"What is a Juggalo?" This line begins a song of the same name by Insane Clown Posse. The song, however, doesn't actually explain what a Juggalo is, since it basically descends into ICP's trademark-style humor. However, hidden within the comedic song is an indication that ICP themselves don't even have a predetermined, universal definition of what a Juggalo is, as the song gives the following definition: "A Juggalo. That's what it is, well, fuck if I know." Due to Public Medium Ignorance, the concept of what a Juggalo is is very alien to many who get their knowledge and perception of Juggalos from biased accounts of and false allegations of Juggalos. Offered here is an attempt to clear up some misconceptions of Juggalos and try to make this subculture easier to understand to outsiders who are not a part of this subculture.
Before there were Juggalos, there were "Floobs".Insane Clown Posse member Violent J's real name is Joseph Bruce. In the 1980s, Bruce and his family, which included his brother Robert, his sister, and his mom, lived in poverty in the lower class area of Michigan. They received all their clothes from rummage sales, and their food from canned food drives held at their own school. Because they weren't financially well-off, they were ostracized, but they were not ashamed of being poor, and instead embraced who they were and their outsider status, calling themselves Floobs. This is not to imply that being a Juggalo means being economically poor, however. As ICP's Shaggy 2 Dope (real name: Joseph Utsler) explains (quoted on the main page for Juggalo), a Juggalo may come from any walk of life. A Juggalo can be a rich man, a poor man, come from any ethnicity or color, any religion or no religion (there are both Juggalo Atheists and Juggalo Christians), and, indeed, a Juggalo isn't necessarily a fan of Insane Clown Posse, although those that identify most heavily with the Juggalo culture are usually fans of the music of Insane Clown Posse, Psychopathic Records, and various artists and labels associated with this culture.
So, what is a Juggalo, anyway?ICP and various Psychopathic artists have encouraged their fans to think for themselves and stand out as individuals in numerous songs. This isn't just off-hand advice; this is what a Juggalo is supposed to be. The concept being that fans of ICP ignored the opinions of the music group's critics and dismissers and made up their own minds as to their opinions of ICP, their music and their lyrics, thus thinking for themselves, in contrast to the collective mindset of mainstream music fandom, which is based largely upon trends. Juggalos, on the other hand, do not enjoy music on the basis of popularity, being that ICP are widely despised by mainstream media and among many music listeners. Fans of ICP do not listen to this group because they are popular and well-liked, but because they just happen to like the music and identify with ICP's outsider status within some of their own lyrics, but also within the music industry in general. Juggalos may enjoy some artists that are popular or well-liked at any given point in time, but not because of the fact that the artists are popular or well-liked, but because they simply happen to enjoy those artists. Furthermore, if a Juggalo genuinely enjoys any given band, rapper or musician, he continues to listen to them regardless of whether they are still popular. This is part of the motivation of why Psychopathic Records has casted "washed up" actors in their film productions, or invited musicians who were once very popular and well-liked, but are currently unpopular or disliked, to perform at the Psychopathic Records festival "The Gathering of the Juggalos". Violent J has stated, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, the opinion that he likes musicians more when they are no longer popular. (Despite this, Violent J has admitted to liking some popular musicians, particularly Michael Jackson, whom he is a huge admirer of.) Thus, musicians that may not be hugely successful nowadays often play the Gathering of the Juggalos, because ICP may be admirers of them, or Juggalos might have asked for them to perform, no matter how successful or well-liked they are. Consider this if you're not a Juggalo: If you genuinely like a musician, would you still like them if they ceased to be popular? If not, did you genuinely like their music, or did you simply like them because they were popular? For example, did you stop liking MC Hammer after he lost all his money? Or, did you stop being a KISS fan after they were no longer successful? (KISS was huge in the '70s, but not so much in the '80s and '90s, but have recently had a resurgence due to nostalgia from their old fans, and younger fans discovering their music.) Many Juggalos also have an affinity with Ninjas, and have often greeted each other with the phrase "What up, Ninja?" This arose from a mid-90s ICP song called "Ninja", in which ICP did much the same thing, but the concept of Juggalos as Ninjas is much older than that. In Violent J's book Behind the Paint, Violent J described using "ninja tactics" to promote the early Insane Clown Posse concerts/albums (as well as those of their former gangsta rap incarnation, the Inner City Posse), and sneaking in posters and promotional flyers in unexpected places without being scene by security guards, etc. In this interpretation, a Juggalo is someone with the drive to achieve what they want, even if they lack the economic means. Through these "ninja tactics", ICP built up a following without mainstream promotion or corporate support. Similar industries to Psychopathic Records are often described as "cottage industries": a business that exists for a product that very few people want, named for cottage cheese, which is not a popular product, but continues to exist because it is still bought by some people, despite not being a major seller by any means. Also, getting back to "What Is A Juggalo?", while that song is clearly intended to be comedic, it also contains an alternate interpretation that being a Juggalo simply means Being Yourself, even if you happen to be insane, as all of the actions described in the song are clearly crazy. However, though this interpretation has been carried over by many people connected to ICP fandom, Juggalos have a different interpretation. ICP's "Joker's Card" albums—Carnival of Carnage, Ringmaster, Riddle Box, The Great Milenko, The Amazing Jeckel Brothers and The Wraith—actually advise being a better self, meaning that you can be true to yourself only as far as you don't bring harm to others. The lyrics which reference murder and the occult are solely meant for entertainment, and, in some cases, a morality play, and ICP has stated repeatedly that they do not want to be associated with any person who commits violence, crime or murder in their name. Thusly, it is obvious that simply being yourself is not the message of ICP's works, but that they believe that individuals should improve themselves and be the best person they can possibly be.
