Marilyn Manson is rock 'n' roll's bogeyman. He's been singled out as Satan incarnate for his off-the-hinges stage show, replete with Bible-shredding and crucifixes made of televisions. He was even singled out for inspiring the Columbine school shootings.
Then there is Marilyn Manson, the renaissance man. When he's not creeping people out onstage, Manson can often be found painting or preparing for acting roles. He will be featured in the upcoming movie "Party Monster," starring Macaulay Culkin as Michael Alig, a real-life "club kid" turned murderer.
Currently, Manson is featured on the heavy-metal tour extravaganza known as Ozzfest. (Thursday's show in Camden, N.J., is sold out) The tour coincides with the recent release of Manson's "The Golden Age of Grotesque."
Manson talks about his career, past, present and future:
Q: You've always presented a wild and freaky stage show. What do you have planned for Ozzfest?
A: It's very reflective of the album in that it has elements of political and religious satire. But it's much less lashing out at the world as questioning things in a very sarcastic way. There are elements of Berlin in the late '20s and Disneyland, all wrapped up in this frenzy of some sort. It's the most theatrical show we've done, but it's also very improvisational.
Q: Did Twiggy leaving the band have much effect on how you approached the making of the new album?
A: It just made us really confirm in ourselves how dedicated we were to this. I can't speak for him, but I think he felt like he was at the end of his role in Marilyn Manson. But we had a different level of enthusiasm. We felt like nothing could touch us. Part of that was surviving the whole mess of Columbine, on top of a bunch of lawsuits, friends dying. The world tried to stop me from doing what I do, and now I want to show them what I'm made of. And I want to make people [upset], I want to make people smile, I want people to take out their aggression. I want to do all of that and show them the full spectrum of what's going on in my head.
Q: What drew you to the Germanic themes on the new album?
A: That was the era when expressionism was born. There were parallels to America and how I've been treated as an artist and how artists were treated in that period, being labeled as degenerate and being driven out of their own country. That's when a lot of new and important ideas in film and music and theater changed the way we do everything now. To be modern, you have to look back in the past and see where everything came from. I wanted to capture the spirit of that era.
Q: What's the role you're playing in "Party Monster"?
A: Christina, a pre-operative transsexual with a fake German accent.
Q: Sounds like a perfect fit.
A: Surprisingly, it was a stretch, or I wouldn't have done it. I don't ever want to play myself. But it wasn't like I was a fan of Marlene Dietrich already and had blond wigs lying around.
Q: Do you have a dream acting role?
A: There's a project that I haven't agreed to yet, but it's a new film about the Frankenstein story with Christopher Walken. It's an interesting character that I'd be playing. I really like the few things I've been offered, which I'm going to do once the tour is over. They're all character-actor roles and they're very much different from me personally. That's the only purpose of acting for me, the chance to be somebody else.
Q: You've sometimes described yourself as shy and you're always soft-spoken and articulate during interviews. But onstage, you're up there literally creating new scars for yourself and going wild. At what point does this transformation take place?
A: For me, I suppose it's very exaggerated because that's the way I prefer to enjoy my life. When you interact with an audience, it can be very magical, like an invocation of something. I think that's my whole approach with art. The stuff I make isn't complete until someone else experiences it. I don't make things for myself. I can't live without creating, but I create art and music for other people to be affected by it. But the idea of what Marilyn Manson as an entity represents, it's always going to be what's in my imagination.