THE VOICE OF GENERATION HEX
An Interview With Marilyn Manson
by Chad Hensley
Imagine a science project were the cells of serial killers were genetically spliced with the DNA of sex symbols. Then, raise the children on sugar coated breakfast cereals and all day marathons of Saturday morning cartoons. When they grow up, teach them how to make music and what would you get? Why, none other than a group of cross dressing super freaks known as Marilyn Manson.
Mr. Manson appears a cross between the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's The Child Snatcher and goth punk complete with nightmare tattoos and pierced lip. "I'm here to call Christian America on their bluff", he says proudly. Marilyn Manson stands for freak supremacy and he isn't about to let the morals of normalcy stand in his way.
Despite their controversial approach, the band was signed to Trent Reznor's Nothing/Interscope from the beginning. Since then, they've released three CDs - Portrait Of An American Family, Smells Like Children, and their latest dark vision, Antichrist Superstar. It should come as no surprise that Mr. Manson is a reverend in the Church of Satan appointed by Anton LaVey himself. Regarding such matters, he says "Marilyn Manson represents the ideas of Satanism put into effect rather than just posturing about them. After all, Marilyn Manson is bigger than Satan."
Why do movies like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory fascinate you?
"I like how they can be interpreted from an adult point of view. I think when you go back to a lot of movies like that, and Saturday morning shows like H.R. Puffenstuff, Lidsville, and all those other Kroft Super Shows, you'll find that they're very adult oriented. When you were young you didn't pick up on the innuendoes and references that were being made. These ideas were implanted in your head at an early age. I'm fascinated by that. A character like the Child Snatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang wouldn't be acceptable by today's standards. Its too politically incorrect for somebody to go around stealing little kids and luring them with candy. It's unfair that they fed us these great violent cartoons with no concern for the repercussions. Now, they've decided that it was all wrong and they want to take it back. They have to give kids this bland, boring bullshit that tells them the proper decision to make every step of the way. America's gone to great lengths to create Marilyn Manson and now they want to deny that they've done so. They've failed to recognize that the monster they've made is going to eat them. I think Marilyn Manson stands for anyone of our generation because we are a product of the sixties and seventies. Now, everyone is concerned with every little problem in the world on such a greater scale than they were back then. Its almost like prohibition. They want to control guns. Control drugs. They should just open up the gates and let everybody do whatever it is they want. Then the people who are strong enough to survive will. People too stupid to live will be crushed under the wheels of progress."
What's your fascination with serial killers? Do you have any favorites?
"My fascination is similar to that of people stopping to look at car accidents or wanting to go to an amusement park and get on a ride that says "ride at your own risk". People love their fear, whether they realize it or not. People are afraid of death but love to get closer to it vicariously through serial killers, horror movies, the O.J. Simpson trial, Lorraina Bobbit, or whatever it may be. I think that's why there is a need for Marilyn Manson in America. America has created that demand. I've always been fascinated by cult leaders like Charles Manson or David Koresh and their followers. The relationship between that and rock stars and their fans. As far as serial killers, I think Jeffery Dahmer is one of the more interesting individuals. His story is probably the most fascinating that I've heard. The chocolate factory aspect made it very interesting for me. Just the fact that society made him feel so shitty for his homosexual impulses that he reacted violently. This goes back to my feelings that the American family has become a very masochistic structure that kids are constantly made to feel shitty for who they are. If they don't conform to conservative America's fascist agenda, they're made to feel guilty for it. That guilt is what spawns America's serial killers and teen suicides."
Why are you sick of politically correct America?
"Because it's not willing to admit its hypocrisy. People are too blind to see its phoniness. All the political correctness now is just another reason to sell a product. I can see them starting a race war just so they can sell a 'Free Your Mind' t-shirt. They don't want the problem to go away because then they won't have anything to complain about. People don't want to fix problems because problems are what people thrive on."
Why do you like Anton LaVey?
"I think he's probably the most powerful writer that you can find today. Probably because he's so extreme. He's the one I can relate to the most. One of my favorite books of his is The Devil's Notebook. I like what he has to say about society. I also like Nietzsche and Crowley. These guys have always been pointed out as being wrong and evil. I would encourage anyone to read LaVey. I like an idea that he alludes to, the great Satanic Unconsciousness. That everyone is really a Satanist. They just haven't realized it yet. Christians are some of the greatest Satanists because they've managed to pull off such an amazing scam that its almost respectable."
Do you follow the philosophy "the strong over the weak"?
"Most definitely. I don't think it is the strong people's responsibility to constantly be cleaning up after weak people. Its always weak people that come up with statements like 'everybody's created equal'.
I've worked for what I have so why can't you? It's not my responsibility to wipe someone's ass. There's too many people in America. In the world. I think it's nature's way of striking back with all the new horrible diseases that are fucking everyone up. It's nature's way of saying 'use some discretion'."
Tell me about your lunchbox collection.
