Last year, Camille Dodero went to the Gathering of the Juggalos and returned with a jawdropping account of her experience. This year, it seems like every magazine writer and her intern tried to do the same thing--with mixed levels of success. Dodero says she's "extremely honored."
"I'm flattered," Dodero told The Atlantic Wire. "I'm very proud of the work I did last year about the Gathering of the Juggalos and grateful that people are still referencing my piece publicly in 2011."
The piece appeared a year ago in The Village Voice, where Dodero is a staff writer, and it's terrific. You should read it. Be forewarned: Reading Dodero's account renders the knockoff version in the latest issue of N+1 somewhat stale, the play-by-play account at Deadspin kind of predictable and the truncated edition at Billboard fairly disappointing. More counterfeits can be found here, here and here. The most divergent piece, we saw, came from Drew Grant at Salon, who didn't go to the festival but thinks it's out of hand--given the fact that there's now a body count at this year's event.
For a bit of background, the Gathering of the Juggalos is a crazy event where celebrities get hurt, kids do a ton of drugs and the very weird guests encourage tons of very weird behavior. As the name implies, the four-day event that ended Sunday is an annual, drug-laced gathering of Insane Clown Posse fans (Juggalos) in Cave-in-Rock, Illinois that is most concisely described as, well, insane. In the past week we've counted no less than half a dozen survivor stories from "intrepid reporters" that went to the event, logged some salacious quotes and probably had a great time. Most of the stories took the first-person New Journalism approach and come with an accompanying slideshow that reveals all of the wild and crazy outfits going on and inevitable injuries and wildfires that occur.
Naysayers like Grant think that the glut of coverage of the event is partially to blame for the violence. "While there are tons of jokes to be made at the expense of both Charlie Sheen [who was heckled this year] and the Juggalos, it's not as funny when there's a dead body involved," wrote Grant. "One could argue that this was a fluke tragedy. but the gathering has been around since 2000 and has been getting progressively more out of control and dangerous despite of -- or perhaps because of -- the increased media attention."
Nevertheless, when we asked Dodero about whether she thought the coverage was overdone, she sounded hopeful. "I hope not," said Dodero. "I'm currently working on a shorter piece for next week's Voice and would hate to think that what I write will be a rehash."