My earliest memories of clowns are certainly not positive ones, but not because I found the garish faces or bright costumes to be frightening, but rather because they were usually the source of loud noises in the circus and I was certainly no fan of those. There is also an encounter I had with a clown at a birthday party that I vaguely remember, though I believe that I found him entertaining as he presented magic tricks and made balloon animals. Subconsciously I feel I was learning that the clown was not actually the one who was making the noises I had heard as a young child, and slowly I was becoming fascinated by them because of their intriguing appearances. Exposure to the Mummer’s Parade may also have implanted images into my mind that manifested in the future when citing reference for my own makeup and costume. Research for the first issue of Alive On the Inside also lead to pursuit of knowledge on the history of clowns, and to this day I get giddy any time I come across something clown related.
First we must go back to the days of performing with Outlaw Cirkus nestled deep within the confines of the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey, where Anita Fixx was created as part of my year long apprenticeship with the troupe. Alongside the full roster of traditional circus and sideshow acts, there was a select crew who also had established alter egos that were clowns. They could get away with almost anything, including insulting the crowd and allegedly stealing personal possessions from unsuspecting volunteers who thought they were just being part of an act. These were definitely not the type of clowns to be around children, as the humor, language and behavior was reported to be lewd, vulgar and perverse.
The head of these face-painting misfits was Squeaky, a master magician who appeared in a mask when not in his clown face and allegedly the oldest of the crew who had once had a role in a big time circus. He was the sad hobo clown and an essential to the entire routine, though he never spoke a word and instead used pantomime along with props to communicate with the crowd. When he was not serving as the Ringmaster’s voice of Outlaw Cirkus or punishing his body as a modern Fakir in the Blow-Off, Reverend Saint Jon played the angry drunk hobo clown named Black Jack who enjoyed practical jokes at the expense of the others. Then there was Hanky and Panky, a mischieveous duo of harlequin clowns that did a great mirror act along with original vaudeville routines, and Madamoiselle Diane X. Treemlee Horribledeath, an opulent white-faced Victorian clown with a penchant for musical flatulence that rivaled the beauty of any song sung by an operatic icon. The addition of myself as Anita Fixx in 2001 gave birth to the Devil’s Brigade, the troupe serving a warning to sensitive viewers lest anyone be offended by anything that would occur, though despite this there was usually a few complaints about the explicit material.
There was definitely lots of crude humor and juvenile jokes punctuated with epic pie fights which often involved an unsuspecting crowd, and apparently everyone does not like to have pie on them as much as they like it in them. Even though we managed to make plenty of people laugh, there were some who inevitable became so uncomfortable they had to vocalize their opinion and interrupt whatever was happening. Eventually it became such a problem that we were no longer able to battle back with witty retorts and did not want the actions of these pretend characters affecting the performances of our real life counterparts in Outlaw Cirkus, so we chose to relinquish the makeup masks and continued to focus on our main acts. After 2003, Jon and I donned clown face for special occasions but my involvement with the Devil’s Brigade was kept to myself.
Unfortunately there is a negative reputation that comes along with being a clown, such as having people mistake you for an ICP fan and casting all sorts of other stereotypes on you. While I suppose there is nothing wrong with being such if that is your thing, I am not a fan and do not feel like explaining this all the time. Also, I understand there are people who were semi-traumatized by clowns as a young child and find them to be really creepy. However, there are also people out there who love clowns, and maybe even want to make love to them. Having a clown fetish and acting out certain fantasies is relatively harmless if all parties involved are consenting, and I happen to think that some clown porn can be pretty darn funny, but I digress.
When asked to perform for a local show about six years ago, it was made known that the people participating had to do so in the guise of a clown. Of course I was excited to have the chance to become Anita Fixx once again, and performed as such as part of the Clowncentric Sideshow for Carnivolution in Philadelphia at the Tiberino Museum. There was also a separate even at Rubulad in Brooklyn where this troupe performed for New Year’s Eve in 2006, where there was a crowd of over a thousand people who cheered on our antics. Fast forward to October of 2010 when I decided to have some fun and called upon Anita Fixx once again to do shows at the Irish Pol in Philadelphia and a church in Gloucester City, New Jersey that were a part of early Halloween celebrations. There were also parties at Khyber and Lucy’s Hat Shop that weekend where I showed up in my zombie clown guise, and also subsequently startled several people over the course of those four days as I traveled on various subway trains.
When October came again in 2011 Anita Fixx was swallowing swords at the Pleasure Garden and for a private party in some Philadelphia warehouse, then spent Halloween at Lucy’s Hat Shop again. That tradition was an ode to the weekend where I began talking to the man who would eventually become my husband, and I cannot think of a better time of year to have such a lovely anniversary. The 2012 Zombie Beach Party at the Trocadero Theater in Philly was attended in full clown guise; it was an absolute blast and something I had wanted to do for a long time. Being back in New Jersey might mean I am going to miss out on the 2012 Zombie Prom, but I have been doing various zombie clown face for two years now so I feel it is time to do something new. Instead I decided to go over-the-top and do a decadent clown that is one half Jersey party girl and one half sexy socialite, ridiculously obnoxious but infectiously hilarious. This resulted in a slight twist on the usual face I had been applying along with the creation of an actual costume that will be one of a few used specifically by the character. While I only did two Halloween shows for 2012 – Funerary at gay club and Feast of Flesh at Motel Hell in Philadelphia – there are certainly plans for future photo shoots that capture this elusive persona.
The gallery below showcases the various looks I have created over the past several years, and while there are some obvious variations between them, there are also quite a few elements that I always try and incorporate into every one.