"It started about four years ago when I resurrected my KISS lunchbox out of the attic. It reminded me of the period in my life when I went to a private Christian school and I wasn't allowed to bring it. They said it was satanic and that it would somehow corrupt the other kids. At the time, I use to get my ass kicked by all the kids in public school. Then I got kicked out of private school. Thinking back, I really wanted to get kicked out but I didn't realize it at the time. The final straw was when I got caught stealing money out of girls' purses during prayer. I think it was pretty poetic in a way. Then, when I went to public school I got my ass kicked some more. I was the punk kid. So, I grew up not being accepted too well by the other kids. I found later that I could relate to the kind of mentality that a lot of serial killers fall into. That 'Someday, I'll show you' attitude. I think that a lot of serial killers want to show the world. They want to be a star. All these things inspired me to write the song, Lunchbox on the CD, and with my re-interest in lunchboxes I started to collect them. Some of my favorites are Land of the Giants, Lidsville, H.R. Puffenstuff, Land of the Lost, Bugaloos, and Dr. Doolittle. I got a Gomer Pyle lunchbox around the time they were having all the fuss about gays in the military. It has Jim Neighbors on the front. He's in this really suggestive pose getting sprayed in the face by a garden hose. I thought it was really appropriate. The last lunchbox that I bought was Lancelot Link and it cost me $75. I used to carry around my lunchbox to clubs and all these jock guys would want to fight me. Once, I actually got into a fight and hit this guy in the face with my lunchbox. Metal lunchboxes do come in handy. Its kind of funny, because lunchboxes were outlawed in Florida in 1976. A kid bludgeoned another kid, not to death but into a pulp with a metal lunchbox on the playground. We can only hope that when we make Marilyn Manson lunchboxes that the same thing happens."
Were there any particular bands that influenced some of the remixes on Smells Like Children?
"Some of the things that we were thinking about when we recorded the three cover songs on the CD were the Stooges, Bauhaus, and the original Screaming Jay Hawkins. The three covers we picked were songs that I thought were very powerful and had pretty much gotten overlooked in their time. Sweet Dreams by The Eurythmics was a song that had some really dark lyrics. I wanted to re-present that in a way so people could really focus on the words. This song tied in together with Dope Hat and that's really how the birth of the EP came about. Both songs deal with use and abuse and how they relate. Another one of the covers, Patti Smith's Rock and Roll Nigger, we had been doing live for a couple of years. That song is an anthem for the 90s - a big 'fuck you' to political correctness. I think it de-mystifies the word 'nigger'. The song is not about racism but about being an individual."
Tell me about some of the other songs on Smells Like Children.
"May Cause Discoloration Of The Urine Or Feces was a conversation that I ease dropped on. I thought that it really dealt with another aspect of how drugs play into people's lives. This is a conversation between two members of my family. These are the type of people who raised me so I thought that it might be an insight to share with our fans so that they could see where I came from. Dave Ogilvie from Skinny Puppy did the remix Dance Of The Dope Hats. He also did the Kiddie Grinder remix. Charlie Clouser, the keyboard player for Nail Inch Nails, did a remix of Cake and Sodomy called Everlasting Cock Sucker."
What is a subject that you feel strongly about?
"I feel strongly about the movement of what Marilyn Manson is to be. The Antichrist is the embodiment of people who disbelieve in Christianity. With the release of Antichrist Superstar it's time for me to stop debating; to stop arguing about who's right and who's wrong. It's time for me to assert myself as a leader to this generation of people who agree with what I have to say. We are unsatisfied with being told who to be. We want to be ourselves. I think in a quite fascist way, Antichrist Superstar needs to overwhelm America. We will create a larger and larger group of like-minded individuals who will decide for themselves what's right and wrong. We shouldn't feel ashamed to say 'We think we are superior to the people who are too weak to think for themselves.'
It's not about sexism or racism. It's about ethics, not ethnics. If you are intelligent enough to acknowledge that you are an individual and you are your own god then you are superior to some asshole idiot who wants to go about his everyday job being a sheep that's too weak to stand up for himself. I think it is a perfectly acceptable ideal. If Marilyn Manson becomes as big as I think it's going to be, America has a lot to be afraid of."
The band lived in New Orleans while you were recording Antichrist Superstar. What was the most perverted experience that you had while living in this city?
"Some of them are more extreme and the statute of limitations would prohibit me from commenting on them. But I think many of them are very cliché with regard to New Orleans. We went on grave digging expeditions on several nights near Metairie. It was kind of like a ghetto cemetery. I don't remember all the cemeteries but everywhere we went the ground was so eroded that we found bones just sticking out. Twiggy got into it a lot more than I did. He started picking out bones to put in his hair. He took it on as a hobby. As a whole though, living in New Orleans wasn't that much different than living in Florida. So I was accustomed to the usual idiots we would encounter on any given day. But there are a lot of one-legged people in New Orleans. The track Dancing With The One-Legged... is about drug use involving the band. When you are using certain types of drugs you are dancing with the one-legged man. That man is the one-legged black man that's always hopping around by the interstate begging money. There is more to the story than that but I did want to take his artificial leg. Some stuff that happened in New Orleans may appear in a home video we are doing but I'm not sure. The problem that we ran into was that New Orleans is a very nocturnal city. I met all of the heroin junkie strippers that hang out in the French Quarter. It would be about 8 a.m. when we would really get crazy. One night, on Twiggy's birthday, a bunch of events occurred. We were performing a tribute ritual that involved the one-legged black man, an incredible amount of cocaine, and Jack Daniels. We ended up running around our neighborhood near Terpsichore Street at 10 a.m. completely naked wearing wigs and cowboys hats. Twiggy had a lipstick drawn swastika on his chest and was singing an acoustic guitar songs to a homeless guy named Joe who we gave a bottle of Vodka to. I never met any of our neighbors but I pissed on a couple of their doors. One time I took a shit on a plate and left it in front of one of their doors. I think they thought we were either in the circus or a cult. Which are both true."
What direction do you think society is heading?
"I think it's heading for a huge explosion that will probably resolve things. Hopefully, we'll end up with a better way of living. But, 'Free Your Mind' attitude and the whole hippie Woodstock mentality is doing exactly what 'Just Say No' did in the '80s; nothing. Its causing more racial tension. More intolerance and hatred. Marilyn Manson will be the house band for Armageddon."