By Brad Lopez
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Inkoo Kang
By Dave Herrerra
By Josiah M. Hesse
By Britt Chester
By Noah Hubbell
Flava and Kiki were sitting at a Denny's recently when a guy they'd never met walked by and shouted a little "woop woop" — the juggalo greeting call. Shit like that happens all the time. Kiki's cell phone keeps beeping as he gets random texts from kids that say things like "Much clown love."
Qrem Dela Qrem used to be Mike, one of the kids hanging around Primos. He'd drive down from Greeley to give Kiki some demos or stickers of the stuff he was working on as Qrem. Kiki told Scum about him, and Scum let him on the first GoreFest bill. Qrem looked like a jester, with his wild red hair and painted face, and the crowd took to him quickly, so Scum offered to let him record on the LSP label.
Mike's a garbage man by day, with a fiancée and a daughter, but he feels like a celebrity. He's met fans with Q tattoos, sees his stickers everywhere, gets asked for autographs and has opened up for people he used to just listen to on his stereo. It's huge for a guy whose mentor and gym teacher told him he was lucky he didn't turn out to be a serial killer, given his history. Mike's father kidnapped him when he was five, and it took the cops six years to track him down. When the police finally took him back to his mom, Mike hardly remembered her. His father had started giving him alcohol and weed at seven, and he kept drinking and doing drugs and getting into trouble until his mom couldn't handle it anymore. He left home at sixteen.
After a series of arrests for DUI, theft, burglary and criminal mischief, Mike landed in a halfway house in Greeley. "I seen dudes who were like fifty seeing their grandkids in there," he remembers. "I'm like, I'm glad I'm nineteen now so I can get this shit over with. After that was when I straightened up."
Today he shares his story as a cautionary tale. Occasionally, he'll go buy a stack of Domino's pizzas and put a bulletin on his MySpace page inviting kids to come over to his garage. He calls them his friends, but they're his fans. "I can relate to a lot of these kids. I got a friend, his mom was a meth addict and stuff when he was growing up and had him and his sister taken away," Mike says. "He's been on his own since he got out of the foster home at seventeen. And he's like, 'Dude, it's so hard.' I'm like, 'Yeah, that's life.' They don't have anybody to tell them it's going to be okay. I was a bad kid, a real bad kid, so I know it's not the way to go if you want to accomplish your shit. If you want to come up, you got to get your shit straight. I tell this to a lot of these kids."
So does Scum. "A lot of people in the scene are angry people, and they have two options," he says. "They can either go out and shoot people or pick up the mike and shoot people in their songs. When I get frustrated and want to walk into my job and start unloading on them, I go to the studio, record a couple of tracks about going to my job and unloading on them, and I feel better. It's a release. Same with the mosh pit. We don't have a very happy crowd. We have a great crowd, they're die-hard. But they don't come from happy homes. We don't have many rich kids in our scene. A lot of them are broke. A lot of them are homeless. A lot of them are hungry. A lot of them are facing jail time. On probation. They're going through hard times, and they need angry music to relieve the stress."
And they need family.
"They say you can't pick your family, but I think you can," Flava says. "Everything we do is about loyalty and family. People can downplay everything we do and say we're never going to make it big, and we might not..."
"We already have, in our own way," Kiki says.
In the past year, the Primos partners have gone from promoting rap groups to becoming their own rap group. They build elaborate stage sets, like cemeteries and hangman's nooses, have friends dress up like zombies on stage, and bring in lights and fog. BVK helps with the beats, and kids already know the words to their songs.
Flava stays away from the microphone, but he gets to star in another Primos venture: Primos Hardcore Wrestling. The partners didn't set out to create their own version of Juggalo Championship Wrestling; they just wanted to organize matches with already established wrestling clubs in Denver. But fans of those clubs didn't take to the juggalo heckling, profanity and gimmicks. So they started booking matches in the back room of the Buffalo Rose in Golden.
At juggalo wrestling, the heroes — including Flava, who goes by the name that Franky gave him, Big Stress — are face-painted clowns, a killer in a Jason mask, and a massive ogre of a man playing the bogeyman. The villains are skinny rednecks in jean shorts and cowboy hats, like "Brokeback Billy." Props include everything from Twinkies to a toilet seat. And little kids who've come to watch with their families scream things like "You can do it, bogey! Kick his ass! You stupid hillbilly!" while the ICP song "Chicken Huntin'," which is about killing rednecks, plays overhead. And in the end, when the juggalos are inevitably victorious, the chanting is instantaneous.