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Heartbreaking tale of the Underground Clown

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Move over, Tillie — there’s a new clown in town.

Frank Kozlowsky’s Underground Clown fashion line has earned a dedicated following for its creative graphic logo and heartbreaking story behind the brand.

“One of my friends was murdered in 2001,” explained Kozlowsky, Underground Clown’s founder and owner of Carousel Collision Auto Body Shop at 1902 Neptune Avenue in Coney Island.

Just 23 years of age, Cory Pelzer was shot and killed while riding the B82 bus along Flatlands Avenue in Canarsie. His killer is still at large.

Struggling to deal with his loss, Kozlowsky created a clown face that became popular with customers and realized he’d found a way to pay tribute to Pelzer.

“I’d been looking for something to do for my friend to keep his honor alive,” he explained.

Kozlowsky’s clown offers a wide grin similar to the one on the famous Tillie face that graces many T-shirts sold on the Coney Island boardwalk. However, Underground Clown’s eyes hold a bit of mystery and danger.

“Everyone in Coney Island uses the Steeplechase clown. That doesn’t fit my persona. This clown is a little more me. I made him a little sinister looking, a little more Brooklyn,” Kozlowsky said.

That image is now emblazoned on hats, shirts and dog tags, which can be purchased at

Proceeds are donated to charity, in honor of Pelzer. Funds have been donated to support the fight against breast cancer and juvenile diabetes.

Kozlowsky believes the Underground Clown fashion line and its contributions to charity are a fitting way to keep Pelzer’s memory alive.

“He was such a likeable kid. The second he walked into a room, his presence took over. There is no way I can ever replace that kid,” Kozlowsky said.

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