Jokertown

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Jokertown is a fictional neighborhood in the Wild Cards anthology series.

In the Wild Cards universe, it is an area of Manhattan. After the Wild Card virus was released over New York in 1946, many Jokers, those deformed by the virus, began to filter into this largely abandoned area, which was nearly depopulated in the wake of the outbreak. During the remainder of the 1940s and 1950s, and into the early 1960s, the Jokers went unseen, living in isolation, shame, and abject poverty in the former Bowery. The denizens of Jokertown wore masks and other disguises on the streets to hide their deformities, and no nats came into this neighborhood except to beat up a few "freaks" for kicks.

Starting in the mid-1960s, however, Jokertown began to become a true home for its citizens, developing its own customs. A number of Jokers started their own businesses. Nat tourists started coming to gawk at the natives and partake of the seamier side of life, often "blending in" by wearing cheap dime-store masks that fooled nobody. Most importantly, Dr. Tachyon returned and opened the Blythe Van Rensselaer Memorial Clinic, usually known as just the Jokertown Clinic, to treat the various, often exotic, medical needs of the poverty-stricken Jokers.

New York's Jokertown is the single largest Joker community in the Wild Cards world. It is the home of the Jokertown Clinic, the Church of Jesus Christ, Joker (home of Father Squid), The Crystal Palace (a bar belonging to information broker Chrysalis), the Famous Bowery Wild Card Dime Museum (where the largest collection of wild card artifacts - such as The Great and Powerful Turtle's old shells and the Astronomer's skeleton - are on display), several tourist-oriented clubs such as Freakers and The Funhouse, and some very non-tourist places like Squisher's Basement. Police presence is usually limited and scarce (unless a nat tourist is involved), and the jokers who live here have learned to watch out for themselves.

The criminal community operates in Jokertown mostly unrestricted, held in check only by rival gangs and the occasional wild card vigilante, such as the Oddity or Black Shadow. Major joker gangs include the Werewolves and Demon Princes. Adjoining Chinatown on one side, Asian gangs such as the Immaculate Egrets also exert pressure on Jokertown. From the 1980s onward, the Italian Mafia is little in evidence New York's underworld. Instead, a fusion of Asian and joker street gangs under the umbrella title of Shadow Fists came to power following a bloody gang war.