Few fan communities are as loyal, or divisive, as the juggalos. The people who consider themselves juggalos often refer to other members as "family," while outsiders can't quite wrap their heads around the face-painting, Faygo-spraying Insane Clown Posse fans. Yet even fans can outgrow the juggalo lifestyle.
Former members of this unique family took to Reddit to describe what it was about the fanbase that drew them in, and what ultimately pushed them away.
One Person Thinks He Just Grew Out Of It
From Redditor /u/EdGein_Green:
Former juggalo here: 38 years old, male. I discovered ICP in my early twenties. They wrote music about being raised poor, not being popular in high school, and also about horror movies, pro-wrestling, and video games (also things I liked), and that just sort of resonated with me.
I attended a couple concerts, owned all of their albums up to The Amazing Jeckel Brothers, but then got into a relationship, finished school, got engaged, and started a family. So I don't know, maybe I outgrew all of that stuff. I certainly haven't listened to them in a long, long time. But if they catch you at the right time at your life, I understand how it can be appealing.
One Former Juggalo Left After Noticing An Increase In Materialism And Pettiness
From Redditor /u/TheDemonClown:
There are lots of Juggalos who stay in the scene their whole lives. I knew a few who were in their late thirties and early forties and still "down with the clown," as they say. But as I matured, the ones in my immediate social circle didn't. They were still avoiding finishing high school or college to get high or drunk all day and listen to ICP - and they were taking dead-end jobs solely for the fact that they didn't p*ss test. A lot of them never even tried to move out of their parents' houses well into their mid-twenties.
I'd just turned 20 and already had my own apartment and a full-time job when I went to my last Juggalo Gathering in 2004. Yet I had friends who were dealing with the same drama as one of our youngest friends, who was 15 years old at the time. At the same time, I was looking at the scene/community itself in the larger sense, and all I could see was a huge increase in materialism and pettiness. I couldn't go a day online without seeing a bunch of "no true Scotsman" mudslinging every time someone p*ssed someone else off. More and more, people were holding contests over who had the most merchandise.
Pause to admire the dipsh*tness there: grown men and women trying to one-up each other over who had spent what could've been several mortgage or car payments on CDs and T-shirts. This was all basically the rise of the fat, stupid, burnout Juggalo stereotype that you see on shows like It's Always Sunny and Workaholics.
The final nail, though, was that ICP themselves just kind of lost it. Whatever creative spark they had died when they basically achieved the two things that no artist should ever have: a steady, uncritical fanbase, and more money than they can spend. That, and they apparently found Jesus, which I wouldn't recommend under any circumstances. By the time I decided to call it quits on the Juggalo life, they hadn't put out a good album in almost three years and I was like, "Well, I can see where this is going."
Five years later, Miracles happened.
One Person's Interest Faded Over The Course Of Multiple Gatherings
From Redditor /u/thndrchild:
I was because my friends were. It wasn't about being fans of ICP, as some have stated. It was more than that. ICP was a part of it, true, but it wasn't about the music. It was an all-accepting group that would take you as you were without judgement. White? Black? Straight? Gay? Rich? Poor? You were welcome, so long as you weren't a d*ck to the rest of the "family." There were people from all walks of life. The music, while a centerpiece, wasn't an absolute requirement.
The dream of most juggalos was to go to a gathering. They're held once a year. Think of it as a family reunion meets a music festival meets a carnival, but never call it a music festival to a juggalo's face. It's a "family reunion." Imagine camping out for four days going to concerts, eating carnival food, going on rides, chilling by a lake, and spending time with friends. That's what a gathering was supposed to be.
I went to three gatherings and, over the course of three years, watched the family self-destruct from hedonism.
My first gathering was the most fun I've ever had. Everybody was super chill, would share anything they had, and treated each other with respect and love. Nobody went without. If you were hungry, somebody would give you a hotdog. If you were thirsty, you'd get handed a bottle of Faygo. Lonely? Here's a hug. It felt like being at home with people that cared about you.
My second gathering, less so. It was more about getting high. People were wasted all the time and generally ignored each other at best, and got into fights at worst. I still had fun, but it wasn't anywhere near as great.
My third gathering was my last, and the end of the period when I considered myself part of the family. It was a giant money grab. Nobody gave a sh*t about anybody else. You're not wearing the best jersey? Forget you. You don't know every song by heart? Forget you. You brought your phone? Forget you, stolen. It turned into a bunch of complete *ssholes trying to f*ck each other over and see how f*cked up they could get. At one point, a girl overdosed and the ambulance had to be called. They had a police escort into the field. There was nearly a riot when people tried to knock over the ambulance and threw stuff at the cop car. I hightailed it out of there that night.
Back in the day, it was about having a group of people that would be there for you and make sure you didn't go without, and the whole dark carnival thing was a dark, twisted ironic take on the Judeo-Christian ethic. What was supposed to be about togetherness and family became about getting wasted and being proud of being a f*ckup. A few bad apples gave rise to a culture of misanthropy and idiocy that pervades today.
Am I embarrassed about it? No. I still have some of my shirts and jerseys, but they never leave the closet. Occasionally, I'll put on an ICP or Dark Lotus song and remember back to when it wasn't all so effed. It was a great time while it lasted.
One Person Listened Less As They Entered Adulthood
From Redditor /u/JugalloRando:
Once I got into adulthood, I listened to ICP less and less. I only listen to them a few times a month now, but it is such a huge part of who I was growing up.
The term "juggalo" has way outlasted the music. Growing up, I moved a lot and caught a lot of flack from people at new schools. There were always juggalos to have my back, so I owe them a lot. I feel it's my responsibility to look out for the younger generation the way the juggalos looked out for me when I was young, broke, and lonely.