|Smells Like Queen Spirit: The Gospel According to Marilyn Manson|
|Interview with Marilyn Manson|
|Source||Attitude Magazine |
- Some pop stars sell their souls to get to the top; some collect them. For Antichrist Superstar turned 21st century glam rock redeemer Marilyn Manson - Mister Arch Deluxe to his friends - it's been a long hard road out of hell. But the journey is not over yet...
Only in America. In the week that Bill Clinton's sexual indiscretions were spilling round the world, courtesy of that grey-suited automaton Kenneth Starr, the top selling album in the US featured a milky-skinned, thin, six-fingered Ziggy clone, still wet from the tube and staring straight up at the future. Beyond gender, beyond genre, beyond the pale. Antichrist Superstar born again. And this time, he’s coming for you. Well, he might be. It kind of depends whether you’re open to... ideas. Whether you think that the world is getting just a little too dumbed down. Whether our mediated, western definitions of pleasure, of beauty, of sensuality, of faith, handed to us on a plate and not open to question, are enough for you. Or maybe you think, like an increasing number of people in these Y1K end days, that it’s time we started wising up. Time to stop looking at the world as TV entertainment and get a handle on what’s really going down. America is currently paying the price for having a constitution and a Bill of Rights. Hate, it seems, disguised as Christian concern, is very in right now, and they have the constitutional rights to express it. While Christian fundamentalist white supremacist groups wander its backwoods, armed to the teeth and preaching a return to the ‘old ways’, other renegade Christian groups are bombing abortion clinics and picketing the funeral of a murdered boy, claiming he deserved all he got. Because he was gay. Around the world the economy’s fucking up. Taliban fundamentalism in Afghanistan, Rambo’s former favorite Russian border country, is stepping up. Women are treated and traded like cattle; gay men are being buried alive. But you can flip the channel and pretend it’s not happening. And what are the burghers of the most powerful country in the world concerned with right now? Bringing the president to his knees for a sexual indiscretion they can prove. It’s enough to make your eyes bleed.
Out of this slew steps Monsieur Manson. The creature on the shrink wrapped, clinical grey cover may look like he’s only just touched down on earth, but make no mistake, the gentleman has a past. Before suicide blonde Monroe and the mad hippy gave him his new identity, he was plain old Brian Warner, Ohio-born metal kid. Tall, (Manson racks up six foot, three inches) shy, awkward, a reluctant attendee of Christian school when the family relocated to Florida. Nice parents. Vietnam vet dad, pervy grandad who liked to wear women’s underwear in his basement, where he kept his Vaseline-smeared dildo collection and his bestiality porn flicks. Little Brian once spied on gramps taking his subterranean sticky pleasures don below. So that explains it all, eh? Maybe, maybe...
When this critter first appeared, clawing his way out of the primeval swamp of Florida’s metal/noise scene of the early 1990’s, dragging a couple of worthy souls with him to accompany his ascent, Lordamercy, it was a startling sight. Stringy black pond-reed hair, clothes straight from the musty old dressing up box marked ‘Goth - 1980s’ and the back pages of tranny fetish mags (‘Love that girdle, Mistress!’), faces muddied with sweat and kohl, and God knows what bodily fluids, this lot were shameless, fearless, and during the witching hours, legless. Their deeply unfashionable goth roots and chemical testosterone-fueled ‘sound’ excluded them from polite society, but got the juices flowing for the black-clad teen masses of nowheresville America. The smell of teen spirit was taking on a muskier hue. Manson rubbished the Satanic panics of his Sunday of his Sunday school teachers by becoming the back-masking, Satan-hailing, goose-stepping, groupie shagging, polymorphously perverse, publicly amoral decadent they most feared. And longed for. At last! A 3D boogeyman to projectile vomit all their righteous venom at. And when the Christian pressure groups got word of his Antichrist Superstar album/tour with its anti-blind faith message, they were only too pleased to scratch his initials into the body of history with the zeal of the true believer.
