Insane Clown Posse (ICP) is a two-member hip-hop duo that perform in clown makeup and spray their audience with cheap soda. Their lyrics detail acts of extreme violence, which they rap across often undeniably catchy — and occasionally carnivalesque — beats and melodies. Along the way they have cultivated a wholesale rejection of most things mainstream, including airplay on radio and MTV.
As it turns out, this is a winning formula. Just ask ICP’s legion of clown-faced fans, the Juggalos. Until recently, the Juggalos (and Jugalettes) rarely made headlines, and when they did it was a bad apple: Jacob Robida, the kid who went into a gay bar in Massachusetts with a hatchet, and Richard McCroskey, the alleged Farmville murderer, both claimed to be Juggalos.
For 11 years, the Gathering of the Juggalos (GotJ) has served as the biggest event in this subculture, featuring music, wrestling, seminars, autograph signings, and even comedy acts (wonder no more where Tom Green is playing these days, or Gallagher — yes, the watermelon idiot). This year’s GotJ is getting more press than usual, thanks to the accusations by would-be singer Tila Tequila that she was pelted onstage with flying debris chucked by Juggalos, and that she barely escaped with her life.
As Tila’s music career reaps a rare bit of press, we offer five things men should know about Juggalos.
1- Tila Tequila was not the first performer to be pelted onstage by Juggalos
The first thing men should know about Juggalos — and the first thing Tequila should have considered — is that pelting an on-stage performer with whatever you have handy is nothing new for Juggalos. At the 2009 Gathering of the Juggalos, fans threw dozens and dozens of things at performer MC Chris, who didn’t even flinch — in fact, Chris encourages it. Juggalos have even rushed the stage during ICP performances. The entire vibe is about having an intimate connection with the music and the culture, not about watching concerts from behind barriers. Tila had to know this.
2- Eminem is a former Juggalo
A long-running feud between ICP and fellow Detroit-area rapper Eminem, while said to be over now, dates back to the early 1990s, when an unknown Eminem allegedly passed out fliers for his own record-release party that falsely hinted at an appearance by ICP, which at the time would have been significant for Eminem. In fact, according to Violent J, (one-half of ICP) Eminem was a fully participating Juggalo (although the term didn’t yet exist), telling the Boston Herald in 2000 that “Eminem used to come to our shows with his face painted — 100%. He grew up on our music.”
3- Juggalos have their own vocabulary
Another thing men should know about Juggalos is that, with them as with any other rebel subculture, the old maxim holds true: Nonconformists are all alike.
Juggalos identify themselves as true societal outcasts, so it should come as no surprise that they have developed some slang — a common element of most cliques — although there’s nothing especially tricky about the slang they use; in fact, it displays a startling lack of creativity or intelligence (a motif that pops up again and again, in the music and culture). For example, they greet each other with ”Yo, Ninja, whoop! whoop!” And true Juggalos are nothing if not “’down with the clown,” and ready to show one another “clown love.”
4- Juggalos made Law And Order
The long-running NBC show is always ripping stories from the headlines, and on March 1, 2010, they did it again with the episode “Steel-Eyed Death” (known casually as “the Juggalo episode”).
The episode is based on the previously mentioned Farmville murders, believed to have been committed in 2009 by 20-year-old amateur horrorcore rapper Richard McCroskey, who rapped under the name “Syko Sam.” McCroskey, a California resident, flew to Virginia in September of that year to visit his online girlfriend, and for reasons known only to him, he bludgeoned her, her parents and her best friend.
5- Juggalos are the alleged target of a “holocaust”
The last thing men should know about Juggalos is that they are a group almost tailor-made for the internet age.
Take the “Juggalo Holocaust,” an alleged secretive group of maniacs intent on killing all Juggalos. They wear JH on their clothes and are apparently responsible for the deaths of 20 to 25 Juggalos, and the rapes of a handful of Juggalettes (naturally, evidence — like news reports of these crimes — is impossible to come by). Now on its face, “Juggalo Holocaust” is so phenomenally ridiculous that it’s embarrassing even to have to type out, but it illuminates a telling concept behind this subculture: Juggalos perceive and define themselves as persecuted, forcibly banished social pariahs, targeted simply because they don’t fit in, a notion which things like JH, despite it having the maturity level of a ninth-grade book report, drive home with efficacy. In reality, JH is most likely a Juggalo invention, a straw man someone threw up in order to give him and his fellow outcasts further justification to remain obscured as they are, whether by self-imposed exile, internet anonymity or clown face-paint.