Of course you’ve all heard about the notorious wardrobe malfunction experienced by Janet Jackson and J.T. in front of millions of fans… if not, you can Google it or search it up on YouTube. Well kids, here’s the story of a lesser known malfunction of the performance kind, maybe not as titillating (I make no apologies for that pun), but perhaps as entertaining.
Back in the day, there was a little character on t.v. called “Loonette the Clown” who lived on a big comfy couch, somewhere near Clown Town. This clown was supposedly of the kindergarten-ish age, but looked a lot like my highschool acquaintance, who at the time was in her early twenties. Loonette’s thing, was a daily adventure in and around her couch, with the occasional trip to her Granny Garbanzo’s house to visit with a nomadic Aunty and receive mail from the unicycle riding postman, Major Bedhead. Loonette had a dolly named Molly (of course) who accompanied her everywhere, unless she was pissed at her for leaving her in between the couch cushions.
Loonette became one of my longest running birthday party characters, and if you were paying attention, I mentioned her costume in one of my other posts about the problems of changing costumes in a car on a hot humid Ontario day. I actually enjoyed donning most of the costume, as it was loose fitting and involved comfortable footwear, but there was one aspect of the get-up that was a bit of a problematic, again, especially in hot weather.
Have you ever wondered how clowns get their noses to stay on? I know many of you or your children have attempted to pull them off (ha ha – but hands off my face please!), so you obviously don’t appreciate how difficult it is to have them stay on. Perhaps after reading this you will.
First, you take the nose, (which incidentally costs more than you’d think – between 30 and 50 dollars per), and turn it around so you’re staring at the inside – the foamy part with the very round nostrils at the bottom. Then, you take your spirit gum, and paint the inside of the nose with it. Next, you stick it quickly on your nose and then pull it off, leaving a coating of white spirit gum on your nose. Wait a bit, and then re-stick the clown nose on to your nose, carefully positioning it so that the nose holes line up and that the outside of your nostrils (the outside part that you can flare) are tucked as much into the sides of the nose as possible. And voila! You are a clown.
This is where I think the manufacturers of said noses made a grand omission. They made no mention of nose malfunction on any of their packaging. Oh no! I had to find out the hard way, and almost traumatize small children in the process.
Yes, as mentioned, it was one of those extremely hot, humid Ontario days that I’m so fond of, and there I was, Miss Loonette the Clown in my pink sweatshirt, orange overalls, striped black and white tights, and black wig with purple hat, made out of thick felting material. Not exactly plus 30 degree celsius attire! This time, I had gas in my tank and was able to get ready in the comfort of my air-conditioned car, so I was lulled into a false sense of well-being and preparedness, until I opened the car door. i made a mad dash for the shaded porch, and rang the bell.
A blast of cool air greeted me along with the client, who ushered me straight through the house and….straight out again through the back door. The heat hit me again as I tried to be cheerful and child-like throughout my opening routine. I was able to find a patch of shade, but shade in July doesn’t do much to bring down the body temperature, only save your skin (of which I was showing very little) from the burning UV rays. As I sang and danced I began to notice more and more perspiration, especially on my forehead. Thank goodness for eyebrows, is all I have to say, or else my white eye make up would’ve been halfway down my chin in seconds. Unfortunately, the big problem I could feel, was my nose. The liquid on my face began to creep under the edges of my very Loonette-ish red nose, causing the nose to start to slip dangerously around, and create a seepage of white liquid on to my upper lip.
Now, the biggest rule of doing these characters is that you don’t break character! Imagine the nightmares little children would have if Barney took off his head because he was sweating buckets (and I can tell you – mascot costumes are the worst for heat! I think I lost 15 lbs one summer performing as LaLa the Teletubby! Next time you greet some kid in a mascot costume, usher him into the shade for goodness sake!) Have you ever seen a half-dressed clown? Weird.
So, there I was, as one of the most popular children’s characters of the time, and my nose was on the verge of sliding off my face. The horror! Once I had assessed the situation, I decided to use as much discretion as possible. I’d casually turn away from the circle of little ones and quickly wipe a drip, I’d laugh and sniff, laugh and sniff (by the way, that had nasty implications later, but I don’t need to go into THAT much detail, do I?), and every so often, I’d do a little hand wave in all directions, especially towards myself. Despite my efforts, the perspiration kept flowing in waves down my face, leading up to the ultimate in nasty clown experiences. As I bent over to hand out my personalized Loonette the Clown colouring sheets, a stream of white, gooey liquid shot out of my fake nostrils and on to the grass below. It was one of those moments when time seemed to stand still. I know I froze (how ironic a word to use when I was actually on the cusp of suffering from heat stroke), and then felt an additional wave of heat, this time from the flush of embarrassment, wash over my already dripping face. There was nothing a clown could do, but raise her freckles to the sky, sniff, and pretend NOTHING had happened. The show must go on, musn’t it?
Needless to say, I couldn’t look the client or her adult party guests in the eye as I waved my goodbyes. If I had looked at their faces I would’ve known which ones had most likely witnessed the spirit gum ejaculation that day, and I was content not to know at that point. Ignorance was definitely bliss in this circumstance.
And so Janet, I join you in sisterly solidarity. Whether it be a boob, a pair of panties (a la Kate Middleton), or spirit gum snot shooting out of a clown nose, we all survived it with (a fair bit of) grace and composure. For, as Janet says, it’s all about “control”.