The thing people can miss about Insane Clown Posse, amid all the duo's nastiness, is how square they are. In the Gathering of the Juggalos infomercial, barbed-wire death-match wrestling is touted with the same fervor as an array of birthday-party-grade diversions: "Check this out—dudes on stilts!" "Magicians and hypnotists walking around that bitch!" "Bouncy boxing and a giant waterslide!" Violent J, we learn, hosts a party in which attendees bounce balls around and listen to the Beach Boys.
This squareness dovetails with the Juggalos' surprisingly friendly and inclusive rhetoric. A common chant at ICP concerts is "Fam-i-ly! Fam-i-ly!" and it bears noting that there are out-and-proud gay and lesbian Juggalos, that women seem to show up at ICP events in almost equal number to men (this Vice feature on the 2007 Gathering offers a fascinating look at the Juggalo frontlines and the complex way female fans fit into the proceedings), and that black musicians—if not fans—abound at the festivals.
Juggalos are something like the music-world version of Trekkies: a community of (and support group for) self-identifying outcasts, who don homemade costumes, speak in a private language, and revel in their societal-reject status. (The nerd/Juggalo kinship is made explicit by ICP role-playing games like The Quest for Shangri-Laand Legend of the Dark Carnival.) The result is a subcultural empire unmatched in the music business: In addition to DVDs, action figures, and a whole second string of face-painted rap-rock acts in the Psychopathic Records fold, there is a Juggalo-specific social-networking site and a Juggalo wrestling federation, all of which combine to cater to that eternal disaffected-teen desire to crawl into an elaborately constructed demimonde and build a second life there. By design, the place is off-putting to us outsiders—but if we can't find the beauty in a fucking rainbow, that's our problem.