Kansas Town Braces For Unexpected Manson Tour Opener

Controversial shock-rocker will kick things off with a small-club gig in Lawrence, Kan.

Lawrence, Kan., may not be as big as New York City or as glittery as Los Angeles, but

come Sunday, the thriving Midwestern college town will have something neither of those

metropolises has: Marilyn Manson.

But that doesn't mean everyone in town is happy about it.

"We will attempt to hold the promoter responsible for any illegal acts," said Assistant City

Manager Rod Bremby on Thursday (Oct. 22). "It's quite likely that there will be illegal

activity [onstage]."

Although the official launch for Manson's Mechanical Animals tour

takes place in Kansas City, Kan. on Monday, Lawrence inadvertantly become

ground zero for the outing with the announcent of a show at the town's

privately-owned Granada club Sunday night.

And while one of the Lawrence's most famous residents was the late beat

writer William Burroughs -- whose expermental work was a clear influence on

Manson -- these days, citizens are probably less likely to read Burroughs

than to work for the city's largest non-education employeer: Hallmark, the

manufacturer of innocuous greeting cards.

Lawrence, with a population of 80,000 and an economy dependent upon the University

of Kansas, is not a big city by any means. Its residents are still struggling to establish a

public transportation system, and the local Barn Dance Association still hosts a country

promenade the third Saturday of every month.

So the presence of the newest godfather of glam and the sultan of shock rock, Marilyn

Manson (born Brian Warner), is something that doesn't quite sit well with everyone in

town.

"We're just going to try to manage this event, just as we would any event at the Granada,"

Bremby said, also noting that residents have already started complaining about the

controversial rocker's presence in town.

Bremby attributed the fact that his office has thus far received only a few

phone calls of protest about the Manson show to the short notice given for

the concert. It was confirmed Wednesday morning

that Marilyn Manson, who is known for his rebellious stage antics that include tearing a

Bible, had scheduled a secret gig to kick off his North American tour.

The club show sold out in 12 minutes, according to the Lawrence Journal-World

newspaper.

Although the Mechanical Animals tour

has yet to hit the road, it has already

encountered opposition in two other cities.

Officials in Charlotte, N.C., held a hearing

Wednesday about an upcoming concert after

a venue board member expressed

disapproval of Manson's stage show. During

the meeting, the city decided against trying

to block the show but promised to explore a

ratings system for future concerts.

The mayor of Syracuse, N.Y., has said he

would consider denying an entertainment

permit for Manson's show there. One county

legislator has proposed withholding funds

from the city-owned venue where the shock

rocker is booked.

Bremby said that he spent part of Wednesday researching Manson's tour history. While

he said he hadn't heard of any specific details of Manson's upcoming stage show,

Bremby said he was concerned about possible sex acts performed by Manson and his

namesake band onstage.

In 1997, while acknowledging that he had in the past performed sex acts onstage "on a

few occasions," Manson told CNN such instances were rare and have since been

eliminated from his concerts.

"The show does have sexual elements to it but there's no sex performed onstage at any

time," he said. "Otherwise I would be in jail every night and tired as well."

Granada manager Pat McDonald said he had received five calls in two hours Thursday

protesting the concert by Manson, who this week filmed a video for his next single,

"I

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

added that he could not recall any illegal incidents from Manson's previous show at the

Granada in 1996.

Meanwhile, tour producers and the band are busy at a West Coast rehearsal space

preparing for the full-blown tour. Although the 20-date outing is geared toward theaters

rather than arenas or stadiums, fans can expect a concert full of showmanship and

effects, according to John Huddleston, general manager of the Upstaging lighting

company, which is working with designer Ethan Weber (Rolling Stones, Rush).

For Manson, as with many performers, nothing for the show will be set in stone until final

rehearsals are complete.

"They change so many things around at the last minute and move things depending on

how the rehearsals go," Huddleston said.

While Bremby said Lawrence city commissioners had considered legislative means to

block Sunday's concert, he said there was not enough time to pursue such tactics.

Bremby added that despite Lawrence's reservations about the show, visitors shouldn't

think of the city as a naive heartland burg.

"It's not a hick town," he said. "It's a very cultured community."