by Jayne Margetts, April 1997
THROWING their fanatically obsessed fans into a raging frenzy that leaves
them wondering whether to "f...k somebody or kill them", Marilyn
Manson, on a good night, could be T-Rex peforming live at Nuremberg. Throwing
their stick thin, emaciated bodies into epileptical ecstacy, grinding
to the dirty, speedcore industrial rant and ribbons of toxic, lyrical
prose, the prophets of the darker side of life render all around them
into satanic bliss.
Pagan chants and demonic squalls hits stage front moshers with the intensity
and density of a brick wall, and somewhere behind the glare of the spotlight,
frontman Manson smiles as a million metaphors surge through his mind.
He recently described himself to Rolling Stone America as a snake, an
angel, an alien, the child snatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and his
favourite "a Hydra, the nine-headed serpant of Greek mythology"and
deserves and revels in the tag that very few would wear as a badge of
honour as he does, as AMERICA'S PUBLIC ENEMY NO.1.
Proclaimed as "America's Sickest Band', Manson and his ghoulish and
ashen co-horts have forced church' and religious groups into a corner,
he has fundamentalists on the warpath and American Rolling Stone crowning
him pin-up boy and Best New Artist, and, if you get past the layers of
pasty ivory foundation, the hollowed eye sockets, the satanic leer (an
attribute he loves to exaggerate) and the cacaphonious vocals you find
an intriguing proposition full of possibility and perception.
"I think Marilyn Manson is an alter-ego of itself," he says
from his hotel room in Indiana, where the band are tying up their American
tour. "It's a paradox of itself because even the way I relate to
my friends, some people call me Manson, some people call me Marilyn and
that kinda reflects my relationship with them. I find it interesting and
really pay attention to that. It's very unconscious to them and they don't
even realise it.
"You know, there's definitely the Marilyn side that's very showbiz
orientated, very much Hollywood, like Marilyn Monroe was; the paparazzi,
the controversy and then there's the Manson side that's more political,
more nihilistic, more philosophical. More of how I am right now. Really,
the combination of the two is what comes together especially when I'm
on stage or working on a song or something like that. The dynamics of
the two is what makes life really enjoyable and together, that's when
I feel most alive."
Marilyn Mansons Antichrist Superstar doctrine filled with angels with
scabbed wings, scenes of crucifixion type poses and particularly compelling
and disturbing is Manson standing legs apart, a contraption hugging his
nether regions and two members of the band at his knees breathing in the
apocalyptic fumes through face masks. This is the kind of image that has
shocked and compelled many.
This is Mansons revenge on a world he says that subjected him to fear
and alienation in his early years. His fascination musical and otherwise
did not come to him born on the wings of a revelation. They came as a
child being forcefed Christianity in a religious school. "When I
was about 11-years-old there was a lot of attention being paid to the
world in the Christian school that I was going to," he remembers.
There was a lot of talk of 1984 being the apocalypse and when that didn't
come, it didn't happen - there was much fear and anticipation built up,
so many nightmares that I'd had - that I was almost disapointed in some
ways and began to resent the people that had scared me for so many years.
So I think that was a turning point there, where I slowly became the things
that I was scared of. That's where I've ended up, because I think everyone's
fear has created this whole idea of an anti-christ.
"I began getting into this old ideal and I think it comes from Hebrew
writings that mankind must invite the end of the world upon itself. That
it's not God's punishment. It's something that man wants, because man
becomes so bored with himself and I thought that was appropriate. And
I think that's a good analogy of Antichrist Superstar."
Signed to Trent Reznors Nothing Label, Marilyn Manson's debut album Portrait
Of An American Family condemned American culture and it's way of life
to the throb of a decadent rock'n'roll beat. It even caused a British
Tory MP to rally for the albums banishment from record shelves. While
the controversy in Britain raged, Manson continued to shock and outrage
by dating ex-porn star Traci Lords and allegedly giving Nine Inch Nails
guitarist Robin Finck oral sex on stage.
After Antichrist Superstars release he proclaimed that sleep deprivation,
drugs and masturbation contributed to the hellish visions that poured
through the grooves and importantly that people should not underestimate
and judge this ghoulish rock'n'roll icon by its wrapping. " I think
all of these people complaining about what I do and saying I'm such a
bad person for making this record ....
"I think it's exactly what they've wanted all along because that
bad guy gives them the ability to make themselves the good guys and it's
really justifies their existence. It's their fear and disbelief in themselves
that's created something like this. There are a lot of people who would
underestimate the way I think and say to me, 'don't you think by people
listening to what you're saying, you'll have people following you and
creating the same problems as other religions do?'
"I think if you have the hindsight to realise all of this then you'll
admit it's a paradox. That's what you're based around, and that's your
strength not your weakness. I think with anything you're only as limited
as you want yourself to be. I mean, I've always felt like, rather than
just being one person, why not be many different things? That was always
my reason for creating Marilyn Manson. We're often too afraid to take
that step. But, once you take the first step to being, to doing, to saying
and living your life the way you want to, then it just becomes second
So, does Manson feel like the eternal observer, standing on the outside
looking in? "Well for many years I felt like I was on the outside
and that was the only way I could relate to people -looking in. But I
think what I've tried to do now, instead of continuing to complain from
that point of view and almost being on the inside. I've taken the outside
and made it the inside. I think that's what people who are a part of Marilyn
Manson, and fans in particular, enjoy within the music, and some day soon
will enjoy the fact that they no longer have to try and be a part of somebody
else's inside. When THEY become the inside, and everybody else can try
and be a part of what they are."
Evoking the spirit and decadence of Ziggy Stardust, the goth, glam and
punk of Bauhaus and the dark verve of Marc Bolan and T-Rex, Marilyn Manson
are shaking up the live establishment with industrial pyres of morbid
ecstacy: "The moon has now eclipsed the sun. The angel has spread
its wings. The time has come for bitter things. The time has come, it's
quite clear. Our antichrist is almost here ...."