The Null Device

Can't sleep... clown'll eat me

Organisers of the Bestival festival on the Isle of Wight asked attendees to come dressed as clowns, but have had to change the theme after a number of ticket holders said they had a fear of clowns:
Organisers have suggested people instead turn up in "bunny ears, a Spam tin outfit, an astronaut's helmet, a witch's hat or just a plain old Buzz Lightyear lycra all-in-one" for the concerts which include performances by the Pet Shop Boys and the Scissor Sisters.
Coulrophobia - fear of clowns - can cause panic attacks, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea and overall feelings of dread.
What I'm wondering is: did anyone suffer from coulrophobia before John Wayne Gacy and the emergence of the modern psycho-killer-clown meme?

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