You may not remember. Either too young, too drunk in college, or too traumatized by the viral videos, but around five to seven years ago, we met “Wrinkles the Clown.”
Even a decade after The Blair Witch Project, and thrust into the world of Paranormal Activity, people weren’t sure if this was the real deal of adolescent psychosis happening or just a shrewd marketing scheme. You know, again.
Well, as we would later discover, Wrinkles was real and a buffet platter of HO-LEE-CRAP! We’ve seen some fashion of It and gotten a snoot full of Pennywise by now. Whether from the TV miniseries or the first and second movies, we know Coulrophobia is alive and all too well.
Face it: clowns suck and make your butt pucker just seeing a circus on TV, much less roaming a town gutter or even lurking in your backyard. The latter is what happened with Wrinkles. Like you could call this nefarious ne’er-do-well and have Wrinkles cause someone you know–and most likely, hate–to age 20 years in a few seconds.
And now, there’s a documentary about the batsh!tt@ry that ensued across social media:
Yeah, that social chicanery and Halloween buffoonery is as real as Bruce Jenner’s sexuality — like, it’s obvious what you’re staring at, but you’re certain something else is really going on.
The Purge of Wrinkles
This creepy documentary is brought to us by Emmy-nominated filmmaker and documentarian Michael Beach Nichols (Welcome To Leith). The Magnet Pictures release focuses on the phenomenon by a Naples, Florida retiree and how he caused terror to become real and the local circus to lose a considerable amount of money.
So, how would something so bone-chilling as this happen for real: Easy… stupid-ass bad kids. The man who became Wrinkles put out ads in local weekly newspapers and put out signs around town like a lost puppy pimping his services to scare your kids as a form of familial punishment.
In 2016, a Kickstarter campaign began to make a film about this viral clown causing shrills up and down the Sunshine State. Although the Kickstarter didn’t meet its goal, Indie Hollywood got involved and the documentary got a greenlight. This got to the West Coast largely because The Washington Post got involved.
The virality was good for business:
For a few hundred bucks, he told The Post in November, he’ll make an appearance at your party or gathering, prank your friend, or even scare your misbehaving kid straight. But attempting to hire him for a party or personal pleasure means adding your name to a waiting list several months long, he boasted.
Not too shabby for a divorced veteran who “didn’t want to become another boring Florida retiree.”
No Clowning Around
Videos popped up across the Bay Area in Florida spreading like the satanic wildfire this was. Folks wearing clown masks everywhere. Principals banning anything resembling a clown from school. And everyone thought it was fun, except of course, the people who got freaked the eff out by Wrinkles.
Even the vociferous clown community got involved. Here’s a news story from WTVT FOX13 in Tampa, if you don’t believe me.
And another. Have you seen this clown?
The cantankerous old fart clearly has some Northeastern accent (turns out, from Rhode Island), but he doesn’t need to say a word to scare the hell out of some unwitting people.
Here’s the real video from a bit in the trailer:
In 2016, the rumors became reality.
“Wrinkles has agreed to let Anomalous Films follow him and document his life on and off the clock,” they wrote on Kickstarter, where they’re attempting to raise $45,000 to fund the film. “This means we will get to see first hand how Wrinkles lives and works in and out of the mask.”
Imagine punishing Bebe’s kids for cash and making a retirement nest egg out of it? He did it, and much like Arthur Fleck, dude wanted to be loved as a clown, but instead he takes the path less taken and chooses to scar children for life. Classy.
Wrinkles became the stuff of urban legend. YouTube videos — real and fake — was spawned across the crowdsharing site. Wrinkles’ phone did not stop ringing, leaving more than 1 million messages. He was spotted “in the wild” and even dedicated social accounts for anyone who spotted the sinister circus act. All the while, parents really did hire him to terrorize their children.
The documentary is staged to focus on the truth behind the mask, the legend behind the frenetic hysteria. Pennywise nothing. I’ll spend a few more dollars on this! Will you?
Wrinkles the Clown will premiere at Austin’s Fantastic Fest on October 3; Nationally on October 4. (Yeah, the same day as some other clown hits theaters. What a funny day this will be.)