Back to the Gathering: Taking a Chance on Me
My process for getting ready for the Gathering of the Juggalos generally goes as follows. When the location for the new Gathering is announced I experience a shiver of excitement accompanied by paralyzing anxiety. I always REALLY, REALLY want to go to the Gathering and every year all manner of obstacles present themselves as barriers to entry.
The biggest source of paralyzing anxiety involves scrambling to get an assignment to cover the Gathering. You might imagine that since I have written two books about Insane Clown Posse, 2013’s You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me and 2016’s 7 Days in Ohio, countless articles about the duo and its fans and spoke at the Juggalo March on Washington it should be a breeze for me to get gigs writing about Juggalos. You would be wrong. Very, very wrong.
When I start pitching Gathering of the Juggalos I immediately run into a brick wall of indifference. Sometimes I get back responses strongly, tersely expressing a publication’s intense disinterest in Insane Clown Posse, Juggalos and the Gathering of the Juggalos. Sometimes my pitches never get answered at all. I have learned through firsthand experience that, twenty-two years into my career, I am apparently at the “Don’t bother returning emails or pitches” level at many of the places I have freelanced for in the past.
For months I wrestle with anxiety. In my quiet, insecure moments I fret about how I’ve devoted pretty much a decade of my life and career to exploring the world of ICP as exhaustively and empathetically as possible and still nobody seems to give a fuck. I don’t just get passes for covering ICP: I get the hardest of hard passes.
I remember an old editor I had at A.V Club who took me aside after the site had okayed me covering the Gathering to tell me that he personally was against me going to the festival. It seemed like a glaringly unnecessary admission. I was going anyway and had an assignment from my then-employers at the A.V Club but I suppose he felt it was important that I know just how much he did not support me writing about Insane Clown Posse.
So this year I have decided to spare myself months of anxiety and stress by not pitching Gathering coverage elsewhere. This year I will be going to the landmark 20th anniversary Gathering of the Juggalos and covering it for Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place. I asked the dude who runs that site if I could write about the Gathering and he was, if anything, absurdly, excessively supportive. He was all, “I DEMAND that you write about the Gathering for us, you beautiful Juggalo you.”
I’m pretty fucking psyched about this year’s Gathering. The lineup is a lot stronger than it has been the past couple of years. Bone Thugs N Harmony will be returning to the Gathering, as will Madchild, Gwar, Tech Nine AND Jedi Mind Tricks will be making their Gathering debut. AND, if all that is not exciting enough, this year Insane Clown Posse will be performing an acoustic set. And there will be Shaggy 2 Dope’s Pajama Jammie Jam and KRS-ONE will be performing. KRS-ONE! How nuts is that?
The plan is to do daily coverage on the Big Whoop blog, like I did in 2017 and then a big, 3000, 4000, 5000 word piece on the festival as a whole will be a Patreon-only exclusive.
It makes sense that my Gathering would find a perhaps permanent home here at the Happy Place. It is, after all, a safe haven for me weird obsessions, and that sure describes Insane Clown Posse and Juggalo culture. The Gathering has been my Happy Place in the past. Hopefully that will hold true this year as well. I suspect it will.
I’m taking a chance on myself by covering the Gathering for this site, whereas in the past I’ve always had an outside assignment from, respectively, Scribner, A.V Club, MEL Magazine and High Times. It’s a decidedly calculated risk. I’m powerfully invested in this curious world. It means something to me, which is why I am making my seventh trip to the clowns’ infamous annual festival of arts and culture.
That said, if you are from a prestigious-ass publication or website and you would like to pay me handsomely to write about the Gathering, something I am quite good at, please do feel free to contact me through the website at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because while independence and autonomy or great, a paycheck never hurts either, and I know my wife will feel better if I’m there representing something other and beyond this website which is essentially me in online form. I’m fascinated by the Gathering as unlikely American institution and this proves to be even more ferociously unforgettable than the average Gathering.
Support independent media, get access to patron-only content and be a real-life superhero by pledging over at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace