Tulsa Clown Alleys Provide Fun Times
By CHARLES CANTRELL
SEND IN THE CLOWNS: Pictured are Tulsa and surrounding area clowns from various clown alleys including Klownz Around Tulsey Town, Fun-Addicts of Bartlesville, Shriner’s Merry Makers and the Gentle Jesters.
Courtesy Chatters and Huffy the Clown
At first Sherry Ayers thought being a clown would be easy. Get a rainbow wig, put on brightly color makeup, wear goofy shoes, twist a few balloons, act stupid and bingo — those three year olds attending her niece’s birthday party would be eating from her hand. As it turned out, all but a few fled the room crying and those who remained were frozen with fear. Thus was the inauspicious beginning of Chatters, Ayer’s alter ego clown character who over the following months would learn that being a clown is an art with a little science, a lot of hard work and, as she had hoped, a whole lot of fun.
As a youngster Ayers was painfully shy and the prospects of ever becoming a clown never entered her mind, let alone becoming the co-founder (with her friend Candy Holly, aka Short Stuff) of a Tulsa area clown alley called Klownz Around Tulsey Town. But in spite of her clumsy beginnings, she’d been bitten by the bug.
The term clown alley comes from the name given the place where circus clowns gathered before shows to put on makeup and don their costume. Today’s clown alleys are affiliated with either of two national organizations, Clowns of America International or World Clown Association. Meetings are regularly scheduled and conducted according to Roberts Rules of Order. The clown organizations set training guidelines for beginners and on-going training for more advanced members. Annual conventions pull clowns together from around the world to educate and entertain each other. Clown alleys harbor a unique subculture of good hearted, fun loving and dedicated people who provide valuable services to the community.
Chatters took the mandatory beginning clown training course of ten, two and half-hour sessions weekly. She learned how to design her make up to appeal to kids rather than frighten them. She learned how to enter and work a room of children or adults, how to connect with an audience in any given situation.
“After a bit of training I realized why my make up frightened the children. My face design incorporated sharp, angular forms children see as scary. It was simply a matter of using soft, smooth lines to assure the child there is no danger. These are the little things essential to being a successful clown that you learn from those who have done it,” says Chatters.
Unlike Chatters, Boo Boo (aka Bruce Long) was anything but shy as a youth. He was in fact a self-proclaimed “ham.” Becoming a clown didn’t shock anyone who knew him personally. He was a natural, but still works on honing his act comprised of everything from balloon twisting, magic tricks and clown dancing to jokes, juggling and singing.
“You’ve got to love this to do it, because it’s hard work and you certainly don’t do it for the money,” says Boo Boo. When asked why he does it, Boo Boo gives an answer most people would understand, “It’s the look of joy on the face of a child or adult when you’ve done something that makes them happy. It never fails to get me. It’s what keeps me going as a clown and I’ve been doing it a long time.”
Clowns from Klownz Around Tulsey Town and other clown alleys can be seen all around Green Country filling educational, therapeutic and entertainment roles at hospitals, parades, classrooms or anywhere a little clowning around is appropriate or needed. According to Chatters and Boo Boo, a lot of area clown entertainment is done at no charge by dedicated, fun loving, local clowns giving back to the community. It is further evidence the best things in life are sometimes free.
For more info go to: www.tfdclowns.com
Special Thanks to Chatters, Boo Boo and Huffy the Clown for helping research this article.