Pennywise terrorizes moviegoers, ‘It’ causes decline in work for real-life clowns

It may just be coincidence, but when it was announced last year that a new adaptation of the 1986 Stephen King novel “It” would be released in 2017, Looney Lenny’s business started to go south.

“It was the beginning of worst fall-winter of my 22-year career,” said the popular New York-area party clown, for whom the Halloween-to-Christmas period is the most lucrative of the year. After 22 years in the business, Lenny says, he could tell there was a connection. And he might actually have some reason to think so: The 1990 miniseries version of “It,” with Tim Curry as the malevolent Pennywise, made the evil clown the stuff of nightmares. Publicity about the new film, which opens Sept. 8, might have rekindled some 1990s-era memories.

At the same time, the bad publicity (bad from a clown’s perspective, anyway) certainly wasn’t limited to “It”: “Creepy clown” sightings — often near forests or schools — had occurred in all 50 states and 18 other countries during 2016. Schools and towns banned clown costumes and clown performances. The new “It” arrives riding wave of bad press for the party clown.

Starring Finn Wolfhard, Jaeden Lieberher and Sophia Lillis and directed by Andy Muschietti, the film also features Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. He was never just a clown — he’s a malevolent force that assumes the form of whatever his victim is most afraid of. He’s a scary entity. That he’ll be aggravating an existing fear (informally known as “coulrophobia”) makes him less than a darling among those who work in floppy shoes, entertain children in hospitals and make balloon animals for overexcited 6-year-olds….

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