Artwork drawn by Barney

My Fetish for Clowns & Being Vulnerable

Culture May 22, 2022

Vulnerability is hard. Being vulnerable always involves some level of discomfort, whether that’s a fear of rejection, an anxiety over expectation or the visceral, gut-wrenching, grip-around-your-heart feeling of knowing this long deep-hidden part of yourself is now out there in the world. But vulnerability is important, no matter how scary it may feel. Because it allows us to connect with other people; to lay ourselves bare, to forgo our egos, to reach out to others like us. It took me many years to brave being vulnerable in any capacity, most especially intimacy, because being kinky is not a self-acceptance we see being modelled nearly enough. Particularly when you have a fetish as ‘out there’ as mine seemed.

My name is Barney and I get turned on by clowns.

Photo of Barney in clown gear, holding a fake pie and wearing oversized mitts.

There, I just did it! The vulnerability thing. Each time is like pushing myself over a short ledge. I fall for a second and hit the ground with a thud, only to realise I’m okay. It’s then I can remind myself why I jumped in the first place: not just to hear myself say it, to normalise my truth and to know it is okay, but also so that I can be heard. I do not think enough of us have the tools, whether they be social or geographic, to find our tribes. I certainly didn’t. It’s why community-based collectives are so crucial and important - we need to hear the people like us out there saying, “Hey! I’m like you. I’m okay and you are too!”.

Unfortunately, too many of us feel that these are the worst or the most embarrassing parts of ourselves, when actually these are some of the most wonderful, unique and joyous parts. In fact, they are some of the most cool and interesting ones! My clown fetish might not make sense to a lot of people, but they are not who I am writing this for. This is for anyone who feels the same way or wants to understand it. Anyone who’s ever felt alone because they were not shown just how beautiful their kinks truly are.

I’m sure many kinksters understand what I mean when I talk about the freedom and joy clowning brings me. The reckless abandon with which I get to dress up silly and play around with someone else in a way that’s exciting, fun, freeing and creative.

On top of which, clowning bleeds into so many other kinks. When we talk about clowning in sex, we’re talking about an umbrella under which so many different kink experiences exist. Domination, humiliation, wet and messy play, ABDL, transformation, inflation, farting, fursuits, spanking, bondage, discipline, pup play. It is the freedom to do whatever we want. Sex is ridiculous. Nothing about sex should be serious!

I have especially found puppy play to utilise a headspace so similar to clowning, with the same goofy, bouncy and playful energy - not to mention the colourful gear. I think of clowns as a more ‘human’ version of human pups, which is how I finally got into pup play. I used to resent how normalised puppies are in kink, whereas I saw no one representing my desires. It made me think I should be ashamed; that I didn’t belong, even in kink circles.

It is important to remember that people don’t just wake up one day with the desire to wear a colourful neoprene hood and bark like a dog. The visual of puppy hoods is one that has long been modelled and demonstrated as an avenue for indulging in the mindless fun, attentive care or dominant and submissive behaviour that muggle society tells us we aren’t supposed to enjoy. So here I am, trying to do the same for red noses!

It is also no wonder I found my way to ABDL through clown play. The inherent humiliation of the roles and the energetic innocence they bring to playing makes them a perfect marriage in my mind. There is something about reclaiming some of the wonder left behind in childhood that resonates with both. Since doing a total 180° from finding ABDL repulsive to it now being my second favourite kink, I’ve pondered the commonality of that journey. In fact, as a child, clowns freaked me out at first. I didn’t know what to make of them and that curiosity quickly got me fixated.

And what about those who are afraid of clowns? It’s a question that pops up now and again, more so for professional clowns than myself, but here’s my answer:

Fear and eroticism are so closely connected, they touch each other against the fragile glass of our minds. It’s no wonder to me that someone can find fear in something that, for someone else, develops into fetish for the same reasons. Clowns weirding me out as a young child could have become phobia, but instead became fascination.

I think with clowns specifically, a lot of the fear element comes from their actions being unexpected. You don’t know what they’re going to do and that frightens people. I think it’s the anticipation of, “Are they going to mess with me? Embarrass me? Harm me?”. You don’t know what they’re thinking and clowns as tricksters are perceived as wily and unpredictable. Most especially with traditional whiteface styles of makeup, as they can be hard to read beyond the exaggerated emotions they’re portraying. It’s sort of like how wearing a mask can be creepy; since you’re broadcasting one emotion, what’s going on underneath becomes suspicious.

I also know people who have kinks for being made to do things they don’t enjoy, or that they are afraid of. Some are into the horror element (I’m not) and may want the thrill of being scared incorporated into play. I’ve had people request I dress as the Joker (even wielding a crowbar) while they play the helpless Robin. Plenty have asked if I would kidnap them or engage in forced play scenarios. At the end of the day, we’re all just people acting out our desires. As DumBum the Clown, my goal is to have fun, never to frighten.

It continues to amaze me just how pervasive kinky clowning has become. Despite still being largely unheard of, the sheer number of people who contact me about it is sometimes overwhelming, not to mention the many people who have since given it a go and fallen for it!

The takeaway, I suppose, is that it really is not that weird or abnormal. If my kink for clowns - for clowning around, acting a fool, dressing up doofy, taking pies to the face and acting out horny slapstick routines to circus music - is not as bizarre as it once seemed, then neither is yours. And if I am lucky enough that my being vulnerable may just help someone else realise that, then maybe practicing vulnerability can do wonders for you too.

The road to self-acceptance is not one with a distinct destination, nor is it paved with perfectly smooth stepping stones. Some are chipped, some are ugly, some hurt and are uncomfortable. Yet we all have to walk this road, and sometimes all it takes is sharing your journey with someone else for them to learn how to avoid some of the potholes.

None of us are as alone as we may think.

Oh and try clown sex - I promise that at the very least, you’ll have a laugh!