Last Updated on April 3, 2021 by Sammie
oFemale clown or just bad makeup and beer belly?
You put on sparkles and a princess costume to make yourself feel like a princess. Kids dress up like super heros to believe they have super powers. Why did I think it was gonna be any different suiting up in my fat suit and white face. It’s a funny thing, makeup. It can make you feel like like “the girl next door”, “the hot chick at the club”, or “the androgynous desexualized female clown creature.” No? Just me?
I wouldn’t consider myself extremely feminine. Maybe I air on the side of femininity more than masculinity, but to be fairly honest, I’ve never given it much thought. I mean, I’m human so there are days I wear my sweatpants and unwashed shirt to go grocery shopping but I’m not above putting three coats of mascara on either. Make up was always a tool to show my mood, nothing I lived for and never something I relied on to express my feminine side but simply a tool to enhance it. Until recently I’ve never been in a situation that made me reflect on my personal spectrum of masculinity and femininity. That is, until I was asked to draw bags under my eyes, wrinkles on my forehead while sporting a hump back and belly sac. Surprisingly, it was this female clown transition moment that made me question my girly traits.
Look at me but don’t LOOK at me.
Hand to holy book, while playing a clown, I WANTED people to tell me that they couldn’t tell my gender on stage. It was the first time this role was performed as a female clown and I’ll be damned if I run on stage and people comment on my bouncing boobs or swaying hips. Granted, these comments don’t come regularly anyway….However! I wanted my fat suit to hold my secret. And oh how it did.
“You look like a little boy out there!”
“It’s amazing, I’d NEVER have guessed you were a girl.”
“I can totally see him performed by you.”
“You look androgenous.” Wow thank youuuu, you are sooo sweet! Yep, feelin good.
Female clown curse.
Curse the day you think you know what you want to hear. Because I’ll tell ya, being a 26 year old woman being told you look like a little boy makes you question some stuff. But thank you! I’m only silently being sarcastic because I do appreciate it. I wasn’t lying when I said this is what I wanted to hear. But these comments weren’t peeling away with my costume at the end of the show. These comments were staying with me days after the makeup was washed off.
I stopped feeling beautiful. I started connecting a bit too much to the fat suit and the poor posture. It’s a character, a mere persona that I embody for a few hours a day. But I started questioning if people were connecting Sammie to the creature more than to Samantha. Even in a little black dress, I had this feeling that people thought it was more odd to see me as a woman than as a deformed androgynous female clown jester. Wow, that was a mouthful but you get my point.
The day I had to perform this character without makeup was the truest test of my ego. It was difficult to put my pride aside. There was no makeup to hid behind, only my brother’s facial qualities and poor posture were on display for the public. People would see me out there and that scared the sh** out of me.
I really thought that because this character was so far from my reality it would’ve been easier to separate myself from it. But I guess when you spend your days and nights so enthralled with each tick of this personal creation, you start morphing into it. You start finding connections that make it easier to swap back and forth from character to self. But these connections are dangerous. They can make the job easier in a sense of convenience but only because the job is turning less into a job and more an expression of self.
What’s it like to be a female clown?
It shouldn’t matter. A clown is a clown who’s a clown. But I didn’t have a strong woman figure who helped me navigate the world of red noses, I had a couple an old white guy telling me I looked too “cute” on stage. (You can read about my experience with my mentor HERE.) It’s a constant battle between character and identity. Not calling myself cute here, just pointing out I made wrinkles look good.
Femininity for me is changing. In my early days of clown performing it was putting on a sun dress and heels to forget the grotesque physique of this character. Now I’m finding my feminine attributes in the cadence of my character. It’s not about shunning commercial beauty in the ninety minutes of performance, its redefining what beauty is. It’s understanding that I am not my character and my character is not me. But we are neither separate. We’re good friends who share some attributes.
It’s hard to mentally immerse yourself as something without momentarily forgetting your true identity. And maybe that’s the beauty of having the power to create another form. Only you know where it’s coming from and who it is. The audience is still trying to figure out who replaced Samantha with the fat wrinkly thing with legs. I was told by an old guy once that “acting is awful, nobody likes to act because it’s fake. Do. Feel. That’s when it’s fun.”
If you are or know someone who is a female clown, I would love to hear about your own experience! Please leave a comment below and we can connect!