What is a Juggalo? The Insane Clown Posse will tell you, insanely


Pictured: Angry rapping clown people and basketball fans

GateHouse – And now, please join me for a brief detour into the lively world of the Insane Clown Posse.

Unless you are a 14-year-old with a cape and a notebook of dark and exceedingly bad poetry, or a music writer with an assignment to write about the 50 Worst Instances Of Something, you have probably never heard of the Insane Clown Posse, made up of two Detroit rappers so named because they dress like clowns, act insanely and are frequently summoned by Old West sheriffs to help enforce the law.

Ha! I am kidding, of course: the Insane Clown Posse’s lyrics suggest they are not so much invested in adhering to the law as they are, say, telling tales of a party held underneath a cemetery starring mostly corpses, and, unless I’m dramatically misreading the lyrics here, a dancing and headless Kurt Cobain. Many, many terrible things appear in Insane Clown Posse songs, including a delightful fiesta of horror-flick murders, an evil eye that controls its owner, stabbings, mutilations, Faygo grape pop, Snoop Dogg and a man who befouls soup in a manner in which I’ve never thought about before.



But Jeff, you’re thinking, you clearly think of yourself as ironically detached, why would you, a doting father, be able to make that list of ICP subject matter from memory? Well, I was introduced to the Insane Clown Posse several years ago by my friend Tony, who in 1997 dubbed me a cassette of their album “The Great Milenko,” which was OK, because it’s not like there were any girls around to be horrified by it. The record achieved brief notoriety for being banned by its record label – which was, hilariously, owned by Disney – on the same day it was released, meaning the album came out in stores, and then, a few hours later, was pulled from stores, which seems to be an awful lot of wasted effort and possibly the only instance in recorded history wherein the two super-violent clown MCs could have been argued to be the most logical people in the room.

I should take a moment here to note that I have been unsettled and terrified of clowns since the age of 4. All clowns are nefarious and evil, with the following exceptions: Krusty and when Bozo did the Grand Prize Game. Personally, given the choice between encountering in a pitch-black alley the Insane Clown Posse or a friendly gaggle of laughing circus clowns, I’d take the former without blinking an eye. I imagine they’d at least offer me a Faygo.

Anyway, I bring this all up because the Insane Clown Posse hosts as annual retreat/seminar/networking event/speed-dating party called the Gathering of the Juggalos, “Juggalo” being the accepted term for “fan of the Insane Clown Posse” and the hardest word to rhyme in the English language.

This year’s Gathering, the ninth, is slated to take place Aug. 9-12 at Cave-In Rock, Ill., a southern town on the Ohio River, and that, needless to say, excites the locals of Cave-In Rock to a degree they’re finding hard to verbalize. “(The group’s fans) get out and terrorize the community,” said Shawnee Ministerial Alliance Vice President Greg Degrave, also the pastor of Levee Pond Church, one of a number of churches nationwide opposed to the general message of the Insane Clown Posse, and by “number of” I mean “all of them” – except, of course, Our Lady of the Honking Nose and St. Seltzer’s.

This is noteworthy for a number of reasons, the first of which, of course, is that in over 50 years of rock ‘n’ roll no one has figured out that the way to make purportedly offensive go away is to NOT PUT THEM IN THE NEWSPAPER BY WHINING ABOUT THEM CONSTANTLY, so their name becomes synonymous with endearing, delicious danger.

The second is that the Juggalos, in my brief experience with them (basically Tony, and a crowd outside the Chicago House of Blues one time, which was dressed all in black and painted like clowns so pervasively one could legitimately wonder when Michael Jackson was coming by) are a friendly, peaceful people. The Gathering, I would surmise, can’t be that much more ridiculous and potentially drinky as, say, two Jimmy Buffett concerts at Wrigley Field, where grown men drive minivans with fins on them to a crowded neighborhood so they can get hammered outside while wearing grass skirts. Don’t fear the Juggalos, good people of Cave-In Rock. But, also, for the love of God, don’t eat the soup.


About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

29 responses to “What is a Juggalo? The Insane Clown Posse will tell you, insanely

  • Übermilf

    I only have one thing to say about this.

    Oh, and my husband has started reading your blog, too. So, that’s two things.


  • UberDILF

    I would never don a grass skirt to go see Jimmy buffet, but my wife might make me wear a talking pointy hat to go buy a book next Wednesday in downtown DG.


  • a 2 the b



  • Dead Body Man

    Who’s goin’ chicken huntin’?


