America’s most unusual subculture wants you to know they don’t give a fuck what you think
By Anna Freeman
‘Whoop whoop!’ is the battle cry of America’s most curious subculture: the Juggalos. As thousands of self-professed ‘SCRUBS’ descended on Washington last weekend, a fringe community of Insane Clown Posse devotees shifted the dialogue from misunderstood music fandom to a statement about identity politics. The FBI labelled Juggalos (and Juggalettes) a ‘hybrid gang’ back in 2011, a ruling that has angered many peace-loving members of this Faygo-soaked tribe. So they took to the streets in protest. ‘Family’, for Juggalos, is at the heart of its carnivalesque ideology. Chants of ‘FAM-IL-Y’ are the backing track to any Juggalo gathering. But there’s no denying that the group has a less-than-savoury reputation among their peers, and is often perceived as a clownish (pun intended) music cult in popular culture. Until now.
Juggalos have become the unlikely heroes advocating for freedom of speech and protection of the First Amendment. We caught up with some protesters at last weekend’s march to find out what being a Juggalo means to them.
AdiFire Judah, 27, bartender and musician, Brooklyn, New York
I had to protest the FBI labelling Juggalos a gang in Washington because they have no right putting that title on us. We paint our faces as images of horror because we want those who choose ignorance to look at us that way. We’ve been pushed around for being different, for not fitting in, but we’re not a threat. And we’ve been forced into politics since the labelling. Feelings are mixed about, for example, Donald Trump. What I do know is that many people feel Trump comes across as a racist and that turns me off. I am not a supporter of any particular party but I am a supporter of the community. Number one rule to being a Juggalo is looking at others as your equal and we don’t stand for any kind of racial supremacy or violent behavior.
Jaclyn Srofe, 28, caregiver for disabled adults and mum-of-four, Middletown, New York
I want people to know that we’re just hard-working, blue collar folks who enjoy a certain type of music that isnt ‘conventional’ and doesnt fit into the ‘norm’. It’s always been like a therapy for me to vent any anger through words in a song rather than to act in violence. I guess what attracted me to the culture was how we had a family-style community of freaks and weirdos who vould accept our differences of all nationalities. Race plays zero role in the juggalo community. We are all pink inside and thats all that matters. And, I’ve never felt there is a difference between being a man and a woman. I do feel more comfortable dressing in a skimpy outfit around the fam than I would anywhere else because nobody looks at you with anything but respect.
Chris Fabritz, a.k.a Mankini, 31, assistant gym manager and graphic design student, Germantown, Maryland
The best thing about being a Juggalo is the camaraderie – there’s nothing like it. When I first started going to concerts and shows, I could just feel the love in the room. Hell, my first gathering was like a culture shock, I was so confused about why the rest of the world couldn’t be as welcoming as juggalos.I felt at home in an odd way, like I had been missing something my whole life. This juggalo shit is what made me, it’s who I am! My bikini started as an accident during a beer pong tournament at Gathering of the Juggalos. I wore it and everyone seemed to love it! My juggalo family not only welcomed the bikini, but they wanted it to continue. To this day, if I’m caught at an event without a bikini, people are confused, baffled, and sometimes upset. Whoop whoop!
Lauryn Love, 28, psychology student and full-time mum, Green Bay, Wisconsin
You know what being a juggalo is for me? It’s all about musical nostalgia from my childhood. I get goosebumps because of the music, and I have purpose because Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope came from nothing and worked their way to the top, without much air play, and still have time for their fans. They bring their fans on stage and let them do what they want (for the most part) – how many other artists do you know that do that? I’ts also an escape. Despite the violent lyrics, this is my way of coping with what’s happened to me. This is why I got into this world.
Will Gorbey, 31, cook at LongHorn Steakhouse and dad-of-two, Morgantown, West Virginia
I started listening to the Insane Clown Posse in the mid ‘90s. I was a loner in school and didn’t have many friends. I listened to their music more and more and just fell in love. Then I bought a shirt and started noticing I wasn’t alone and people started giving me the ‘whoop whoop’. I suddenly had friends. But that’s not to say the prejudices from outside the family stopped. Before I found out juggalos were on the gang list I put hatchet man stickers on my car. I used to just ride around downtown with friends listening to Psychopathic Records, and I was pulled over by the same cop and searched all the time, for no reason. I was pulled over a total of 27 times before I found out that the FBI had put us on the gang list without investigation. I have also been turned down from jobs because I have juggalo-related tattoos and my own family want nothing to do with me because of it.
Stephanie Ayala, 27, forensic psychology student and mum-of-two, Monroe, Michigan
I was the outcast in school. From first grade on, my peers just didn’t like me. No matter how much I tried to fit in. I was bullied, hit, kicked, spit on, teased and so on, until I found Insane Clown Posse and the juggalos. They don’t care less where a person is from or if they are tall, short, fat, skinny, rich, poor, pretty or ugly. And that’s what I like. We’re not dangerous – I have never been in a fight, I have never been in trouble and would give someone the shirt off my back to help them. I am now attending school for forensic psychology, I’m a massage therapist and a mum to an autistic son; I have two children and both are Juggababys. Alec, my autistic four-year-old was non-verbal until I started playing ICP around him! That’s how much it means to me.