The shows, with Manson ripping pages out of the Bible (for the audience to read), and panto Nazi rally, are all part of the act, naturellement. But one backed up by a rock-solid philosophy. Manson will parody any organization that reaps the rewards of discouraging people from thinking for themselves, be it fascism, religion (historically, not such a big leap) or the media. Last time the band toured America, a concerned attempt by groups like the arch-conservative American Family Association to shut down the tour was backed up by copies of signed affidavits from adults and teens, citing such dodgy goings on as satanic masses, puppy, kitten and chicken killings, the rape and fisting of mind-controlled young girls, sodomy between band members, sex with animals and mass audience orgies provoked and presided over by the band, who fed drugs to the entire crowd. Sounds like somebody got a little carried away there... Fortunately, Manson’s got an excellent lawyer - Paul Cambria, the civil liberties specialist who defended Larry Flynt. No actual copies of the affidavits were ever produced and the bald-faced attempts to stop the band performing were quashed in the courts.
Make no mistake, around Marilyn Manson, as around any partying band on the up, but especially one that functions as a freak magnet, tapping into the alienation of its followers and their need to belong to something other than the mainstream, crazy stuff goes on. It’s shockingly well-documented in Manson’s auto-biography The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell, published by Plexus. Even though no animals, children or non-consenting adults are harmed as the Manson monster builds up to speed, it sometimes makes harrowing reading. Not so much because the acts are shocking, more because they’re frighteningly believable. In the peak of after-hours madness, as anyone who’s spent too long at a chill-out will tell you, anything can happen...
In Manson’s case, what seems to have happened is that he’s evolved. The Florida swamp thing has shed its every goth skin and with a little chemical assistance from his hairdresser and a new pop glam sound, a more elegant, dandyish alpha male appears to have emerged. It had to happen; the Antichrist Superstar persona was Too Faust To Live, Too Wilde To Die. Manson is a big fan of Oscar, he identifies with him, particularly overt the persecution. Manson’s keen mind and fast wit are well documented. It’s clear from the autobiography that it was only a matter of time before he cleaned up his act, visually speaking. One magazine reported that Manson refuses to wear black ever again (we’ll see...). He’s living with a movie star - the highly spankable (that’s a compliment) Miss Rosie McGowan, star of queercore auteur Greg Arakai’s Doom Generation and progeny of the Christian Children of God cult, who sent its female disciples out to prostitute themselves, in the hope of 'converting' their punters. Needless to say, Miss McGowan does not go to church.
It’s been a long time sine the Yanks bought into anything as sexually ambiguous as this man. Make no mistake, Manson’s not gay, or a bisexual who hasn’t had a homosexual experience. But to call him straight in the conventional understanding of that phrase is laughable. Manson has sucked band member cock (see the book) and has found himself in situations where both male and female human contact has been beyond intense, beyond sexual. But instead of keeping his postcards from the edge to himself, Manson’s sharing. That’s why the wall of static had to go. That’s why the shouty rock and the slime had to be replaced with feather collars and sharp intellect. When the anti-Kurt says that it is his duty to save American rock music from its unglamorous post-Nirvana purgatory, I have to say that I agree with him. When he says that the name of his new album, Mechanical Animals, is inspired by the unthinking herd mentalities of his fellow man, drunk on the fake, virtual pleasures of their home entertainment systems and pledging their faith in the American way by buying more useless Fruits de Mall on credit, I applaud him. Ask yourself: who really holds the Mastercard? No one is holding a mirror up to our stupidities in quite such an eloquent, entertaining, seductive way.
What’s happening with the protests following your tour this time? Something about them wanting to introduce a law to certify concerts as ‘adult-only’..?
This time we have anti-gay protesters, but I do my best to suck each and every one of their dicks.
How are the audience reacting to the new material?
Itching. Convulsions. Spitting. Hand-holding.
You’re an admirer of Oscar Wilde. Do you have a favorite Wildean quip?
The idea of art for the sake of art.
What’s your definition of luxury?
Having someone else chop up your cocaine for you.
What’s your favorite outfit and why?
People treat you more pleasantly when you have breasts.
What’s glamour to you?
Having all your teeth.
Your seem to be getting more feminine the further your career progresses...
More androgynous. At the same time more sexless too - all of the details are stripped. Feminine and vulnerable, I suppose.
Your book has a list of rules that prove if you’re ‘gay’ (Example ‘If you don’t get a boner watching Bewitched; If you’ve ever had a haircut like Morrissey; If you get someone else’s sperm on you; If you fuck a girl that likes The Smiths’)...
