The “Phoenix New Times” Tries To Get To The Heart Of The Juggalo Matter

Despite my previous issues with the Phoenix New Times, I was actually excited to see what appeared to be wide-ranging coverage of the local Juggalo community this week. Many of us don’t understand the phenomenon at all. And with seemingly thousands of Faygo-chugging malcontents around these parts, there had to be a story there. Right?

Sorta. Newish music editor Martin Cizmar talked to a few members of the species, who defended themselves as being “just family,” and then talked to cops, who see Juggalos as operating in a somewhat ganglike fashion because they congregate in groups and, you know, commit crimes (a premise the story’s headline dismisses). Then all of a sudden, as if Cizmar hit a word count limit, the story ends.

Hanging out by the bus station at Metrocenter (not at the actual stop, where Juggalos say transit security hassles them), they do seem like a family, though a dysfunctional one. Balls are busted, stories told, song lyrics quoted. Cops roll up, and the kids get quiet. Someone suggests that anyone holding or anyone with an outstanding warrant bounce, but no one moves. The cops pull aside one girl to talk to her, then release her back to the crowd. The afternoon goes on, just a bunch of kids with nothing to do. As I go to leave, one kid says, “Come back tomorrow. We hang out at this church, and there’s free pizza.”

Free pizza? Sounds like my kind of gang. Woop-woop.

Huh? The story seems really incomplete. What about the band attracts the fans? What does the band think? Are there any other acts with similar weird vaguely criminal fanbases? You’d think Cizmar would have an inside track on that info–since he used to roll with the Juggalos. Not surprisingly, he downplays that association these days.

In the interest of full disclosure, this was not my first time wearing an ICP shirt. And the last time was not done with a detached air of superiority. The last time I wore one was 10 years ago, in Ohio, where I’m from — and it was not a big deal. We went to shows, wearing the shirts and face-paint, carrying the distinctive three liters of Faygo soda that Juggalos drink. The concerts were fantastic: violent, sexually depraved rhymes rapped over dumpy beats, with a bunch of sketchy dudes moshing and heavily tattooed girls — usually a little sloppy in the face — flashing. At age 17, who wouldn’t love it?

The whole enterprise falls a bit short, using space that could have been used to actually tell a story to review Faygo. Even if the reporting isn’t top notch, at least the New Times comes through with an online slideshow. Print, dead? Not dead exactly, but occasionally a little less responsive than it should be.

Insane Clown Posse’s Juggalos Aren’t a Gang — Just Punk Kids [Phoenix New Times]