A Re-Examination 

Wednesday, Jan 10 2001
Photos and artwork by P.R. Brown

IT'S ALL MARILYN MANSON'S FAULT. Violence. Drug abuse. Disrespect for authority. Rejection of religion. Lack of values. All the bleeding sores on the soul of youth except acne and orthodonture. And maybe those, too. He's responsible. Kill him, and the wounds will heal.

A lot of people want you to believe that. And they aren't limited to the kind who smite their progeny for misquoting Corinthians. Marilyn Manson wants you to believe it, too. Being the devil is his job.

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Or one of his jobs. Many know Manson as Antichrist Superstar, God of Fuck: the self-mutilations, the burning crosses, the buttless pants, yeah, yeah, yeah. Few realize that he may be the most complete rock performer ever, the one who does the most the best. And even fewer understand him as something more complicated than a god.

But we'll get to that. Right now, let's blame him for something else.

MARILYN MANSON GOT GEORGE W. Bush elected. The real ballot-box Satan isn't Ralph Nader, an idealist trying to influence politics from within. It isn't the variety of Floridian GOP vote benders, who were just carrying on their old-time traditions. And it isn't the U.S. Supreme Court, which no historian expects to be objective. No, the force that established this very special scion in the Oval Office penetrated from outside the system, when Marilyn Manson declared that he would vote for Bush. Would a crucial few hundred fans in Florida, launch site of Manson's music career, switch votes on his example alone? No question. Manson offered his endorsement to say something upsetting, which is part of his job. But he also did it out of spite. The Gore ticket's Senator Joe Lieberman publicly blamed Manson for the 1999 Columbine High School killings, and has described Manson's rock band -- also called Marilyn Manson -- as "perhaps the sickest group ever promoted by a mainstream record company." And let's not forget that Al Gore's wife is the righteous Tipper, whose Parents' Music Resource Center led the mid-'80s anti-obscenity witch-hunt that tried to censor Manson precursors-in-outrage like WASP and 2 Live Crew. (Maybe Manson didn't know that Dick Cheney's wife was after his hide, too.)

World political influence speaks for the power of the Dark Side, sure enough. But backstage after his show at Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Florida, two days after Election Day, Manson is modest.

"I wish that I was in a position where I could actually encourage people to make a logical choice," he says -- thoughtful, likable, only the white contact lens in his left eye remaining from his 16 tons of concert regalia. "I don't think there was a logical choice, that's the problem. It's two piles of shit, and you're trying to pick which one stinks the least." Manson does manage to get his own twist of amusement from the political show, though. "The best thing about the election is that their names are very similar to sex and violence. Bush and Gore, the two things that make the world go 'round."

When you're having a little talk with Marilyn Manson, everything's cordial, relaxed. But out in the restaurants and shuttle buses of Florida, the post-election atmosphere is nervous. The waitresses and passengers smile but don't volunteer their vote selections. "Some coffee?" "Hope it don't rain." Okay.

Drive along its freeways, glance over miles of flat scrub forest: Florida is the lowest state in the nation, highest point 345 feet above sea level. This is where bottom-feeding supermarket tabloids the National Enquirer, the Star and the Globe maintain U.S. headquarters. This is where the Elián González farce played out, and where most of the drugs come in. This is where Marilyn Manson first picked up a microphone.

In addition to sunshine and oranges, Florida has much in common with California. There's a Hollywood, Florida. Orlando is home to Disney World and the municipality's own Universal CityWalk. So it's natural that when Manson changed residences, he would pick Hollywood, California, where he's lived for the past three years.

Did the amusement-park aspects of his stage show draw inspiration from Uncle Walt?

"About eight years ago, I used to like to take LSD and go to Disney World, because it kind of transported you back into time, and you're like a child again. The one thing that scared me the most was, I was going through Frontier World, and they were selling these big, I guess they were, like, chicken legs. They looked like something from the Flintstones, and these people were gnawing on 'em, and they just had grease all over their faces, and meat was coming out of their mouths. And there were all these sea gulls flocked around, and it looked like the people were eating the sea gulls, and the sea gulls were eating the scraps, and it was this big cannibalistic freak-out."

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