Do Juggalos share any beliefs?Insane Clown Posse, in particular, also expresses some views within their music that are mixed in with their horror-themed and comedic songs for storytelling purposes that some Juggalos express agreement with. ICP hates racist people, an aspect that, again, arose from Violent J's youth, when, while living with his brother Jumpsteady, he witnessed many neighbors expressing racism towards Violent J and Jumpsteady's black friends (and Jumpsteady's then-girlfriend, who was African American). Many of ICP's songs express opposition to racism, a sentiment shared by all Juggalos. ICP have openly stated that individuals with racist beliefs should not associate with ICP's music or Juggalo culture, and that being a Juggalo stands in sharp opposition to any form of racism or intolerance towards someone for being who they are. Since this includes homosexuals, there are many pro-LGBT Juggalo groups, and gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender Juggalos. Politically, there is no prerequisite for having any specific views to be a Juggalo. Thusly, one who is a liberal, an anarchist, a libertarian, a conservative or a socialist may be a Juggalo because they embrace ICP's individualistic and free thinking leanings. ICP have remained politically neutral, although they have previously stated that they are registered Democrats. But they have also expressed some anarchist beliefs; in one interview; Violent J said that it would be more peaceful if there were no police. It should be noted, however, that many of the public statements made by ICP are very tongue-in-cheek, and Juggalos have continued this brand of humor by making bizarre and outlandish statements. Thus, this sense of humor is a strong requirement to being a Juggalo, with an alternate interpretation of what a Juggalo is being "someone who doesn't give a fuck". Also, Juggalos may sometimes have good intentions, but bad ideas, as suggested in the ICP song "We Belong". Generally, though, Juggalos vary from person to person, and cannot be grouped together as being one specific thing.
Are any superficial requirements to being a Juggalo?Despite misconceptions, buying Psychopathic/ICP merchandise is not required to being a Juggalo. ICP have said repeatedly that they produce merchandise solely to make money to pay for their expensive concerts and album production, and that there is no requirement of any Juggalo to wear ICP merchandise. While Psychopathic obviously encourages Juggalos to buy their merchandise line, it's just so they can make money, and it's not a requirement to being a Juggalo. As Violent J stated in "Thy Unveiling", "don't buy our fuckin' action figures, bitch, I don't give a fuck!" Meaning, that the message of being true to yourself, as well as self-improvement, is more important than some T-shirt with the Psychopathic Records logo on it. There is no requirement to spend any money whatsoever in order to be a Juggalo. ICP have even said that they don't care if their fans steal their albums, as long as they do it after the album has been released, although during the release of The Wraith: Shangri-La, Violent J specified that if fans were going to steal the album, they should steal the physical album (even offering advice on how to steal his own album!) and listen to it all the way through, instead of downloading a few tracks and listening to them out of context. Twiztid similarly said that they don't mind if some fans download albums when they can't afford it, as long as they pay for it when they can afford it. Furthermore, it's not even required to wear face paint in order to be a Juggalo, especially since face paint is not exclusive to Insane Clown Posse: Alice Cooper, KISS, and numerous Horror Punk and Black Metal bands (especially The Misfits and King Diamond) have worn facepaint before such a thing as ICP or Juggalos ever existed.