For shock-rocker Marilyn Manson, the making of his new album, Mechanical
Animals, was a transforming experience, one that he said allowed him to be reborn
via his music, but also one that is already drawing criticism from young Christians.
"I put myself through a lot of physical pain to make up for no emotional pain," Manson
said during an appearance on MTV on Monday (Sept. 14) to promote the release of his
fourth full-length album. "When I moved to Hollywood a year ago, I began to repair
myself in a lot of ways, and this record lyrically documents that repair."
Marilyn Manson met his fans, as well as his adversaries, during the half-hour
promotional special on MTV, entitled "Manson TV," which included questions from
religious youth. The glammed-up singer, known for expressing an anti-Christian stance
through both his music and his performances, discussed the transformation he
underwent during the recording of his band's album Mechanical Animals (Sept.
15), as hundreds of fans cheered outside the studio on Times Square in New York City.
In response to a question about the string of drug references and other controversial
material on the new album, Manson, wearing a red-and-green leopard-spot outfit and
oversized sunglasses, a la talk-show host Sally Jessy Raphael, and sporting
bright red hair, said the recording of Mechanical Animals was his way of dealing
with issues from his past that he had not previously confronted.
Seated on a couch next to bassist Twiggy Ramirez and keyboardist Pogo, Manson took
questions from a hand-picked studio audience of various stripes, some tattooed, pierced
and even bearing scars with Manson's name, others young religious leaders who were
opposed to the shock-rocker's message.
A clean-cut youth pastor named Jeff Hamilton asked an impassive Manson what
emotional and relationship pains he has incurred to reach the point he has with the new
album. "Strangely enough," Manson said. "It's a lot harder than I thought it was going to
be. I set out to be something superhuman, the greatest thing I could be, with Antichrist
Superstar," he said, referring to his third album. "And what I didn't figure into that was
vulnerability as part of it. That was something I was not acknowledging ... It's like a
rebirth; it's like being an infant -- everything's bright, everything's very painful."
Manson titled the album Mechanical Animals, he said, because of his view of
people as machines rather than individuals.
In discussing the numerous biblical and numerological references on Mechanical
Animals, including a raft of mentions of the "Omega," Manson offered his explanation
of his current transformation. "The Omega symbol kind-of represents the final stage of
what was set forth on Antichrist Superstar," Manson said. "This is kind-of the final
evolution of whatever it is that I am."
Another young religious leader, Rob Hayes, a senior at Princeton University and a
leader of Campus Crusade for Christ, confronted what he called Manson's stance on the
absence of God in modern life.
Manson called the claim "half-true," saying he was more against what he viewed as the
guilt imposed by Christianity. "I think that God exists in art and there's more spirituality in
music than you can find in religion a lot of times," Manson explained.
"I just think that we're raised to feel very guilty for being ourselves and that's a large part
of what Christianity stands for. I think there's great and valuable things in the Bible. If
anything, Antichrist Superstar was a lot of parallels with my life with someone like
Lucifer. Mechanical Animals is a lot more parallels between me and Jesus Christ."
The interview took a bizarre turn when MTV host Carson Daly, attempting to defend
Manson by pointing out the misconception that the controversial rocker was out there
"protesting Sunday School," inspired the singer to relate a tale of his childhood
misbehavior in Sunday School.
"When I was in Christian school, I had these things made out of a ruler and rubber band
and crayons and we were shooting them out at each other," Manson said with a sly grin.
"And the principal's wife, who was the Bible teacher -- I had it under my desk and
accidentally shot her in the crotch."
But that was not the only youthful outburst against religion that Manson related.
"I kicked a Sunday-School teacher once," he added.
Among the other tidbits Manson offered: When, as one fan suggested is inevitable,
Manson becomes president of the United States, bassist Twiggy will be the first to give
him oral sex in the White House.
Manson also revealed that he and his bandmates were thinking about crossing the street
to the hotel in which President Bill Clinton is staying in New York and offering him a cigar
and oral sex, a reference to the seamy details in independent counsel Kenneth
Starr's recently released report on the president's alleged affair with Monica Lewinsky.