The term juggalo originated during a 1994 live performance by Insane Clown Posse. During the song "The Juggla", Violent J addressed the audience as Juggalos, and the positive response resulted in Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope using the word thereafter to refer to themselves and their friends, family, and fans, including other Psychopathic Records artists. The fanbase boomed following the release of their third album, Riddle Box, in 1995, leading Insane Clown Posse to write the songs "What Is a Juggalo?" and "Down With the Clown" for their 1997 album The Great Milenko.
The roots music journal No Depression classified Juggalos as "goth clowns", as well as "a true community of music-lovers with a strange and warped view of today’s music scene and a strong connection to modern hillbilly culture." According to Shaggy 2 Dope, "[Juggalos come] from all walks of life – from poverty, from rich, from all religions, all colors. ... It doesn't matter if you're born with a silver spoon in your mouth, or a crack rock in your mouth." Juggalos have compared themselves to a family. However, the subculture is most predominant in rural North America.
Common characteristics of identifying a member of the Juggalo subculture are as follows:
Juggalos view the lyrics of Psychopathic Records artists, which are often violent, as a catharsis for aggression.
Many characteristics of the Juggalo culture originated in the 1980s, when Joseph Bruce (Violent J) and his family were living in poverty. He and his brother Robert received all their clothes from rummage sales, and their food from canned food drives held at their school. Due to their poverty, the Bruce Brothers were the butt of many jokes in school. However, the brothers were not ashamed of their living standards and instead embraced them. Joe even made a name for themselves, Floobs. According to Joe, a Floob was essentially a scrub, but not just an ordinary scrub. A Floob "wore the same old shoes and shitty clothes from rummage sales ... but ... didn't even have to be cool. [Floobs] turned [their] scrubbiness into something [they] could be proud of." Though Joe only specifically names himself and his brother as Floobs, he alludes to other Floobs whom he had not met or known of, but were living in the same conditions as he and his brother; the respect that Floobs had for each other and their family-like embrace of likewise people influenced the philosophy held among Juggalos.
Charities, benefits and community activity of Juggalos
The Dead Stephanie Memorial Cleanup
Since 2008, Florida Juggalos organized The Juggalo Cleanup Crew to pick up trash for the Dead Stephanie Memorial Cleanup, in honor of Stephanie Harris, a high school student who died of diabetes in 2008.
Hatchet House and community outreach
In Buffalo, New York, a group of Juggalos formed the Juggalos outreach program and started cleaning up Buffalo's East Side. In addition to the community cleanup they run Hatchet House which operates a 24/7 helpline referring community members in crises to services and serves as a base of operations for volunteer work and community service programs.
Interaction between violent and nonviolent Juggalos
According to a 2011 National Gang Intelligence Center report, the Juggalo subculture is split between violent and nonviolent factions. Some members of the Juggalos street gang even look down on non-criminal Juggalos, considering them to be weak, and criminal Juggalo gangs have committed attacks on non-gang-related Juggalos. Both Juggalo gang affiliates and nonviolent Juggalos believe in the Juggalo "family", however, some nonviolent Juggalos do not believe that any gang-related activity should be associated with the Juggalo lifestyle.
Public and artist reactions
The Insane Clown Posse filed a lawsuit against the FBI about the gang-listing. In December 2012, ICP agreed to withdraw their involvement as plaintiffs.
Psychopathic Records launched the website juggalosfightback.com for fans to submit stories about unfair treatment by law enforcement. ICP hopes to use these stories in their legal battle to declassify Juggalos as a gang.
The classification of Juggalos as a criminal gang was ridiculed by the technology magazine Wired in a November 2011 article, with journalist Spencer Ackerman referring to previous scandals involving FBI harassment of Muslim-Americans.
On January 8, 2014, Insane Clown Posse along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed suit again against the FBI. The suit aims to have Juggalos no longer considered to be a gang and to have any "criminal intelligence information" about Juggalos destroyed.
The Gathering of the Juggalos (The Gathering or GOTJ) is an annual festival put on by Psychopathic Records, featuring performances by the entire label as well as numerous well-known musical groups and underground artists. It was founded by Robert Bruce, Insane Clown Posse, and its label in 2000. The Gathering has featured bands of a variety of genres within hip hop and rock, though the majority of the acts perform horrorcore and hardcore hip hop, similar to that of Psychopathic Records artists.
Described by Joseph Bruce as a "Juggalo Woodstock", the Gathering of the Juggalos spans four days and includes concerts, wrestling, games, contests, autograph sessions, karaoke, and seminars with artists. According to the roots music journal No Depression, the event displays the Juggalo culture's connection to hillbilly culture, by featuring "backyard wrestling, Wild West imagery, county fair performers like Naughty by Nature and Gallagher [and] acres and acres of white guys [wearing wife beater shirts] getting high." Over its first eleven events, the festival has drawn an attendance of about 107,500 fans.
In July 2012, the media organization Vice released American Juggalo, a twenty-minute film documenting the festival, through their subsidiary music channel, Noisey. Sean Dunne directed the work.
On August 9, 2013, 24-year-old Cory Collins died at the festival, following three more deaths at previous festivals.
In 2012, Shaggy and Violent J created the annual Juggalo Day, a yearly event to thank and celebrate its fans.
2013 started the album shows, playing a joker card album from front to back. 2013 was the "Riddle Box Show" in Detroit.
2014 was the "Great Milenko Show" in Columbus, Ohio.
Mainstream media has also made references to the Juggalo subculture. In 2009, televisionsketch comedySaturday Night Live began a reoccurring series of sketches about the "Kickspit Underground Rock Festival" which parodies Juggalos and the Gathering of the Juggalos. The following year, the television show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia featured a Juggalo character in the episode "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America’s Youth". In 2011, the television show Workaholics aired an episode called "Straight Up Juggahos" that revolved around Juggalos and an Insane Clown Posse concert. Later that year, an independent documentary entitled American Juggalo was released.Gathering Prey, the 2015 crime novel in the Lucas Davenport series by John Sandford, features a villain named Pilate who, with his disciples, are Juggalos. Much of the book takes place at the Gathering of the Juggalos. The 2018 Film Family includes characters that identify as Juggalos and a pivotal scene takes place at a Gathering of the Juggalos.
^Colt Cabana (Interviewer) and Insane Clown Posse (Interviewees) (February 17, 2011). "AOW 30: Insane Clown Posse". Art Of Wrestling Radio. Event occurs at 9:25. Archived from the original on April 29, 2011. Retrieved February 17, 2011. I'm a Juggalo. I have been for a while.
^Colt Cabana (Interviewer) and Willie Mack (Interviewee) (May 4, 2011). "AOW 41: Willie Mack". Art Of Wrestling Radio. Event occurs at 21:53. Retrieved May 5, 2011. Yeah I'm a Juggalo.