In a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed Thursday afternoon (August 2) in Los Angeles Superior Court, former Marilyn Manson keyboardist Stephen Gregory Bier Jr. — known to fans by his stage name, Madonna Wayne Gacy — claims the shock rocker has been using the band’s money to fund his lavish lifestyle, drug habit and the production of his upcoming film, “Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll,” among other things.
The suit further alleges Manson took assets belonging to the rest of the band (money generated through touring, and album and merchandise sales) to purchase Nazi paraphernalia, African masks made of human skin and the full skeleton of a 4-year-old Chinese girl, all of which he has on display in his Chatsworth, California, mansion.
The singer denied the allegations to MTV News in an interview late Thursday afternoon.
Bier is seeking unspecified general, compensatory and punitive damages as well as lost salary, bonuses and attorneys’ fees, which he “believes to be in excess of $20 million.”
According to the suit, a copy of which was obtained by MTV News, Bier claims that at the time of the band’s formation, when the group was still known as Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids, the founding members entered into a partnership agreement whereby all profits (and losses) from the group’s album releases, tours and merch sales were shared in various proportions, with Manson getting the biggest chunk.
The complaint charges Manson with systematically forcing the original bandmembers out, replacing them with new musicians who weren’t privy to the original arrangement. In one such instance, the lawsuit claims that drummer Fred Streithorst, Jr. — stage name: Sara Lee Lucas — split in 1995 after Manson doused his drum kit with butane during a concert, setting it on fire while Streithorst was still playing.
The suit further contends that Manson took complete control of the band, insisting that it drop “Spooky Kids” from its moniker, leaving just Marilyn Manson as the group’s name. Manson allegedly told the rest of the band that from that point on, he’d call himself “Mr. Manson,” but he later reneged on that promise.
Later on, after the band achieved mainstream success, Manson’s antics cost the band dearly, Bier claims, as lawsuit after lawsuit was filed against it. These include a suit resulting from Manson’s alleged attack on a security guard in 2000 and a sexual misconduct suit filed a year later.
The suit also says that in 2000, Manson “forced the band to spend a substantial sum of money to pay a video production company to keep certain video footage out of an upcoming DVD about the band … [as] this video footage showed Manson making racist statements and jokes about African-Americans while feeding his pet snake.”
In 2004, according to the suit, Manson began spending significant sums of money; when questioned by Bier about the expenditures, Manson allegedly assured him it had come from sales of his autobiography, “The Long Hard Road Out of Hell.” Bier believes it was the band’s shared assets, not Manson’s own money, that was used to “supply his [cocaine and Vicodin] habit,” as well as to fund a stint in a $3,000-a-day rehab facility he left before his treatment was completed.
According to the suit, band money also paid for Manson’s collection of Nazi artifacts, including “SS typewriters, swastika wall tiles he had installed in his home library ceiling with custom rugs made to match and Nazi government coat hangers owned by Adolf Hitler.”
The suit claims Manson also bought a handbag that once belonged to Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun, which he later gave to his then-fiancee, Dita Von Teese. But that’s not where the collecting ended: Manson also collected taxidermy models of animals, including a California grizzly and two baboons, as well as the “full skeleton of a 17th-century male in a wheelchair.”
In addition, Bier believes Manson used band money to buy Von Teese’s $150,000 engagement ring and to pay for the couple’s lavish 2005 wedding (see “Marilyn Manson Marries Longtime Girlfriend Dita Von Teese” ). Whenever Bier asked about it, Manson denied he was using the group’s money for any personal items or expenses, the suit reads.
Then, in 2004, when Bier tried to use some of the money he earned as part of Marilyn Manson to buy a home, he was denied access to it by the band’s business managers, at the behest of Manson, the suit claims.
Bier’s suit also charges Manson cut the keyboardist’s salary without just cause and eventually had his salary payments frozen. Bier was also accused by Manson of stealing band equipment, and he claims that medical expenses he incurred for treatment of band-related ailments went unpaid by the band’s business managers, even though he’d asked them to do so using his share of the band’s profits. In time, Bier said he was told that his employment contract with the band had expired, a document he claims he never signed; Manson’s lawyers argued at the time that this meant he was no longer part of the original partnership and could be fired at any time. Even the existence of the partnership agreement was denied by Manson’s people, the suit claims.
In short, the suit contends, “because of Manson and others’ fraudulent conduct, Bier has spent almost two decades working for one of the world’s most popular rock bands, that has made millions of dollars in profit, and now had almost nothing to show for it.”
The suit also names Marilyn Manson’s management, lawyers and accountants as defendants, along with Manson’s own film production company, the band’s merchandise company and the corporation that was established to oversee the group’s various tours.
Manson responded to the allegations in an exclusive interview with MTV News on Thursday. “The fact that he’s claiming that I’ve treated him unfairly, financially, is really ridiculous,” the singer said. “And I would never spend my money on a Chinese girl skeleton. That would be crossing the line. It’s a Chinese boy, for the record,” he laughed, before continuing. “[Bier and his lawyers are] going for shock value, obviously, and I couldn’t be less surprised by how unshocking these things would be to the public.”
Manson, who noted that he hasn’t yet seen the suit, said he will defend himself against the allegations; he added that he hasn’t heard from Bier in more than a year. He claimed he and others in the Manson organization attempted to contact the keyboardist to work on this year’s Eat Me, Drink Me LP, but when Bier did respond, it was with hostility.
“It’s all a big question mark to me,” Manson said. “I don’t feel like this compares to any prior ex-bandmember situations, because those were all very clear conflicts, where somebody didn’t get along with someone else (see “Fired Marilyn Manson Guitarist Wonders What Went Wrong” ). And this is just a situation where I stopped hearing from him, and I started making a record and kept trying to get him involved, and the only thing that came after that was hostility during a period where I could have used close friends more than ever.” Manson revealed back in May that he had contemplated suicide this past winter (see “Marilyn Manson Reveals He Came Close To Suicide; LP ‘Was My Salvation,’ “ ).
“I wish there was some sort of legal angle to this whole thing, or some sort of common sense, or just even camaraderie after all the years that we knew each other,” Manson added. “I don’t have an explanation for it. It just seems like another ex-bandmember suing me and trying to assassinate my personality as a means to financial gain, and it just seems old. It’s just not fair. If I spent my money on anything, it was my family, and paying his salary for a year when we weren’t even touring.”