If you saw our coverage of multiple creepy clown sightings in Greenville, South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, you know these incidents have authorities nervous and residents terrified… and not just because leering, stalking clowns tend to appear in more than a few nightmares.
While coulrophobia is a real condition, these locals’ concerns aren’t being triggered by an irrational fear: several witnesses have claimed that clowns have been seen attempting to lure children out of suburban neighborhoods and apartment complexes and into dark, wooded areas — reportedly luring them with money, candy and toys.
As of last week, it appeared that this invasion was not only still plaguing the cities of Greenville, Spartanburg and Greensboro, but had spread far beyond that state’s borders… possibly into neighboring North Carolina, and perhaps as far north as Ohio.
This sudden surge in “clown trolling” once again caught the attention of several major news outlets; an article in Esquire theorized that the incidents might be some kind of viral marketing stunt for Rob Zombie’s new film “31” (which certainly has its share of murderous clowns), but most folks are unsure… and are increasingly concerned about the safety of their kids.
In a related piece, Esquire pointed out that another group is getting very worried: professional clowns, who fear their businesses — or even their safety — could be in serious jeopardy. Some pros are concerned they will be profiled by police or chased by anti-clown vigilantes. (Yes, seriously: according to police, a Greenville man was recently subdued after chasing a clown with a machete.)
“What would we run into?” said Joseph Brown, who’s been in the clowning business with wife Lisa for over a decade, but hasn’t received a single client call since the sightings peaked. “Would we be pulled over by the Sheriff or police?” Brown told WFMY News. “Would we be chased down by somebody?”
Even author Stephen King, who knows a thing or two about this subject (having unleashed the evilest clown of all time with his novel IT), admitted to his home-town newspaper that he was a little creeped out by this resurgence of this trend… which has persisted around the world for roughly three years now.
“Under the right circumstances, clowns really can be terrifying,” King told the Bangor Daily News. “Take a little kid to the circus and show him a clown, he’s more apt to scream with fear than laugh. If I saw a clown lurking under a lonely bridge (or peering up at me from a sewer grate, with or without balloons), I’d be scared, too.”
But — and here’s the clincher — King suspects the phenomenon may not even be 100% factual, but instead could be an example of “a kind of low-level hysteria, like Slender Man,” or Virginia’s notorious “Bunny Man” [whom you can read more about here], and believes that it will eventually die down again. But he also states — with apparent confidence — that “it will come back.”
According to a new report from The New York Times, it’s looking like King’s theory might be correct.
The paper references police reports from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which stated that two separate “clown sightings” in the area were revealed to be hoaxes. This revelation, combined with the fact that authorities have still not found a single suspect in Greenville and other areas (despite an intensive search), suggests that the clown panic could be based on little or no actual evidence.
Regardless, we know that “clown trolling” is a real (and totally freaky) phenomenon, so until all the facts are in, we’re going to keep our eyes and ears open…