American Juggalo: Documentary on “The Gathering of the Juggalos”

Fair warning: Video is NSFW, as it contains nudity and an awful lot of F bombs.

American Juggalo is a mini documentary about Juggalos – dedicated fans of the band Insane Clown Posse. Oftentimes adorned with clown makeup covering their faces, Juggalos have an annual event called The Gathering of the Juggalos – a four day concert that’s a modern day version of Woodstock.

The documentary takes a look at various groups and individuals attending the event. At times it’s disturbing, and at other times quite touching. I began watching with a certain degree of distance and hesitation, but by the end of the film… felt like Juggalos are a pretty decent lot. I always had this sense, but it was interesting to see so much discussion of “family” by various people in the film.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t count myself a fan of ICP, but there’s a sense of goodness that seems to run underneath the beer and pot and people flashing their boobs. The pregnant girl smoking a cigarette made me cringe, but for the most part… I feel fairly certain that were I to show up at the event, I wouldn’t feel immediately ostracized.

Honestly, were I to actually drive to the event, step out of my car and just spent a few days in the midst of the gathering? Were I being 100% truthful, I’d tell you that the thought scares me a lot. But if I’m to believe this documentary, I think I’d eventually get welcomed by a roving group of people. I have a strong sense that someone would hand me a beer, or a bong… or maybe even a nitrous balloon. And then we’d fall to talking.

The documentary raises a lot of interesting questions, regarding both race and class. It never really addresses those, and just sort of lets them hang there for the viewer to wrestle with. But it’s got me wondering about music, and the cycle of each generation – how there’s always some artist or group that exists out on the fringes, a place where misfits gather and find one another.

I see Juggalo makeup, and I think of the KISS Army. I hear the term Juggalo and I think of Lady Gaga and her “little monsters.”

I found myself watching the faces in this documentary – face paint, multiple piercings, tattoos… and found myself second-guessing who these people were. It made me remember how I first started growing my hair out in high school, how I wanted to look different from other people.

The main motivation for me to grow out my hair, when I was a teenager? I wanted to trick people. I wanted people to dismiss me for how I looked. I wanted people to discount me on appearance, without ever getting to talk to me or know me. Long hair was a kind of litmus test, because if someone reacted to my appearance… well, that person wasn’t worth knowing, after all.

Watching this documentary, I felt a little of that pull I felt from high school. Dressing up a particular way to stand apart from others, but also doing so to find those of a similar spirit.

A very interesting side note: this documentary was directed by Sean Dunne. In looking over his work, I just realized that he also directed two other documentaries that I’ve linked to on this blog: Rocky Salemmo: The Bowler and The Archive: Paul Mawhinney And The Largest Record Collection In The World.

Incredible! I had no idea he was the guy behind these other videos. I absolutely need to check out more of his stuff!

One other thing I’ll mention: I woke up early this morning, with my alarm set for 6AM. I had every intention of sitting down and working on a project of mine… but found the link to American Juggalo and got totally sucked in. Definitely well worth watching.

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Related:
Rocky Salemmo: The Bowler
The Archive: Paul Mawhinney And The Largest Record Collection In The World

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. As someone who spent time on the inside of that scene the family aspect is pretty spot on. I once spent 11 hours outside of a tower records with ICP fans looking to meet the clown duo to get autographs etc. I’ve also been to a few of their concerts many years ago. Their music was something I outgrew taste wise, but since I started listening to ICP in 1998 the fans have always been welcoming and interesting bunch.

    JustinSid Reply


  2. I think I would feel some concern if a doctor came up to me and said “Now, you’ve got cancer, but don’t worry, because I’m gonna help you and some shit like that.”

    Mellzah Reply


  3. Me: Give it to me straight, doc.
    Doctor: You’ve got cancer.
    Me: Can I get a second opinion?
    Doctor: Woop, woop!

    avoision Reply


  4. “There is no bigatory in ‘juggalo.’” (22:00ish).
    Magnificent.

    JVO Reply


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