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Juggalos: A Primer


And now we're going to go to the rally of the Juggalos in Washington, D.C., today. They are devoted followers of the rap duo Insane Clown Posse. They put on the band's clown face paint. They repeat the band's - if I may - crude, often violent lyrics. In 2011, the FBI classified the Juggalos as a gang, members who do commit crimes. They say they want to show the country, today, who they really are.

Nathan Rabin's in our studios. He is what amounts to a sympathetic biographer. He's written a couple of books about the Insane Clown Posse and the Juggalos.

Mr. Rabin, thanks for being with us.

NATHAN RABIN: Oh, thank you. It's a pleasure.

SIMON: Who are they?

RABIN: They are a rap duo from Detroit who, for a very, very long time...

SIMON: Who are the Juggalos?

RABIN: ...Maybe even today - oh, the Juggalos.

SIMON: Yeah.

RABIN: Juggalos are fans of...

SIMON: Our audience knows the Insane Clown Posse, I think, yeah.

RABIN: Exactly, exactly. Many of them are Juggalos, I would imagine.

So Juggalos are fans of Insane Clown Posse, and they're very, very intense, obsessive fans. They tend to get a lot of tattoos. The hatchet man is kind of their predominant sort of iconography. They wear their hair in very specific kind of ways. And they've been widely mocked and maligned by the culture at large. And then six years ago, the FBI decided to call them a loosely organized hybrid gang, which I think is a way of saying that they're poor people who might be up to something.

SIMON: And of course, the ACLU has come to their defense. Molly Ball has a question for you.

MOLLY BALL: Yes. I'm just wondering, do the Juggalos have a politics? What is the politics of Juggalos?

RABIN: That is a very good question. And if you actually look at the music and the lyrics of Insane Clown Posse, it's very class-conscious. It's very anti-bigotry. It's very anti-redneck. It's very anti-racism. So if you actually look at the words and the lyrics and the ideology, it's very leftist. It's very progressive.

At the same time, Insane Clown Posse and most Juggalos consider themselves very apolitical. ICP in particular has walked this very fine, weird line where they've kind of said, we are apolitical. (Laughter) We're going to throw a political rally, but we only care about this one issue, which is the FBI designating our fans as a loosely organized hybrid gang. And what I would like would be for this to be the start of something for them to, you know, take on profiling in all its forms - police brutality, government overreaching, law enforcement persecuting people on the basis of how they look. It's pretty crazy.

SIMON: You're going to speak at the - to the Juggalos at the rally today. In the 45 seconds we have left - I don't want you to condense the entire speech, but what are you going to say?

RABIN: I think I'm going to talk about kind of the emotional journey that I've gone through from being, you know, sort of a skeptical outsider. My first book about ICP is called "You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me," but the original title was "Confessions Of A Pop Culture Masochist." And what I found in ICP was a sense of family, of solidarity, of belonging. I found people who are trying to make the world a better place. And I think that's what we're going to show, you know, outsiders today.

SIMON: Nathan Rabin writes about pop culture on his website, Nathan Rabin's Happy Place. You know, it's been good to talk to you. Thank you very much.

RABIN: Oh, my pleasure.

SIMON: Glad you could make it.

RABIN: And a hardy, hardy whoop-whoop to you, good sir.

SIMON: (Laughter).

RABIN: If I might give you the Juggalo greeting...

SIMON: Right back at you.

RABIN: ...The conventional Juggalo greeting, possibly the first time on NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.