I came across the blog A Clown on Fire by chance. It seemed a vibrant, popular place so I hung around a bit. I wasn’t massively into Le Clown’s posts, as such, but the comments section was usually worth a read so I ‘followed’ him. One day, to my surprise, he awarded me a badge for making his favourite comment of the day and I was chuffed to bits but … I don’t know, it all seemed a bit too ‘clubby’ for me. I’m not into stroking egos – not even my own – so I was never more than a casual visitor to A Clown on Fire. Don’t get me wrong, it all seemed above-board and pleasant enough (if a little too … crude at times) and I was very jealous of his ultra-slick site with its huge following and I wanted to understand some of his magic. I even liked his Facebook page.
Then, a woman called Nicki Daniels guest-blogged on his site. I read and liked her post so much that I went to her blog The Nicki Daniels Interview and followed it. Le Clown was full of praise for her and I agreed wholeheartedly. We were in accord until the great bearded hipster scandal. The Open Letter to Bearded Hipsters went viral. Le Clown left an amused comment. I left an amused comment but not all of Nicki’s readers were so complimentary and dragged her over the coals for all sorts of perceived crimes against humanity. Suddenly Le Clown was not so keen. He opened a discussion on his Facebook page where he and his followers basically pilloried Nicki. OK, maybe some could find offence in the hipster post but I didn’t and I remembered that all over Nicki’s page the word humour is writ large. (Or humor, actually) The whole thing was totally tongue in cheek so why did Le Clown feel the need to join in this trial by internet? I asked him on his Facebook page. ‘Should we be throwing stones at a fellow blogger on a public forum like this? Or are you trying to disassociate yourself?’ Le Clown denied that he was trying to disassociate himself from Nicki and gave me a justification for what he was doing (I don’t remember exactly and I can’t now refer back, as you will discover). I said, ‘fair enough’ or something and left it. Not good enough. Le Clown commented again to tell me that Nicki knew what he was doing on Facebook, it was with her permission and he would never let anyone say anything harmful. I didn’t want to get into a row with the guy so I left it. I remained loyal to Nicki though. I still follow her now. I still admire and enjoy her posts but I don’t get to read them all that regularly because (as I have said in an earlier post on Shedward) my laptop is dying and I’m too poor to replace it. Thus I don’t go online as often as I’d like. And boy, did I miss something!
Aware that I’d neither seen nor heard anything from Le Clown for a while, I looked for him on WordPress. No joy, couldn’t find him. I went to Facebook. At the back of my mind I had a nagging discomfort about the way he’d done an about-face on Nicki and I wanted to see how his discussion of her hipster post had turned out. No joy. I couldn’t find him. Had he blocked me? I Googled A Clown on Fire and found, not him but a post on WordPress outing Le Clown as a narcissistic sexual predator! The blogger, Calamity Rae was another could-be protegé of Le Clown who’d been invited to write for his other blog Black Box Warnings which dealt with issues of mental health. Apparently Calamity Rae wrote about the awful abuse she suffered as a child and how she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result, after which Le Clown began to make lewd comments to her via email.
Rae pulled no punches in outing Le Clown. She included screen shots of the emails, she confirmed that Le Clown had, as I’d feared, stitched Nicki Daniels up and dropped her like a hot brick and she also included confirmation from other sources that Le Clown had done this to many other women. In the comments section of Rae’s post, plenty of people, male and female confessed that they too had been inappropriately propositioned or bullied. Some even gave up blogging because they were afraid of him. Apparently.
I say apparently not because I disbelieve any of these stories (and those that have since been posted by other Clown victims) but because I haven’t seen Le Clown’s explanation or refutation and I’m just aiming for fairness. Le Clown has disappeared. His blogs and his Facebook page are gone. He has rolled up his tent and headed out of blogtown leaving a lorry-load of unanswered questions fluttering around in the wake of his hasty exit.
So why am I writing this post? Well … I too have an unhappy history like Calamity Rae and many others who have fallen foul of Le Clown. I don’t write about it as they have but, like them, I am aware of my vulnerability to people who groom and manipulate and bully. Would he have worked me out? I had vague misgivings already so I probably would have escaped but say I didn’t. Say I confided in him or wrote about my horrors on his Black Box Warnings and he then made sexual advances to me. What would I have done? Probably I’d have disconnected from him instantly. It’s very unlikely that I’d have amassed proof and outed him the way Calamity Rae did and I’m disturbed by that.
Rae, (I know this isn’t your real name) I am writing this for three reasons. First and foremost, you went on record as saying that you preferred public rather than private, secret support so here I am supporting you as publicly as I can. Also, I want you to know that I am in awe of how you have done this. You have my respect.
Nicki, my second reason for this post is you. I don’t fancy some sweaty bloke with last night’s chilli in his beard but if you want to admit to the world that you do then I’m really glad to read it. I didn’t agree with the punishment you got and I said so but only in a small way. This is me saying it in a bigger way.
My last reason for this is personal. I know a Le Clown. I have known him a long time. One day he’ll die and then I’ll drive a stake through the coffin. Just to make sure. But you know, he’ll never really die because he lives inside me and stories like this stir it all up.