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"Yeah," he cheerfully admits, "I tell them what they want to hear. The thing that really surprises me, though, is the way some of the people who read those quotes take it personally, really despise us. They can't simply not like us. They see us as such a threat. I guess some people just don't know how to take a joke."
Not that you're liable to confuse Marilyn Manson with Andy Hardy. The band has been swimming in shock-infested waters for so long they think they're in the Spooky kiddie pool. "I don't really know what's shocking any more, because what a lot of people consider whacked out is just everyday behavior for us. Maybe some of it used to be shocking to us, but now it's just normal." He mentions a time when he would stroll South Beach shouting through a megaphone, accompanied by Berkowitz banging on an empty gas can. Just for the hell of it. His wardrobe includes a hat Dr. Seuss's cat would have been proud of, and his most prized possession, a KISS lunch box, which has been known to carry an adult toy or two and has allegedly harbored candy with hallucinogenic properties.
In a world where Jeffrey Dahmers and Gainesville murderers commit their heinous crimes with increasing frequency and decreasing remorse, it's difficult to offend with mere art (Mapplethorpe and Luke notwithstanding). Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids are willing to go that extra mile to try. There are the band members' names, for starters. There are song lyrics like "White trash get down on your knee/Time for cake and sodomy" and digital samples from the helter-skelter man himself. Live shows have included scenes of bondage, S&M, sodomy of a papier-mache black cow, lesbian intercourse, brief but very real on-stage fellatio from a female audience member, and numerous interludes involving strapped-on dildos and chocolate-coated body parts. A Manson concert is equal parts Jim Morrison's existential angst, Alice Cooper's theatrics, and Axl Rose's fuck-it-all attitude.
Marilyn and his merry men have so far not attracted the attention of any publicity-seeking pro-censorship crusaders or law enforcement officials, which is a bit of a surprise. After all, they do live and perform in Broward County. Unfortunately for the Spooky Kids, they are also Caucasian, which significantly reduces the political hay to be made by busting them. One shudders to think of the media coverage their antics would have attracted by now if the band were composed of black inner-city rappers.
White trash they are, and will probably always proudly remain. They will have to content themselves with weaning metal heads off commercial dreck (There it goes again. I swear I heard someone say Bon Jovi. Or was it Skid Row?) until such time as Hollywood or L.A. calls.
"Ironically, the Button South has become like a stronghold for us," contends the soft-spoken front man. "I've actually seen people changing in front of our eyes, growing, and I like being part of that, contributing to it in some way. Some fans have gone from Warrant to the Pixies because of us. Some have stopped wearing heavy-metal entrapments and started being themselves more. That's great. It's important to me that people decide their own destiny, have the freedom to make up their own minds."
Manson laughs when it is suggested that such aspirations might be construed as borderline altruistic. "We're still a bunch of sick fucks. We did a show at Club Nu and dedicated it to John Waters. We had a fat girl in a cage eating eggs and being prodded with a dildo. I can't say we're the best role models."
He shudders at the suggestion that the Spooky Kids might have become trendy, that attending their shows has become the in thing to do. "We try to be anti-trendy, if that's possible. Granted, we want everyone there, a big audience, but we want them there for the right reasons." Like cake and sodomy.