Juggalo Weekend in Las Vegas Demonstrates a Continued Commitment to Mutual Aid
Fans of the Insane Clown Posse gathered for the 6th annual Juggalo Day in February, the first large event since the Juggalo March on Washington that flooded national news last September. February 17th has been declared Juggalo Day since 2012, and has been traditionally marked with a concert and after parties that harken back to the first Gatherings. This year the venue was in Las Vegas, the first time a major Juggalo event has been this close to the West Coast. People wearing the Psychopathic Records logo, the hatchetman, were hugging and shouting greetings all along the Fremont Street Experience, showing off new tattoos inspired by ICP and catching up. Two Juggalettes danced in bikinis in one of the allocated performance spots, soliciting tips from fellow Juggalos and tourists alike.
While the atmosphere was primarily celebratory, there was an undercurrent of frustration. In December, the Insane Clown Posse, despite the help of the ACLU, lost their most recent appeal of the FBI’s gang designation. The case ultimately protests the FBI’s influence on local law enforcement, who have been known to target fans of ICP for displaying logos related to the band in part thanks to a 2011 reports calling Juggalos “a hybrid gang”. The ACLU and ICP have been battling the designation in court since 2014, but have had to repeatedly appeal attempts to throw the case out because the judge doesn’t believe the report has direct legal consequences.
But when chatting with Juggalos, the focus was not on court cases and lawsuits. Instead, people were excited to hear about the March on Washington, D.C. that happened in September, thanking each other for marching and cursing the skies that they didn’t make one of the most publicized ICP events of the decade. While the media was anticipating a mighty battle between “Juggalos and Nazis”, the real victory was the peaceful interactions between Trump supporters, antifascists and the Juggalos who outnumbered them both.
“Prior to the March, I didn’t think we could come together with differing political views, it seemed nearly impossible,” said Mankini, a Juggalo celebrity known for his uniform of ICP-themed bikinis. “The entire world watched us on September 16th… they watched, prepped with popcorn and jokes to be had at our expense. The mainstream audience now has undeniable insight into the genuine, kind hearted, uplifting and positive individuals that make up the Juggalo community.”
Mankini wasn’t the only Juggalo inspired by the solidarity in D.C. “The progress we needed make at the march wasn’t to start a revolution or completely change the system. We desperately needed people in communities across the country to develop a more aware/sympathetic perception of their local juggalo community,” says another ICP fan named Mexican. Rocky, a Juggalette, agreed. “My boss pulled me aside and asked how it went because she saw it on her feed; she said she was proud of us for sticking up for our cause. I work at a rehab in the middle of nowhere SoCal and they all know I’m a juggalo, so to have their support was really amazing.”
The March wasn’t just transformative for the Juggalos. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope were as moved by the support they received from their fans as they were disappointed by the lack of support from other artists who have gained support from the Juggalos. While the original proposed lineup, planned years in advance, included people who had played Gathering, like Kung Fu Vampire, Vanilla Ice, and Necro, the lead up to the March saw more invitations declined than accepted. Fans argued online for months on whether the Juggalo March on DC was going to happen at all, or if it would be canceled last minute.
More than 2000 showed up in solidarity on the day, however. “We didn’t know if anyone was coming (to the March on DC). There’s no way to gauge something like that,” Shaggy tells Rolling Stone. “We were blown away — we didn’t know what to expect, a hundred people, a thousand, we had no idea. When we were up there and we saw that shit, we couldn’t be happier.”
The joy and family feeling of the March didn’t come without hardship and disappointment, however. “Even if there was success, it took its toll and damaged a lot of relationships with us. A lot of bands we thought would stand for Juggalos didn’t. It’ll never be the same,” says Violent J. The gang designation appeal being denied again was also disappointing to ICP. “We’re always going to be guilty in the public eye”, J said about media coverage, despite the media offering a largely positive response to the March after the fact.
While there may never be another March and the FBI gang designation is stubbornly sticking, that doesn’t mean ICP or Juggalos are done making political statements. Shaggy 2 Dope has been making a point of discussing how the characters the duo perform in their songs are not meant to be seen as behavioral guides. He and Violent J appeared on the Dr. Phil Show to lecture a “murder rapper” by the name of King Krimzon on personal responsibility. Krimson left his career to pursue his hobby at the expense of his wife and child. While Dr Phil brushed off Krimzon’s domestic violence charges, barely mentioning them on his show, Shaggy made a point to confront the behavior both on the show and in other interviews.
“The fact that you go home and put your hands on your wife like that, you’re less than a piece of shit,” said Shaggy in our interview. “I just put out a video from my last solo record, for a song called “The Knife”, and it’s pretty violent towards women. But the thing is, this is a story about a serial killer that is doing this. You go home and really fuck your wife up. This is just a story, but it’s your reality. Most of our songs we do in character, we don’t fuck up our loved ones, that’s asinine.”
Also interesting was the announcement that the Gathering of the Juggalos this year would be returning to Legend Valley, Ohio, away from the cop-infested surveillance of Oklahoma. Many Juggalos were unhappy last year with the police presence at their annual campout, which is traditionally a time for Juggalos to let loose among friends and family. “You don’t need the police there because Juggalos handle that shit — and they do it non-violently,” explained Shaggy, “while the police come along with their billy clubs and shit gets actually fucking crushed. With the police there swinging their shit around, that’s why it gets violent — BECAUSE of the police, it gets escalated.”
Not only do the wicked clowns speak out about violence against women and police brutality, they’re also making moves to continue supporting charitable causes. Most recently, Violent J’s daughter Ruby designed a teeshirt to benefit the Humane Society, and ICP fans throughout the weekend were wearing them proudly. Juggalos also spearhead a lot of their own charitable work — notable examples include a group called Scrub Care Unit raising funds and providing hands on assistance during the hurricanes last fall, and the multiple food drives that have always been an integral part of Juggalo culture. And Insane Clown Posse couldn’t be more appreciative or supportive.
“Nowadays Juggalo shit doesn’t even have to be me and J, it’s evolved to a point where motherfuckers are Juggalos and don’t even listen to our shit. And that’s super cool,” said Shaggy. Violent J agreed. “We could never have planned something like Juggalos — just as someone may never have had something to belong to until they found Juggalos, the same shit happened to us! We can totally understand, because we’re the same person. We consider it an incredible blessing.”
Juggalos certainly feel blessed too. “For whatever reason, poverty, sexual orientation, racial makeup, cognitive or physical disabilities, and other issues that make us feel isolated and alone in the real world fall away when we are with Juggalos,” said Rob, who helps run the JuggaLGBT group on Facebook. “We aren’t immune to the political discord in the general population but we find comfort in the community that loves and celebrates us.”
While Juggalos may differ on which politician they support or what party they lean towards, they continue to prove that they will always come together for something that really matters: family.