Marilyn Manson: The Vampire of the Hollywood Hills
When Marilyn Manson goes to sleep, dawn has usually just arrived, and when he gets up, full and unremitting darkness is usually not far off. In this regard, as in almost all other regards, he does what he wants. If he wants black sheets on his bed and the temperature always set to a cool 65 degrees, that’s what he gets. Another example: Let’s say he wants to make love on those sheets, to his girlfriend, photographer Lindsay Usich, who is as slender as a witch’s broom and has the hair of a raven. First, no lights shall be on. “I’m just really shy, despite what you’d imagine,” he says. Second, no underwear shall be slipped farther down than his ankles. “I have a phobia that the house is going to catch fire, and I don’t want to be naked,” he says. And finally, five is the absolute minimum number of times that the act of “sexual congress,” as he calls it, shall take place in a day, with 10 being the most recent maximum. And this, at the age of 45 – “the age of a small record,” he says, with typical wit – though it hardly seems possible.
Then again, what exactly about Manson is possible? Among other feats, his new album, The Pale Emperor, is almost an equal to Antichrist Superstar, the 1996 record that lifted him out of the Fort Lauderdale post-grunge wasteland and shock-rocked him straight to the top, much to the dismay of the Christian right, which in 1999 tried to blame him for the horrors of the Columbine High School massacre. But where Superstar was all sinister, industrial grime, The Pale Emperor is bluesy, synth-heavy, fairly radio-friendly and full of odd found-object squeaks and torments, including the frantic, high-pitched yips of coyotes gnawing on a kill. Many of its songs, among them the hard-stomping recent release “Third Day of a Seven Day Binge,” were recorded in one take, with all subsequent efforts to clean them up ignored. “It’s dirty,” says Manson, happily, “like the dirt under my nails, like someone who has dug a grave.”
Right now, the only thing he’s digging is a Sunkist grape soda out of the fridge in his dank little Spanish-Gothic-style house in the Hollywood Hills. He pops the top, pours some in a glass, sets the glass down and never touches it again. Then he’s taking a stroll around the place, pointing out the more significant of his belongings. There’s a stack of children’s books (This Little Piggy, Winnie the Pooh Meets Gopher). An unused canister of Zyklon B, the poisonous gas Hitler used to exterminate Jews. A pistol and a rifle on a coffee table. A prized clown painting done by rapist and serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Basically, it’s all stuff you might expect from a guy like him.
Upstairs, behind a closed bedroom door, is the raven-haired Usich. Manson allows that she won’t be coming downstairs tonight. Maybe they’ve been having some relationship issues. Maybe she doesn’t understand that when he writes a song for his new album like “The Devil Beneath My Feet,” with lyrics like “Don’t bring your black heart to bed/When I wake up, you best be gone or you better be dead,” he’s not necessarily referring to her, even though they did come from a text he sent her.
Tonight, he’s dressed in a black shirt, black vest, black coat, black pants and black boots over blood-red socks, with sunglasses covering his eyes in a room that is so dark to begin with that his black hair, shaved short and asymmetrical, almost ceases to exist in the general mood of black nothingness. He moves about with easy, spectral grace, fingers fluttering birdlike as he points to what is an old abortionist’s chair that he once covered with a beaver rug given to him by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. “I called it Beaver Mountain,” he says, “and it’s where I had sex with certain individuals that may or may not have resulted in my divorce.” Briefly, he thinks about this and you can see further commentary formulating itself in his brain. Wait for it. Wait for it. Here it comes. “Don’t fear the beaver,” he says.
Then footsteps can be heard.
“I’m sorry,” he says, “but we’re going to be interrupted now, it seems.”
It’s Usich, wearing a slinky velvety dress that features a peek-a-boo keyhole-shaped opening right about cleavage-high. Is she on her way somewhere fancy?
“Nope,” she says. And then she sashays past the watchful eyes of John Wayne Gacy’s clown and returns to the bedroom.
It’s an uncomfortable moment and goes unexplained. Manson picks up his cat, an aging Devon Rex named Lily White that has a delicate smear of Usich’s red lipstick on its head, and watches her go. He’s had many girlfriends over the years (actresses Rose McGowan, 1997-2001, and Evan Rachel Wood, 2006-2010, as well as porn stars Stoya and Jenna Jameson) and one wife (burlesque queen Dita Von Teese, 2005-2006, victim of Beaver Mountain), with much craziness involved, none of it ending well. “I am flypaper for damaged women,” he says later on, specifying no one in particular.
Then it’s time to step out, head on over to the Chateau Marmont for a little guys-only fun. “We’ll drink some liquors,” he says. “We’ll make words of our own. We will play rap music if we want to.” And, of course, we will see if there’s any trouble to be had. “I’m chaos, I’ve always been chaos, my point on Earth is chaos,” he says, getting worked up. “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. I’m here just to fuck shit up.” Which means that tonight could be quite the debauch, full of terrible and wonderful things. One can only hope.