I’m playing with the subject. People tend to be so uptight about it. I just wanted to make it less of a taboo. And at the end of the rules, it states that I’ve broken all of them. A lot of people are afraid to talk about or address homosexuality - and there’s always so many rumors directed towards me and my sexuality.
Despite your own preferences, you have suffered homophobic abuse down the years. Did it ever get to you?
I am more abused by the techno played at gay discos.
Why do you think that everybody is so hung up about sexual labels today - gays freak out at bi’s, pervs at fetish dabblers, some straights at everybody?
Jesus was the first gay role model, the first rock star. I only aspire to be as sexy as him.
Aren’t people like you good for Christianity? Aren’t you helping to keep religion in the headlines?
I think I may have contributed to the spread of Christianity, unfortunately. That’s the irony of Antichrist Superstar. I’ve also pointed out that rock stardom and the cult of personality are just as ludicrous as Christianity. You when I’m on stage making a mockery of politicians and religious leaders with my satire on fascism, I’m also making fun of rock stardom at the same time. Everyone who’s joining in thinks that’s such a beautiful paradox. That’s what I like the most...
Aren’t you worried about death threats?
I think the people round me take them more seriously than I do. I understand the danger. On tour it made each show more fun to play... as if it was going to be my last. The thing that happened to Larry Flynt, that I guess was a fanatic. There’s always going to be some risk but I guess that’s what makes it worthwhile. I’m at least saying something that people care enough to listen to. If certain people hate it then I know it’s important.
The joys of Christianity?
It’s lie buying a false sense of security on Sunday afternoon. Christ is a kind of insurance policy for the unknown. That’s really the only reason I think people go to God is that they’re afraid to die and they’re afraid of what’s going to happen. But I think by nature mankind wants to be a sinner and everything that’s a sin comes naturally to you.
Your work deals with big themes, big questions...
Some people like it as light entertainment and some look deeper into it. I have a necessity to explore these ideas for my own enjoyment, my own suffering, I guess, on some level. But I try and create something that people can accept on a lot of different levels. Some might tap their foot to it. It might inspire others to start a new religion or to cut their hair.
Shock tactics? A common criticism?
They make it a derogatory thing when they say ‘shock rockers’. Like it’s something cheap. I just try and be provocative. I try and develop a lot of images and make people think. And some people see it as shocking. Take the Antichrist logo - the lightning - it’s the universal symbol for shock hazard. What truly shocks me is people’s stupidity. I think a lot of people are afraid to believe in themselves, because you grow up being told that if you don’t have the right car or you don’t have the right toothpaste you won’t get accepted. You’re already beaten down at an early age on a soft level, through television and commercials. It’s hard for someone to step forward and say ’I’m going to make my own decisions’... what with Beavis and Butthead and MTV telling you what music you should like. Eventually you’ll have a computer that will write songs for you and will do everything... slowly. That’s why always have a reason to look down. I could be a smiley face and they would still wonder why I’m smiling. Because now everything I do is taken in the context of what I’ve already done, which makes it more of a challenge for me. The last album, Antichrist Superstar, was almost a parallel story of Lucifer - a fall from grace, a fall from heaven and this story is about what happens when he lands. About what it’s like to become human and feeling things for the first time.
Do you dream of the Antichrist?
I could never see the face when I was a kid and that scared me and then, as I got older, I saw that it was me and that didn’t scare me at all. I watch myself in my dreams. A lot of times I’m outside of myself, which is kind of interesting. No matter how scary it gets you’re always going to wake up in the end.
In America, and much of the west, the nuclear family ideal seems to be breaking down. What would be the ideal way for humanity to proceed, do you think?
You should have to take a test before you can reproduce, much like a driving exam, and capital punishment should be enforced on those who fail their IQ tests.
Maybe it’s this ability to separate dream states and ego fantasy from reality... and then revel in it that has enable Manson to assume the ultimate boogeyman mantle. Manson does not believe in the hocus pocus hubble-bubble bollocks any more than he believes that Virgin Mary statues really cry. But he understands some people’s need to believe, and their need to persuade everyone else to believe too. Now he’s shaken off those ugly bog-man beginnings in favor of something more eloquent, the potential for transcendence is head spinningly apparent. No wonder the Christians are appalled. Manson isn’t here to steal your soul. He’s here to remind you that it belongs to you.
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