My journey to the heart of the local Salt Lake Juggalo scene began with a phone call and ended with a bottle of Rock ‘n Rye flavored Faygo. Up until now I had no idea what the fuck any of this shit was about. Sure, I knew that they liked Insane Clown Posse and wore makeup, but other than that I was stumped.
Photos: Jesse Anderson
I got a hold of the local Juggalo hotline, a recording that changes every day, letting other Juggalos and Ninjas know about upcoming Juggalo events for the week. They had a Lagoon day a couple weeks ago and every Thursday they give you a clue on the hotline for Find-a- Faygo-Friday, which is where the hotline homie hides a bottle of Faygo somewhere around the city and whoever finds it gets to keep the bottle. They also give a clue on the hotline’s Myspace page.
Anyway, I left a message for Chaos, the man behind the hotline asking for an interview. He kindly obliged and set up an interview at Graffiti, a Juggalo specialty shop in Murray that sells Faygo and all sorts of other Juggalo paraphernalia.
In case you don’t know what Faygo is, allow me to explain. It’s a soda pop that’s popular in Detroit and other regions of the Midwest. Out here we call it Shasta, but to be a true Juggalo Shasta won’t cut it. Faygo, dog. (For all other Juggalo slang explanations, please refer to the Juggalo glossary that I wrote with the help of the Juggalos I interviewed.) Faygo comes in all different flavors and the one that mixes the best with whiskey is Rock ‘n Rye. Chaos told me that Peach Schnapps with Faygo Peach or Kiwi Strawberry with vodka aren’t bad either.
Chaos met me at Graffiti with his Juggalette wife, his two kids and his friend CJ who helps with the hotline. We also met up with the local Juggalo horror-core rap group GFC, which stands for God’s Forgotten Children. GFC consists of three members, Hellyn (pronounced Hellion), Den2e (pronounced Dense) and Rockstar 37. Chaos wanted to know why I wanted to interview some Juggalos in the first place. I told him it was because I had absolutely no fucking idea what this movement was about and I figured it would make a good SLUG article.
I quickly learned that the word movement doesn’t really begin to describe what a Juggalo is, and as a way of life it’s somewhat open to interpretation. It’s not like there are rules or an initiation process or a Juggalo handbook. (There is a biography that Violent Jay from ICP wrote that was highly recommended by everyone at the interview.) But if you are a Juggalo or Juggalette, you definitely are one and other Juggalos will know you’re one too. I asked if there was some sort of hierarchy, like the Freemasons or like in karate, but there’s not. Clown Love is Clown Love. There are many ways for a Ninja to demonstrate their Clown Love. From all different types of Hatchet Gear that you can get at Graffiti, to Hatchet Man tattoos to clown face-paint. Painting your face is a strong way for a killa to show he’s fresh.
To elaborate on the tattoos a little more, I asked if there was anyone around town who specializes in Juggalo tattoos. Hellyn said that he’s personally inked up at least 50 Hatchet Men on homies. I asked if they knew of anyone that had their clown makeup tattooed on their face as the ultimate demonstration of Clown Love. Hellyn said he met a guy at an out-of-state show once who didn’t have the actual makeup tattooed, but had the outline of where he puts his makeup so he could do it faster. That dude is down.
I also asked these guys what normal clowns think of Juggalo Clowns. For all I knew a Juggalo was a clown gone bad, like when a Mormon guy questions his faith and starts drinking Shirley Temples. Chaos said he met Woop!Woop! Mike Brown Spends an Afternoon With a real clown on his birthday once and they actually hit it off. I guess a clown is a clown no matter how you cut it.
I asked them about some of the religious innuendo that seems to be floating about the merchandise. There was an ICP board game that was called, “The Path to Shangri-La.” Shangri-La seemed to be a recurring thing in the store. They told me that although being a Juggalo is nonreligious, and that you can be a Mormon Juggalo, that there is a guy in St. George who legally started up a church he calls the Church of the Dark Carnival and holds Juggalo services every Sunday. Let’s backtrack back to the Hatchet Man. It is by far the most popular Juggalo tattoo and all the Juggalos I interviewed had a necklace with the hatchet man on them. It is a quick way for Juggalos to identify each other outside of clown paint. Chaos told me about being stranded on the side of a freeway and getting picked up by a fellow Juggalo he didn’t know because of his hatchet man logo. Kind of like when I was a kid and skateboarders were few and far between, you’d look at a dude’s shoes and know if he skated. The downside to the Hatchet Man is that CJ told me that he’s had his car pulled over and searched by pigs just for having it on his car.