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Thursday, April 22, 1999 Published at 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK


The mystery of Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson: In the headlines after a geniune outrage

Rock performer Marilyn Manson is no stranger to courting controversy.

But since the killings at Columbine High School, Manson and his band are suddenly under an unwelcome spotlight after it emerged that teenage gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were fans of their music.

Manson's on-stage antics - reputed to include sex acts and smoking human bones - have caused uproar in the US, propelling him to mainstream fame.

In the UK, he has become an underground favourite with rock fans, with his band coming top in rock magazine Kerrang!'s readers' poll two years running. Elsewhere in the British press his antics have been met with derision.

Manson was born in Canton, Ohio with the decidedly un-scary name of Brian Warner in January 1969. When he formed the then-titled Marilyn Manson And The Spooky Kids in 1989, he named himself after Marilyn Monroe and infamous murderer Charles Manson.

The other members of the band also have names which mix glamour and horror - for example Twiggy Ramirez is named after the British model and serial killer Richard Ramirez.

Shunned by society

[ image: Marilyn Manson with his band]
Marilyn Manson with his band
The subject matter of his lyrics, and his heavily made-up, androgynous style will come as no shock to anybody who remembers the days of Alice Cooper or punk pioneers the New York Dolls.

His autobiography, The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell, describes the life of a young man shunned by American society.

His father suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after spraying Agent Orange during Vietnam. Although not suffering from a birth deformity himself, the young Manson was forced to attend a playgroup for the disabled children of soldiers exposed to the chemical.

Later, the book describes a life of casual sex, drug-abuse, self-mutilation and Satanism, which culminated in the success of the albums Portrait Of An American Family, Smells Like Children, and Antichrist Superstar between 1994 and 1997.

Right-wing disgust

His tours both wow and revolt fans. In one instance he describes a time when he opened a canister of 500 crickets with which he planned to smother himself.

[ image: The band's album Smells Like Children]
The band's album Smells Like Children
"When I opened the can, they had all died. The stench was one of the most disgusting things I had ever inhaled. I threw up instantly, and half a dozen people in the audience did the same. Even if I hadn't begun the concert with a message, I ended with one: disgust is contagious," he says in the book.

The disgust spread across the US. Right-wing groups tried to get the shows banned, the police filmed them looking for evidence of obscenity. He was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida for pretending to urinate on stage.

But it was not the right-wing that nearly destroyed Manson, it was the man himself. He became addicted to cocaine, and was surrounded by junkies, strippers and pimps.

Now Manson has cleaned up his off-stage act. He is currently touring a new album, Mechanical Animals, and is engaged to 24-year-old actress Rose McGowan.

But the on-stage antics continue - fans on his Website are debating whether Twiggy Ramirez really did have oral sex with him on stage in Fairfax, Virginia earlier this month.

His showmanship led him to tell London listings magazine Time Out last year the only act he felt he had something in common with was the Spice Girls.

"Marilyn Manson is a mockery of American pop culture. That's the best way Europeans could look at us - as a statement of American culture," he said.

Accusations against his show

[ image: Marilyn Manson are now touring the Mechanical Animals album]
Marilyn Manson are now touring the Mechanical Animals album
Manson, who started his career as a music journalist, knows which buttons to press to annoy family values campaigners.

One accusation put against the band is that they handed out cocaine to a crowd of 3,000, and abused a bus-full of kidnapped children and animals on stage.

Another complainant said: "I witnessed Manson call for a virgin sacrifice in which all the children in the concert arena were pushed forward by the crowd to be dedicated to Satan."

One part of his live show attempted to ridicule both his critics and the stadium rock tradition by impersonating a fascist rally with straight-arm salutes and pyrotechnic displays.

With reports that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were admirers of Adolf Hitler, these acts may well haunt Manson for longer than any simulated sex stunt.

Manson says: "I felt if I did it well enough, people would understand what I was getting at. In the end, it caused all the different reactions that I wanted.

"Some people thought it was great satire, others thought I was a fascist.

"Others just blindly pumped their fists and didn't notice the irony."

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The Marilyn Manson Charnel (official site)


Christian Family Network - The Truth About Marilyn Manson

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