Kelly O Gets Down with the Clown

An Interview with Insane Clown Posse

Kelly O Gets Down with the Clown

INSANE CLOWN POSSE Violent J, the Duke of the Wicked, is on the left. Whoop, whoop!

Violent J is a hatchet-wielding, face-paint-wearing, wicked-clown rapper character, and one-half of supernatural hiphop-horrorcore duo Insane Clown Posse. Violent J and childhood friend Shaggy 2 Dope formed ICP in Detroit back in the early '90s and have since released 12 studio albums, 21 singles, seven EPs, and eight compilations on their own label, Psychopathic Records. The duo has earned two platinum and five gold albums (!!). They have a large underground following of dedicated and rabid fans known, of course, as Juggalos. I spoke with Violent J about fatherhood, cheap soda, religion, and boobs. He was extremely friendly, and made me miss the no-bullshit attitude of a born-and-bred Detroiter.

You're playing El Corazón May 24 and 25. Why the two ICP Seattle shows?

Well, it's a small club, and it's been YEARS. No one would book us in Seattle for many, many years. Juggalos have a bad reputation, so for a long time, the closest we could come was Portland.

I have to ask. Your songs mention it, your fans guzzle it... why Faygo?

You gotta remember, we started out way back in the early '90s, comin' off the heels of the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC. DMC rapped about Adidas, and that was kinda like their thing, and the Beasties, at least back on their first album, used to mention White Castle hamburgers. Those things would link you to a group back then. When we were sitting around working on our very first songs, we wanted to incorporate who we were. We always drank Faygo.

Why not Vernors? That's from Detroit.

Vernors was expensive! Faygo Cola was only 69 cents for a two-liter. We used to leave the house and walk to the store with no money, and by the time we walked through the alley to get there, we would find at least seven empty bottles on the ground—then we'd walk away with a new ice-cold two-liter of Faygo, for free.

History lesson: Talk about Inner City Posse, as you were originally known, and the wrestling days.

Well, like all kids, we wanted to be "a gang" [laughs], so we formed Inner City Posse—we'd spray-paint "ICP" all over the neighborhood. We were really into watching wrestling, so we wanted to DO it. We built a ring in Shaggy's backyard and became backyard-wrestling promoters. We'd make flyers, get everyone to come, give 'em free hot dogs, and then put on a wrestling show.

Who do you think is Detroit's most underrated musician?

That's easy: Awesome Dre. He was a rapper. He was the one of us who made it on Priority Records, alongside the likes of Geto Boys and Eazy-E. Oh, and Esham, too.

Oooh, when I lived in Detroit, I was afraid of Esham!

He was scary. ICP wanted to scare people just like he did. It was so cool to feel scared. Back then, Alice Cooper with all his snakes and KISS with all the face paint—that scary stuff hit hard in Detroit. They were both HUGE there—KISS used to sell out Cobo Arena before they sold anywhere else out. Detroit was into the wicked shit since the '70s.

When did you and Shaggy 2 Dope first put on the clown makeup?

We looked at the two rappers who were making the most noise here. One, again, was Esham, and he was comin' out onstage in a coffin—rappin' about the devil. The other was Kid Rock—way back in the early days, he was driving around on tractors in his videos, like a hillbilly, and rappin' about being from Romeo, Michigan. We just figured Detroit was really all about being a character, not unlike someone in a comic book.

Are you really a born-again Christian?

I'm not afraid to say that I believe in God. But me and Shaggy, we don't go to church, and we've never read the Bible. We just know a basic principle of a guardian angel on your shoulder—you know, that little voice that tells you when you're doing something that you shouldn't be doin'. If we do anything preachy at all, it's that we tell our fans to live by that voice in your head—I mean, you KNOW when you're doin' somethin' evil. If there really is a heaven or hell, we wanna see Juggalos in Shangri-La. We don't know the specifics of any religion—that weird shit like not eating meat on Friday or the "commandments" or any of that.

Where does the word "Juggalo" come from?

On our first album, Carnival of Carnage, there was a song called "The Juggla," and I think it just evolved from that. The most fascinating and best thing about ICP is the Juggalos—they're amazing! There's never been anything like our fans in the history of any kind of music.

How many Gatherings have there been?

It's the 14th annual Gathering of the Juggalos this year—14 years!

How come so many Juggalettes at the Gathering flash their boobs?

