By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
His encore is Insane Clown Posse's "Chicken Huntin', " a metal-riffed rap-rock anthem about killing rednecks. In ICP's arsenal of enemies, the most contemptible are bigots—in many ways, the Juggalo identity, however imprecise it is, is a direct rejection of the shotgun-toting Confederate-flag wavers that hometown foes Ted Nugent and Kid Rock have embraced—and the chorus boasts the spoils of their spree, a chant Andrew leads for the crowd: "Blood, Guts, Fingers, and Toes!" When the soon-to-be seventh-grader is finished collecting his Gathering of the Juggalos T-shirt prize, his family is waiting.
Andrew's mother is Sherry Picerno, a 39-year-old kindergarten aide. She has Insane Clown Posse stickers all over her car and ankle clown tattoos that the rest of the world can see only when she's wearing capris. She is also here with her older son, 15-year-old Shad, Andrew's stepfather, Frank Picerno, and her niece, who was drugged at the Gathering last year and had her shoes stolen, but, for some reason, came back—this time with extra shoes.
"As people, I think we're more laidback and rely on ourselves more," says Frank when asked about how Juggalos are different from everybody else. "We're not tied up in the drama of Wall Street. We don't let that get to us. If something happens tomorrow, we know that down the street, there's a Juggalo that's got our backs. We need a drink of water, they'll get us a drink of water—and we're down the street from them."
Boondox, that killer scarecrow on ICP's record label, saved Sherry's life. "I had four strokes almost four years ago," she explains. Her tone reminds one, in a good way, of Roseanne Barr. "I got stuck in an MRI machine for two hours. I'm claustrophobic, I can't handle it. All I could remember was Boondox's [record] The Harvest, so I kept singing it over and over again so I wouldn't hear the machine." Her MySpace profile picture is a Boondox avatar.
Andrew invokes Cousin Oliver from The Brady Brunch. His favorite subject is math, and he's two grades ahead in the curriculum. At school, he can wear his hatchetman gear, though Shad can't. "Even if I'm wearing something with [ICP acolytes] Twiztid killing somebody, with a cigarette—ah, a blunt—in their hands, teachers don't even really see the blunt because it's so small on the shirt," Andrew says, with the casual defiance of a shopper who has just sneaked 15 items through a 10-item checkout.
Sherry likes that ICP is against wife-beating. Andrew likes that Insane Clown Posse are against child molesters. He cites 2009's "To Catch a Predator" in which Violent J—in reality, the father of a toddler daughter—poses online as a 12-year-old girl, lures potential pedophiles, and then rather explicitly mutilates them. "He's trying to help keep kids safe," Andrew says. "He doesn't want them to get fucked by an adult." And I quote.
"I can see how somebody coming in from the outside, looking at what goes on around here—there's going to be culture shock," interjects his stepfather. "Like, 'Oh, my Gosh, to see all of this out in the open.' But that's the only thing they see. They don't see people here like us who just want to be with each other."
Three things that somebody coming in from the outside might notice—besides the love and unity that Frank Picerno and his family talk about so earnestly:
1) On Friday morning, a propane fire injures one of the hired concession workers. Not a Juggalo, he disappears into the crowd for hours, returns acting funny and wearing a bandanna, then stabs his boss over an expensive radio. It is later assumed that hallucinogens were involved. When the cops drive in to retrieve the victim, the County Sheriff Tom Seiner says, the crowd was "yelling, 'Fuck the Police,' chanting it, and throwing things at the patrol cars."
2) On Sunday morning, near the campground entrance, three people are beating another man with a lead pipe. Local police take the alleged attackers into custody and, while trying to get a statement from the victim, discover that he has an outstanding out-of-state warrant. The victim, who was beaten up badly, according to the cops on the scene, flees back to the festival before they can get his statement. The three men in question are released. The warrant is non-extraditable and the victim wouldn't have been arrested.
3) Hardin County convenience stores notice that Juggalos are purchasing gallons jugs of gas, so they alert the police. Early on Monday, Porta-Potties, hay, and a barn inside HogRock burn.
It's behavior like this, along with the Tila Tequila incident, that makes Chris Pitman, a Juggalo from Dayton, Ohio, say that some of his peers "need to grow up." (There's even a blog called ICP Fans Against Juggalos.) "We're here to have fun. We can't have a good time if people are getting hurt."
Pitman first heard ICP when he was eight. He's now 22. "I had a shitty past—a really shitty past. My dad beat me growing up. I didn't have much of anything. I lived all over Ohio, in different areas. If my dad didn't like the way I looked at him, I got hit in the face. It was bad. So I started listening to them, and I was able to get out all my anger. And I'd be like, 'You know what? I'm not the only one out there going through this shit. Other people feel the same and can understand where I'm coming from. I'm not the only one.' " His dad hates ICP. "Juggalos have accepted me more as a family than anyone else I've ever met."