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So there's a new It trailer floating around, and to say the absolute least, the latest peek at Andrés Muschietti's Stephen King adaptation isn't exactly good PR for clowns. Seriously, just observe how remarkably little Pennywise cares about bringing joy to the lives of children:
Smh. Instead of just lazily fuming about this clown slander, we decided to do something about it: We hit up a real clown for some insight. Specifically, we hit up Kinko the Clown (a.k.a. Keith Nelson), who co-founded Bindlestiff Family Cirkus in 1995 with Stephanie Monseu, for his thoughts on the new It and more. You might remember Kinko from his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, at least one of which is still in progress. "Kinko is yet to concede because most states do not count the write-in ballots," Kinko told Complex. "Until every ballot is counted, we won't know if this clown won." Peep a condensed version of our conversation below.
So, um, that new It trailer. Not exactly the most flattering depiction of clowns. In fact, the argument could be made that this particular clown is not a very nice person. What did you think of it?
The new IT trailer will definitely get people to come see the film. For a few, it may add fuel to their clown-hating fires. When we see a wicked parent or child in a movie, do we start hating all parents and kids? Clown is a diverse world. There are many clowns who are not nice. There are many more that are super nice. Clowns are a mirror of "society," and therefore, there are nice clowns, mean clowns, pretty clowns, ugly clowns, smart clowns, stupid clowns, scary clowns, sexy clowns, and so many more.
What was your favorite part of the new It trailer?
I laughed when the kid was running and got whacked in the head by the public works barricade. Gimme some good ole slapstick!
What was your least favorite part?
I miss Tim Curry!
Will you be catching the movie when it hits theaters later this year?
I may see IT in a theater, but I imagine that I will probably wait until I can watch it at home in the late hours one night.
Does the professional clown community generally boycott clown depictions of this nature, out of solidarity?
The professional clown world is extremely diverse. I do imagine there will be a segment of the community that boycotts the film, but there are many who will go see it because it contains a clown.
Did you ever read the Stephen King book or watch the TV adaptation starring Tim Curry?
The book has been on my to-read stack of books for years, though the spine is yet to be broken. I did watch the TV adaptation. I am a big Tim Curry fan dating back to being in the live cast of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Tim Curry, Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper and Emmett Kelly taught me that it was OK for a man to put on makeup.
You mentioned previously that you enjoyed the horror genre yourself. Have you ever been afraid of a movie clown?
After watching the original Psycho I was scared to take a shower for weeks. I have never been afraid of a movie clown, though there are some on stage that irk me. I am more frightened by a clown selling millions of hamburgers to an obese nation than a clown rising from the gutter. Who is the murderer?
What are some of your personal favorite horror movies?
I am a big fan of the classics and esoteric in the realm of horror. Hitchcock's original Psycho had a major impact on my young mind and dirty body. But to keep it focused on clowns, circus and horror, two of my favorites are Tod Browning's Freaks and Santa Sangre. And for folks looking for clowns from the dark underbelly of the circus, a few worth noting: He Who Gets Slapped (Lon Chaney), Circus of Horrors, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, The Last Circus. This list is long.
2016 was a particularly rough year for the clown community, what with all the alleged clown spottings. On a scale of 1 to 100,000, how pissed off were you when these stories started popping up everywhere?
2016 was a rough year for clowns indeed. One or two misguided individuals and numerous false sightings in a world addicted to fake news fueled this past year's anti-clown campaign. Society's continuing need to find another group to hate and abuse created a dangerous situation for clowns across the country, reaching a peak in October 2016. Parents armed themselves on Halloween ready to attack clowns (e.g. Brevard County, FL). Places passed anti-clown ordinances, such as Kemper County, Mississippi. Parties canceled clowns. Clowns said no to work because driving to the gig would be too dangerous in a hate-filled society. It is time for America to wake up and get on with the show! And to add insult to injury, once we move beyond all of the clown hate, we are faced with the media's fault of comparing politicians to clowns, and politics to circus. Circus is well organized and at the end of the day, its mission was to make people happy. Clowns are there to make you feel and think. I don't see any of that coming at us from Washington.
What does the rest of 2017 hold for Bindlestiff? Any big plans?
2017 looks to be a good year for Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. We expect to entertain thousands of people this year. In May, we present our newest production, "A Cardboard and Duct Tape Spectacular," at the Connelly Theater in NYC. In July, Bindlestiff is being invited by the Smithsonian to perform on the National Mall in Washington, DC. In September, we will produce the eighth annual NYC Unicycle Festival.
And finally, what's your favorite Kanye song? This is very important.
Kinko the Clown has no favorite Kanye West song. When we performed next to Kanye in his early years I was impressed with some of his theatrics. But I must admit that I can't get behind someone who spends more time disrespecting others than creating art. Kanye's treatment of women (Taylor Swift assault), putting down other artists (Beck), and his short love affair with our current hate-spewing president are a few reasons that I don't see a need to get behind his work.