Childhood Clown Trauma

How Bozo the Clown is still ruining my life

Posted Dec 02, 2014

Clown with Meat Cleaver

Do we ever get over childhood trauma? Despite years of therapy, I am still traumatized by Bozo the Clown.

There I am vacationing on a little Caribbean island, Bonaire. I’m driving around with my friend, Lauren, when we spot, in the middle of nowhere, a clown standing on top of a truck with the slogan “Coco-man” on the side.

Lauren says, “Hey, let’s turn around and take a picture of him.” 

I get frightened. Yes, it would be a great picture. This man is in full clown outfit, in the middle of a desert island, dancing in polka dot clown pants.

“I don’t know… I hate clowns… It started with a bad experience with Bozo,” I say.

My Bozo trauma dates back to my being 5 years old and my mom getting tickets to the televised Bozo show. Growing up in LA, my mom always felt one step away from showbiz. She grew up seeing stars discovered sitting in drugstores, sipping sodas, and was bitter that she ended up with kids, rather than a career. And this was her chance to get her 5 year old daughter on TV.

On the day of the show, my mom combed my hair and dressed me in a fancy dress. When Bozo asked for a volunteer from the audience, my mom grabbed my arm and held it up. I walked up onstage. Bozo picked me up and put me on his lap. Close up, clowns are very scary. I could see black stubble poking through the white paint on his face. He had a huge smile drawn on, but I knew his lips were shriveled in a frown.

Bozo asked, “What’s your name, little girl?”

I don’t know what made me sick. Was it his orange hair poking at my head, the lights in my eyes, or the smell of alcohol on his breath?

I threw up on Bozo. Bozo yelled at me as he jumped up, “God damn it! Get this girl off of me”

And that’s when I saw my mom’s face – looking on in horror. She ran to the stage and started apologizing, “I’m so sorry. Let me help clean up… I’m so sorry.”

But… it’s 50 years later and time to overcome childhood clown phobias. So, I say to Lauren, “Let’s go take a picture of Coco-man the clown.”

I drive there. Lauren rolls down the window and snaps a picture. Then two men walk towards the car yelling, “One dollar! One dollar!”

And that’s when I see that in the clown’s hand is a meat cleaver. No joke. The clown is swinging a meat cleaver on top of the truck. I scream at Lauren, “Give them a dollar!!!! Quick. Give them a dollar!!!”

Lauren gets out a dollar and opens the car door to give him a dollar. I scream again. “Get back in the car! The clown has a meat cleaver!”

I’m hysterical as I skid away. Lauren is yelling at me, “Stop! Stop! We paid for the coconuts! I want my coconuts!”

That’s when I realize the clown isn’t going to kill us. He’s chopping coconuts, not people.  

Damn you, Bozo, you still are making me crazy.

I’m curious--does anyone else have a scary clown story? No? How about a scary cop story?

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