Marilyn Manson Stroked Me

[caption id="attachment_1222" align="aligncenter" width="630" caption="Duran Duran with Beth Ditto, Kelis and Mark Ronson in Los Angeles. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images"][/caption]

Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.

When I first heard that David Lynch would be directing the Duran Duran edition of the Unstaged concert series at the kitschy Mayan Theater in downtown Los Angeles, I was intrigued but confused. The director is a renowned music geek, a songwriter and producer in his own right, and recently remixed "Girl Panic" off Duran Duran’s new album, All You Need Is Now. But even he was initially baffled by the idea of directing a live rock show. “What could I do, Lizzy!” the director asked with the effervescence usually displayed by small children. “These shows are run on giant computers -- the lights, the cameras Lizzy, what am I supposed to do?!” I wanted to help out but all I could think was: David Lynch is saying my name. My thighs were also cramping, as I was crouched behind the dumpster at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on La Cienega (free internet plus relative quiet) with my laptop balancing on my knees talking to him via Skype the day before the show. “I listened to the music and the images just came to me,” Lynch continued. “When you’re watching the show, picture me in another room feeding images into what’s happening on the stage.” I pictured it. It looked cool. “Were trying to make a big experiment that could be really beautiful. Its a live music video, Lizzy.” (Stop it!)

Properly briefed, I arrived at the old Hollywood venue (which often hosts Mexican wrestling) on an objectionably rainy late March evening, curious to see what Duran Duran’s music inspired in Lynch. Unfortunately, you couldn’t really tell. In a complete reversal of everything good and right in rock and roll, those watching the live stream on MacBooks in their underwear at home got to see Lynch’s imagery (creepy dancing Barbies, face tattoos, crashing toy airplanes, a grill filled with weirdly grotesque hot dogs and hamburgers) synched up with the bands performance footage. But those in the audience got to sit awkwardly under obscenely bright lights in a faux Mesoamerican temple and pretend not to notice each other’s pores. Still, the show was like Simon Le Bon's beard; it shouldn’t have worked but totally did. The collage of killer guest stars (Gerard Way, Beth Ditto, Mark Ronson and Kelis) helped. As did random celebrity sightings (Jeffrey Deitch: what?). It was adorable when Samantha Ronson dutifully filmed her brother’s entire performance of "Girl Panic!" like a mom at a school play. Really, though, great songs saved this event: "Rio," "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Ordinary World," "Girls On Film." They’re just impossible to ruin.

And it wouldn’t be a celebrity-packed music event without a Moby sighting. The electro star, looking on-trend in a beat-up military jacket, sat in the front row of the balcony flanked by two buxom women, one blonde, one brunette. “I bought Duran Duran’s first single on vinyl,” he told me downstairs at the after party. “I still have it somewhere.” Just as he was about to elaborate (Mom's basement? Safe at the vegans-only retreat upstate?) a very tall man in an off-kilter engineer cap grabbed the diminutive rocker and spanked his ass. At first I thought this guy was a Marilyn Manson superfan (smeared red lipstick, black garb, bloodless pallor) but it turned out to be the gloom-rocker himself, who has apparently reached that level of fame where you begin to resemble your disciples. “I’m friends with Nick Rhodes,” Manson said in a faux British accent. “He’s going to come over tonight and pen a song.” I tried to picture this but needed more information so I asked what he planned to serve the towheaded keyboardist once he got him to his house. “I don’t live in a house, I live in a lair,” Manson corrected. “And I serve punishment, absinthe and beaver.” Then he stroked my head. “I’m not petting you, just feeling the softness of your hair,” he clarified. At least he didn’t call me Lizzy.