  • Krackheadken

    Very good article Jeff~~ Its nice to see a positive article about us (Juggalos) online! Wish everyone else would be a lil more accepting to the fact that we jus want to assemble with friends an see a concert!!


  • Logan

    Hey mad love and respect to you sir us Juggalos don’t get many positive things said about us most of us are good ppl we just like strange music.So thank you for the positive words.


  • Logan

    Oh yeah I forgot dead body man


  • ninjalo34

    FOR ONCE IN A WHILE WE JUGGALOS GET A POSITIVE ARTICLE….& I want to thank you Jeff for doing that because ppl need to know we’re not bad ppl….we are human too & just because we have DIFFERENT taste in GOOD music doesnt mean a thing….plus the GOTJ brings so much money into some random town so if they want to kick us out then there messing up big time!!!!MCL…..WEEEEZZZ GOIN CHICKEN HUNTIN


  • Nick


    Kudos on a good article. To echo previous Juggalo comments, it is indeed rare to see positive press regarding ourselves, or especially ICP. I attended the first three Gatherings, in Novi, Toledo, and Peoria, respectively, and always had a blast. The Juggalos filled every hotel in the surrounding areas, bought out all the local Faygo supplies (if there were any to be had), and honestly, kept things low-key.

    Every year, Juggalos descend upon the Gathering location and POUR money into that community, and yet every year, the only press covering the event is negative. Despite the millions that a Gathering brings, people protest them because of a few past cases of graffiti (which, by the way, we’re not ALL responsible for). In Peoria, the venue was smart and handed out sidewalk chalk throughout the line for those who had the itch to “tag” something.

    I’m assuming your article is titled as it is because of last year’s Gathering hype. Brooklyn, MI was supposed to host the event, and a venue was even locked down. However, the local “townfolk” (a term that fits the Brooklyn crowd) rose up with their torches and pitchforks and made such a stink that the Gathering was banned. I thought it was 2007. Aren’t people a little more open-minded these days?

    …Or maybe they are afraid of songs that depict the murders of racist rednecks…


  • Rev. Sid

    my genetailia is very clean, the soup is fine!

    But seriously, excelent article!!


  • juggalo

    your title sucks jeff, “towm must be insane to reject icp gathering” are you serious??? check it, my nigga potes said it should have read “Town must b Insane 2 clown this posse” just to show you, the media has no idea.


  • Grant



  • Gone Reidsy


    Hey Jeff, just wanted to stop by and say thanks for the positive word about us juggalos man. It seems like nobody in the world has a clue sometimes, but it’s nice to see that not everybody in this world has their head so far up their ass that they can’t see the truth.


  • juggalos and juggalets 4 life

    hey Jeff thanks for the positive artical about us juggalos and juggalets. who want to go chicken huntin with me tonight?


  • Anonymous

    thank you jeff, I’m simply restating what all others have said about your article, and that is thank you for giving us some positive recognition, however if we were to have had absolutely no negative recognition who would we be today? We are many, we come in all shapes, sizes and colors (shapes sizes and jugglers as ICP would say) and we have indured alot of hardship simply for the fact that we claim the title Juggalo, but this hardship isn’t all that bad, its whats helped shape us and make us what we are, today. We have other artists such as Tech N9ne on the radio even saying Juggalo, for millions to hear and learn to respect. Our family is rising, and all we want is biggotry stopped. We can handle being called “juggahos” and all the other pathetic names people come up with to attempt to humiliate us, we simply want all these stupid rednecks to stop raping their daughters, and stop beating their wifes. Yes, we are good people, we can be the friendliest killer clowns you’ve ever seen but as soon as you do something as stupid as the above ideas, thats when you see the real wicked clown. I have never been to a gathering (although I want to eventually make it considering I’ve been trying my hardest for the past 3 years) but that doesn’t really even matter. Sure soup is good, and it doesn’t deserve to be defiled like that, but oh well…Were juggalos and we do shit like that. anyways, I’m babbling and making this comment sound 2 sided when its really just one so I’ll stop now. Basically, Thank you for the positive review, but its not as important as people might crack it out to be.


  • aspen

    haha. thanks for the support. we are a peaceful people.
    just dont mess with our homies. or the “evil clown” side takes over. haha.



  • Tika2Dope

    Just reread your article…we are getting ready for this year’s gathering of the juggalos, and wondering if we are going to face the same ridiculousness that we faced last year. Cave in Rock, IL was lovely, and I am so glad that we are having the gathering there for a second time! Maybe the people who feared us so much now see that we have nothing but love! Thank you for your article, but more so for giving the Juggalos and juggalettes a fair shake…much clown love! Whoop whoop!


