Ask Juggalos when they first heard Insane Clown Posse, and chances are good they will recount the moment like it was a predestined experience that led to some kind of spiritual enlightenment.
That’s one way Juggalos are no different than any other obsessed music fan — face paint, hatchet man, and Faygo aside.
Juggalo culture and events like the annual music festival called Gathering of the Juggalos provide fans with a voice and sense of community.
When Matty J. "Moose" Rzemyk discovered ICP at 14, it was about gaining an identity for the first time.
"I’m just a clown; I’ve always been a clown," he says. "So when I found this music that, the music itself had the element of that piece of myself already in it. It was very easy to identify and say, ‘No, this is what I am. I’m not a metal head, I’m not a rocker, I’m not a punk, I’m not a thug, I’m not a nerd, I’m not a jock, I’m not a prep, I’m a Juggalo.'"
Now, Rzemyk is the bassist of Arizona comedy metal band Psychostick and its only Juggalo member. He's attended 11 of the 18 Gatherings.
The band will perform at the 18th annual Gathering of the Juggalos, scheduled for July 26 through 29 in Oklahoma City.
Psychostick isn't a “Juggalo band,” since they're not signed to ICP's Psychopathic Records, but they are Juggalo-friendly.
“We have kind of a shared familiarity between Juggalos and Psychostick fans: We’re kind of nerdy, we’re not necessarily the cool kids, we’re not trying to be cool, we like making fun of ourselves, we don’t take this shit too seriously,” Rzemyk says.
Historically, the Gathering of the Juggalos doesn't have the best reputation. Originally, it was held at a convention center (now it's held outdoors). The first five years saw riots. There have been questionable “beauty pageants” hosted by Ron Jeremy. None of which helped boost Juggalo culture's image.
“Juggalos are very condescended by society," Rzemyk says. "We’re considered low-lifes, trailer trash, white trash, dropouts, that kind of thing. Which isn’t completely unfounded …”
Even though Rzemyk no longer shows off his Juggalo status by how he dresses, he does know more than most people about the Gathering. So New Times met up with him to get a few tips for first-timers and those looking to make the most of their experience at the Gathering of the Juggalos. Here's his advice.
Festival Camping 101
Set up your tents where there is shade in the mornings (when you’ll be in them sleeping) — not the afternoon. The sun comes up in the east, so shadows will cast to the west. “Familiarize yourself with the map of the area,” he advises, and read the program beforehand and to make a plan. Your cellphone will probably fail you at some point, so wear a good old-fashioned watch. Bring a mattress pad and a pillow, because you never know what the ground situation is going to be like. Don’t sleep in your car. Don’t bring anything you would miss if you didn’t come home with it. Bring sandals for the showers.
“If you feel like drinking or partying in other ways, bring it with you, because the prices are insane at The Gathering,” he says. There are quality food and beverage vendors at the festival, he says, but prices might seem steep to some. If you’re ballin’ on a budget, pack everything you will need to “nourish yourself.” Unlike a lot of festivals, you can bring a lot of things into this festival — except glass.
Drive To The Gathering In An Unmarked Car
“It’s very common to get pulled over and searched," he says. "A lot of Juggalos have stickers on their car. They’re playing a lot of really loud music, and we all kind of look weird. If you go to rural Oklahoma, that’s going to be weird. The cops are going to be like ‘what the fuck’ and they’re going to profile the shit out out you.” Rzemyk says he rents a car to avoid this altogether.
Understand The Value Of Good Face Paint, And Make-Up Remover
“When it comes to face paint, you get what you pay for," he says. "If you go to the Dollar Store and you see that cute little picture of a clown, something that you’d paint your 5-year-old's face with, it’s going to be water-based. You’re going to sweat it right off … If you’re really into the face paint, the oil-based paint that [ICP] actually use will stay on through the Faygo showers and everything else. I actually use eyeliner. It’s a pencil and it takes a bit longer to put on, but you can do crazier designs with it. It’s kind of shitty to have to take off at the end of the night.”
Which is why you might want to invest in makeup remover. “It sounds a little bit funny, but it will pay off at the end of the night when you’re drunk and high and you want to go to sleep and not get face paint all over your bed.”
