Identity crisis for Koko the Clown

“How does a clown show ID?”

That is the question Latrobe Valley’s Koko the Clown is grappling with after Facebook suspended his account last week.

The social media platform requested identification for the profile of Frank Bezzina’s beloved alter-ego but rejected his personal licence as proof of identity for Koko.

Mr Bezzina then sent his passport, newspaper articles, public liability cover and phone bills linking his identity to Koko, but all were deemed insufficient evidence.

He is now awaiting further response from Facebook after sending a statutory declaration obtained from police.

Mr Bezzina said he used his Facebook profile to promote community events, communicate with 3800 contacts and manage a significant amount of Koko’s business – all of which was now on hold.

The 2014 Latrobe City Citizen of the Year said he had previously used Koko’s page to raise money for terminally ill children and was planning to advertise his upcoming mental health and first aid course through the site.

“That would be where I’d get my participants from, through the Facebook page, and people would share it,” he said.

“I’ve got an event coming up for disadvantaged and disabled kids, free flights for all these kids, and I can’t advertise that because I can’t get on my Facebook.

“Business-wise people are always asking me for availability, they can’t ask me that now (through Facebook); I’m still getting phone calls and enquiries but most of my enquiries come through Facebook.”

Mr Bezzina said he would happily change the profile to align with his private identity, but the service would not allow him into the page to change it.

“I abide by the rules, if they want me to change it, I’ll change it, just let me back in,” he said.

The debacle has spawned a Facebook page to support Koko’s reinstatement, titled ‘Bring back Koko the Clown’, which has received about 2000 likes and hundreds of shares to date.

Page organiser Tracie Lund said the response had been overwhelming, with posts and photos of Koko’s community contributions flooding in.

“It was to bring attention to it (the ban) but what it’s generated… is a groundswell of support, but it’s the stories that people are sharing and the photos,” Ms Lund said.

“I think that’s the overwhelming message – the support and the lives he’s touched in his time as Koko.”

Mr Bezzina said he was “humbled” by the response.

The issue follows a turbulent time for the clowning community, after a crackdown on a trend involving people dressed as creepy clowns scaring the general public.

Mr Bezzina said he did not believe the incidents were related.