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A Brief History of Marilyn Manson Being Strange

Smoking bones and peeing on his audience -- just another day for the shocking goth legend

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When little Brian Hugh Warner was born in 1969 on a chilly day in January, his hometown of Canton, Ohio, must have surely felt a tip in the scales. On January 4, 1969, Canton was known primarily for being the home of the National Football League Hall of Fame. One day later, it officially became the birthplace of Marilyn Manson.

It must have been hard for Warner to spend his formative years in a city pre-disposed to giving artsy types the stink-eye, but, as other artsy types will tell you, being an outcast in your town only fuels the fire of creativity. If Warner had sprouted from Brooklyn, he wouldn’t have had anything to rebel against, and chances are there would have never been a Marilyn Manson. But that frigid Ohio soil. Yeah. That’s the stuff for growing truly hearty weirdos. Being forced to attend conservative schools doesn’t hurt either in this instance, which Warner did at Heritage Christian School up until the 10th grade.

(Read: A Conversation with Marilyn Manson)

To get a clear picture of how Warner’s hometown views him, you need only reference a Cleveland paper’s 2013 review of a “homecoming” show he performed at House of Blues. In the review, the writer, Chuck Yarborough, opens with “it’s kinda hard to write the phrase ‘local boy makes good’ when the local boy is Marilyn Manson, whose idea of good is evil.” And shortly after calls him “a little long in the tooth to be doing the metal thing.” You can almost picture Warner, clad in full goth regalia, complete with dental implements shoved in his mouth, crumpling up the paper containing the review and stomping his shin-high buckle boots in protest.

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The reality is, whether Canton embraces their dark Kal-El or not, his success is hard to deny. He carved out a path for himself creatively that no one had ever seen go down prior to the release of Marilyn Manson’s debut album, Portrait of an American Family, in 1994. Sure, we were all familiar with the darker, more theatrical elements of punk, industrial, and goth by then, thanks to bands and artists like My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Nina Hagen, Grace Jones, and Nine Inch Nails, but Marilyn Manson put his own special twist on things. Produced by Trent Reznor, who Manson went on to collaborate with a great deal over the years, Portrait of an American Family brought songs like “Cake & Sodomy” into the homes of alternative music fans who had previously been sulking through the mall in Pearl Jam and Green Day t-shirts. No one was ready for Marilyn Manson, but everyone was eager to talk about him once he had arrived. It had been awhile since a band as divisive as this one came around, and Manson was only too willing to keep people questioning whether it was okay to enjoy songs about poop and Satan as much as they did.

Since the release of that first album, Manson has made nine others. The most recent being Heaven Upside Down, which comes out on Friday. Currently on tour supporting the new album, Manson was recently hospitalized after a large stage prop in the form of two metal guns fell on him during a show at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC. The previous night, during a show at Stage AE in Pittsburgh, he fell off the stage and almost broke his ankle. Before the sands of time take their toll on him any further, let’s look back at some of the highlights of Marilyn Manson’s weird life.
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KEEP IT IN YOUR PANTS

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Marilyn Manson was arrested (for the first time) in Jacksonville, Florida, after pretending to give a blow job to Jack Off Jill vocalist Jessicka, who was wearing a strap-on dildo. He was also spotted urinating into the audience by security, and that got added to his string of charges as well. Manson spent only one night in jail before being let out to pee on another day. He did have to take a psych evaluation, though, as a condition of his release, and he passed. People who advertise their crazy are usually not the actual crazy ones.
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DON’T PEE ON YOUR FANS. DON’T COVER THEM IN MEAT EITHER

