“Creepy craze is costing us gigs” says Irish clowning industry
Workers in the Irish clowning industry have said that the knock-on-effect of people wearing creepy clown masks in recent weeks, is "destroying people's livelihoods".
The public are being urged not to lose faith in professional clowns following scary incidents throughout Ireland.
"We've had members lose gigs because of it, professional paid gigs, because of the association with hysteria and scariness and violence," said Lucy Medlycott, chairperson of the Irish Street Arts, Circus and Spectacle Network.
"This is really damaging to professional clowns. It's verging on abuse," she told the Herald.
Videos of creepy clowns terrorising young people in the run-up to Halloween have emerged online from across the world in recent weeks, with pranksters often carrying fake weapons.
Ms Medlycott hit out at the perpetrators.
"This is not what clowns are about," she said.
"It's playing on people's fears. Usually people think of clowns as something fun, something funny, childish, naive, innocent. But these scary clowns, it's just not good for anyone involved.
"It's not funny. It's not representative of clowns …they're building up a hysteria around them."
Ken Fanning, who works with Tumble Circus, said that he has lost out on work in recent weeks because of the frenzy. One customer told Fanning that she was afraid people would be frightened because of the recent controversy.
"I had a gig booked in the north of Dublin and the woman rang me and told me that they couldn't do it. We were going to bring our marching band down. She said it just couldn't happen, that she was afraid people would be scared of it, because a lot of people have been affected directly by people dressing up as clowns. It's rubbish," Mr Fanning told the Herald.
"It's crap that people are taking the image of the clown, which is loved by children. They're taking this image and turning it into an image of horror to frighten them, taking something that they have joy and pleasure in and making it a horrific image. They're destroying people's livelihoods."
Ms Medlycott said that the creepy craze will affect real clowns' ability to work safely.
"They won't be able to perform comfortably without being afraid, or being targeted. It is going to cause problems if it goes on.
"Professional clowns want to stand against this, this is not who we are… all these online fads have lifespans, but right now, it's just not funny."
Last week, students and teachers in Newpark Comprehensive School, Blackrock, were left shocked when three members of a Halloween production company inadvertently entered the school dressed as scary clowns to promote The Nightmare Realm.
The production company later apologised for the mistake.
Meanwhile, a teenager has been landed with a criminal record after taking part in the "killer clown" craze.
The 18-year-old man, from Caerphilly in Wales, was issued with a fixed penalty notice and fined £90 (€99) for a public order offence.
Gwent Police said he was intimidating children outside a school while dressed as a clown.
Chief Inspector Paul Staniforth said: "Not only is this man out of pocket, he will now have a criminal record which will impact his future, including any job opportunities.
"I hope this result sends a strong message to anyone thinking about taking part in this craze, that their five minutes of what they may think is fun really isn't worth it."