WITHOUT GIGS, THEY TURN TO A LIFE OF CRIME
It’s one o’ clock in the morning and a camouflaged clown car sits in the shadows near Beverly Glenn Boulevard. The car is filled a bevy of scrunched-up clowns. Before the pandemic, they made a handsome living performing at birthday parties hosted by the rich elites in the vaunted “3 B’s;” Brentwood, Beverly Hills and Bell Air, where the house prices start at $2.5 million and top off at $40 million.
Coincidentally, in the last five months, the “3 B’s” have been plagued by dozens of burglaries carried out by the so-called “Custard Pie Pirates,” a group of clowns who put on a great show before pilfering millions and leaving most of their victims applauding.
THE LAUGHTER OF THe KIDS
The clown car waits in silence.
This WWN reporter squats down outside the driver’s side of the car. The window rolls down. Behind the wheel, a clown named “Bosco” (not his real clown name) adjusts his Covid mask (with a clown smile on it) and stares ahead. “I’m glad you could make it. Here’s the deal. You’ve heard of break-ins in the ‘3 B’s?’ Well it’s us.”
It took a long time to process the idea of criminal clowns. “But, why?”
“Because we’ve dedicated our lives to making kids laugh. We all love kids and not in a pervy way. A child’s laughter is magic. Some of us started as circus clowns. Me? I was barely eighteen when I auditioned at Ringling Brothers’ clown college and was accepted. I toured with that outfit until people started coming down on circuses because of the whole animal cruelty deal. That’s where I met Roscoe.”
He motions to the passenger’s seat. ‘Roscoe’ (not his real clown name), nods, squashed upside down with two or three clowns jammed in on top of him. He looks at the clown above him. “Frank? Move your ass outta my face.”
“THEY TREATED US LIKE BEGGARS.”
With Frank moving his ass out of Roscoe’s face, Roscoe continues, “With circuses shrinking, we turned to freelance clowning. And we were making good money. There are twenty of us hardcore birthday and family clowns in our group.”
“Twenty-one!” pipes a voice from below. It belongs to “PeeWee” (unfortunately, his real clown name), who is a dwarf.
“Okay,” injects Bosco, “Twenty-one. We’re a close-knit group, trading jobs, filling in for one another when someone is sick. Then? This past March? Boom! No birthdays. No parties. We tried contacting all our customers. During the pandemic, we offered to zoom ourselves on special occasions at a discounted rate, but the families just cut us off. Some of our customers were beyond rude. They treated us like beggars.
“It was devastating, not just in financial terms but in personal terms, too. Some of us have worked for these families for three generations. I go to grandkids’ parties, grandkids of my original birthday boys and girls.”
“It’s doesn’t seem fair,” chirps PeeWee from under another clown’s fat legs.
ALL BETS ARE OFF
So, the clowns figured, if their customers showed no loyalty, no sense of caring, all bets were off. Having been in just about every rich household in the area, they were familiar with the layouts and the security systems and knew most of the guards. They decided to rob the places after dark, when everyone was asleep.
When they break into the homes, they often find eager accomplices from most of the residents.
“I don’t mean to generalize,” says Bosco, “But all of these families are the same. Dad, no matter what the age, is away a lot; either traveling or working late. He’s distant at home and chases skirts when he’s away. The kids accept his extravagant “guilt” gifts but don’t like him. Mom self-medicates because she really doesn’t like Dad. The kids, if they’re under ten, know they’re being ignored and, so, they really love it when their birthday clowns visit their house unannounced and do routines as they rob the joint.”
“ON A CERTAIN LEVEL, IT BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER.”
“If they’re over ten, they’re resentful of their parents so they dig Dad getting rolled by clown bandits,” Bosco concludes.
“The ones in their twenties?” chuckles Roscoe. “They practically do the burglaries themselves and just hand us tons of stuff. They tie up their own fathers while Mom applauds from the sidelines.”
The clowns want everyone to know that, at no time, do they put their victims’ lives in danger. “We carry confetti guns,” says Bosco. “That’s just about it. We have seltzer bottles. And custard pies. We pull flowers out of people’s pockets. We really put on a show. Dad is usually incapacitated by then, either hung over or pilled-out. The kids and their mothers love it. Frankly, some of the mothers are so out of it, they smack the heck out of their husbands before they pie them. On a certain level, it brings people together.”
“And it’s not like we’re keeping all the money,” Roscoe injects. “We give a lot to charity. We just need money to live on and maybe put some away for our retirement.”
Why are they admitting their guilt in public? Bosco smiles widely. “I guess it’s to bring an extra ‘zing’ to the show, so we’re always in top form. Now, the cops know who we are. What will we do to throw them off our trail? If “The Custard Pie Pirates” disappear, keep a lookout for a gang of “Rib-Tickling Rabbis” or “Banana Peel Priests.” We love dress-up and we’re great with makeup.”
The entire clown car erupts in laughter, and a wave of farts.
“That had better be a whoopee cushion,” Roscoe simmers.
Clyde?” Bosco yells. “How many times have I told you to lay off the burritos before a gig?”
“It wasn’t just me,” mumbles Clyde.
“WE ARE ALL BOZOS ON THIS BUS.”
What do the clowns envision their lives as being after the pandemic? “Well, we can’t go back to being birthday buddies hereabouts. We’ve pretty much blown that,” admits Bosco. “But, a lot of us have been thinking of performing at children’s hospitals. We wouldn’t need money because of these robberies. It would be our way of giving back.”
“I, for one, am eager to retire from burglaries,” PeeWee pipes up. “Waiting in this car is like waiting in an armpit. Plus, some folks have been putting on the poundage.”
“Screw you, Munchkin,” says Clyde before letting one rip!
Roscoe grows agitated, struggling to climb out from under the clowns sitting on him. “I swear to God, Clyde, if I can get to you, I’ll wipe that smile off your face. And I have the face cloth to do it.”
When asked what kind of world would lead clowns to banditry, Bosco shakes his head. “The whole world is a circus, now, my boy. We are all bozos on this bus.”
Before pulling away, Bosco takes the time to toss a custard pie in this reporter’s face. “Now, you’re an honorary member of the gang.”
This journalist felt a sense of pride watching the clown car take off. It was like watching Bonnie & Clyde, or Bosco and Clyde, ride their way into legend.
Plus, the pie was delicious.