Know the Basics of the Lingo
"Down": the period of time when you considered and self-identified as a Juggalo
“Neden”: slang for vagina
“Ninja”: similar to a homie or brother
“Cotton Candy”: another term for female pubic hair
“Whoop Whoop”: a common greeting, a farewell, celebration, a cheer of approval
“Honk for Sugar”: fandom saying from an ICP feature film where someone shouts it as they're driving and everyone honks their horn
Move in Packs
“It’s very common to see people move in packs and groups of people," he says. "It’s very common to see groups of three to 10 people sticking together and walking round. Everybody has their crew, everybody has who they came with.”
He notes that while many people come in crews based on geographical origin, the Gathering has many open “camps” for people not traveling with large groups.
Be Prepared to “See Some Shit”
“Be ready for anything," he says. "You’re going to see shit at The Gathering that you never thought you would see. There’s going to be some weird crazy shit and every year, almost every day I say to myself, if I see something I say 'only at The Gathering.'”
Ladies, People Are Going to Ask to See Your Boobs
Juggalo newbies and younger kids may ask you to show your tits, kind of a lot. "If you don’t want to show your shit, that’s your choice," Rzemyk advises. "Be yourself … No one can really fuck with you for that.”
Read on for more tips for attending the Gathering of the Juggalos.
Be Prepared to Get Sprayed with Faygo, Possibly Other Items at the Main Stage
“If you’re going to watch ICP [in the pit], they’re going to throw soda. They’re going to throw the Faygo all over the place. So if you don’t feel like getting wet. Which I don’t recommend — I recommend you get wet, I recommend you get in the Faygo shower because it’s quite an experience.”
He also notes that you may see other things flying around the crowd in the bit, too. “One year one of the bands said, ‘Okay everybody reach down and grab a piece of trash and throw it’ ... and it was just a cloud of shit hovering over the crowd, it was pretty unbelievable.”
Stop By Big Silva, and Leave Your Mark
“They started a ball of duct tape, and they just kept wrapping duct tape around this ball. They named him Big Silva, and it’s grown, and grown and grown — and this thing is a goddamn boulder at this point. You can’t even lift it. If you see Big Silva it’s kind of a tradition, if you have duct tape, to add to Big Silva.”
People will get customized duct tape to add their special mark too. “One year, my friends and I all wore purple, so I got a role of purple duct tape to add to it … It’s just this weird, pointless thing we have in our culture for no reason.”
Hitch a Ride in a Customized Juggalo Golf-Cart Limo or Grocery Cart
“Some people will customize golf carts and drive these custom Juggalo golf-carts around. They’re almost like a limo. A couple of years ago somebody brought a customized hot rod shopping cart from a grocery store. They beefed it up, they put giant tires on it. They spray painted the whole thing neon orange, they had LEDs on it. It was in the pit, people were climbing on it…”
Check Out a Juggalo Championship Wrestling (JCW) Match
“That’s grown with the ICP for years and years and years. There’s definitely a big cross in that Venn diagram between wrestling fans and Juggalos. There’s a lot of wrestling fans in the Juggalo community, so JCW gets pretty popular, especially at night. They have tryouts during the day and fun little games like ‘get in the ring and beat your buddy up for a couple of minutes.’”
When the show starts at night, Rzemyk includes it as a must to at least attend once. “Even if you don’t like wrestling, if it’s not your style and you’ve never watched wrestling in your life, it’s kind accepted there that you don’t have to know what’s going on.”
Don’t Miss the Main Stage Performances
“Anyone on the main stage is worth checking out.”
“Fuck Yo Sleep” Is a Reality You Must Accept
“You will be woken up by megaphones in the middle of the night. There’s an old and tried and true mantra in the middle of the night that people shout ‘fuck yo sleep.’ It kind of came off of the Dave Chappelle, Rick James ‘fuck your couch, Charlie Murphy.’”
But seriously, if you want to sleep, bring ear plugs.
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Try at Least One Late-Night Party
“Even if you don’t want to stay. If there’s a foam party, go get foamed-up for five minutes and walk out if you don’t like it. But at least give it a shot.”
Make Sure You Drink Water Between All the Faygo and Booze
“I think it’s easy to forget how much water the body actually needs, especially when you’re surrounded by beer, whiskey, and Faygo — the Juggalo drink of choice.”
Always have a crate of water bottles in the car. “You never know what's going to happen, you might need to wash your hands, or put out a fire …as much beer as you’re getting, make sure you’re getting that much water.”
Most importantly, he says, "just fucking do it."