ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Why are people scared of clowns? It could be one part Hollywood and one part learned behavior.
Recently a re-make of Stephen King's 'IT' was released in theaters, portraying a clown as evil, murderous and blood-thirsty. Although the film has broken box office records for the month of September, some people, like Linda Sahara, worry it could break her livelihood.
Linda Sahara, also known as RUFF-L'S the clown, has been entertaining Alaskans dressed as a clown for more than three decades. She says similar to 1990, when the original 'IT' was released in theaters, her business has taken a huge hit.
"I don't think people are going to ask for clowns," said Sahara. "The first time 'IT' came out 27 years ago, for three months we hardly got any calls. I'd never do less than five parties a weekend, and then it went to three parties, to no parties."
She says because of Hollywood demonizing clowns, she has been forced to retire certain looks and limit her face paint and wigs, to make sure she doesn't scare kids and adults.
"I'm starting to downplay the clown, which is so sad because it was such a beautiful art form," said Sahara.
But according to Meghan Yarmak, a licensed professional counselor, the fear of clowns could be a learned behavior. She says feeling like you've been tricked by in some way, by someone's facial cues, can be disturbing on a psycho-social level.
"From a biological level at birth we're tuned to our caregiver's faces, and to have someone who has a clown face painted on, that looks particularly happy, it may not be a true representation of the body language or the emotions that are in a specific scenario," said Yarmak. "So we may feel tricked, betrayed or something is not quite right in an unsettling sort of way. It does cause some anxiety for quite a few people."