Halloween Special: Giving clowns a second chance

Illustration by Papa Mbye.

Illustration by Papa Mbye.

By Papa MBye | Contributor

After last year’s killer clown craze, I gave up on the colorful-faced circus characters, but after some thinking, I realized I should give them another chance. Then I watched this year’s remake of Stephen King's’ It, and nearly wet my pants while in the theater. I screamed until I barely had a voice anymore. Yeah, it was annoying for those sitting in close proximity to me. The movie was scary, and that creepy clown played a huge part in that. So now that’s two strikes. Just when I was about ready to give up on them, I met community member Star Grigsby, also known as Sista Pickles the clown. 

Sista Pickles is a local clown with unwavering passion for what she does. Her energetic spirit erased all of my horrible experiences with clowns, and showed me what kind, fun-loving individuals they can be. They just wanna make people laugh!

Grigsby was born in South Minneapolis and graduated from Central High School, where she ran track and played basketball. Her path from then on was very interesting. She went from community college, to cosmetology school, to getting pregnant, to training to become a firefighter, to working in the medical field. Yeah. 

After working as a nurse's assistant for about nine years, she had to attend to her son's disability. Going back and forth between work and her son resulted in her losing her job. Pretty bogus right? It was at this time when she met Hershey, a local clown. The two befriended each other and Hershey talked to her about clowning. 

Though hesitant at first, after Hershey succumbed to cancer, Grigsby decided clowning was something she wanted to pursue. Upon taking a trip to the Twin City Magic store to buy supplies, she was introduced to the St. Paul Powderpuff, where she started to learn more about the art form. She picked up the alias Sista Pickles and got to work. 

Her most impactful gig was one she did for a child as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This was when she realized that clowning wasn’t all just fun and games. “I want to bring laughter and joy into people's lives,” Grigsby told me. She compared the act of making people laugh to giving them medicine. Star exemplifies this message and carries it with her literally everywhere she goes. 

For example, when going out, she always carries around her red nose just in case someone is in need of a boost in happiness. Through her fun loving and happy go lucky personality, Sista Pickles hopes to erase the stigma put on clowns – especially the notion that they’re monstrous or scary. Erasing that stereotype will open up more opportunities for clowns to get booked and support themselves doing what they love. Star’s big goal is to give back to the community in the form of a carnival. She plans to one day throw a huge one at a park, where EVERYTHING is free. That means free food too. I know a majority of you like free food. Let’s do what we can to help her make this happen. 

Oh, and if you’re still creeped out by clowns after reading this, I suggest you meet and talk to Sista Pickles. Guaranteed instant shift of opinion. Okay, not literally instant, but you get what I mean.

Find Sista Pickles on Facebook at Sista Pickles the Clown or call her at (612) 323-9274.

Kenzie O'Keefe