What Is a Juggalo? A Theological Hypothesis Is Offered at the Kitchen

(Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein)

“Hey Jen, good to see you,” a woman with short hair said to a younger woman in the lobby of The Kitchen Friday night. “What’s that you’re drinking?”

“It’s, ah, Faygo?” Jen said standing next to a cylindrical cooler full of the stuff, which the artist, Neal Medlyn, had provided before his show about the Insane Clown Pose and their devoted followers, the juggalos. Jen widened her eyes. “Diet Faygo, I believe, actually.”

The older woman wore a raincoat and cocked her head against the collar, smiling at Jen. She could see that this was supposed to be a joke of some kind, but obviously didn’t know why it should be one.

It was an  instructional moment because Mr. Medlyn’s show, Wicked Clown Love, wasn’t Juggalo 101. If you didn’t know that the budget all-aftertaste cola is juggalo communion wine you might have been left in the cold. For the show this was beneficial because it allowed Mr. Medlyn to move past the freak show elements, and make a more complex argument about sublime juggalism, though the people who got the most out of it had most likely been down with the clown in some other earlier capacity, like reading that thing in n+1. The piece is part of Mr. Medlyn’s series that examines popular music and has included similar studies on Lionel Richie, Phil Collins and Britney Spears.

After the seven clown-faced performers did a group rendition of ICP’s “Bang! Pow! Boom!” (“Say goodbye to everything! /Your complete annihilation is the reason we came”), and had their first Faygo shower, Mr. Medlyn laid out the structure for the evening. There would be six acts, each representing a joker card figure from the juggalos’s dark carnival mythos.

“After all six have risen,” he said, without gravity, “the end of time will consume us all.”

Whoop whoop!” yelled the jugs onstage.

There were more pastiche performances of ICP songs, and during one they used tire irons and baseball bats to whack the heads off mannequins. They performed “Miracles,” the song parodied on Saturday Night Live, without irony. They wrestled under cover of flashlights and before a giant puppet mask of the Great Milenko. Mr. Medlyn sat cross-legged and in character tried to talk about “negation, de-creation, and catabasis,” but kept getting sidetracked with stories about the mall. There was a lonely Faygo self-shower. By the end there was so much Faygo onstage that it puddled.

“I hope you’re all enjoying yourselves in this three-ring circus,” yelled a character named Ferris, with black makeup teardrops under his eyes. He addressed the audience. “To be honest I don’t really see what’s so fucking funny. These people are real!”

He later died, drowning himself in a wash basin of Faygo.

“Some adjectives to describe Ferris,” said a squat female friend, reading from a page during their crude funeral for him. “Vivacious, courageous, soft, ebullient, spastic, violent, buck wild, great dancer, enjoyer of music. In closing, I have this poem about Enkidu dying that Gilgamesh wrote and I’m just going to read that.”

At the end they threw packets of Cheez Doodles into the audience and everyone ate them.

What Is a Juggalo? A Theological Hypothesis Is Offered at the Kitchen