Interview:The Dark Adventures Of Marilyn Manson RIP Oct 1995

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The Dark Adventures Of Marilyn Manson
RIP Oct95cov.jpg
Interview with Marilyn Manson
Date October, 1995
Interviewer Del James

"Hey, somebody get the dancers. The Oompa-loompas are getting restless!"

"The girls are ready..."

"They got their pasties on?"

"One does."

"They know that the Oompa-loompas are gonna eat whipped cream off their bodies, right?"

"Well, if they don't they'll soon find out."

"Has anybody seen the chickens???"

"Check near the blood."

"Where's the blood?"

"It was over by the bubble gum machine. You know, the one with the drugs in it."

This is just a random sample of the casual conversations taking place on the set of Marilyn Manson's latest video, Dope Hat. Don't run to your set and flip on MTV expecting to see this video. The members of Marilyn Manson aren't holding their breath, waiting to see if it passes the censors. If you thought Roald Dahl's fantastical writings, which include Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, were bizarre, the Manson's version coming to life via director Tom Stern (of Freaked fame) is even more warped. Picture a life-size boat equipped with scythes, lollipops with razor blades attached, a giant tongue, awfully cute dead-looking children, dwarves (one black, one white) painted orange, scantily clad women, and of course, the Manson family themselves.

Besides Mr. Manson, there's bassist Twiggy Ramirez, looking glamorous as ever in a green and white dress that looks as if he ripped it off the back of a waitress in some greasy spoon. His slightly glazed eyes gleam with approval of the decadent absurdities at hand. And who can blame him? There's a certain evil circus-like feel to reality as we know it for the next few hours. Guitarist Daisy Berkowitz, whose green hair is shaved on top to make it look as if there's a curtain going around the perimeter of his head, is noodling on his new guitar, waiting to be called for his shots. New drummer Ginger Fish is the topic of much discussion, as everybody in the band is ecstatic that he's here. Keyboard player Madonna Wayne Gacy (referred to as "Pogo" by everyone, which was John Wayne Gacy's nickname, and who resembles a young Anton LaVey) is wandering with a bit of nervous energy. A slave to fashion from head to toe in rubber (tastefully augmented with a pentagram on the zipper), Pogo confesses that his clothes are a major bitch to get out of and that he's not above sleeping in them rather than fighting to get them off.

And you thought recording, touring and making videos was all fun and games?

Then there's the Reverend Marilyn Manson-ringleader, mouthpiece, visionary. This band is his brainchild, his dark vision, his vehicle to lash out against hypocrisies and injustices. The lyrics to their superb debut album, Portrait of an American Family, speak of alienation, self-hatred, sex and violence, childhood fears, and many sordid tales. A sample from Get Your Gunn goes: "I eat innocent meat/the housewife I will beat./The pro-life I will kill/what you won't do I will./I bash myself to sleep/what you sow I will reap./ I scar myself you see/I wish I wasn't me."

Could Marilyn be the spokesperson for Generation 666? No, not necessarily; The lanky, tattooed singer with self inflicted scars on his sinewy torso is a perpetual contradiction, yin-yang, good and evil with a natural flair for the dramatic. Once a line is drawn, and Marilyn has to choose a side to stand on, he's the sort who'll piss on the line. That quality is what makes him so damn intriguing.

"I think everything is part of the show, but when every single minute of your life is a show, how is it a show anymore?" postulates Marilyn. "If at some point in my life Marilyn Manson was a part that I decided to play, somewhere along the line I never understood when that part wasn't being played. So now I'm in a lifestyle, in a world, that is always a show. That's not to say that it's not honest, but it's beyond virtual reality; it's trans-reality, where I'm almost on the other side of the TV screen. I believe very strongly in what I do. Everything is a part of Marilyn Manson and everything that Marilyn Manson is revolves around what I do. It's something that I'm trapped in but it is to my liking. In some ways it bothers me, but other ways I thrive on it. That kind of plays into my whole personality, and by hating being in the public eye and thriving off it at the same time. I think that you could ask me anything and I'll have some sort of balance. In that balance is where I find happiness."

But the show Marilyn Manson perpetuates affects millions of people in many different ways. What one does as art is entertainment for another. And some don`t take too kindly to the art or entertainment that is Marilyn Manson. And then there's public perception...and how some folks may fear the band and its shows.

"The reason people fear Marilyn Manson is because they wanna be afraid," the singer professes. "People thrive off their fears. The name itself, 'Marilyn Manson', is not unlike the sign you'd see at an amusement park that says 'Ride at Your Own Risk.' With a name or a sign like that, there's danger, and I think people gravitate towards it because people gravitate towards danger. Not only does it excite people, but they need it to live. People wouldn't be happy if they were happy. People don't want to be happy, they don't want the solution. They want to have some sort of trauma in their life because it gives them something to make the good things seem more worthwhile, because you can't really enjoy something unless you're not enjoying something else. It's always got to be extreme positive with extreme negative. You can't really go one way or the or the other. People always see Marilyn Manson as extremely negative. That's because they haven't seen extreme positive with extreme negative in its purest form before. People don't understand the extreme positive that I'm putting across simply because it doesn't appear to be a positive message. What people don't understand is with even the most politically correct bands out there right now it's all a gimmick, it's all a lie. People may disregard Marilyn Manson as not being sincere because our imagery is so strong and the things I say are controversial, but the other bands who are playing it safe, that's their gimmick. It's just a less creative one, a less daring one."

