Waitress Joi Pack has a secret life as a mischievous clown.
by Mick Kelly . portrait by Matt Rose
Her day jobs aren’t all that somber to begin with. Joi Pack, a 61-year-old Hendersonville resident, spends most days pouring cream sodas and making ice cream sundaes for customers at Mike’s on Main, a ‘50s-style soda shop and café in downtown Hendersonville. Or she might walk next door to the Sundries Shoppe and Arcade, full of video games and a carousel pony, where she also works part-time.
But when she really wants to get silly, Pack, who changed her name from Jodi to Joi 20 years ago, gets suited up as a clown. Doing it right takes a while, she says. “It hurts my heart to see scary images of clowns,” Pack says, explaining that she thinks some people scare kids unintentionally, by not applying their clown makeup correctly. “The world is scary enough as it is.”
For the most part, Pack turns into Joiful the clown for kids’ birthday parties, and fundraisers at Mike’s on Main like an autism awareness night for Henderson County schools. (“It’s awesome to have a clown on staff,” says Patty Adamick, the owner of both Mike’s and the arcade next door.) Pack, already rather short, says she takes special care to stoop down even lower, so that she doesn’t intimidate young children.
Still, when she turns into Joiful, she can give off a rather mischievous energy. “I’m a granny pin-up,” Pack said recently, posing for photographs. “Except this way, I feel good about myself afterwards.”
Appropriately, Pack was voted “Most Witty” in her high school. Growing up in Winter Park, Florida, she was always interested in theater, which she majored in at Rollins College there. She moved to Western North Carolina with her first husband in 1973. She has been married twice since but is currently single. Now, her 33-year-old daughter, Spring Dungan, lives in the area, and Pack says that, between time spent with her grandchildren and time spent clowning around in downtown Hendersonville, she’s a happy gal. “Even if I’m not dressed in face,” she says, “I’m a clown in the plain-clothes division.”