|Name:||Bob Gray, Pennywise the Dancing Clown|
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Pennywise, also known as It, is the main antagonist and titular character of IT.
Pennywise is an ancient cosmic being that feeds on human fear and human flesh. It prefers eating children, presumably because they are easier to scare. It uses shapeshifting powers to take the form of things its victims fear. Its preferred form is "Pennywise the Dancing Clown", while its true form is incomprehensible to humans and makes them lose their mind.
Though Pennywise first appeared in Stephen King's novel written in 1986 and was portrayed by Tim Curry in the 1990 adaptation, the portrayal that gained most fans is the Pennywise from the adaptation made in 2017-2019, played by Bill Skarsgård. A large Pennywise fanbase formed immediately after the release of the first It movie in 2017; to the shock and amusement of many other It fans, many members of this group considered Pennywise attractive and created fanworks showcasing this perceived attractiveness. Fans of Pennywise often call themselves "clown fuckers".
Popularity of Pennywise has led to some fans voicing criticisms about romanticizing a child-murdering monster, or just expressing bewilderment over such unlikely character getting so much romantic and sexual attention.
In the article People Are in Love With Pennywise the Clown From It and Fandom Is Having a Field Day on The Mary Sue website, Kaila Hale-Stern speculated about the reasons of Pennywise's popularity:
I suspect some of this attraction stems from Pennywise being played by an attractive young actor, Bill Skarsgard, of the blessed Skarsgard genes. If you loved It and its antagonist, going home and googling Pennywise and finding out that its face looks like Skarsgard’s without the prosthetics introduces the confusion of Bill Skarsgard lurking under all of that makeup. And maybe It’s creators really were trying to mess with us by casting such a handsome man in such a monstrous role. It certainly adds to the dialogue around the film.<...> I also believe that some of the current Pennywise craze is driven by just how out-there the concept of loving Pennywise is in the first place. As frequently happens on Tumblr and Twitter, a group’s obsession becomes the object of ridicule to others, everyone doubles down, and then the memes and the Discourse begin.
After the first movie, Pennywise was jokingly proclaimed "gay icon" on Tumblr and often was shipped with the Babadook, another horror movie monster memed into "gay icon" by fans. Some fans were surprised and disappointed by the homophobic taunting Pennywise subjects Richie to in the second It movie released in 2019, and Out magazine even published the article Pennywise Is Surprisingly Anti-Queer in It Chapter Two ("The killer clown isn’t the ally we thought he was.")
- Pennywise/Reader (most popular ship with Pennywise)
- Two Cents (Pennywise from the 1990 movie/Pennywise from the 2017 movie)
- Bill Denbrough/Pennywise
- Beverly Marsh/Pennywise
Tropes & Fanon
Taking Human Disguise
Pennywise frequently takes form of (normal, not clown-looking) human in fanworks, usually as a disguise. This human form usually looks like Bill Skarsgård.
Some uncertainity exists about Pennywise's gender. Some argue that as a shapeshifter and eldrich abomination, it can't have terms of human gender applied to it, but it have also been interpreted as genderless, female (because it lays eggs in canon), male (because its favorite form looks like a man) or in other different ways. It is most commonly interpreted as male in genre classification of fanfics on AO3, with stories pairing Pennywise with women usually classified as het and pairings with men classified as slash.
"Daddywise" and "claddy" ("clown daddy") are humorous nicknames given to It by "clown fuckers". Pennywise is often written as domineering or outright violent lover in fanfiction; many stories with it are noncon or dubcon. Fanfics about romantic or sexual relationship with Pennywise generally share many tropes with Monster Fucking stories. It is most often portrayed as a top, except for Two Cents fics where 2017!Pennywise usually bottoms to 1990!Pennywise.
Since Pennywise is a shapeshifting monster, smut writers often get creative with the look of its genitals and the kinds of sex it is capable to have. A very popular interpretation of its genitals is the "clussy" (short for "clown pussy"), which is basically a vagina dentata, often with a long tongue inside.
Meta on How Belief Affects Pennywise
"I always thought Pennywise was pretending to have been shot when Bill pulled the trigger of the bolt gun the second time, but honestly, It probably may have been hurt a bit by the empty shot because there were half a dozen kids believing Bill pulling the trigger would have hurt It, and Pennywise is all about belief.
It’s like a parallel to the Neibolt scene from the book, where even though Bev didn’t have any more silver slugs, Pennywise still ran away in fear because all the kids believed in Bev and believed that she would kill It with the next release of her slingshot, regardless of whether or not it was actually loaded, and Pennywise believed it too."
See the following artist pages:
- See 16 Times Tumblr Reacted In The Most Tumblr Way About Pennywise
- the-barrens-are-ours. Untitled Meta, Archived version. 06 March 2018.