Hang in there long enough and sometimes you get a second shot, as Marilyn Manson has proven by lurching back from the grave.
It’s a second act that no one saw coming. This century—that’s right, century—has not been kind to the man who was once considered the most dangerous rock star on the planet.
First blowing up in 1995 with an industrial-strafed retooling of the Eurythmics classic “Sweet Dreams”, Manson went all-in on the idea that nothing entertains like a spectacle. And what a spectacle he was—all fishbelly-white greasepaint, mismatched contact lenses, and American-gothic suits.
Major magazine profiles painted the former Brian Warner as a man who spent his downtime smoking crack mixed with Tic Tacs and ground-up human bones. Right-wing America branded him the scariest thing this side of the devil, something that Manson happily embraced. If he wasn’t on-stage wiping his ass with pages ripped from the Bible, he was claiming to be an ordained minister in the Church of Satan.
When the Columbine massacre went down, the perpetrators credited Manson as an inspiration. He was perhaps the only person alive in the ’90s who actually scared Courtney Love.
And then it all went way south in the new millennium. Manson’s theatrical fusion of glam and goth suddenly seemed bloated and excessive when the Strokes, the White Stripes, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs spearheaded a pop-music palace coup in 2001.
Instead of performing in the hockey rinks he’d always dreamed of conquering, Manson suddenly found himself playing theatres—with stages unequipped for the shows he envisioned that placed a premium on big-top theatrics: towering church pulpits, machine-gun-toting can-can girls, and crucifixions on crosses made out of TV sets.
In a 2015 Rolling Stone profile, writer Erik Hedegaard painted a picture of a man running on absinthe fumes. The promise of a night of full-bore debauch at the fabled Chateau Marmont was not delivered on, and the underlying tone was that Manson was lost in a “general mood of black nothingness”.
A year ago, the onetime icon appeared to have bottomed out, as a New York show lit up Twitter for all the wrong reasons. Those who were there reported Manson ambling out on-stage with all the enthusiasm of a man who’d just woken up from a three-month bender.
This brings us to the resurrection.
In October of last year, Manson made the news for doing something creative again—and by that, we don’t mean making new music. The rocker—who’s claimed he likes to have sex more often than your pet rabbit—released a dildo emblazoned with his face.
If there was a demand for such a thing, thank no less than Justin Bieber, who introduced a new generation of tortured teenagers to Manson a couple of years back by wearing his T-shirts in concert. In the rap world, Philadelphia underground king Lil Uzi Vert not only refused to shut up about the rocker in interviews, but also popped up in Migos’s “Bad & Boujee” video wearing Manson’s face on his shirt. Just to leave no doubt about his fandom, he later shelled out a reported $220,000 for a chain and pendant featuring the likeness of Brian Warner wearing Mickey Mouse ears.
A few months back, bad-boy fashion designer Demna Gvasalia paid tribute to Manson at his 2018 Vetements show with a lipstick-pink blouse marked with the singer’s face—just one of the reasons GQ last week ran a story with the headline “Is Marilyn Manson the Hottest Guy in Fashion?”.
Marilyn Manson is suddenly everywhere, whether making the rounds at Hollywood Oscar parties or announcing that he’s back on the hockey-rink circuit, coheadlining a 2019 tour with fellow ’90s survivor Rob Zombie.
Bringing things truly full circle at the moment is conjecture that the man is becoming the living embodiment of darkness for a new generation.
In a 2009 interview in Spin, Manson recalled phoning his onetime fiancée Evan Rachel Wood repeatedly on Christmas Day in 2008 after a breakup, stating: “Every time I called her that day—I called 158 times—I took a razor blade and I cut myself on my face or on my hands.” Although he went on to call that stupid, he noted in the same interview, “I have fantasies every day about smashing her skull in with a sledgehammer.”
Wood, meanwhile, took to Twitter on March 11 with a series of “IAmNotOKay” tweets that you can Google at your leisure.
Manson’s upcoming swing with Zombie is being dubbed the Twins of Evil Tour. Whether that’s clever advertising or God’s truth is, once again, for you to decide.More