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Who can ever really know how much of this band’s history is fact and how much is fiction, but there’s a widely circulating story that in 1994, while recording B-sides for the “Lunchbox” single at South Beach Studios, the band took a break to get some food and met a fan whose day would suddenly take a turn for the worse. This fan, whose name is available, but which I won’t post here because she’s had a hard enough life, was deaf and somehow got convinced by the band to take her clothes off, let them cover her in various deli meats, and then get peed on. Even worse stuff happened that consisted of two members of the band Scotch taping their dicks together for a pretty specific purpose, but we’ll just leave it at that.
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THE CHURCH OF SATAN IS ON THE PHONE FOR YOU, BRIAN

marilyn manson signed long hard road out of hell book autographed 1st edition 6c908f205ff27c7a8e818c24433a9c6b A Brief History of Marilyn Manson Being Strange

Manson’s lyrics often deal with various hellish topics — like, actual hell — but does Manson himself actually consider himself to be a Satanist? Yup. He does. In his autobiography, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, which came out in 1998, Manson states that he’s a believer in the teachings of Aleister Crowley and Anton LaVey. In 1994, Manson was contacted by LaVey himself and made an official minister in the Church of Satan. Well, isn’t that special? (Said in Church Lady’s voice.)
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SMOKE ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM

 A Brief History of Marilyn Manson Being Strange

In a 1995 interview with High Times, Marilyn Manson revealed that while spending time in New Orleans, he did what any tourist does: took bones out of crumbling and decayed raised graves, chipped off pieces into a pipe, and smoked them. Manson recorded the EP Smells Like Children (1995) and Antichrist Superstar (1996) in New Orleans and seems to have made himself quite comfortable there. Too bad he’s going to be haunted for life now.
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HUMPIN’ HEADS AND STUFF

photo by Philip Cosores

During a 2001 concert in Detroit, Manson climbed onto the body of an unsuspecting security guard and pretended to hump his head. This, as you would imagine, didn’t go over too well, and Manson was charged with sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress and got off easy (no pun intended here) with $4,000 in fines and court costs.
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A REAL LIFE WILLY WONKA

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Apparently, Johnny Depp has gone on record saying that he used Manson as inspiration for his approach at reprising Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s 2005 remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. So, if you’ve always subliminally found that version to be terrifying, you’ve now been officially validated.
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SWINE FLU

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In 2009, Manson posted the following announcement on his Facebook page, in typically dramatic fashion: “So, I have officially been diagnosed, by a real doctor, with THE SWINE FLU. I know everyone will suggest that fucking a pig is how this disease was obtained. However, the doctor said, my past choices in women have, in ‘no way’ contributed to me acquiring this mysterious sickness.” He seems to have recovered, but maybe residual effects of Swine Flu are constantly falling off stages, etc.?
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MANSINTHE

manson and von teese A Brief History of Marilyn Manson Being Strange

Manson grew fond of absinthe — a highly potent anise-flavored booze — when Dita Von Teese introduced him to the stuff on his 32nd birthday. This chance encounter kicked off the pair’s love affair and eventually led to their brief marriage. (Von Teese and Manson were married from 2005 to 2007.) Manson’s taste for absinthe remained long after his marriage to Von Teese, and he developed his own brand called Mansinthe. The 66.6% alcohol-level liquor contains a mixture of wormwood, anise, fennel, and can be found for purchase online with varying degrees of ease.
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A FRIEND OF LYNCH IS A FRIEND OF OURS

Manson made his first film appearance in David Lynch’s sexy and surreal Lost Highway, which came out in 1997. He later collaborated with Lynch in 2010 by contributing a series of 20 paintings for an exhibition in Vienna, Austria, called Genealogies of Pain. Weird attracts weird in the best possible ways sometimes.
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’TIS A WITCH!

Manson has accumulated an impressive list of film and TV appearances over the years. Most notably he’s appeared in Lost Highway (1997), Jawbreaker (1999), Party Monster (2003), and Sons of Anarchy (Starting in 2014). His most recent role was that of Thomas Dinley, a barber and a surgeon, in the witchy sleeper Salem. Answer me this, why is Manson somehow even scarier looking when he’s not wearing makeup?

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