I grew up watching WWF Wrestling Superstars in the 1980s and then again in the late ’90s I watched a little more wrestling when WCW/NWO were having a Monday night ratings war with WWF or WWE or whatever the fuck it is/was but by 2001 I was pretty much out of wrestling. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the sport and I certainly could talk wrestling with someone relatively competently. I just don’t have the same interest in it as I did as a kid.
The Insane Clown Posse has their own wrestling league called Juggalo Championship Wrestling or the JCW. They host a main event called Bloodymania at the Gathering every year (I shot Bloodymania 4) and I was tempted to photograph this years chapter but by the time Bloodymania 6 rolled around on Sunday I was pretty much over taking photos. I shot nearly 7000 shots in the 5 days I was at the Gathering so I was ready to call it quits. I had an idea that I would hang out backstage and maybe get some wrestling portraits.
I didn’t know what the rules about photographing wrestling behind the scene, I know it would be terrible etiquette to photograph the heels and the heroes next to each other and I didn’t know enough about the events of the evening to figure out who was who so I asked Upchuck the Clown, the host of the evening, what I should do. He decided to introduce me to an old wrestler who was running the promotion who then proceeded to yell to all the wrestlers that I was from the Insane Clowns and I wanted to “make their picture” and put it on the “Psychopathic Internets”. He also told me that when I got the photos developed I should send him 8″x10″s. He kept calling wrestlers by their wrong names insisting, for example, that the Headbangers were called the Head Hunters. At one point in the evening I was trying to photograph a wrestler in the pitch blackness that was the back stage area and I hit something on the camera which caused the auto focus to fail so I went back in the tent to get some light. The promoter saw me there and when he realized my camera wasn’t working he accused me of not being a professional and asked me where my photography shop was. The whole thing was sort of amazing and three hours later when I was losing my mind with exhaustion I couldn’t stop laughing thinking about him. One of my fellow journalists actually started crying laughing when I told her the story. The dude was bad ass though and introduced me to some wrestlers to get some pictures.
The last thing I will say is that it’s pretty depressing seeing what wrestling has done to some of these older guys. To anyone who doesn’t think professional wrestling is a sport spend an hour back stage before a wrestling match and you will see the pounding these guys have taken over their whole careers and see what athletes these guys really are. This gallery is pretty small because I was just taking a few shots here and there but if you are a fan of wrestling of any era you will recognize a bunch of these guys.
The Gathering of the Juggalos is a yearly music festival in Cave In Rock, IL created by the Insane Clown Posse that I have now photographed three times. Every year it produces some of the best photos I have ever taken. To see my complete GOTJ archives please click here.