  • PsychoBob

    Holy crap, finally someone who can keep an open mind while writing about my family. The only thing I would add is that the music is based on cartoon serial slaughters that are used to help Juggalos deal with the daily frustrations of life. Instead of going out and acting on a bad day, we can go home bump the wicked S*** and release our anger into the abyss of our stereo head phones. It sounds like Jimmy Buffet gets way sicker than a Juggalo gathering. I went this year for the first time in the 8 yrs that I’ve been down. To some it all up, 4 days of Shangri-La! I’ve never felt more love in my 44 yrs on this planet. If people really have a curiosity about us and our gathering behavior, buy a ticket for the next gathering and come feel the atmosphere. Faygo is great for your hair, by the way 🙂


  • jackie

    whoop whoop! represent


  • Raven Bare

    Wow. That really helped me out alot. 🙂 seriously, thank you. People have been telling me over and over that “Juggalos” are like these crazy people who do “bad things”. But They could never name one in a spacific manner. I’m on 14 years old and I’m still trying to find my place in the world. If their’s one thing I’ve come to realize [just] from reading this article is that you cannot always belive what you hear. I’ve also realized that in the “grand sceme of things” A ‘Juggalo” is simply a [fan] of the Insane Clown Posse. (: Thank you much.
    Raven Bare.


  • green



  • juggalette_george

    i am a twenty-something mother and college graduate and i have been down with the clown and dark carnival for a really long time and will be until i’m in the ground. it’s nice to know that we have someone rooting for us from the other side of the fence. thanx and mmfcl homie!


  • juggalette_firestarter

    i am a juggalette and i’ve been one for 2 years now. I am down with the clown for ever till i die if not longer! Dark carnival, wow so down and allways will be! juggalette’s and juggalos are not gang banger. They are family! They might not be related but we are still family to me. Its not just about be down with the clown its about knowing that you have family were ever you go. For example think of wolfs. Wolfs travel in packs, if one needs help there will be others to help. See i like to think of it by wolfs. Like if im alone and i need some one i aways know there is another juggalo or juggalette there to be by my side.


  • M C REeL

    I think people who watch the news to much have a way of thinking everything is bad. Wake up, never is anything gonna be perfect. I kinda ignore the news, but if there is any thing to acknowledge i will. In the juggalo word everything is great, realizing that everything else isn’t, we want to live for a “reason” to die for love and not for the american dream, the poison of america is money, juggalo’s die for love not simply cotton, ink and paper. There is more to life, we cannot be submerged with money, money does not make u a man, does not get you further in life span, we are human, blood and mind is all that there is to life for, really in the first place.


  • DaRealJuggalette

    Ok. so I am a juggalette and this article sux. there is so much more to our lives. being a juggalo/lette is more than this. we are all about loving one another and being a family. idk.

    Lil Klown Mami
    Juggalette 4 lyfe


  • On the resurgence of ICP- UPDATED « Inverted Soapbox

    […] Jeff’s 2007 column What is a Jugaloo? where he admits his fear of clowns clouds his decision-making […]


  • juggalomomosix

    great article, too many misunderstand the family, lots of people think it is just drug induced party which is just not the case, this was what i posted on a shxt load of pre gathering places of conversation,
    “not everyone who is a juggalo is into drugs, also most anyone who dies from a drug overdose has a drug problem to begin with, juggalo or not, and everyone who shows up at the gatherings for the drugs who doesn’t understand the FAMILY life disgusts those of us who do have self respect and love for each other, keep your crack and heroine at home along with yourself and your needles, cause most true fam won’t put up with heads, more questions should be asked about who the person doing the shxt is and why, with less blame on some music and people who have the spirits of love and hope to make it to our shangr~las,”
    that said our “family reunion” this year was beautiful, and neither of those things i mentioned were seen or heard about at this years gathering, so if any heads showed up they kept it to themselves,
    most of us love being alive and love our juggalo family, so most don’t choose a path that could kill us at any instant, & for as many of us as there are the majority is good, & i few bad seeds are in any group, shxt look at the 8 yrs in our government, prior to obamas term, but no controversy am i trying to start, just thank you for letting some people know in an outsiders opionion that we are family, & mad props on introducing some people to the line “truth is we follow God” that still makes most of us get a lil warm spot in our hearts, much clown love homie & you would always be welcome in our fam


  • Insane Clown Posse Hampton Inn parking lot East Peoria IL

    […] What is a Juggalo? The Insane Clown Posse will tell you, insanely […]


  • juggaloblack



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: