McLemores like to clown around

June 14, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

David McLemore has yellow hair and his wife, Chastity, has white eyelashes and a heart on her chin. McLemore's 17-year-old son, Dustin, wears plaid pants and a plaid sports coat, but they don't match. The unusual hair color, makeup and clothing are all part of their clown get-ups.

As a family that likes to clown around, they decided to offer KoKo's Clown Service for birthdays and other occasions.

"He started this mess," explains Chastity, who goes by Chatty when she's in clown attire. "He was on the road with the circus."

The idea for becoming a clown began when David worked with circus companies as a promoter.

"I got tired of not being noticed so I decided to start doing promotions as a clown," says David, who worked with Ringling Brothers, Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers and Circus Pages.

It was while he was in town 10 years ago to promote a performance of Circus Pages at the National Guard Armory that he met Chastity. He was not dressed as a clown then, but his friendliness made an impression upon her.


A few weeks ago, they decided to start up a business again and do some birthday parties. Chastity says they like the happy occasions.

"I love seeing the kids smile. There's some that cry and run away, but usually they're happy," says Chastity, who will manage the business and do some clowning.

David has different clown personas

David has different clown personas that he represents, and when he does a totally white face, he is KoKo. Becoming KoKo is not easy. David estimates it takes about 45 minutes to apply the makeup.

"People don't realize there's a lot of work that goes into a clown's face. A clown's face is the window to his soul," Chastity says.

While in his yellow wig, stars and stripes hat, big pants with writing on them, and a red shirt with flames, David is American Band Dan.

"This clown is more hip-hop. I think kids today like hip-hop. Even old as I am I like a little hip-hop myself, so I figure I can blend in that way."

Even when he's not in costume, Chastity says David's vocation is obvious.

"He has a clown face. To look at his face, you know he's a natural-born clown."

Dustin, who becomes Hill Bill while in his mismatched plaid, agrees. "He doesn't have to wear the makeup."

Chastity says her husband has making people laugh in his genes.

"He's never met his real father, but we found out his father was a clown on TV. It's sort of a pass-on trait I think," she says, noting that David's oldest son also was a clown with the circus for a while.

They entertain by dancing, juggling and playing games

For a party, the clowns will entertain for an hour by dancing, juggling and playing games such as musical chairs or pin the nose on the clown. They usually charge $80.

"Pretty much you play two or three games and your hour is up," Chastity says.

Both David and Dustin enjoy dancing, and Dustin even does a little break dancing. David learned some of his juggling techniques while traveling with the circus.

Chastity learned to juggle from lots of practice.

"You find really bouncy balls and after you chase them for 100 years, you learn."

She would like to expand what they offer to include catering the event. She also would like to do face painting. For parties, they will come to the home or a park.

KoKo's Clown Service is a revival of sideline that they started years ago.

Friends Edna and Gerald Lister of Harrodsburg were customers then. They had the McLemore's perform nine years ago when their daughter was 7.

"We were really pleased with them. All the children seemed to enjoy it," Edna Lister says.

At that time, they drove a Grand Marquis that was splashed with paint and had clown heads painted on the sides. It was a real attention-getter.

David says even without the car, he causes a lot of distraction when he puts on his clown suit.

"I love to dress up as a clown, but you have to watch out you don't cause a wreck."

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