Juggalos: The Truth About Insane Clown Posse's Fans

When two clowns really love each other, they vigorously thrust their noses together until a climactic honk heralds the coming of clown euphoria. But if those two clowns belong to the insane posse of Violent J (real name Joseph Bruce) and Shaggy 2 Dope (real name Joseph Utsler), they blow up like noses inflated with helium and spawn a sprawling family of Juggalos. The first Juggalos were arguably born before the word 'Juggalo' existed. That sounds a bit like fodder for a chicken-and-egg debate, but as Shaggy 2 Dope told the Metro Times, avid fans painted their faces before there was a label for it. "You can kind of estimate when it happened," he said, "but you can't put your finger [on it] exactly."

Violent J gave birth to the term 'Juggalo' at a concert. As detailed in Juggalo: Insane Clown Posse and the World They Made, the name derives from the 1992 single "The Juggla." While performing it on stage in 1994, J said to a group of painted concertgoers, "I'm a juggla. I guess that makes you Juggalos." The Juggalos' unity is more than paint-deep. They have a family tradition of spraying Faygo sodas. They have an annual gathering that Shaggy 2 Dope has described as "a thank you" to their loyal Juggalo legion. But they aren't exactly one big happy family. Sadly, when you look behind the paint, you see the tears of a clown.

A place where misfits finally fit

In 2015, Juggalos congregated at Detroit's Masonic Temple for the ICP's free annual hometown show, which aimed to collect canned foods for food banks. Vice contributor Mitchell Sutherland spoke with an attendee identified as Sarah about the appeal of the Juggalo lifestyle and the music that gave it life. Sarah explained that the Insane Clown Posse creates an inviting environment for "kids who just don't fit in at other places... It's family. It makes you feel good... You can be yourself." Many Juggalos had incredibly rough childhoods.

Per the journal Child Psychiatry and Human Development, a 2017 study found that Juggalos were more likely than average to have experienced childhood physical and sexual abuse. Many witnessed violence in their communities as children. They were more vulnerable to drug addiction and had a higher likelihood of engaging in both destructive and self-destructive behaviors. Many young Juggalos were homeless. The Insane Clown Posse gave them a home in the form of music. They took solace in lyrics that "[tell] kids with nothing that being poor is cooler than being rich and that being a loser, a scrub, and a Juggalo is infinitely better than being a winner."

Juggalos are the downtrodden, the people who get kicked while they're down, which is more often than not. When you peel back the theatrics, you might just see the welcoming embrace of misfits who are a perfect fit for each other.