After spending a brief amount of time with Mr. Manson, one thing becomes more and more apparent: He radiates sincerity. He's not ashamed to embrace darkness as well as light. Ask the soft-spoken, intelligent singer any question; he won't flinch.

"I'm a pretty moody person. I spend a lot of time holding back a lot of things, so performing live is really the only way to get those things out. I know a lot of what I do on stage is over the top, but that's the only time certain things can come out and if that means I go to jail for it or I hurt myself, that's the way it's gotta be. Both onstage and off-stage, I represent everything people could be afraid of because it's everything that's taboo, whether that's sexually, religiously, morally, musically. We try to deal and create areas most people are too afraid to tread for fear of offending other people. Right now, it's real easy to be politically correct and easy to be accepted as long as you play within the MTV idea of what's acceptable. We're everything people are afraid to think about."

As the all-day video shoot wraps up, Marilyn relaxes and ruminates further. "As far as me personally, anything that I'm afraid of I just go out and do it. That way I'm not afraid of it anymore. I go right to the heart of the issue. I'm into playing by my own rules. I'll do shit all the time knowing that it's not going to be accepted, but I'm doing it for my own enjoyment. That's the bottom line. If at the end of the day you didn't do it for your own enjoyment, then what's the point in doing something? I am my own biggest hypocrite, because the things that I say and do are very irreconcilable.

Like the Dope Hat video?

"Exactly," he replies. "I think it's very irreconcilable to combine the elements of a childhood story like Willy Wonka with some of the other sexual, more disturbing violent images that we used. So what? I don't measure success in terms of money. Sure, I'd like to have money, but it's not a big deal to me. Making a difference in one way or another usually gives me some sort of satisfaction. I like making a dent, making a point. That's what satisfies me most about what I do."

Marilyn Manson, whether it be in song or through merchandise, have publicly taken a stance against organized religion. Was this done sincerely or to sell records?

"Now; it's almost that anti organized religion stances are such a cliche that I'm almost ready to be pro organized religion. Or just create my own organized religion. There's a lot of people who hate everything. I don't want to be mistaken for one of those (people) because the things I do love and care about I feel very strongly for. The things that I hate I feel very strongly against. When you grow up in America, things like Christianity water down your feelings and dilute a lot of things. When you're taught to love everyone, taught to love your enemy, what value does that put on love? Christianity is just another product like anything else, like Marilyn Manson, so you figure out which lie works best for you. That's all they are, they're all lies. My influences and religious views are constantly changing because I'm always trying to find the next better thing. Things like God and Satan are words people use to describe parts of your personality. Good and evil is what you like and don't like, and it's going to be different for everybody. Even if there is a God that doesn't mean you have to worship it. Things that have influenced me along the way besides Christianity, and have influenced me to find something better for me include Nietzsche and Anton LaVey, who adapted a lot of what Nietzsche had to say and made it more accessible. I've kind of moved on beyond that and I'm constantly forming my own opinions and always taking things that I learn from other people and making them work. I think I'd ever be a follower of anyone, but those people that I mentioned are great influences that I would give great credit to. As far as what I believe in, I believe in myself."

In addition to another headlining tour of America, the Smells Like Children EP is scheduled for release and the song Smells Like Children will also be on Marilyn Manson's sophomore effort, Antichrist Superstar, due out on Nothing/Interscope in 1996. In the meantime, the superb-sounding EP features live tracks, non-musical tracks and three covers: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by the Eurythmics, I Put A Spell On You by Screamin' Jay Hawkins and an awesome version of Patti Smith's Rock 'N' Roll Nigger.

Their debut record, produced by Mr. Manson and Trent Reznor (MM are on Reznor's Nothing Records), was a well-needed shot in the arm as far as exciting, attitude-laden rock goes. Tracks like "Snake Eyes and Sissies," "Get Your Gunn," and Wrapped In Plastic are as infectious as they are profound. Every song screams with importance.

"I think 'Cake and Sodomy' and Lunchbox were two of the more important songs," Marilyn says when asked which songs mean the most to him. Cake and Sodomy was when I first fell into what has become my writing style, whatever that is. Lunchbox has just always been my way of expressing the chip that has developed on my shoulder for being the little guy, for being the one the bigger kids picked on. I always found Lunchbox to be real similar to the mentality of a lot of books I've read on people like Richard Ramirez or Jeffrey Dahmer, in that these people had been f?!ked with for all their lives and that their only way to lash out and to pay back everyone who had f?!ked them over was through murder. Obviously I found a different outlet, but I think the mentality and the attitude is real similar . If you think about that, it could scare you. Could I really be like that? That's why I think a lot of people are fascinated by mass murderers, and that's why there was a need for Marilyn Manson."