“Whoop-whoop!” You hear the call of the Juggalo (or Juggalette, if it’s a female) as it echoes across parking lots, music venues, and school campuses across the nation. This is a Juggalo greeting, in the way that many of us would say “Hello” or “How’s it going?”
For those of you who don’t know, a Juggalo is the moniker of a fan of the horrorcore rap group Insane Clown Posse or “ICP,” made up of the duo Joseph “Violent J” Bruce and Joseph “Shaggy 2 Dope” Utsler.
“What is a Juggalo? Let me think for a second; Oh, he gets butt-naked then he walks through the streets winking at freaks, with a two-liter stuck in his butt cheeks.” That’s from ICP’s popular song, “What is a Juggalo.”
Juggalos are made of that small percentage of social groups – the one outlier whenever some group conducts a survey and 9 out of 10 people do something.
A Juggalo is either fat or skinny, really tall or really short, overly hairy (or the hair they do have is dyed pink and green, with half shaved off and the other half in corn rows), or socially awkward, with an unconventional appearance.
Members usually come from a working middle-class or lower-class family, and feel like a complete loaner everywhere else including around their own family, except when with their Juggalo brethren where they can feel completely accepted, and don’t feel pressure to conform or hide behaviors or traits of their personality.
If they are going to a place where they are going to meet other Juggalos, they will paint their face in the style of Shaggy and Violent J.
Across the nation, this group of people is often targeted by the media as trouble-makers, anarchists, and even gang members, a title not always well deserved.
In fact, back in 2011, the U.S. Justice Department’s National Gang Intelligence Center identified Juggalos as a loosely organized hybrid gang, in the vein of the Crips, Bloods and MS-13. And Justice lists Oregon as a home to this “gang.”
This causes a problem for people who are fans of ICP and are completely law-abiding citizens, like myself.
I used to work as a musician in the horrorcore rap genre, I did shows up and down the West Coast, and a lot of my fans were themselves Juggalos, but never did I suggest they break the law.
I’ve met Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, I’ve seen their shows and heard them talk to people. They aren’t advocating people hurt people or rob people, at least not in a real sense.
They put on a show, an act, in the same way that Eminem asked audiences if they “want to see me put nine-inch-nails through each one of my eyelids” in the ’90s.
ICP does what they do to create a sense of shock and awe for their audience, to show they can make music that people will like and will travel to go see.
They have been outsiders and so they know what these Juggalos are going through, and it speaks to that subset of people, but they aren’t inviting people to commit any more crimes or join real gangs, any more than gangster rap did in the ’90s with songs like “Cop Killer” by Ice-T and N.W.A.’s “Fuck the Police.” Folks around the country did a lot of studies and surveys, and threw around a lot of money to find out that this music didn’t really influence people the way it was blamed for doing.
You can find people of all walks of life who listen to any genre of music, and the two aren’t connected. Jeffery Dahmer may have listened to Black Sabbath, but Charlie Manson’s favorite band is the Beatles.
So, next time you see one of these painted-up freaks winking at you, think twice before you assume they are a criminal. Because just like with most types of music, they are probably just using it as a way to express themselves, and like you are simply trying to find their way in life.