JAM • CONFESSIONS OF AN ALL-AMERICAN ANTICHRIST
Black tattoos adorn alabaster skin. Long, straight ebony hair spills down his back. He is a study in leanness: lean frame, lean face, slender arms. One eye is brown, the other is cat's-eye blue, courtesy of a contact lens. He is wearing long beat-up shorts, beat-up boots and a beat-up black T-shirt.
It's not so easy being controversial these days. There's a lot of competition. But, at the moment, Marilyn Manson is one of the most vulgar rock acts on the scene. And with a conservative political mindset gaining control in America, the Manson family might need to break out the flak jackets.
For Mr. Manson, it was just another night at the office. The fake phallus is a regular part of his act. Suddenly, a bust. What bothers Mr. Manson most is not the impending legal hassles, but that his lawyers have insisted he not comment about the arrest. So he dances around the subject.
"The people that are trying to bring down all the conservatism on us, all the political correctness, are the same people that created Marilyn Manson," says Mr. Manson. "They're the same people that raised me on caffeine, sugar, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, violence on TV, pornography. Now all of a sudden people can't handle it anymore. It's NutraSweet, PG13, less violence on TV. It's too late for that. They made Marilyn Manson. Marilyn Manson, to me, is a representation of my generation, my culture. By the same token, I think that that conservative mentality needs to exist for Marilyn Manson to exist. And if Marilyn Manson, and what it represents weren't here, they probably wouldn't be here either. We are reliant on each other."
Mr. Manson speaks introspectively, answering each question with thoughtful articulation. He rarely makes eye contact, and when he does it is with those twin-tone orbs, which he says represent the duality of the artist: the Marilyn (as in Monroe), the soft provocateur, the insinuator; and the Manson (as in Charles), the evil manipulator. These characteristics are in all of us, he says.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Manson is an enigma. One moment he seems vulnerable, like when he speaks of his days as a non-churchgoing kid in a Christian school. At other times, he is defiant, especially when he talks about his battles with the Christian coalition in Jacksonville, who have launched attacks on his explicit stage performances and, he feels, were somehow involved in the Jacksonville bust. He is a relentless social commentator, pointing out what he perceives to be the lies and duplicity that permeate our culture. Marilyn Manson is here, he says, to provide a reality check. He also readily admits to being a hypocrite, just like the rest of us.
The central enigma about Mr. Manson is this: Where is the line between the image and the real person? He claims to be an "entertainer." He likes to stir up trouble for trouble's sake, but seems sincere about his social agenda.
Mr. Manson prefers to keep his real name confidential. He grew up in smalltown Ohio surrounded by conservative values and conflicting messages.
Mr. Manson is an ordained priest in the Church of Satan, but he does not believe in the Devil. That would require acknowledging a Christian God.
"It takes on the original concept of Satan -- the opposer, the accuser, the greatest rebel of all time. There are a lot of ignorant people out there who call themselves Satanists, and this is where you get your lunatics from. They are people who acknowledge Christianity, they feel God is right but they choose to be wrong. They are gonna worship Christianity's devil. These are maybe the confused kids, who go off into deathmetal and shit, who don't understand where it's coming from, that it's not about hurting anything -- sacrificing animals, killing babies."
While he emits just one chuckle during an hour interview, Mr. Manson says he's basically a happy guy, although not in the jovial, back-slapping way.
But he recognizes that his message will not be viewed by many as a valued public service.
Opening for Nine Inch Nails in Tampa late last year, Mr. Manson did something on stage that even raised the eyebrows of those accustomed to his antics. According to Mr. Manson, the guitarist for Nine Inch Nails came out in an S&M slave suit. Manson proceeded to take the guitarist's penis into his mouth in front of God, country and a bevy of 14-year olds. The rumor mill said it was an enactment. Mr. Manson says,
"Ever since then, people have been questioning my sexuality. Am I gay, straight, bi-sexual? To ask me that is to be ignorant to what Marilyn Manson stands for. Marilyn Manson transcends morality, and sexuality. He's a gray area. I don't like putting a label on anything."
Yet surely Mr. Manson can objectively understand how his actions on stage could shock some people.
So Marilyn Manson rocks on, a walking contradiction with a solid sense of self.
"I'm here to entertain. A lot of bands these days don't want to admit that. They think it's being phony. But in a lot of ways admitting it is more honest than those who try to deny it. I'm saying, look, everyone's a hypocrite. I'm willing to go beyond it if you can admit it."
Transcribed & Submitted By: S.D.