I first heard Insane Clown Posse on the radio in 96 or 97. The song was Hall of Illusions off their Great Milenko record. This was right when Hollywood Records dropped them on the day of their record’s release and they blew up nationally from the news coverage.
I was intrigued. These dreadlocked, face-painted white rap/rockers were coming hard with these morality tales based in the same style of horror/comedy hybrid that I’d come to love from Troma, John Waters, the Evil Dead movies and so much other stuff in the world of cinema. But I’d never seen it utilized in music before.
A few of my friends bought their entire back catalog and started telling me about this elaborate mythos they’d created with the Dark Carnival and their prophecies in the form of “joker card” albums predicting the end of the world. I liked their funny violent songs, but I wasn’t sold on the gimmick. I was still in my west coast metal phase with Korn, Coal Chamber, the Deftones and all that.
Around this time, MTV aired a documentary about ICP and Juggalos called the Shockumentary. Now I saw some guys get “hatchet man” tattoos and start calling themselves Juggalos, but that reminded me of when the kids in my middle school acted like they were in east coast/west coat rival gangs in the early 90s. I wasn’t into that cult/gang shit. And before long, I let ICP go and moved on with my life.
But I never quite let ICP out of my head, and I would periodically visit their website to read Violent J’s newsletters to the Juggalos. There was something there. Some kind of energy. These crazy soda throwing clowns would again show up in my life in the form of one of my other misunderstood loves: Pro wrestling! They came on WWF Monday night raw and legit wrestled. It turned out, they’d been pro-wrestlers on the indie circuit at the same time they’d been coming up in the music game.
Still wasn’t sold.
A few years later some very close friends of mine who had moved away, returned to our home town. When I visited them, I found out that while they’d been away, they’d been converted to Juggalos. They were in DEEP. Tattoos, endless merch, attended every show, had a million crazy Juggalo stories. The whole bit. I listened to some more of the recent music they’d done, and again found myself laughing and digging all the crazy horror violence and twisted sense of humor, but c’mon. These are white dudes rapping as clowns. That’s the dumbest shit ever.
Then, a while later, I hit up the ICP website again to see if they had anything new to say. It was around November and they were promoting their annual food drive. ICP would stand out in the cold ass Detroit weather for an entire day every single year and give out free Thanksgiving turkeys to the homeless.
That was it. I was sold. These were genuinely good people. The public hated them, ridiculed them, called them trash and a joke. Made their fans out to be nothing but drug addicts and losers. But the public had never looked below the surface. They never paid attention to the message that was being told in the violent music. They never bothered to pay attention to the kind of good ICP did in their community.
I fell in head first. I became the biggest Juggalo on the block. I marked out for the whole gimmick and it was actually ME who convinced my converted Juggalo friends to attend the 3rd annual Gathering of the Juggalos, a giant 3 day long music festival devoted to Juggalo music.
I could go on and on about the fresh ass adventures my Juggalo friends and I have gone on over the years, from visiting the Faygo factory in Detroit City, to being involved in a riot at a gathering where cops shot us with tear gas from paint ball guns.
The positive energy I receive from the Juggalo community is the same exact kind of magic that I infuse all of my movies and books with. When you find yourself getting into my vibe and really feeling Kevin Strange shit on another level beyond a typical movie or book reading experience, understand that it’s the same positive energy ICP and the Juggalo community radiates.
Yes, some Juggalos are fucking retarded. They give all of us a bad name and you can find endless examples of them doing very, very bad things and destroying their communities. Understand that ALL subcultures contain these kinds of people, they just happen to be louder than most in the Juggalo community.
I know Juggalos with college degrees. Juggalos who are very successful in the entertainment industry making video games and movies. There are Juggalos everywhere. Half a million of us. You only hear about the bad ones. Never the good ones. Let me show you JUST in the past month of THIS YEAR, 2016, some of the fresh shit ICP have been doing.
Violent J posted on their website yesterday about a sign he saw at a local Detroit restaurant. A local man was dying of cancer and was trying to raise money for funeral costs so that his family wasn’t burdened with his debt after his death. Violent J was so moved by this act of selflessness, he re-posted the details on his website to try to help raise as much money as possible.
He’s also about to embark on a solo charity tour for sick kids. All of the proceeds of the concert and special CD he’s selling all go to charity. There are just so many more examples of this kind of behavior from ICP and Juggalos all over the world. This shit has been going on for almost 30 years. Today they posted a picture of a hatchet man stapled to a light pole outside of a club in Detroit. Apparently some anonymous Juggalo has been going all around Detroit putting them up everywhere. 30 years and still going strong. Still helping their community. Still radiating a positive energy unlike any band or community I’ve ever been a part of.
So you can hate and make fun of ICP and Juggalos all you want, but I’ll never be ashamed of my Juggalo family. I know the secret of their magic.
Kevin Strangealo for life.