Last night I stepped into a carnival. Quite literally. We were coming in from downtown and as we emerged from the LA underground at the Santa Monica/Vermont metro station we found ourselves surrounded by neon lights and funnel cake, bumper cars and clowns.
The damn clowns. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve developed a fondness for them, it’s true. Some might tell you it’s an obsession but don’t believe them. I just appreciate anything that’s amusing and, for reasons we can’t quite explain, potentially terrifying.
The inverse is true, I’ve noticed, when it comes to horror. Me? I crack up in any haunted house or whenever I’m watching a monster or slasher film, old or new, because the situation is always outrageous and hysterical, and yea the laughing might be my own defense mechanism but I don’t spend too much time questioning it either way.
I’m always down for a thrill, that’s all. And when it’s over, like I say, I’m cracking up. Whether that means cracking up laughing, or cracking up in the direction of a breakdown, or maybe a little bit of both…well, I’ll leave that up to you, dear reader.
For me, the thrill lies in the unknown. I like a little ambiguity. A little mystery.
What awaits in the funhouse? What exactly is fun about it? Also, what’s the clown’s angle? I know he’s funny, and I know I should be amused—and I am. In fact, I empathize and relate to the clown. It’s not easy being an entertainer.
Except unlike other entertainers, when it comes to the clown, you can’t quite shake the feeling, that at some point, for some reason, maybe when you’ve got your back turned, that clown just might kill you. Yep, that’s both terrifying and hysterical, like all the best in horror. Always hysterical, partly because it ain’t happening to you!
But that’s another discussion. The point is, the intrigue of the clown lies in the disguise. The get up. The costume and make-up. The big shoes and the crazy hair and the red nose. I’ll take it all. Life is a carnival, as Queen Celia says, and of course it helps to know where to look, as you welcome the unknown and step willingly into the occasional, more shadowy corners of the world and encounter a few new and mysterious characters, each with their own shade of make-up.
Still, sometimes…maybe more often around Halloween, the carnival has a way of finding you, sometimes when you least expect it, coming out the LA subway on a cool and breezy autumn night.