While the most recognizable role Jerry Shade plays is that of B-Bop the Clown, the man behind the makeup has led a life full of unique positions and pursuits.
Shade, 72, is also a Vietnam veteran, cancer survivor, lawn mower repairman, sign maker, Shriner, past exalted ruler of the Elks, husband, father and grandfather.
A community mainstay, Shade began clowning with Shriners International in 1993. Originally from West Virginia, he spent four years serving in the Air Force and lived in St. Louis prior to moving to Clovis in 1980.
He married Marsha, a native eastern New Mexican, in 1991, and between the two they share three children and seven grandchildren.
As B-Bop the Clown, Shade has been active at the Curry County Fair for the past 15 years.
What brought you to Clovis?
The company I was working for was working with metals. We did oil cans, and plastics were coming in, so that wiped us out. My brother was base procurement officer (at Cannon) in ’74 and he said, “Let’s go to Clovis.” I said, “What’s Clovis?”
I moved here in ’80. From there, I worked for Poyner Whites down in Portales while I was going to college. I put myself through college working on lawn mowers. I went to work for Goodyear for a while and got tired of that, so in ‘93 I opened JB’s Motor Menders lawn mower shop and I’ve been here ever since.
- What made you interested in becoming a clown?
Jerry: Being a Shriner, I had to find something to do and I figured that was the most fun, so I started clowning.
Marsha: With the Shrine, he wanted to do something, but didn’t want to do the motorcycle group. There was a small clown unit here at that time and so he decided that would be something that he’d like to do.
Jerry: My philosophy with the motorcycle guys is, I always tell them, you can’t take a motorcycle in a hospital. I’ve been to about five or six of the Shriners hospitals out of the 21.
What is your favorite part of being Clovis’s most well-known entertainer?
Jerry: I like seeing people happy and having fun. And it’s a good way to change your persona. You can hide. You get by with a lot of stuff as a clown.
Marsha: When they do the Pioneer Days Parade, the clowns for the Shrine Temple in Albuquerque will come down here and participate in that parade. And one of them says, it’s so unusual to come. Normally when they do a parade, what you hear is, “Here come the clowns!” When they come to Clovis to do a parade, you hear “Here comes B-Bop!”
I think that his enjoyment comes from watching the kids smile. There are a few that are frightened by clowns, but most of them are very intrigued.
Who is your favorite comedian?
How do you approach someone who is afraid of clowns?
It depends who it is. I’ve been to many clown schools. First thing you do with kids is back off. I’ve done birthday parties where the kid wouldn’t have a thing to do with me, and before it’s over they were up sitting in my lap.
Adults are a different story. Usually if it’s a girl, I ask, “Have you seen the movie ‘It?’” One of these days I’ll rent it so I can throw it away.
It’s really strange. The TV has not helped it at all. Every clown you see on TV, almost all of them are bad. It’s all negative.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
For clowning, Joe Shelton and Chick Taylor Sr. Everybody knew Chick Taylor, in fact, I’ve still got buttons in that drawer that Chick Taylor gave me a month before he died. He used to wear coveralls with buttons all over the place.
For lawnmower repair, Doug Skinner used to tell me all the tricks of the trade. And Randy Osburn, he’s been a good, good, good friend ever since I’ve been here.
What is your idea of a perfect vacation?
Well, we’re going to Disney World, but my perfect vacation is basically to sit around and do nothing. Which is still Disneyworld. You’re doing nothing, per se.
What is your perfect meal?
Spaghetti with meatballs.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
“Under Wraps.” It’s a kid that’s into strange stuff, and somehow or another they go to an old house and there’s a mummy in it. He wakes up and he’s out to find his queen. It’s a Halloween movie and a good comedy.
— Compiled by CMI staff writer Emily Crowe