Folklore and Pop Culture

$24.95 paperback

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Bad Clowns

Benjamin Radford

Winner of the Bronze Medal for Popular Culture in the 2017 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Book Awards

Bad clowns—those malicious misfits of the midway who terrorize, haunt, and threaten us—have long been a cultural icon. This book describes the history of bad clowns, why clowns go bad, and why many people fear them. Going beyond familiar clowns such as the Joker, Krusty, John Wayne Gacy, and Stephen King’s Pennywise, it also features bizarre, lesser-known stories of weird clown antics including Bozo obscenity, Ronald McDonald haters, killer clowns, phantom-clown abductors, evil-clown panics, sex clowns, carnival clowns, troll clowns, and much more. Bad Clowns blends humor, investigation, and scholarship to reveal what is behind the clown’s dark smile.


Benjamin Radford is a writer, investigator, and columnist for Discovery News. He is the author of eight books, most recently Mysterious New Mexico: Miracles, Magic, and Monsters in the Land of Enchantment and Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore, both published by the University of New Mexico Press. Radford lives in Corrales, New Mexico.


“Radford’s research is varied and extensive.”


Times Literary Supplement

“Clowns with sinister sides and malevolent motives come under critical scrutiny in this pithy, abundantly illustrated study of the ‘bad clown’ as a pop culture phenomenon.”


Publishers Weekly

Bad Clowns is no joke. . . . Radford . . . tackles the topic of coulrophobia, evil clowns, criminal clowns, killer clowns, and nasty clowns in this insightful book.”


Twilight Language

“Radford isn’t clowning around: ( Bad Clowns) is heavily researched and well-footnoted and he takes readers from the first known clowns in ancient Greece through serial killer Mr. Punch of Punch and Judy right up to the legions of fans of Insane Clown Posse.”


Mirage Magazine

6 x 9 in. 200 pages 24 color illustrations, 28 halftones