Not-So-Spooky Kid

It was 4:40 p.m. when the telephone in my cubicle rang. "You will have 15 minutes," said the publicist on the other end of the line. A moment passed, and then another voice: "Hello? This is Marilyn Manson."

Although Manson, born Brian Warner, grew up in Ohio, South Florida is where he got his musical start. In fact his first gig was at Churchill's Pub in 1990, opening for the Goods. Recounting his past, he spoke slowly, pausing between words. He talked about his drug use, his divorce, his new relationship, and his moments of clarity as Brian Warner. After about 10 minutes, I felt like I was talking to some guy at a bar.

He was in the middle of explaining his newest film project when the line went dead. I looked at the digital voice recorder plugged into the telephone. My 15 minutes were up. I slammed the receiver down. I was sweating. "How did it go?" asked a co-worker. Suddenly the phone rang. "Hey, sorry about that.... Where were we?" Marilyn Manson had called me back.

"My life is a paranormal experience," he would later say as we discussed vampire and Christian mythology, his membership in the Church of Satan, and his friendship with the late Anton LaVey. "I drink absinthe on a daily basis. I've been through periods where I've done tons and tons of destructive things to myself." But we began with the basics, until things took a turn for the more philosophical:

What do you think of Miami?

South Florida is a good place to kick off the tour, because that is where I started. This new record (Eat Me, Drink Me) is really significant to me as a person, because I feel it is a resurrection of the period where I didn't want to make music anymore. So I have come full circle to start the American tour there. Everybody who hates me or who I fucked will be there to call me Brian, or expect me to remember them for something that probably wasn't the nicest thing in the past.

Do people still call you Brian or say, "Hey, you fucked my girlfriend"?

Not exactly, but there is a general rule that if anyone asks where Brian is, then it is someone that I am not close with. Even in my most intimate relationships, no one calls me that. It's not because I am trying to hide anything. The world knows my name, and over the years you become known as what you're known as. So that's not the secret to getting backstage.

You are always Marilyn Manson?

A better way of understanding it is that I've grown to understand myself onstage and offstage. It's not the difference between Brian Warner and Marilyn Manson; those two series of words are easily interchangeable.... It was a choice of whether I wanted to be somebody who communicated with the rest of the world. I realized that I spend most of my time talking about my feelings to strangers. I couldn't make some of the people closest to me understand me, and I couldn't understand myself. I realized instead of changing who I am to the public, I had to change who I was to the people around me. I had drifted away from being myself. Who I am and what I create always has to be one in the same or they both fall apart and die. Getting back to making this record. I like being me. It doesn’t mean that I’m happy and life is cheerful. But I am enjoying life as much as anybody … maybe even more so.

Obviously. [Laughter] You designed a set of tarot cards?

It was never an entire set, unfortunately. I would have liked it to be, but it was more designed to represent the art work for the Holy Wood album. There was such an element that I was fascinated about as a subject matter. But strangely enough, this new record that I’ve made genuinely represents the tarot deck without even really talking about it. There is so much symbolism…. That has become my inner makeup, and way of thinking after years of reading stuff about the tarot and alchemy. I didn’t really have to talk about it. With this new record, I was really just writing stuff down as you would in a diary. When I look back I can see that there is more symbolism related to that than I had intended. It is not something that I do every day; it is something that I learn from. The way that I see signs and coincidences.

I had a tarot card reading once. It was kind of startling.

That’s the way that it should be. If it is real it is always right. I’ve refused to listen to some warnings in the past and they’ve come back to haunt me. You know, you’re blinded by relationships and you’re warned that it isn’t right. You think that you can outrace destiny or fate. I recently had my tarot cards read by a friend of mine, he told me that this moment … this record was the first time that I have truly defined myself as a person.

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Jason Handelsman