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
Pitman, who is working for a telemarketing company, actually wants to become a cop someday. Right after he finishes paying off his car, he's going to school for criminal justice. He does not see the phrase "Juggalo cop" as an oxymoron: ICP narrators are usually vigilantes who carve up rednecks, cheaters, wife-beaters, and child molesters. "The people who're dying are bad people," he clarifies.
Someone here compares the fiction of ICP's music to Showtime's Dexter, an award-winning show about a serial killer who only executes people he can personally prove are guilty. But just like how Dexter allegedly inspired an Edmonton copycat in 2008, there have been a smattering of young folks who call themselves Juggalos and commit savage crimes. Which is how, earlier this year, Martin Bashir ended up interviewing Violent J and Shaggy—who answered the news program's questions about their "nursery rhymes laced with murder" in full face paint—for a segment entitled "Could the Music of Insane Clown Posse Cause Fans to Kill?" When the suggestion was made that a song called "Imma Kill You" could inspire someone to kill, Shaggy 2 Dope responded that it would only if "you a grown retard."
Off-camera, they've also defended their ax-massacre tales as parables. Violent J claims that many years ago, he had a vision one night that involved a jester teleporting him to a Dark Carnival. There, a white-gloved clown tossed down six Joker cards before him. "I began to realize that either I was chosen for a grand purpose in this world, or I had gone completely insane," he writes. What J says he dreamed became the inspiration for ICP's six concept albums, each one based on a different character that embodied six evil aspects of human nature. "You see yourself in different reflections, and you have a chance to change yourself before your ending comes," J once explained to shock-rocker Alice Cooper, who guested on The Great Milenko. When the last album in the series came out, it revealed that the figure behind Insane Clown Posse's theology was . . . God. The hymnal's chorus rallied: "And may the Juggalos fiiiiiiiiiiind Him!"
The bottom line? Chris Pitman, the aspiring Ohio cop, swears that ICP got him back to church. "I'm a Juggalo, and I'm a Christian," he says. "When I get up in the morning, I thank God for letting me live another day as both." When the Gathering is over, he's even going to stop smoking weed.
Friday afternoon in the Bomb-House, waiting for a belated wet-T-shirt contest hosted by Ron Jeremy. Adam, a shirtless, cowpoke-handsome 22-year-old with a cherry-red hatchetman inked above his navel, walks over. " 'Sup, ninjette!," is his greeting. We have never spoken before, but he leans over for a hug, which I reciprocate. "Shit, man, I'm from Oklahoma, and I hate it!" he offers, apropos of nothing and everything. "I want to get out of there so badly!" He came alone to the Gathering this year—his homies flaked—and he lives with his mom, who pitched in for his expenses to get here. "Go, mama!" he says, pumping his fist.
Beside us are TrueJuggaloFamily.com co-founders Julianne Murrow, a lithe 28-year-old editorial assistant who writes obituaries at a tiny Texas newspaper, and her husband. Online, they're known as JesterJules and RandomNinja, and they live in Possum Creek, a town of about 9,000 dominated by churches and cops. Even though TrueJuggaloFamily.com was launched this year on April 20, this weekend is Julianne's first time seeing pot smoking in public.
This is Adam's second Gathering. Last year, he didn't have that much fun because he got hit in the face with a can during a wrestling match, so he "spent the whole event being pissed off." He shows us a scar above his upper lip. But this year, he is in a much better mood: "Have fun, take it as it comes" is his attitude—about this weekend, about life.
Adam drifts off to do more sup-ninja! mingling. About 15 minutes later, he is in the middle of the Bomb-House crowd, his arms extended like wings. Trash pelts him in the chest. He is smiling.
Twiztid are Psychopathic Records' second most prominent face. Two guys with ghostly white mugs and those braids, they are horror-core protégés of ICP. Juggalos adore them.
They headline the Main Stage on Saturday night and unexpectedly cut the set short to debut their new album Heartbroken and Homicidal a month early. They are effectively leaking their own album to their fans, which would be a big Internet deal in a genre like, say, indie rock. The Juggalos hate this. They did not come to the Gathering to listen to a CD. "Lame!" people hoot. And they love these guys.
That's nothing. When rebel-flag-waving, speedpunk hillbillies Nashville Pussy opened for Insane Clown Posse at the Hammerstein Ballroom in 2000, the Juggalo crowd sat on the floor, backs to stage, middle fingers extended. In 2003, the Gathering's fourth year, when Southern rapper Bubba Sparxxx came out allegedly "a little too cocky," Juggalos booed him offstage. In 2010, when old-school legend Method Man kept shouting out, "Illinois" at the Gathering as if the crowd's loyalty was geographic, and seemed confused by their repeated "Whoop! Whoop!," someone in the crowd beaned him in the face, almost knocked him out, drawing blood.