The beginning of this story brought to mind Insane Clown Posse. Were they an inspiration for this story?
Yeah, a lot of this is heavily based on the real history of ICP and Twiztid. I’ve always had a ton of respect for those guys and the work that they do, and this story couldn’t exist without them.
The idea for the story came from my mystic friend who lives in this small town in the woods. He told me once that juggalos believe in “The Zahvon.” Which was like a juggalo messiah. And I have been writing “Zahvon” on scraps of paper for years to make sure I didn’t forget the idea. When I actually sat down to write it, I tried to find more about The Zahvon, but there wasn’t anything about it anywhere online. It was spooky. I didn’t ever ask my friend where he heard about it. Maybe it came from the juggalos who used to walk the streets of his town in the middle of the night like fifteen years ago. Who knows?
You allude to the fact that clowns are being discriminated against because they’re recognized as a hate group. Additionally, two factions of clowns fought against each other. Was this intended as an allegory to the Civil Rights Movement, in which some folks backed MLK’s non-violent rhetoric, and others backed by-any-means-necessary leaders like Malcom X?
The hate group stuff is real. Fans of ICP are actually labeled by the FBI as a gang. Which has caused a ton of problems for fans of the band. The juggalo protest I wrote about where they try to get the government to remove the gang label happened in real life, and I was there marching with them to support them. The parallels to MLK were baked into the event—ICP played a concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to support the protest and the area around the Reflecting Pool was filled with juggalos. It’s easily one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.
The faction stuff is real, too—Twiztid and ICP had a falling out a few years ago and people did actually start to take sides. But this wasn’t really political—it was an internal thing.
I didn’t really have any political thoughts when I was making this. I think I wanted this story to just take all of the juggalo stuff seriously—to take some pieces of reality and some pieces of batshit myths and create something that treats them like they are actually cool. Because they are actually cool. They looked at the world and were like, “Hey what if we made a magic carnival real?” And a small fraction of people were like, “I mean. Everything is made up anyway, so that sounds better than Regular Life.” And everyone else was like, “What the fuck is wrong with you freaks?” But they didn’t stop. I can’t stop thinking about their bravery.
I love that pop music negatively affects the Carnies. How did you land upon that particular weakness?
Hm. So. That scene makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like what the main character says about ICP there. She obviously has a lot of baggage about the whole clown apocalypse situation. But I don’t know. I feel weird about putting something out in the world that says one more bad thing about ICP, even if the rest of the story is an homage to their work.
Regardless, I do think Alanis Morissette is basically the opposite of ICP, and that’s where the idea came from. To me, they’re like the poles of my personality. On one side I’m like an angry self-serious feminine pop star and on the other I’m like a campy genuine horror story.
Honestly, I really want to know what Alanis Morissette thinks about ICP.
Are you afraid of clowns?
When I was about five, I had a bunch of teenage ’90s skater bro friends, and one time one of them said to me “You know. I heard that in the next town over, a kid who had a room that looked just like yours got killed when a clown came out of his closet and stabbed him to death. I swear his closet looked just like yours.”
And I was afraid of the clown in my closet for the next eight years. But other than that, I have absolutely no fear of clowns.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
You can find info about my writing at alexsaintwidow.com. I just finished the script for a graphic novel, and I’ve got a science fiction novel in the works.
I also just released a glitchpunk album about me escaping from Texas under the name Switchblade Mantis. You can find that at bit.ly/3OIZ7tf. The album will also be on all the standard streaming platforms in May.
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