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The Staten Island Clown is a nickname given to a mysterious individual who gained online notoriety for his lurking presence around the streets of Staten Island, New York at night. Since the first reported sighting of the clown in March 2014, the clown has been a subject of interest for the local news outlets and the New York City blogosphere.
On March 13th, 2014, Instagram user Michael Leavy (leavisisland) posted a photo of a clown peaking out from behind a tree on a dark street. The photo’s caption read:
“Ok so I’m a little freaked out right now. I was driving home from Buffalo Wild Wings and saw this waving at me. #wtf … is this real life? #Clown #scary #StatenIsland #BuffaloWilfWings #balloon #freakedout #creepy #life #alone #unreal #somepeople #weird #idk
On March 16th, comedian Vic Dibietto posted a video of the clown, after he saw him during the day, on his Facebook page. As of March 24th, the video has gained over 2,000 likes and over 5,000 shares.
News Media Coverage
Beginning on March 24th, the multiple sightings of the mysterious clown in Staten Island were reported on by New York Daily News, The New York Post, and New York Magazine. The same day, sparked by the media coverage, #statenislandclown became a trending topic on Twitter, garnering more than 1,000 mentions in less than 48 hours.
On March 24th, The New York Post reported that at least three individuals who have shared images and videos of him are affiliated with the Staten Island-based horror film production company Fuzz On The Lens. Citing the company’s profile description on its website, the article identified Michael Leavy, who posted the first known picture of the clown via Instagram, as a filmmaker for the group, while crediting Robert Privitera and Vic Dibitetto, who also shared follow-up photos and videos of the clown, as employees with varying roles. When questioned about the group’s possible involvement in the suspected hoax-making, Dibitetto responded:
““I have no idea. I played a gynecologist in one of their films. Who the hell knows. Nothing surprises me anymore.”
That same day, Michael Levy released a similar statement via BuzzFeed, in which he refused to confirm or deny the group’s involvement in the mystery.
“All I can say is that if people want to believe it’s me or my production company they can feel free to do so, I won’t complain, confirm, or deny. Apparently he was seen last night by more islanders. It’s a small island so a lot of people know each other, it’s just how it is. Especially if it’s a well known production company as active in the community as we, a lot of people would have some ties to each other. It’s bound to happen. But I could tell you it’s interesting getting messages from some other clown spotters Vin Innocente and the comedian Vic Dibitteto asking me if we [Fuzz On The Lens] planned it to specifically goof on them or not.”
Many who encountered the Staten Island Clown took photos and uploaded them to Instagram using the hashtag #StatenIslandClown. The tag was also used to upload photos of other clowns, such as Pennywise from Stephen King’s horror novel IT, and comment on the Staten Island Clown.
New York Daily News – Creepy Staten Island clown spotted around borough, spooks residents
New York Magazine – Creepy Clown Haunting Staten Island Probably a Hoax for Horror Movie
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