Some days you wake up and decide to put on your best slutty nurse uniform and hitchhike across the country. Perhaps you just got that timeless itch to pull an old Halloween costume out of the attic where it has been picking up dust, throw it on, and head for Hollywood in complete strangers' cars, doing who-knows-what for the privilege. Why would anyone in their right mind do such an insane fucking thing? Shia LeBeouf's new book? Sure, we'll go with that. On the other hand, we think such bonkers clownery might have more to do with LeBeouf's new best friend, Marilyn Manson.
Shia and Marilyn Are Friends. But, y'know, its more like Leopold and Loeb than Bert and Ernie — and, like, artsier and less felonious. Clearly, either way, it has the makings of a great buddy cop flick.
In case you didn't know, Shia LeBeouf just came out with a new photo book and DVD as a well-in-advance promotion of sorts for Marilyn Manson's upcoming spring (?) 2012 album. Space 15 Twenty along with Hennessey + Ingalls bookstore in Hollywood held a fans-only book-signing event last night to highlight the collaboration and screen the LeBeouf-directed short film. To attend the event, one had to purchase a limited edition copy of the book, called Campaign, and wait in line with a black cloud of Goths. Or are they emo kids now? We really can't keep up.
The book itself is entirely photos taken by LeBeouf and his girlfriend Karolyn Pho. LeBeouf and Pho's pretty pictures echo a higher art version of Where's Waldo…but with Manson's album cover…and mostly in Hollywood…not like, a crowded beach or whatever…ok, so it's nothing like Where's Waldo. But, still, they're leagues better than you and your friends' millions of “hipstamatic” smartphone pictures currently clogging the tubes of the internets.
The way more exciting part of the whole package is LeBeouf's film. While, again, there's nothing brand-spanking-new about the short — it plays like a tongue-in-cheek homage to and a parody of Alejandro Jodorowsky's cult western El Topo, Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel's Un Chien Andalou and a typical Manson music video — it plays it well enough to satisfy fans and referential art-nerds alike. From its Diane Arbus-esque twins getting a haircut, to gunshots to the face, and some blood (where is that blood coming from?), it has an unflinching uneasiness that feels like it might as well be a Jodorowsky-curated Dali dream. Since this is Manson, there's more needle than tongue in cheek.
So why is LeBeouf doing all of this? He's not taking another interview on the subject, but he told MTV recently: “This, for me, this is a really cool diversion for me when I'm not making a movie. It gives me an opportunity to work with musicians I admire who I would otherwise never get to work with in any other capacity. I really have a fun time doing it. It allows me to be creative in another art form and work with heroes.”
Creative diversions, boosting your friends' projects, trying out new stuff in your downtime — all seems pretty normal to us.
For the record, he met his hero Manson at a Kills concert a while back and the two became instant friends. We don't know how many times we've seen or read the phrase “unlikely” or “unseemly” when it comes to Manson and LeBeouf's new collaboration and continued friendship. We're actually getting kind of sick of the sentiment. Sure, if you think like your parents (your hypothetically lame parents) the friendship looks a lot like the comic strip characters Goofus and Gallant — Goofus has built a career on Satanic imagery and shocking antics, Gallant came up through Disney and makes Hollywood blockbusters. But, c'mon, we live in LA…unlikely isn't really in our vocabulary — otherwise we'd all move back to whatever backwaters we're from.
Manson consistently makes erudite statements about his art and the state of music and culture — routinely reversing the mindless shit-smearing Satan-worshipping image that histrionic exurbanite soccer-moms wanted to paint way back when. On the other hand, Le Beouf grew up in Echo Park when it was actually edgy (not, like, the Echo Park where that one craft beer and vegan pizza place is) and has probably seen seedy, dark and tawdry in ways that belie his baby-blues. We won't pretend to completely understand either of these guys until we get to know them better, but this much is certain: they're friends and there's nothing unlikely or unseemly about it.
But whatever the angle of their friendship, last night was for the fans. Canvassing the crowd that had lined up as early as 4 p.m., we found them to be mostly local Manson fans. Folks like Russ, a local artist who came up from Orange County seemed open to incorporating LeBeouf's seemingly clean-cut image with Manson's. When asked what he thought about the collaboration, he said “There's nothing weird for this guy [Manson], it's certainly unorthodox, that's for sure.” We asked him if he wanted to get LeBeouf's signature. “Yeah, of course I'll get it. He made the book.”
The first few people in line claimed to love both Manson and LeBeouf equally. “We waited this long for Transformers in 3-D,” one of them said. “But we've been Manson fans since like, 1996, so we really want to meet them both.”
While Manson and LeBeouf dressed down — the fans dressed up. The around-the-block line had the feel of a parade homage to Goth style history. There were the Manson look-alikes, the blue Manic Panic dyed pigtails, the myriad of large-gauge piercings, and even the out of place gutter punk. All of them wanted to get a piece of Mr. Manson and maybe shake his hand…or worse. Oddly, a few of the dark minions even came out of the store sans LeBeouf's signature. “I just wanted to touch Marilyn…and I did…” one said on her way out. “Was it worth it?” we asked. All she could say was, “Mooooore.”
By 9:45pm or so, we made our way in to get our book inked by the dynamic duo. LeBeouf sported a laid-back, incognito look, while a mostly make-up free Manson wore a homemade “Hell, etc.” jacket. They had some prickly man banter as we went through the signing process. Manson, even drew us a quick portrait of his partner in art. For those brief moments of interaction we felt validated in our beliefs that no L.A. friendship is unseemly.
“They want to know about our interactions,” Manson said as he made his mark in our book. “Our sexual ones?” LeBeouf joked back.
Speaking of which, what happened to that slutty nurse? The one that a clever security guard described as “the kind of nurse you get when you don't have health insurance.”…she made an ass out of herself, of course. The superfriends handled it with a pleasant whimsy — Manson teased her, took her eerily-scribbled poetry and let the security guards keep her at bay. LeBeouf took some iPhone footage and egged her on — like any ball-busting friend would do.
Let's face it, these guys couldn't be nicer if they tried — just don't you dare call it a fucking bromance.