Image: Clowns in Mexico City
Guillermo Arias  /  AP
Clowns and guests burst balloons to kick off the Latin American Clown Convention at the Venustiano Carranza theatre on Monday in Mexico City.
updated 10/17/2006 12:22:13 AM ET 2006-10-17T04:22:13

There was hardly room for all the big feet and rubber noses as hundreds of clowns from across Latin America opened a four-day convention in a Mexico City theater on Monday.

Some 400 clowns, mainly from Mexico but with contingents from Central America, the Dominican Republic and the United States, gathered for four days of workshops, classes and, well, just clowning around.

Freddy Gaspar Chavez, 22, who works under the name “El Limoncito,” or “the little lemon,” said a clown he met from Guatemala reminded him how similar clowns are all over the world.

“We look a lot alike, though everybody has their own style of presentation,” Gaspar Chavez said with a smile — inevitably so, since it was painted on his face.

Clowning in many parts of Latin America is divided roughly into “caras blancas” — “white faces”, or clowns for children — and more vulgar “callejeros,” or street clowns.

Several female clowns at the convention noted that women are making inroads into what was once a male-dominated profession.

“When you have that spark within you, it makes it easier to fit in,” said Janet Rodriguez, 19. “But you have to learn a lot — dance, singing, child psychology — to make people laugh.”

That’s precisely the goal of the convention, said organizer Jaime “El Pingo” Segovia.

“We want folks to learn, to come together with other clowns and exchange experiences,” said Segovia.

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