THROGS NECK — A professional clown in the Bronx said the recent rash of creepy clown sightings in the city and around the country is smearing his line of work and will lead NYPD officers to profile him and his peers.
"The only thing I get worried about is the police," said Fluffy the clown, known as Milton Sheppard when he takes off the face paint and wig.
Sheppard, who has made a living as a clown for 30 years, said he wouldn't be surprised if NYPD officers start pulling him over when he drives from gig to gig on weekends. He doesn't cruise around in a clown car — rather a GMC SUV — but he does drive while decked out in full clown regalia.
"Usually cops see me, they wave at me and pass," he said. "I believe that, because of this, they'll be watching me a little more closely."
Until this week, the city had been spared from the recent outbreak of creepy clown sightings around the country. That changed Wednesday when, police said, a knife-wielding man in a clown mask chased a 16-year-old boy off a 6 train.
And on Monday, another 16-year-old boy looking out his bedroom window in East Elmhurst saw a clown on the street stare at him and wave a knife, police said.
That same day NYPD counter-terrorism czar John Miller cautioned the public not to be afraid of creepy clowns.
NYPD statistics show the overall number of stop and frisks has dropped dramatically in recent years — from 685,724 in 2011 to 22,939 in 2015. While the data can be broken out by race, the NYPD does not provide a category for the number of clowns who were stopped and frisked.
Sheppard, 53, said clowns already give people the willies because of Stephen King's "It" character Pennywise and serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who entertained at children's parties as Pogo the clown. He said he now fears he'll be lumped in with those menacing bozos who have popped up in the city.
"I'm insulted by that," he said. "What I do is a skill set. I call clowns social scientists. I would never do that."
Sheppard performs at birthday parties and other events, even ones for the NYPD. He also runs the NYC Clown Studio in Throgs Neck, which teaches people clowning, how to face-paint and entertain at events. He said he's noticed a drop off in interest in his classes since the end of the summer — around the time the creepy clown sightings started.
"I feel like it is going to affect my enrollment. I'm not getting any phone calls," he said.
Iris Foley, a retired assistant principal who took up clowning two years ago after graduating Sheppard's academy, said she fears people will react negatively to her on the street when they see her dressed in her clown gear.
Foley, who performs as Wiggles the clown and lives in The Bronx, said she also travels from show to show in her costume.
"Now I have to be cautious. I don't want to be mistaken for someone that's evil," she said. "That's something that I need to be concerned about. I have to be positive, but careful."