Some Say ICP Fans Part of a Religious Cult

Mention clowns and most people immediately think of Bozo or Ronald McDonald. But there’s an altogether different type of clown that is growing in popularity, including here inLas Vegas. If your teenagers ever come home painted as clowns they may be associated with a group that calls itself Juggalos. They follow the music of the Insane Clown Posse, and as News 3’s Gerard Ramalho reports, some think it’s just the latest teenage fad, but others are convinced it’s a bizarre clown cult.

“I find it’s kinda of a way to express myself. I can be different. I can be myself.”

“I think it’s just about family.”

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They’re not entertainers, and they don’t belong to a circus, but they are clowns. More specifically, Juggalo clowns.

“For most of us it’s who we are. It’s not us hiding. It’ss us coming out.”

(Chanting) “Swing your hatchets if we must€¦ Each and every one of us€¦ We will never die alone€¦ Juggalos will carry on€¦.”

Behind the face paint, Juggalos are teenagers mostly. Self-described outsiders — tired of trying to fit-in with quote, normal society. Most will tell you they had no sense of belonging until they joined the dark carnival.

The rap-metal group, Insane Clown Posse is the inspiration behind the movement. The clown-faced duo has been around for nearly 15-years. You won’t necessarily see their music on the pop charts, but their fan base is loyal and growing.

Just look up Juggalo on the Internet. You’ll find dozens of websites with organized chapters in just about every major city, including Las Vegas.

“Most Juggalos are just like regular people.” Of course the ultimate Juggalo experience is an ICP concert. In Las Vegas fans lined up hours before the start of the show. On stage the clowns are accompanied by demon-dressed creatures that help spray the audience with Faygo soda — the preferred beverage of all Juggalos. Mosh pits and crowd surfing are standard etiquette.

“I do listen to them when I’m in a good mood€¦ It’ll bring me up even higher.”

“We know we’ve got everybody’s ear€¦ And people are really listening to what we say. So, you know, underneath the cussing and underneath the stuff that drives most people away, everybody hears what we’re saying.”

What they’re saying is hardly inspirational. Most of the lyrics we found are about things like assault and murder. But, Juggalos argue there’s a religious message hidden in the violence.

ICP denies they’re a clown cult, but according to police, meetings like this one are taking place all over the country. There’s even an annual camp where Juggalo attendance is in the thousands.

“You do have family, you do have homies€¦ And you can be who you want€¦ And not worry what other people are going to say.”

Unlike circus clowns, Juggalos are generally more frightening than funny. They say it’s to scare away the normal people. Juggalos don’t even mind being called a freak show, because they know it’s not a show at all.

Juggalo, by the way, as far as I can tell, is just a made up word. It’s estimated there are more than 1500 Juggalos here in Las Vegas. Metro’s gang unit is aware of the group. And while there has been some trouble in other cities, here in Las Vegas they say criminal activity associated with Juggalos has been minimal.

(Nina) So Gerard, aside from the face-paint, what separates this group from other teenaged trend-groups or gangs?

Well, the thing I found most interesting is that they’re very organized. As I mentioned they have web-sites with local chapters and memberships. And also, they have an actual philosophy they follow — don’t know that I’d call it a religion exactly.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Nov. 25, 2004
Gerard Ramalho
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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday November 25, 2004.
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