Before the year 1970 clowns were a thing of their time, for John Wayne Gacy this seemed to be the perfect coverup for his troubled past. Gacy went about what seemed to be his normal everyday life for close to six years little did everyone know by the end of his killing career he had killed 33 young boys. He did not fall into our “known” or “normal” world rather he was “unnatural” and lived his life as a “hybrid” (Cohen). For these reasons his childhood needs to be closely looked at and examined for any signs that it could have trigged his actions in his adult life.
JohnWayne Gacy was born on March 17, 1942, to both Danish and Polish parents, his motherMarion Elaine Robinson and father John Stanley Gacy. He had two siblings, bothsisters by the names of Karen Gacy and Joanne Gacy. The family lived with afather who was an alcoholic and often took all of his anger out on the childrenwith a razor strap, often times if the kids were to misbehave to much thefather would believe it was due to their mother’s lack of discipline so hewould turn on her and neglect her as well. It had also been said that Gacy wassexually assaulted multiple times by their childhood neighbor who his parentsbefriended. In a report later, his sister stated they “toughened up” and thatbefore she knew it John didn’t even cry anymore. Not only was there turmoil andgrief in his home there was a constant scarlet letter on him at school due to acongenital heart condition he had that set him apart from the other kidsbecause he could not do certain activities. John was the only boy in the familyand for that reason his father held him in high regard and expected nothing butthe best from him. His father also believed that even though John had heartissues that kept him from participating in certain things that it shouldn’taffect him but in fact push him to be better. Later in his young adult life Johnrealized he was attracted to men and experienced a significant amount of issueswhen dealing with his sexuality both personally with himself and the closestpeople surrounding him. Knowing this about himself and the way his dad would beagainst the idea of him liking men he kept this a secret for a very long time.In his adult years Gacy worked for his later first wife’s mom and dad at a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Also, during his time working there he became an activemember of Jaycees, this is a leadership training and civic organization forpeople between the ages of 18 and 40. His first wife Marlynn later gave birthto his first son Michael Gacy, after his first allegation of sexual assault in1968 he had been found guilty which then led to his first divorce and virtuallyno family Marlynn moved away with his son and was not heard from since.
He re-married to Carole Hoff in 1972 and had multiple children both biological from a prior marriageand two daughters’ stepchildren from his second wife. “Carole divorced Gacy onMarch 2, 1976. Carole only knew one ofthe victims, John Butkovich, she called him “Little John” and he hadlived with them for a short time”. Being so well known in the public also aDemocratic precinct captain in the Chicago suburbs in the 1970’s he set upcultural gatherings for the city and worked as a clown hosting parties in hisspare time, thus coining his current nicknames today the “creepy clown”, “pogo the clown” or the “killer clown”. Gacys mother Marion died in the year 1989 andhis father in the year of 1969. In 1968 he was found guilty of sexual assaultand served 18 months in prison, in 1969 his father died and shortly after in 1972 is when he started committing not only a series of rapes and sexualassaults to multiple young boys but also was murdering them after so no news ofhim doing this would surface like the first time.
Gacyschildhood was indeed troubled receiving beatings on a daily basis, and alsoseeing his mother get abused caused what I’m sure was a lot of mental andemotional scaring. But the key notes that I feel are most often overlookedwhere his sexuality and how he struggled with coming out his whole young adultlife as well as the passing of his father. In studying the monster thesis, Iwas able to apply multiple of Cohens theories but the ones that stood out mostimportantly to me where thesis one the cultural body, three the monsters arethe harbinger of category of crisis, and four the monster dwells at the gatesof difference. To start with thesis one the cultural body Cohen states that“the monster is never just the monster it always signifies something else”, inJohns case I feel like this is very specific to him and speaks to a lot of hispersonal experiences as a child. Growing up his best example of a man was hisfather, he had a very toxic relationship with him and he showed John what notto be appose to what he should be. When children are little they areimpressionable and generally follow mom and dad in their footsteps when growingup and as John grew he slowly became a monster similar to his dad usingphysical power over something like a child to get a thrill or a feeling ofaccomplishment. Not only does this signify a monster but the something else inthis case is his father, he became just as I’m sure he didn’t want to be.Thesis three explains how the monster “does not fit into the natural world itssimply unnatural”, for this thesis I think it could be applied to his struggleswith his sexuality growing up and even into his late adult life. During the years he was a teenager or young adult being gay or homosexual wasn’t really socially excepted not only by outsiders but in his case his family wasn’teither. This then became a huge secret he kept in the dark for his whole lifeessentially because he went on to marry women and have children, but this Ifeel was a slight coverup to try and make him forget his real urges. Because hegrew up in a time such as this he was made to feel that what he liked or wantedwasn’t natural and didn’t fit into the world he lived in and overtime I believethat suppressive mindset got the best of him and only compiled the issues healready had in his personal life. Thesis four embodies “the other” the monsterthat dwells at the gates of difference, For John he was the other in his family he always pretended to be something he wasn’t because its what his familythought was right in this case it was being homosexual. After many years of hissuppressed feelings his father has passed away and I feel like that was his trueawakening, from that point forward he was able to do as he pleased with whomeverhe wanted because his biggest critic was no longer alive but with this, I couldalso imagine with that came a lot of resentment because he had felt the need tokeep this under wraps for so long. Once he started doing these sexual acts tothese young men, he then felt like no one could know or else he will be lookeddown on for doing acts such as these. While a lot of Johns problems where dueto his own creating of his monsters and inner demons he also had outsidemonsters that pushed him just over the edge of no return. On may 10th1994 he was sentenced to death in Cook County Illinois detention center in hislast conversations with his mother he had said he had come to terms with allthe crime he had committed but wouldn’t take it back if he had the chance.
John overall lived a very complex and abusive life starting from a very young age upuntil his late adult life. For many reasons as explained prior in my paper I believethat his childhood had a lot to do with how he turned out to be as an adult.His sisters never committed crimes such as his but also, they never hid suchsecrets as he did for all of their lives and when things got ugly for the family,they were the first ones to leave and change their names. For John he lived avery secluded life with next to no support from family or any close relative,he bonded to his victims and gave them what he thought he missed out on as achild and went down a dark avenue from that point on. It could be wrong to saythat his childhood caused the most grief for him but I believe that is where it all started.
Vronsky,Peter. Serial Killers : The Method and Madness of Monsters. Vol. Electronic ed,Berkley, 2005. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=131775&site=ehost-live.
This source provided more information intothe mind of a monster, physically and psychologically specifically about JohnWayne Gacy and just how he thought about planning his attacks and why he didso. From sit down interviews to picturesof the crime scenes this book truly showed how nasty these killers are.
This is a scholarly source from the ChaffeyCollege Bookstore written by an accredited author named Peter Vronsky.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
The main book I will be basing my researchoff of is the monster theory by Jeffrey Cohen. Through picking apart the seven theory’s in class I am able to apply more than one of these to my monster I am writing about to better help the reader understand why he did the things he did to all of those people.
Scholarly book through Google Scholar and professor’s website.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_anX-EgKqKM This is a documentary that provided more information about John Wayne Gacy and his childhood and where he came from. This then helped me understandpart of who he became as an adult and what he turned into later in his life.This also gave me more information about the crimes he committed and why he didso.
This is a documentary from crime stories from 1994 around the time when this all started. 6f007400200045