Manson Interview

BY: Anthony DeCurtis

The following was first published on Beliefnet in 2001.

Introduction Interview

A few years back, rocker Marilyn Manson gained infamy for ripping up Bibles on stage. Now he says he plans to read the Bible from the stage. A community group called

Citizens for Peace and Respect

has called for Manson to skip the June 21st Denver stop of the heavy-metal tour Ozzfest. The organization's website says that Manson "promotes hate, violence, death, suicide, drug use, and the attitudes and actions of the Columbine killers."

In response, Manson has promised to "balance my songs with a

wholesome Bible reading

." The Bible readings, he says, will allow his fans to "examine the virtues of wonderful 'Christian' stories of disease, murder, adultery, suicide, and child sacrifice. Now that seems like 'entertainment' to me."


Manson performing at the State Palace Theater, New Orleans late last year.

So the battle rages on. Perhaps no figure in modern culture is as famous or reviled for his use of religious imagery as Marilyn Manson. In this Beliefnet interview, in which Manson recollects childhood nightmares about the Antichrist and attending services by evangelist Ernest Ainsley, he shows that his dispute with Christianity is as much reaction as provocation.

The same can be said for his views of the media. In the wake of Columbine, Manson was attacked as an indirect cause of the shooting--even though it was later shown that the killers were not Manson fans. At the time, I worked with Manson on a

piece he wrote for Rolling Stone

magazine to defend himself. "A lot of people forget or never realize that I started my band as a criticism of these very issues of despair and hypocrisy," he wrote. He went on to attack the media's ghoulish fascination with the murders: "I was dumbfounded as I watched the media snake right in, not missing a teardrop, interviewing the parents of dead children, televising the funerals. Then came the witch hunt."

Manson isn't naïve about the implications of changing your name from Brian Warner to Marilyn Manson--a conflation of his obsessions with sex, violence, and celebrity--or of making albums titled "Antichrist Superstar" (1996) or last year's "Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death)." He's well aware that people might conclude you're out to stir up trouble.

He's also aware that talking about the spiritual premises and implications of his music and his own complex religious upbringing in a setting like Beliefnet is to jump into a fiery furnace. What is perhaps most surprising about Manson is how deeply engaged he has been in religious topics, and how genuinely he wants to confront those who are likely to fiercely disagree with him. It's his idea of a good time.

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