This weekend brings us the 10th annual Gathering of the Juggalos, a tragic display of American trash culture’s bloated, badly tattooed underbelly, i.e., the festival of relentless depravity celebrating all things Insane Clown Posse. Here, SPIN music editor Charles Aaron revisits Juggalo history and also picks the 10 can’t-miss events taking place at the gathering, which starts today in Cave in Rock, Illinois.
Over the past decade, SPIN has experienced fraught relationships with many artists, but few have resulted in as colorful a batch of death threats as our various contretemps with Insane Clown Posse’s Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope and their extended Psychopathic Records “family.”
In the January 1998 issue, a four-page, comic-art exegesis on ICP titled “Down With the Clowns,” by Mike Rubin and Mark Dancey, editors of legendary Detroit fanzine Motorbooty, elicited a barrage of violent invective by the certifiable duo on their “Wicked Web Site.”
Then in the November 2000 issue, we ran a comparatively sympathetic report, with fearless journalist Matt Diehl chronicling the first annual “Gathering of the Juggalos” at Detroit’s Novi Expo Center, where 7,000 makeup-wearing, all-ages dupes of the group’s “Dark Carnival” mythology convened for a sadsack orgy of shock rap, semi-pro wrestling, “human bowling,” Eminem hate-belch (including the “Slim Anus Faygo Dunk,” manned by a Shady impersonator), the OCD unburdening of female breasts, and most memorably, The Neden Game, an X-rated version of The Dating Game. As Diehl reported, when a female contestant asked “Bachelor No. 1” what he would do if they were on a date and he had no money, the silver-tongued juggalo replied: “First, we’d go to the beach, we’d go swimming, then I’d drown you, and fuck the shit out of your corpse.”
And of course there’s been the homophobic, misogynistic “spate of letters, profane phone messages, and misspelled Internet ramblings” (per Rubin and Dancey) that the magazine and its writers have received over the years.
Remarkably, despite the demise of virtually every rap-rock suspect who emerged from the reeking mook ooze in the late ’90s, ICP are still gleefully spraying Faygo and fleecing the bored, habitually face-paintingsuburban rabble. In fact, starting today, the 10th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos commences at Cave in Rock, Illinois, and will last for four days of unrepentantly moronic mayhem.
Say what you will, but ICP are still captivating the public. On the July 21 episode of The Best Show on WFMU, host Tom Scharpling and humorist Paul F. Tompkins essayed an inspired bit on the event that was perhaps the most gut-busting 20-plus minutes of comedy you’ll hear all year. As an aghast Scharpling eventually summed up, “This makes Burning Man look like the Algonquin Roundtable.”