Well, well THREE IN A ROW. I am one proud little podcaster. And I couldn’t be happier than to win with such a bizarre precedent…
Remember if you are outraged and want to champion the clown church, or simply want to play more Gri-mal-dali.. let us know…
In horror studies you have ‘dark carnival motif, Carnivals are where bad things happen, in a constantly moving place, often late at night. Literary theorist Bakhtin coined ‘carnivalesque’ as a trope related to the fetes and spectacles where a lord of misrule overturned the world. We see this technique in Stephen King, Ray Bradbury and even Highsmith’s ‘Strangers on a Train’
Like at Coney Island funhouse where you could smash up a replica dining room and hidden fans blew girls’ skirts up over their waists. The Coney Island clown, Steeple chase also had a horrific exaggerated smile ‘…at once innocent and very kinky’. He was played at the park by a clown-faced dwarf that chased visitors around and spanked them with an electric paddle. Fred Trump, father of horror clown Donald bought the original Coney Island funhouse to convert it to waterfront housing. To preempt the city from declaring the park a protected landmark, Trump held a party with his wealthy friends, where they threw bricks through the towering, glass Funny Face’s bared teeth.
But back to the horror-core rap band who have channeled Bakhtin’s literary criticism into music, I suspect without ever having heard of it are Insane Clown Possee and their followers the Juggalos. Whose hand signal is ‘the wicked clown’. ICP’s music has a mythology called ‘the dark carnival’ where truths will be revealed through albums entitled by joker cards that Shaggy 2 Dope sees in his dreams. The cards are lessons that are told through the lyrics like a moralistic pantomime. The last card ‘wraith’ in 2001, revealed the whole act was a smoke screen for the bands true message: evangelical Christianity.
This has come as something as a surprise for their fans, as at one point were classed as a gang due to their random acts of destruction and violence and tattoo brandings. 7000 Juggalos meet once a year for the gathering of the Juggalos where they wrestle, get naked, take lots of drugs and perform odd rituals around a Detroit manufactured fizzy drink called Faygo. 4 people have died at these gatherings. ICP have their own definition of sin, creating their own belief system of ‘magic’ (their book is called ‘behind the paint’ But the much parodied, Juggalo song ‘Miracles’ reveals their evangelical outlook:
‘No more hidden messages
…Truth is we follow GOD!!!, The carnival is GOD
And may all juggalos find him
We’re not sorry if we tricked you.
Long neck giraffes, and pet cats and dogs
Fuckin’ rainbows after it rains
There’s enough miracles here to blow your brains.
Fuckin’ magnets, how do they work?’
Now Juggalos are easy to laugh at but they are not all bad. Seeing themselves as cultural and social outcasts, Juggalos call normal folk ‘floobs’ and see their performing of clowns is a reaction to those tha thave bullied and mocked them. Juggalos have actually done a lot of charity work including a trash pick up and a community helpline
Want More Killer Clowns?
Bakhtin, M (1941). Rabelais and his world.
Baudelaire, C. (1956) The Essence of Laughter
Baumgarthuber, C (2012) Troubled Mime (www.thenewinquiry.com)
Dery,M. (1999) The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium; American culture on the brink
Louapre ,D. (1990),A Cotton Candy Autopsy (Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children)
Jurgens, A. (2014) ‘Batman’s Joker, a neo-modern clown of violence’ in Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics (V5, N4) pp. 441 – 55
Radford, B. (2016) Bad Clowns
Ronson, J (2010) ‘Insane Clown Posse: And God created controversy’ in The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/oct/09/insane-clown-posse-christians-god)
Snyder,S. (2012) Batman: A Death in the Family
Weiner, G & Peaslee, R (2015). The Joker: A Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime.
American Juggalo (2010) https://vimeo.com/29589320