The most bizarre sequence of events to take place during our talks occurs just after Manson makes this prediction. First, a large middle-aged gay man approaches the table. "Sorry, I don't mean to interrupt your lunch, but I was just reading about you in Details on the plane," he says. "Could I have your autograph?" Next, a boy of about 11 walks up to the table. He doesn't say anything: He just puts a napkin and a pen down in front of Manson and breaks into a wide, guilty smile. Then a college girl, about 21, sits next to Manson and flirtatiously whispers something into his ear. She settles for an autograph. After she leaves, a strapping man with a ponytail ambles over to the table. "I'm sorry to bother you," he says in broken English. "I'm from Peru. I love your album. I, too, am in a band. Maybe you come to Peru, and we can play together. Can I have your telephone number?"
Finally, our waitress informs Manson that management has decided to offer us dessert on the house. Before my very eyes, Marilyn Manson becomes Antichrist Superstar: His music has reached this incredibly diverse array of people. And he gets free dessert.
"I don't think I've ever been recognized this much in five minutes," he admits sheepishly. As the cavalcade of autograph seekers continues, Manson gets freaked out. "There's a really surreal woman back there," he says. "Look at her. She looks like a crazy Barbie doll or something. How does she fit into all this?"
Manson is in many ways a classic paranoiac: Everything he sees or hears seems connected in some foreboding way. "I feel like I've dreamed half of my life that hasn't happened yet, so a lot of times I'm going along, and I do stuff, and I know that I've done it," he says. "I have déjà vus more than I have regular experiences. If half of your day is a déjà vu, then you start to wonder, "What is real and what isn't?" Once you tap into a certain idea like that, a part of your mind really takes off, and you can lose control. If, 10 years ago, that element was 10 percent of my life, it's 90 percent now. So there's only 10 percent of a normal person left."
A dream: I had another dream this morning. I was on a farm with a bunch of people – I can't remember any of their faces. But my father pulled up in his car, and he had this weird tool that was partly a serrated-edge knife and something like a pair of pliers. He handed it to me and said, "Hide this." I put it in a bucket of ice, and then seconds later all these cops showed up, and they were searching for it. And they ended up taking me to this juvenile detention home, because I was still a teenager in the dream. They took a picture of me and they put it on this weird key ring and fastened it to my toe. And they stuck this metal tube in my ass and these two little electrodes on the side of my head and took me to this detention home where I had to lie on this steel examining table for hours.
If you were Marilyn Manson's parents, what would you call him? Would you call him Brian, the name you gave him when he was born? Or would you respect his wishes, try to understand that he thinks he's a different person and call him by the name he made up for himself that combines a dead Hollywood legend with an imprisoned cult leader?
His mother calls him Brian. His dad calls him Manson.
"I've referred to him as Manson ever since he's been with Nothing Records," says his father, Hugh. "It's called respect of the artist."
Mr. Warner, a furniture salesman by trade, has become a familiar sight at Manson shows, distinguishable by the fact that he's the only gray-haired gentleman walking around wearing a Marilyn Manson T-shirt.
Brian Warner was not reared in the kind of environment that one would expect of an Antichrist: His parents never divorced, and they did not abuse him. They trusted him, and they gave him every chance they could. "My parents were always allowing me to do whatever I wanted to do," Manson says. "They took me to my first Kiss concert."
Brian spent most of his childhood in Canton, Ohio, moving with his family to Fort Lauderdale when he was 18. His mother was a nurse; his dad a Vietnam veteran who had sprayed Agent Orange before Brian was born in 1969. As a result, Manson says, the government has hauled him and his father in for periodic medical and psychological tests.
"My father had a very violent temper, and he was never home," Manson remembers. "So I was kind of a mama's boy. But I had a weird relationship with my mom as a kid because it was kind of abusive – but on my part. I wish I could go back and change the way I treated my mom because I used to be really rude to her, and she didn't really have any kind of control over me."
Take note, kids: Your Marilyn Manson T-shirt with the slogan that says kill your parents is pure sarcasm. It's possible to be Public Enemy No. 1 of the American Family Association and still love your mother. In fact, the central theme of Manson's music - whether it's the continual cycle of rebirth on Antichrist Superstar or the loss of innocence explored on Smells Like Children - is growing pains. In conversation, Manson seems to pine for his existence before the corruption of maturity set in. His remarks are sprinkled with references to Peter Pan, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Cat in the Hat; he says that he used to visit Disneyland on acid to regain that feeling of terror when everything seems larger than life.
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