The Golden Age of Grotesque: Marilyn Manson’s Most Shocking Moments
A little over two decades ago, Marilyn Manson introduced himself to the world with six shocking words: “I am the God of Fuck!” Since then, the self-proclaimed Antichrist Superstar has never ceased to find ways to disturb his listeners – and their parents – with videos depicting jocks fighting goths on a high-school football field and various surreal phantasms. It’s a dangerous line to toe. His sayings have gotten kids kicked out of school and his antics earned him the ire of people who wrongly blamed him for the Columbine shooting, prompting him to pen an insightful essay for Rolling Stone about personal responsibility. But despite the controversies, Manson has never backed down.
“My point on Earth is chaos,” the ordained Satanist recently told Rolling Stone. “I’m the third act of every movie you’ve ever seen. I’m the part where it rains and the part where the person you don’t want to die dies.”
Leading up to the release of his upcoming album The Pale Emperor – on which he calls himself the “Mephistopheles of Los Angeles” – Rolling Stone has tracked Marilyn Manson’s most appalling moments. Not-so-sweet dreams are made of these.
Early Nineties: Showtime!
Shock Tactic: In his autobiography, Manson remembers an early concert where he had a pregnant-looking actress iron the wrinkles out of a Nazi flag onstage. "As the show progressed, she sat spread-eagled on the ironing board and pretended to perform an abortion on herself," he wrote.
Consequences: Trent Reznor eventually signed him and released his debut, Portrait of an American Family, in July 1994.
1994: Dicking Around
Shock Tactic: Vice police arrested Manson at a Jacksonville, Florida concert for "jacking off with a strap-on dildo. . .and urinating on the crowd," as he recalled in his book, and charged him with violating the "Adult Entertainment Code."
Consequences: Manson had no such toy and was simply wearing black rubber underwear with a "dick hole." The singer spent a night in jail, navigated his way through a psych evaluation and returned to the general population.
1994: Cold Cuts
Shock Tactic: While recording B-sides for the "Lunchbox" single, Manson invited a deaf groupie to the studio, asked her to strip naked, decorated her with hot dogs, salami and pig's feet and took photos of her. When band member Pogo began having sex with her, the keyboardist shouted, "I'm going to come in your useless ear canal."
Consequences: The groupie showered off as Manson and bassist Twiggy Ramirez urinated on her. "I think she, too, found it to be art and was having a good time," Manson wrote in his autobiography.
1994: Antichrist Superstar
Shock Tactic: On an off-day from the band's tour with Nine Inch Nails in San Francisco, Manson received a call telling him that Church of Satan founder Anton Szandor LaVey requested his presence. "Near the end of our visit, he said, 'I want to make you a Reverend,' and gave me a crimson card certifying me as a minister in the Church of Satan," Manson wrote in his autobiography. "It was like an honorary degree from a university."
Consequences: Manson penned the foreword to LaVey's final book, Satan Speaks!, which came out in 1997. "Anton LaVey shared his magic, and I think it has made this wretched fucking planet a better place," he wrote in it.
1995: There Will Be Blood
Shock Tactic: Manson scarred himself for life while still in school by taking a pocketknife to his arms, but that act doesn't compare to the fateful San Francisco concert where the singer plunged a broken beer bottle into his chest. In his autobiography, Manson recalled "dragging it across [his] skin until it reached the other side."
Consequences: By his own account, Manson now has "one of the deepest and biggest scars on the latticework that is my torso."
1995: Unholy Smoke
Shock Tactic: After a 1995 interview with High Times, Manson phoned the interviewer to tack on one more fact: "I forgot to tell you about the time we smoked human bones." The singer then went on to brag about going grave-digging in New Orleans, where you can "pick [bones] like strawberries" out of the ground. He later presented them to some friends in a hotel room. "We talked them into chipping off pieces of the bones, putting it in a pipe and smoking it," he said. "We smoked it, too."
Consequences: "It was terrible," he said. "It smelled like burnt hair, gave you a really bad headache and made your eyes red." He then convinced someone to smoke a Tic Tac.
1998: Rack Job
Shock Tactic: The singer's female, alien-like nude body on Mechanical Animals' cover raised eyebrows at Kmart, Walmart and Target a month before it came out. Two of the retailers refused to carry the record due to its general explicit content, while a Target rep specifically cited the nudity. "This is a family store," she told MTV in 1998.
Consequences: The album is now available for purchase online at each of those stores, and the explicit version is even cheaper than the clean one at Target.
1998: ‘Spin’ Control
Shock Tactic: When Spin editor Craig Marks met Manson backstage at a New York show, the singer allegedly threatened his family because the magazine took him off a promised cover. The editor claimed that Manson yelled, "I can kill you, I can kill your family, I can kill everyone you know," and had two bodyguards pin him against a wall by his chest and neck, according to MTV.
Consequences: Manson described the encounter as a "conversation" about Spin's "immature business behavior," MTV reported. Marks sued Manson for $24 million and the singer countersued for defamation.
2001: Thong Song
Shock Tactic: Manson grabbed a security guard during his set at the Detroit-area Ozzfest and – wearing only a leather thong and pantyhose – wrapped his legs around the man's head and gyrated his genitalia against it.
Consequences: Authorities gave the singer battery and sexual assault charges, but a judge dismissed the latter charge. Manson pleaded no contest in 2002, paid $4,000 in fines and settled a civil suit stemming from the same incident the following year. "I can now go on with my life and try to close this unhappy chapter," the guard said in 2004.
2009: Just Sick
Shock Tactic: "I have officially been diagnosed, by a real doctor, with the swine flu," Manson claimed in a statement in 2009, during peak swine-flu hysteria. "The doctor said my past choices in women have in no way contributed to me acquiring this mysterious sickness. Unfortunately, I am going to survive."
Consequences: He survived.
2013: Open Invitation
Shock Tactic: A day after the 15-year-old daughter of Michael Jackson, Paris, allegedly slit her wrists with a meat cleaver because she not allowed to attend a Manson concert, the singer dedicated "Disposable Teens" to her and simulated cutting his own wrists. "I hope you feel better," Manson tweeted to Paris before the show. "You will be on my guest list anytime you want."
Consequences: Paris was treated with stitches at a hospital, according to HollywoodLife.