Sympathy For The Devil: Marilyn Manson

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Part 3:

A dream: I've always had these dreams about making a girl out of all these pieces of prosthetic limbs, and then taking my own hair and teeth that I saved from when I was a kid and very ritualistically creating this companion.

Dressed in a back brace and surgical bandages, Manson is onstage at Fort Lauderdale's Sunrise Theater, singing, "She's made of hair and bone and little teeth and things I cannot speak." The song is "Tourniquet," the direct result of his creation dream and one of the first numbers in a concert that takes the audience through the entire tale of Antichrist Superstar.

In some ways, Manson has already become the Dr. Frankenstein of "Tourniquet." He has created an audience that he has lost control of. Tonight's crowd is wild, ripping the entire front row of seats out of the theater and actually nailing Twiggy in the arm with a large piece of upholstery. One beefy kid in the front row keeps trying to challenge Manson to a fight. When someone throws a cigarette onstage, Manson jumps back with a start. After the show, Manson confesses that he thought the cigarette was an M-80 firework. At an earlier show, someone threw a scorpion onstage. Scorpions are one of the few things in God's world that Manson is scared of.

More troublesome is the heavy police presence inside the concert. The cops have one door barred and are videotaping the entire show, hoping for enough nudity or obscenity to justify an arrest. It wouldn't be the first time that's happened to Manson: The last time he performed in St. Petersburg, Fla., he was arrested for indecently exposing himself onstage. Before the police threw him in jail, they ridiculed him, warning him to remove his lip ring because somebody might tear it out while beating him up.

"The cops also made a big deal about a show where Marilyn put some guy's dick in his mouth onstage," says Twiggy after the show, his eyebrows shaved, eyelids streaked blue and lips painted purple. "But we've done much worse things than that. I had my 11-year-old brother onstage in one of the shows completely naked. It was like child pornography."

Twiggy's childhood wasn't quite as ordinary as Manson's: Twiggy claims that his father went crazy after a car accident and disappeared when his son was 6; his mother was a go-go dancer for the '70s power-rock group Mountain; and his aunt was a groupie who dated a Bee Gee or two. Twiggy and Manson met at a Florida mall, where they bonded over making crank calls to local stores and listening to Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister and Dr. Hook. At the time, Manson had formed a band called Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids.

"The day I met him, I knew that we would work together," says Twiggy. "As the band gained popularity locally, I thought it was my place to either be in the band or destroy it."

Few people in this world are as close as Twiggy and Manson. "The only person I can relate to is Twiggy," says Manson, who has actually had a girlfriend for the past five years. "I've always felt ignored and starved in relationships. But it's especially true now. It would be hard to try to relate to someone who hasn't been in front of thousands of people screaming their name, or who hasn't been up for three days doing drugs and shit, or who hasn't had to go to sleep at night on their back because their entire chest was bleeding from broken glass."

Our conversation is interrupted by a roadie who says a kid outside is looking for Manson. The kid wants to give Manson his prosthetic leg. Manson has a collection of about 15 such limbs, which he takes with him on tour. The following night, the Manson family attends the Smashing Pumpkins' concert in Miami, where Billy Corgan pays them tribute by inserting a riff from Manson's "Beautiful People" into one of the Pumpkins' songs. Afterward, the two bands spend the night partying in South Beach. The next day at 2 p.m., I get a call from Manson: "I've got a throbbing headache. Somebody must have poisoned my drink because I don't remember drinking this much. I don't even know how I got home." Twiggy is wandering the halls of the hotel in a daze, waiting for his parents to pick him up. "Last night was crazy," Twiggy says. "I had this glow bracelet I was wrapping around my dick, and Marilyn was trying to stuff it into the tip. I think he ended up biting off the end and spraying the glow stuff all over the club."

Later in the afternoon, Manson wakes up for an interview in his hotel room. A silk-screened poster made by a fan hangs on the wall. It depicts Manson with a blue face and demon wings. On his dresser are a Monster Magnet CD, a Radiohead CD and a Gothic CD with a phone number written on it. It's Billy Corgan's pager number. "That was a stupid thing to do," Manson says. "Now he's going to get a lot of crank calls."

I feel obligated to ask Manson about some of the rumors that have floated around on the Internet about him: that Manson removed his ribs so he could give himself blow jobs, that he was a child actor on the shows Mr. Belvedere and The Wonder Years, that he died of a drug overdose in Phoenix. Not one is true. But everyone knew that anyway.

"I have people come up to me and ask me if they can cut me while I cut them, or if I can put out a cigarette on their face," Manson says. "I can understand that people are trying to make a first impression, but I think that a lot of people don't understand what Marilyn Manson is about."

So what is Marilyn Manson about?

"There are two things that Marilyn Manson has been designed to do," he says, playing with a jeweled Tibetan skull that's resting on his bed table. "It's been designed to speak to the people who understand it and to scare the people who don't. A lot of what I say to our fans is, "Stop worrying about trying to fit into the status quo of what is beautiful and what is politically correct. Believe in yourself and stick to what's right. If you wanna be like me, then be like yourself. It's the whole Nietzsche philosophy of you are your own God. That's why I debase myself in the concerts and tell people to spit on me. I'm saying to them, 'You are no different than me.'" The phone rings. It's Twiggy. The two make plans to see a movie with Billy Corgan that night. Manson finishes the call, apologizes for the stink in his room and goes on about his notoriety: "I think I'm starting to understand myself in my own way. As far as people go, I'd like to be able to say no or be able to turn women down. Or just be in a position where I don't need other people. I've felt for so many years that I was the person who always wanted to fit in. Now I'm in a position where I can be as misanthropic as I'd like to be. I don't know if it's my way of paying everyone back or if I'm just bitter."

Manson stands and walks to his suitcase. He shows me a series of photographs that were taken of himself in concert, then takes out a W.A.S.P. concert T-shirt and gives it to me as a souvenir. "Every once in a while, I'll step out on the balcony and think about jumping," he says. "I'll think, 'Is this the final thrill, because I'm numb to everything else?'"

He stops rifling through his belongings and reconsiders. "But I feel I have more to accomplish," he says. "I think I have a lot more in store that people really won't expect. I mean, besides the end of the world."

This story is from the January 23, 1997 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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