ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – We may have Stephen King to blame for coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. His 1986 novel featuring the evil Pennywise the clown will be terrifying us once again as a new version hits theaters tonight.

While it’s great for the scare factor, it’s not so great for clowns.

“Do we see the movie ‘Misery’ and get scared of all the middle-aged women in the country? No,” says Claire Wedemeyer, known as Claire the Clown, who heads up Circus Flora’s ‘Clowns on Call’ program where she entertains sick children at Cardinal Glennon and Mercy children’s hospitals.

“Yes, sometimes people have decided they’re afraid of clowns, I think it’s sometimes kind of a fashionable thing. Kids usually are not scared of clowns, if clowns have out on their makeup correctly,” she says.

Wedemeyer says clowns have been around for centuries, but the makeup really developed with the circus when people needed to see expressions from up in the bleachers. She doesn’t wear much makeup because she works close-up with kids. She thinks of clowns as simply comedians.

“We call politicians that we don’t like ‘clowns’. I think that almost annoys me more than the scary clowns,” she says.

But with scary Pennywise set to hit the big screen, there may be another rise in coulrophobia.

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