Last night I was fortunate enough to get down to Goodhood for the launch of a new book, written by Daniel Cronin, documenting ‘a remote Dyonisian homecoming for social, economic and cultural outcasts’ otherwise known as the Gathering of the Juggalos. I’ve actually written about the Juggalos before following the discovery/blessing of Sean Dunne’s own 20-minute documentary about the festival, and when I heard that there was going to be a published book about one of the most controversial and utterly-fascinating subcultures of modern America, I didn’t think twice.
In a similar vein to American Juggalo, the book documents Cronin’s experiences at three consecutive ‘Gathering of the Juggalos’ Festivals at Cave-In-Rock, Illinois. Much like Dunne’s approach in his documentary, Cronin presents his photographs ‘as is’, sans-caption or narration. The final result is a mixture of spontaneous shots of clown-centric mayhem as well as candid personal portraits of people he has met at the shows over the years.
Other than a brief introduction in which his expressed opinion of them is nothing short of admiration and respect, the photographer steps into the background and allows the Juggalos to say their piece in a similar sentiment to the festival’s own fundamental ethos. What quickly becomes clear as you turn through the pages is that while, yes, there is an undercurrent of ‘oddball’ running through each of the subjects, the oft-shouted Juggalo principle of accepting anybody, whoever they are, is clearly one that the Ninjas not only adhere to, but believe to the core. It’s hard to be the odd one out in a group like the Juggalos, and that in turn presents some funny questions about our own cultures and cliques.
The book was launched in the UK last night in association with Prestel Publishing at the Goodhood Store. A Shaggy2Dope-worthy array of Faygo soda, Milk Duds and Pizzeria Pretzel Bites (hey, don’t ask me, ask America) was on offer so everyone could get their Juggalo shine on, and all music of the night contained exclusively chainsaw-related subject matter – Twiztid would be proud and your mother would be concerned, and isn’t that kind of what being an outsider is all about anyway?
The Gathering of the Juggalos is available right now from all good book stores. If you would like to learn more about ICP and the Juggalo culture, I highly recommend watching American Juggalo by Sean Dunne. WHOOP WHOOP.