Did they or didn't they?
That's the question Marilyn Manson fans have been asking themselves since the full version of the rocker's self-directed video for "Heart-Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand)" first appeared on YouTube and the like last week. The song is the first single from his upcoming studio LP Eat Me, Drink Me, (see "Marilyn Manson Reveals He Came Close To Suicide; LP 'Was My Salvation' ").
So are the sex scenes in the dark and disturbing clip between Manson and actress/girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood the real deal, or just frighteningly convincing simulations?
While a "source" close to the production allegedly told Radar magazine the couple didn't fake the scenes — stirring loads of online speculation about the on-camera coitus — Manson himself remained fairly neutral about the cause célèbre during a recent interview with MTV News.
"Let's say there were some conservative people involved [with the video] that got a little upset about things that were taking place, and there's been rumors back and forth, but I will not confirm or deny them," he said. "I did insist that Evan be paid the most that any actress has ever been paid in music-video history to be in this, even though she wouldn't have asked for it. There's no one else that could've been in it, because it was inspired by her."
The sex scene, which kicks off the first two-and-a-half minutes of the clip, depicts Manson and Wood violently kissing while writhing around locked in a passionate embrace, making purposeful love. The scene then cuts to Manson and Wood driving down a highway in the dark, with Wood daring Manson to go faster. The rocker takes his hands off the wheel to snap numerous pictures of Wood, 19, who lifts her leg up to the wheel and holds a knife to her mouth while wearing heart-shaped glasses. Manson has said the song was directly inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 1962 rendition of Vladmir Nabakov's notorious, pedophilic novel "Lolita."
In the next scene, Manson is seen performing the tune before a huge audience, and Wood — still donning the glasses — watches him intently from the crowd. Shots of the couple driving continue to flash throughout the video, and the scene shifts to the bedroom, where the two seem to be drenched in blood. In another scene, Wood seductively massages her nether regions while watching Manson's onstage performance.
"Anyone who is lazy or, I guess, has the lack of depth to expect [a video from me] to be shocking and then say it's not shocking, is essentially the same as saying your partner is bad in bed when you're a masturbator," Manson explained. "I wasn't intending to be shocking — I was intending to make something romantic, in the tradition of 'Bonnie and Clyde' and 'Rebel Without a Cause.' It's a dark video — I'll say that. It begins with a very explicit sex scene and ends with this sort of thunderstorm of blood and driving a Corvette off of Mulholland Drive, on fire. So, I think it's one of those 'buyer beware' situations. You can't be mad at me when you know what you're asking for."
The video was shot using 3-D technology developed by "Titanic" director James Cameron, which Manson said is "essentially like reality — it's like sitting in a room with the person, and its more of a surreal experience. It's sort of a hyper reality — that's what Cameron referred to it as."
Shooting the clip proved challenging, Manson said, as he needed multiple crews to shoot the action from different angles in order to ensure the video's 3-D effect. "This camera technology is uncharted territory," he continued. "There were two crews there: one that was mine and one that hated me. Everything that I wanted to do was technically wrong to the people who hated me, because of the stellar acting and performances that took place in the sex scenes. They considered it to be pornographic, because they thought there may or may not have been too much realism to what was being filmed."
And Manson admits the scenes — in which Wood moans like a banshee, at times — seem very realistic but wouldn't confirm fans' suspicions one way or the other. "It does look real," he said, with a telling snicker.
A spokesperson for Manson's label would not confirm whether the scenes were legit or, as Manson contends, just prime examples of "stellar acting." It should be noted, though, that rumors of steamy onscreen sex being real is a tried and tested publicity ploy. In fact, it was rumored that actor Mickey Rourke had actual sex with co-star Kim Basinger in 1986's "Nine 1/2 Weeks" and Carré Otis in 1990's "Wild Orchid." More recently, Sienna Miller denied she had sex with Hayden Christensen in the film "Factory Girl."