malicious misfits of the midway who terrorize, haunt, and threaten us have been a cultural icon. But why are we so fascinated and terrified by them? We are making an attempt at answering that question by talking with authorBenjamin Radford to discuss his book “Bad Clowns”. You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
Horror photographer Joshua Hoffine, whose creepy and gothic photos were used on the covers of my last two books "Mysterious New Mexico" and "Bad Clowns," has a Kickstarter campaign to fund his first-ever career retrospective of photos. Check it out HERE! You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
For those of you who contacted me in tears because you missed my recent brilliant 15-minute interview with Paul Harris on 550 KTRS AM in St. Louis talking about my new book "Bad Clowns," I have good news for you. It's available HERE. Enjoy! You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
I'm interviewed on the new episode of the 16Miles2Hell show, talking about my new book Bad Clowns, as well as my ill-fated attempt to find a sculpture of a giant squid at Memorial University in Newfoundland... check it out HERE! You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
I was recently a guest on the great Skepticality show! "This episode Derek chats with Ben Radford, a Skepticality past guest, author, and investigator. Ben has just released his latest book, 'Bad Clowns'. Clowns might not be your usual idea for a skeptical topic, but Ben thinks you might just change your mind once you delve into the history and stories in his new work. So, turn off the lights, snuggle your favorite creepy clown and join in for some Bad Clown fun." You can listen HERE. You can find more on me and my work with a search for "Benjamin Radford" (not "Ben Radford") on Vimeo.
My new book Bad Clowns, published by the University of New Mexico Press, is now available on Amazon.com for Kindle. Published copies of the book will be available early April. I'm an old school author who prefers paperbacks, but if you prefer e-books then here's your chance to get it right away!