'Cause they know so many Juggalos wanna see 'em! They're nice like that! We're thankful for all the Juggalettes [laughs].

I was surprised how safe it was at the Gathering the year I went.

There's never any danger at the Gathering—nobody's on any negativity shit, everybody's on one big family trip. If you're a Juggalo, everyone treats everyone, even strangers, like you would treat a family member. Nobody's there to fight or hurt anyone. It's a beautiful thing, and the exact opposite of being alone. I think when everybody goes home—especially the Juggalos, when they're back at home—a lot of them have to be alone. Outside the Gathering, it's not the most popular thing in this country to be a Juggalo.

What did you think of that short film American Juggalo?

I thought it was AWESOME!

My favorite was the girl halfway through the film who said, "Juggalos are down with the clown..."

"...down with the clown till you're dead in the ground!" That's what they say. Juggalos been sayin' that for years.

What do you want YOUR gravestone to read?

Damn! Never been asked that before. I wanna be remembered, which might be greedy or selfish, but I do want to be remembered for having done something. Everybody gets just a little bit of time here, and I hope I'll be remembered as somebody who kicked ass. I guess I'd want it to say, "Here Lies a Bomb-Ass Father. A Dad." That's most important. Then underneath, I'd want it to say, "The Duke of the Wicked." That's what I go by, in the Juggalo world—I am the fucking Duke of the Wicked. recommended


Comments (34) RSS

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Whoop Whoop!
Posted by ClownVid on May 22, 2013 at 9:25 AM · Report this
Oh, shit! Vernors, Esham, Inner City Posse - this interview has it all. Thanks, Kelly O! You just made me miss Detroit a tiny little bit.
Posted by The only thing missing was goober and the peas on May 22, 2013 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Well, ICP has about as much knowledge of the bible as your garden variety Christian so whoop whoop etc
Posted by brokn2pieces on May 22, 2013 at 9:37 AM · Report this
Emily Nokes 4
Posted by Emily Nokes on May 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM · Report this
Estey 5
Love it. Great dialogue! The best interview with Violent J. Not surprised it was done by you, Kelly O.
Posted by Estey on May 22, 2013 at 12:58 PM · Report this
Trent Moorman 6
I, Cookie, am in favor of this article.
Posted by Trent Moorman on May 22, 2013 at 1:20 PM · Report this
*sigh* Why must you encourage them?
Posted by psychic, powerless... on May 22, 2013 at 2:37 PM · Report this
dan10things 8
Well played Miss O.
Posted by dan10things on May 22, 2013 at 3:18 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 9
Sounds like a pretty down to earth guy. Okay, he believes in God or at least a great spirit, but not being into an organized religion is a good thing in my book.
Posted by Matt from Denver on May 22, 2013 at 3:23 PM · Report this
freesandbags 10
Kelly OOO please be my Duchess Of The Wicked. Keep it cool Juggalos.
Posted by freesandbags on May 22, 2013 at 8:47 PM · Report this
Collecting empty bottles (Michigan has a *10 cent* deposit on every can or bottle) to get new a new 2-liter of pop is so fricking Classic Michigan.

