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Meet Wrinkles the Clown, the Real-Life Pennywise Who Scared Kids Into Behaving

Mental Floss logo Mental Floss 12/09/2019 Ellen Gutoskey

In 2014, a couple of fed-up parents in southern Florida paid Wrinkles the Clown to hide under their unruly daughter’s bed. Wrinkles was to scare her so that they could spend the rest of her young life threatening to bring him back if she ever put another toe out of line.

Meet Wrinkles the Clown, the Real-Life Pennywise Who Scared Kids Into Behaving © Magnolia Pictures Meet Wrinkles the Clown, the Real-Life Pennywise Who Scared Kids Into Behaving The video of the ruse went viral, and Wrinkles’ popularity skyrocketed. Before long, his voicemail was flooded with messages from other exasperated parents, prank calls from kids, and even (hopefully joking) requests from people who needed help dumping a body.

Now, Geek.com reports, Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing have unveiled the rather terrifying trailer for Wrinkles the Clown, a new documentary about the man behind the mask, which will debut on October 4. The film features audio recordings of messages left for Wrinkles, viral video sightings, reactions from locals and law enforcement officials—and even an interview with Wrinkles himself.

According to a 2015 profile in The Washington Post, Wrinkles is in fact a divorced Rhode Island native and military veteran who’s now around 70 years old. He took up professional clowning after retiring to Florida and realizing he didn’t want to golf, play shuffleboard, or lounge around a country club like so many of his fellow retirees.

Related Slideshow - Funny: Real and fictional clowns (Provided by Photo Services)

“I’m just a good old-fashioned clown,” he told The Washington Post. And by old-fashioned, he means frightening; the nameless clown doesn’t love children, calls balloon animals “stupid,” and “wants to bring scary back.”

As the recently renewed interest in Pennywise and the Joker have demonstrated, people are much more interested in scary clowns than sunny ones, anyway. “No one was hiring me when I was just a regular clown,” Wrinkles says in the documentary trailer.

But coulrophobia (the fear of clowns) has been around for much longer than Stephen King stories or comics—find out where it all began here.

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