The Golden Age Of Grotesque Interviews

LA Daily News
An article/interview about The Golden Age Of Grotesque with a look into Manson and his past.
Marilyn Manson
2003 Jul 18

Marilyn Manson believes entertainment doesn't end when he walks off-stage — and art doesn't just hang in a museum.

In his world, "You can live your art, and you can be a work of art." To wit, the 34-year-old shock rocker born Brian Warner's most famous piece is himself, Marilyn Manson — an ever-morphing pop-cultural icon.

For a decade, Manson has steadily rattled the establishment with his outrageous personas, including the Antichrist Superstar and an androgynous space alien named Omega. His latest, a cross between cabaret performer and dandy, is again stirring up controversy.

Manson is banned from playing the Rochester, N.Y., Ozzfest date Aug. 11 because, according to Six Flags Darien Lake spokeswoman Lauren Spallone, "Several people in the area expressed an uncomfortable feeling about having that artist in our area."

No worries. He's still part of the rest of the tour, which stops at Float-Rite Park in Somerset, Wis., on Saturday.

Earlier this year, Manson released his new album, "The Golden Age of Grotesque," a follow-up to 2000's "Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death)."

Like a throwback to the late-'80s industrial metal mash of decibel-crunching guitars and electronic noise, "Golden Age" debuted in May at the top of the Billboard charts and won its share of praise. Rolling Stone asserts that "never has there been a rock star quite as complex." Kerrang! raves that Manson's latest "may well be his best album yet," and Revolver calls it "pure rock ecstasy."

But music is only half of "The Golden Age of Grotesque."

According to Manson, the album was inspired by radical art movements such as prewar German cabaret, the pretentious wit of Dandyism and the all-out brattiness of DaDa. Describing himself as a voracious reader and moviegoer, Manson says he was drawn to this period after experiencing a few bumps along the way in his own life.

In 1999, he came under attack by the religious right, who blamed him for inspiring two boys to carry out the Columbine High School shooting rampage (to which he later responds in the Oscar-winning documentary "Bowling for Columbine"). He was slapped with various lawsuits, watched 2000's "Holy Wood" bomb and went through a very public breakup with his fiancee, "Charmed" actress Rose McGowan.

The final straw could have been his longtime collaborator and friend Twiggy Ramirez's departure from the group over creative differences, but it wasn't. In fact, things were starting to get better for Manson.

He was getting movie work (he plays a transsexual nightclub singer in "Party Monster" and is scoring the remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre") and had begun a new relationship with Dita Von Teese, the fetish model and burlesque performer. Producer Tim Skold (formerly of the industrial rock group KMFDM) even offered to double on bass for the new album.

It was also around this time that Manson began collaborating with Austrian multimedia artist Gottfried Helnwein, who in a Kerrang! interview refers to the singer as "a true artist who reflects the state society is in."

Together with Helnwein, the pair created a series of controversial photographs, most of which were deemed by the label as too risque to be album art, including one of Manson dressed in Nazi regalia and clutching a gun as a young girl looks on.

As for Ozzfest, Manson says, "I've made a greater attempt to make my show not just the most theatrical thing on Ozzfest but the most theatrical thing I've done.

"And it's in a vaudeville, cabaret way that it's not about just entertaining the audience, it's about interacting with them, and not in the cliche rock 'n' roll way where you get them to hand-clap."