We used to throw parties, just to collect all the empties, to help pay our rent when I was in college...
Posted by Kelly O on May 23, 2013 at 11:25 AM · Report this
HIDE YOUR WIFE! HIDE YOUR KIDS! I'll be deadbolting my apartment this weekend. Thanks for flooding my neighborhood with streetkids, ICP!
Posted by kay fran on May 23, 2013 at 2:12 PM · Report this
A few years ago, Twiztid (sp?), an ICP offshoot group, played at El Corazon and on my bus ride home from work I saw a few Juggalos in full face paint sitting together at the back of the bus, whispering to each other and looking SUPER lost. I eavesdropped a little, and it turns out they were concerned that they had missed their stop, and the more I listened the nicer they seemed - just a few kids from wayyyyy out in the burbs/sticks, lost in the city in demon clown makeup. I interrupted them and told them that they hadn't missed their stop, and that it was my stop too so I could show them which way to walk when they got off. They were so, so grateful and sweet about it, and we chatted for a minute or two before we went our separate ways, and I'll be damned if they weren't pretty smart and well-spoken, for teenagers. I don't know. It kind of blew my mind.
Posted by glerg on May 24, 2013 at 11:54 AM · Report this
the duster 14
I'm surprised they're not playing Showbox Market or maybe even something bigger.
Posted by the duster on May 24, 2013 at 11:58 AM · Report this
Built backyard wrestling rings and spray painted ICP around the city...
Posted by michael bell on May 24, 2013 at 12:06 PM · Report this
Dade 16
My band crashed with two Juggalo girls once while on tour. They put two bands (11 people) up in their house. We got stoned, danced to the Beastie Boys, and hung out in their hot tub. It was surprisingly awesome. True story.
Posted by Dade on May 24, 2013 at 12:21 PM · Report this
Fnarf 17
I think they're awesome. I hope I never hear a second more of their music than I already have, so I can't really claim to be down with the clown, but the Juggalo vibe -- which is friendly and empowering or at least comforting to people who are constantly told by the rest of the world that they are worthless -- gets the Fnarf seal of approval.
Posted by Fnarf on May 24, 2013 at 12:48 PM · Report this
Zebes 18
Huh. That was surprisingly pleasant.
Posted by Zebes on May 24, 2013 at 1:05 PM · Report this
Knat 19
There's never any danger at the Gathering—nobody's on any negativity shit, everybody's on one big family trip. If you're a Juggalo, everyone treats everyone, even strangers, like you would treat a family member. Nobody's there to fight or hurt anyone.

So which member of the family was Tila Tequila treated like?
Posted by Knat on May 24, 2013 at 1:39 PM · Report this
Posted by Totalpukoid on May 24, 2013 at 1:56 PM · Report this
fletc3her 21
I've never been able to convince myself that this is a real band.
Posted by fletc3her on May 24, 2013 at 1:57 PM · Report this
Hooray for Kelly O!
Posted by ct on May 24, 2013 at 4:08 PM · Report this
Fnarf 23
@19, if Tila Tequila was in my family, she'd get about the same.
Posted by Fnarf on May 24, 2013 at 5:24 PM · Report this
tharp42 24
Cool interview. I was expecting mountains of snark, but instead get a bit of humanity.
Posted by tharp42 on May 25, 2013 at 11:18 AM · Report this
Proud Faggot 25
Yeah, it's real awesome to see the most disgusting forms of humanity - racism, misogyny,and homophobia - rolled into one package. Fuck them and fuck this interview. Trying to show ICP and their cult-like followers in a glamorous light is disgusting bullshit.

Truth is, if they weren't from Detroit, Kelly O wouldn't give a shit about them. Way to show your hometown pride though!
Posted by Proud Faggot on May 25, 2013 at 12:25 PM · Report this
superhyrulean 26
Nice,I really think ICP should be more original in their works a old school juggalo myself,I remember back in the 90s when SLAM TV! was popular and many artists and songwriters related to ICP were original,loud and crazy,and boy,did the public loved it and ate it up...nowadays,they make occasional appearances on the media,but they are not as "insane" as they used to be...the bands related to ICP stopped making records and ICP toned down the craziness...WTF happened? Where is the dark carnival,psychopathic killer clowns anymore? Twiztid is doing good,but what about the other bands?
Posted by superhyrulean on May 25, 2013 at 2:05 PM · Report this
@25, Kelly O pays The Stranger good money to publish her articles and photos, please show a little more respect.
Posted by MacGruber on May 25, 2013 at 5:09 PM · Report this
What a load of crap. Try being an actual journalist and interview someone who isn't a psychopathic attention seeker.
Posted by HowDoMagnets WorkDerp on May 26, 2013 at 8:05 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 29
@25: How are ICP racist? Their "shock" niche is misogynistic, but aside from drawing a fanbase from lower-classed Americans, I don't see how all those things are true.
Posted by undead ayn rand on May 26, 2013 at 11:39 AM · Report this
Horrible excuse for "music". Do the people who listen to this shit also like cotton mouth kings?
Posted by S T on May 26, 2013 at 12:33 PM · Report this
@S T - yes, they do.
Posted by TMonroe on May 26, 2013 at 11:20 PM · Report this
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Larry Mizell, Jr. 33
long time comin, this was
Posted by Larry Mizell, Jr. on May 27, 2013 at 11:18 AM · Report this
I expected a review of one of the shows. I feel like you guys really dropped the ball on this!
Posted by Chester Copperpot on June 2, 2013 at 10:41 PM · Report this

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