People tend to love or hate clowns. Because of their unsettling makeup and images of evil clowns in pop culture, clowns have become a common fear among people. Despite clowns being a huge source of fear for many people, their unsettling imagery also fascinates those who enjoy horror and the macabre. Clowns have inspired many horror films and a certain motel in Nevada. The World Famous Clown Motel is a site in Tonopah, Nevada that attracts curious tourists in awe of its extensive clown collection and its clown theme. Additionally, tourists visit the motel because it is located next to an old cemetery. The idea of a clown-themed hotel next to a cemetery sounds like something out of a horror movie. The motel, however, came from humble beginnings.
The History of Tonopah, Nevada
Tonopah, Nevada, where the Clown Motel is located, was founded and thrived on the mining industry. In Tonopah’s early days, mining was the source of the local economy. The mining led to plenty of misfortunes that impacted the community. Near the Clown Motel is a cemetery established in 1901. The cemetery has hosted many victims of mining accidents, homicides, and illnesses such as “The Tonopah Plague”. It was opened for 10 years before closing, but Clarence David, who died in 1942 in a mine fire, was buried there. He left behind an extensive clown collection to his children Leroy and Leona, which inspired them to build the Clown Motel.
The History of the Clown Motel
The Clown Motel was started by Leona and Leroy David in 1985 as a tribute to their late father, buried nearby. It was also to showcase the large collection of clowns he left them. Having heard about the Clown Motel by a Cemetery, tourists who enjoy the morbid and macabre soon booked their visits to Tonopah. Leroy and Leona David have expressed that they never intended for the motel to be a creepy tourist destination. They thought the clown theme would add a cheerful, happy feel to the motel, rather than make it appear creepy.
In 1995, The Clown Motel was bought by Bob and Deborah Perchetti. The motel was renovated to include clown decorations for the rooms as well as an expansion of the clown figurine collection. The collection of figurines increased from 150 to 500. Clown noses were also being sold at the motel’s front desk. During the Perchettis’ ownership of the motel, strange incidents began to occur. People claim the clown figurines are possessed by the spirits of those buried at the cemetery next door. Disembodied voices were heard saying, “We mined.” and “We died.”. Room 108 is considered the hot spot of activity in the motel. Visitors claimed to have heard voices, saw moving items, and even a 7 ft tall clown at the end of their bed.
The World Famous Clown Motel
The Ghost Adventures crew investigated the Clown Motel in 2015 and found paranormal activity there as well. A voice came from a spirit box, a dark shadow appeared, and the hand of a large clown moved along the leg independently. As a result of the Travel Channel episode, Bob Perchetti reports that business increased even further. Throughout 2015 and 2016, the Clown Motel was also adapted into a comic book and an independent film.
After retiring in 2017, Bob Perchetti sold the Clown Motel to Vijay Mehar in 2019. Mehar bought the motel after his clown-enthusiast brother persuaded him to. His brother saw the appeal in a creepy motel themed to clowns nearby a cemetery. To further enhance the motel’s fame, the Mehar family renamed it the “World Famous Clown Motel”. The family also renovated the rooms and added horror themes. Also, the clown figurine collection had grown to 2,000 figures! A landmark was Vijay Mehar’s goal for this motel, not just a place for tourists to stay. A landmark is definitely what the motel has turned into.
What began as a tribute to someone’s later father and his enjoyment of clowns, ended up being one of the most feared places in the country. The appeal of a creepy Clown Motel being next to an old cemetery continues to scare and yet intrigue tourists to this day. It is as close to experiencing a real-life horror movie as thrill seekers will get. Depending on who you speak with, it could be fun or it could be a nightmare.