Marilyn Manson Tour Hits Second Potential Snag

Charlotte, N.C., officials plan hearing to discuss upcoming show, but most stops on shock rocker's tour are so far finding no opposition.

Marilyn Manson's upcoming North American tour isn't simply one of the most anticipated

tours of the fall season -- it's the tour most anticipated to encounter opposition from civic

and religious leaders.

But whether the Mechanical Animals tour, which starts Monday in Kansas City,

Kan., will spawn as many protests as last year's Antichrist Superstar outing

remains to be seen.

On Wednesday morning (Oct 21.), a coliseum-authority board in Charlotte, N.C., is expected to

meet to discuss a scheduled performance by Manson and his namesake band there;

also, the mayor of Syracuse, N.Y., said last week he is considering ways to block the

shock-rocker's show.

But other towns, particularly where Manson has caused a stir in the past, have so far

remained surprisingly quiet about the 20-date tour that will see the shock-rocker -- with

his new glam persona -- hit venues across the States. Some Manson supporters are

even breathing a cautious sigh of relief that the Mechanical Animals outing may

come off with relatively few hitches.

"I think it will be easier this time because in so many places his right to free speech has

been upheld," said Nina Crowley, executive director of the Massachusetts Music Industry

Coalition, a censorship watchdog group. "Legislators learned that getting national

exposure as a censor is not a particularly attractive option."

Meanwhile, Wednesday's meeting in Charlotte will allow members of the board that

directs the city-owned, 2,600-seat Ovens Auditorium to discuss Manson's Nov. 10

concert and to take public comment on the event, said Mike Crum, head of the local

coliseum authority. Some board members have already spoken out against the show

and Manson's past onstage antics, which have included tearing up Bibles and wiping

himself with the American flag.

"It's way out on the fringe," board member Greg Keith is quoted as saying in the

Charlotte Observer newspaper.

Even if the board opposes the show, it's unlikely that it will take a stand to block Manson's

appearance, since the band has a signed contract with the venue.

"This show has a pretty solid history of successfully fighting efforts to stop it from

happening," Crum said. "I don't believe the board would pursue some sort of legal action

in that vein."

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union stepped in to ensure that Manson's show

would take place, when the show encountered opposition from the city council of

Richmond, Va., and later from New Jersey's Sports and Exposition Authority when

Mason played as part of the Ozzfest heavy-metal package tour.

Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, said he has not yet heard of any

local opposition to Manson's show scheduled for Nov. 11 at the Landmark Theater in

Richmond. "So far not a peep," he said. "It's quite a contrast to last time."

Also noticeably quiet this time around are some of the citizens' groups that have

opposed the shock-rocker in the past. They have said little about the Mechanical

Animals tour.

In Michigan, representatives of the Kalamazoo Coalition for the Protection of Children

and Families -- which last year gathered 10,000 signatures on petitions opposing

Manson's show in Kalamazoo -- said the group was unaware of Manson's Nov. 16

tour-stop 135 miles away in Detroit. Coalition president Jake Van Gliesen said Tuesday

(Oct. 20) that, while his group opposed the concert in theory, its members would likely be

too busy to mount a protest of the show.

Bill Johnson, head of the Michigan chapter of the American Family Association --

perhaps Manson's most vocal opponents -- said he, too, was unaware of the Detroit

show.

Manson may run into more detractors once the Mechanical Animals show has

been on the road longer and word starts to spread. But the question remains as to

whether protesters will have time to make a difference over the course of the relatively

brief tour.

The North American tour of theater-sized venues was announced in late September, a

month before its start, and only runs through Nov. 23. Last year, when Manson hit trouble

in Virginia and New Jersey in late spring, the tour had already been causing a stir for five

months.

However, if the band mounts a U.S. tour in spring 1999, it conceivably could draw more

protests.

Manson has already hit a roadblock in Syracuse, N.Y., where Mayor Roy Bernardi has

threatened to block a Nov. 19 show at that city's Landmark Theater, claiming that

Manson's concerts are immoral. Police there are investigating safety issues and are

expected to report to the mayor soon with a recommendation as to whether the show

should proceed. Bernardi could overrule that recommendation, although his spokesman

has called such a scenario unlikely.

With Mechanical Animals, Manson has begun turning away from the gothic

atmosphere many critics deemed anti-Christian in past songs, such as

href="http://media.addict.com/atn-bin/get-

music/Marilyn_Manson/Irresponsible_Hate_Anthem.ram">"Irresponsible Hate

Anthem" (RealAudio excerpt), and instead has focused on a more glam-rock

theme of excess in songs such as "I

Don't Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)" (RealAudio excerpt).

The new image may be keeping Manson under the radar of some religious groups,

Crowley said.

"Last time, opposition was based on Marilyn Manson and blasphemy, and that's just not

there on the new album," she said.

Still, others wonder whether media attention focused on the tour will bring out opposition

that otherwise wouldn't have made itself known. Bryant Kincaid, owner of Memorial

Management, said he hasn't received a single fax, phone call or letter against Manson's

tour kickoff at Memorial Hall in Kansas City.

"We didn't have any problems with the Manson show 18 months ago," he said, "except

for TV crews blocking the sidewalk, looking for trouble where there wasn't any."

Just what sort of trouble, if any, the Mechanical Animals tour delivers is something

Charlotte's Crum intends to find out when he and an assistant attend the Kansas City

show. Crum said he hopes to meet with Manson or his manager at the performance.

"We want to sit down and explain to them, 'Here's what you can expect when you get to

Charlotte,' " he said. "We may review the local definition of obscenity."