Ed Kroch – Bring in the Clowns (1990)

Review by Justin Tate

There’s a lot of ball juggling in this book, if you catch my drift. The “plot” consists almost entirely of bedroom scenes. There are, however, fleeting moments of macabre clown imagery to jazz up the D-grade erotica.

The opening image is red, green and blue strobes from car headlights passing the stained-glass window of a Victorian mansion. Mark, a clown accountant, has set up a compound in the mansion for his wildly successful troupe, Bring in the Clowns. Their financial success proves there’s a special synergy among the clowns. As we soon discover, it likely has to do with their limitless dedication to customer service. The juxtaposition of jolly clowns living in a creaky old mansion is really quite sublime.

Another fine image occurs when an intoxicated clown decides it is safest to stop driving and stay at a motel for the night. The drunk clown steps out into moonlight as torrential rain bleeds his facepaint into a grotesque streak of bright colors. Overhead, a defective “Vacancy” sign flickers ominously. This chilling sight turns on the motel manager, a Norman Bates-type figure, who arranges a less horrific (but no less creepy) sexy clown reimagining of the Psycho shower scene.

Generally, however, this book misses the opportunity to be creepy clown erotica. Even more broadly, it misses the opportunity to be good. While I don’t expect sweeping characterization and dramatic inner turmoil in books like this, a little story would go a long way. And more clown stuff, please. Always more clown stuff.

As it is, the story is just one romp to the next. Though dressed as clowns, the characters are essentially described as jocks engaged in rather vanilla bedroom activities. The word “lose” is misspelled as “loose” 100% of the time and that’s not to mention a large number of other obvious typos. The book certainly pales in quality next to Gay Circus (1970) by the fabulously talented Kym Allyson/John Kimbro.

But if you’re one of those weird people like me who can’t turn down a bizarre gay clown book, I guess it is good by default because of its mere existence.

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