’98′s Best: Music Insiders See Little Damage To Manson From Recent Controversies

Despite negative press and possible legal action in the wake of alleged assault involving Marilyn Manson, the shock rocker may well emerge unscathed.

[Editor's note: Over the holiday season, SonicNet is looking back at
1998's top stories, chosen by our editors and writers. This story originally ran on Friday, Dec. 4.]

It’s rare to find a profession in which an employee can stand accused of setting fire to his office and threatening a business associate and have it all be part of a day’s work, but to hear some rock insiders and promoters tell it, that may be perfectly true in the case of shock-rocker Marilyn Manson.

In the wake of a Nov. 21 incident, in which Manson is accused of going on a binge of arson and property damage, and a Nov. 23 altercation, in which Spin magazine editor Craig Marks allegedly was threatened by Manson and choked by his bodyguards backstage at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, some industry insiders think the controversial rocker may escape any lasting repercussions.

Seth Hurwitz, a principal partner in the Washington, D.C., promotion firm I.M.P. and owner of the 9:30 Club, said a promoter who would shy away from booking Manson over incidents such as these was a candidate for a new line of work.

“That’s like asking a batter, ‘If a wild pitch came near your face, would you still come up to bat?’ That’s the nature of our business, and the danger element is a part of it,” Hurwitz said. “People careening out of control is part of the attraction and intrigue. The only thing that would deter me [from booking a show] is the safety of a crowd.”

Currently in Europe in support of the band’s latest LP, Mechanical Animals — which slid 20 places down the Billboard 200 albums chart, from #77 to #97, last week and features the hit single “The Dope Show” — Manson next plays in the U.S. on New Year’s Eve at the Joint in Las Vegas.

Michael Hirschorn, editor in chief of Spin magazine, suggested the alleged assault may have been a publicity stunt by Manson, and added that it’s doubtful the singer would be harmed by any possible prosecution or litigation.

“There’s not much you can do to a guy like that. Even if the guy gets sent to jail, it only increases his outlaw stature,” Hirschorn said. “There isn’t any downside. If there’s a cash settlement, he’s got more money than he knows what to do with, and a criminal record is like a badge of honor.”

Although both Hurwitz and Hirschorn said that there would be little fallout from the recent alleged incidents, 28-year-old Jim Kenefick of Hamden, Conn., webmaster of the Marilyn-Manson.com website, registered his dissatisfaction with recent happenings in an e-mail.

“He’s been surrounded by yes-men for so long I’m quite sure he doesn’t ever hear the word ‘no.’ When Spin dared to say that word to him, I’m sure it set off some drug-induced temper tantrum,” Kenefick said. “His behavior offstage (or in this case backstage) doesn’t influence my opinion of his art. It affects my opinion of him as a person … not that I think he cares for one millisecond. What I would like to see in the future is more Marilyn Manson and less Brian Warner, insecure kid, trying to prove he’s a big shot.”

Kenefick may be unhappy with the recent alleged incidents but Hurwitz pointed out that, in all probability, the accompanying attention will serve only to capture the public eye further.

“It’s more desirable not to have incidents than to have them, but in the rock business, unpredictability is a major part of the appeal,” Hurwitz said. “In certain cases, people pull over to look at an accident. I’m sure if people thought they could stand on a corner and see an accident, you’d have a corner full of people.”

Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief of the trade magazine Pollstar, echoed Hurwitz’s sentiments that the latest uproar over Manson’s alleged doings may only add to his mystique.

“I suppose if it became a pattern it would have an impact, but promoters who do Manson know it’s not going to be an easy promotion,” Bongiovanni said. “In Marilyn Manson’s case, it’s probably to the band’s advantage if people are uncertain what’s going to happen. From an audience’s perspective, not knowing what’s going to happen, and the rebelliousness, is part of what Marilyn Manson is.”