CNN's "THE AMERICAN EDGE" interviews
Complete interview transcripts with bandleader Marilyn Manson (Edited)

DAVID: What's your music all about?
MANSON: The name [Marilyn Manson] really described what the music was always intended to be: a juxtaposition of opposites. Taking two things that normally don't belong together, Marilyn and Manson. At the same time it was also my statement on growing up in America. Those were two icons that were memorable for me as a kid and both equally as famous for their own separate reasons. I always thought that was an interesting look at American culture.

DAVID: You've really tapped into something. What makes this message so appealing?
MANSON: It's hard to say, probably because it's a common truth that everyone can relate to.
I think these fans realize that what I'm saying is from the heart and that it means something to me.
As a kid growing up, I was more into a song because of the personality behind it.
I really identified with icons like David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Annie Lennox, people who were heroes. I think that's important.

DAVID: What's the message behind [The Marilyn Manson CD] "Anti-Christ SuperStar?"
MANSON: When I finished the record the message I got was believing in yourself. It's a bit of an autobiography, and it talks about the disillusionment of childhood and searching for something to believe in. I think at the end of the story you really find that you're the only thing that you can count on.

DAVID: Some of your critics say we've seen this before, the makeup, the onstage persona. How are you different than Alice Cooper?
MANSON: I don't separate myself from my onstage performance. Marilyn Manson is two different personalities, it's not as easy as onstage and offstage. That's how I would be different from a lot of the people that I grew up liking. It's not really a job to me because it's all that I like to do and there's nothing really else that moves me.

DAVID: The American Family Association criticized you and says that unlike acts of the past, your makeup never seems to come off. It sounds like you do that on purpose.
MANSON: I would take that as a compliment. What I'm trying to say to these people is there are different sides to me. There is this side to me sitting here and having a civil conversation, there's also a more sexual or animalistic side on stage that comes out. That's one of the only things that's fun about being a musician is that you can be what you want to be, and you don't have to fit into somebody's little category that makes them happy by being able to define you.

DAVID: People are always trying to put labels on groups, are you mainstream or underground?
MANSON: I don't think there's anything more subversive than being mainstream. Because if you're saying something, and you're only saying it to a limited group of people, you're already preaching to the converted. I think I've always wanted to be mainstream, that's not to say that what I'm doing is pop oriented, insincere or I've sold myself out to become popular. But I think if you believe in something, why wouldn't you want as many people to hear it as possible?

DAVID: We got into town last night, and talking to people, you would not believe the rumors around town about what's going to happen tonight. I'm going to run down a list, tell me true or false?
You sacrifice animals on stage?
MANSON: False.
DAVID: You perform sex acts on stage ?
MANSON: There has been on occasion in the past a few instances. One time in Miami, Florida someone ran up on stage naked, to try to embarrass me. So rather than being the brunt of their joke I grabbed them and sort of sexually involved myself with them. But that was one instance which has led people to believe that it's part of the performance which it's not. The show does have sexual elements to it but there's no sex performed on stage at any time. Otherwise I would be in jail every night and tired as well.

DAVID: We've got more here, true or false, you want to bring about the end of the world?
MANSON: In a sense. What I actually have said is that this record was meant to bring about the apocalypse. Which to me has always been something that I've seen as a mental armageddon. The idea of killing off old mentalities, and being born again into an individuality. So the idea is of destroying old ways of thinking and believing in yourself. Stop relying on the crutches of religions that have failed us in the past and believe in yourself.

DAVID: We also heard that you planned to commit suicide onstage?
MANSON: They said that was what I was going to do last night. But apparently that's false because I'm still here.

DAVID: True or false, you practice self mutilation?
MANSON: I don't know how you *practice* something like that. There are certain times in the show on nights when I'm feeling a little more animalistic than others where I may break a bottle or two over my chest or something of that nature but I wouldn't say I practice self mutilation for fun and sport.

DAVID: This is one more, fans actually bring you gifts of prosthetic limbs?
MANSON: Yes that is true. About two years ago I became fascinated with prosthetic limbs, as pieces of art, because I think some of them have some brilliant craftsmanship and I started collecting them so my fans found out and they bring them to me as gifts.

DAVID: One thing that is really setting the woods on fire is your involvement with the Church of Satan. Could you explain that?
MANSON: The Church of Satan has always been misconceived in America. It's not really my place to set it straight because it's one philosophy among many, that I base my belief system on. I've never limited myself to one thing. To make a long story short, the Church of Satan is a lot like a modern version of a philosopher like Nietzsche, who had the idea: God is dead, you are your own god. It's a lot about self preservation. A lot of people confuse it with devil worship. But as the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, Marilyn Manson is bigger than Satan.

DAVID: You talk about underground and you can't get any further underground than Satan I suppose?
MANSON: That's the fascination that everyone has and I touch a little bit upon an anti-Christ superstar idea. I'm always identified with the character of Lucifer in the bible because he was cast out of heaven because he wanted to be God, so he was always the anti hero, the rebel. But the idea of anti-Christ to me is an element that is in everyone's personality. It's the part of you that no longer has hope in mankind. And you realize that you are the only thing you believe in. That's really bottom line.

DAVID: Is this message getting through the hype? Do you think people are actually listening when you're up there?
MANSON: I think our fans don't have a problem understanding it, it's just usually their confused parents.

DAVID: What is it about you that scares people?
MANSON: The most terrifying thing about me is that I'm trying to encourage individuality. That's scary for people because most people don't like to accept the burden. Everybody wants to live in a country where you can say and do what you want, but nobody wants to accept the responsibilities that go with that -- that you have to say you can't blame rock and roll for this and that and you can't blame movies and television, you have to accept your responsibilities.

DAVID: There's a candlelight vigil tonight organized by a reverend who says in no uncertain terms that you are evil. Are you evil?
MANSON: Not any more evil than he is. I think just like in the name Marilyn Manson good and evil are just two sides of your personality like the words God and Satan. It's all really perspectives. What a lot of people don't realize is that generally good is what you like and evil is what you don't like. I think the most ironic thing that these people always fail to realize is that the lack of hospitality that they greet someone like me with is just very un-Christian, and I think that's the biggest paradox of all. It goes to prove my point about the hypocrisy because if I were to be approached by any of them I would greet them with pleasantness. I'm not a closed-minded person, I'm willing to hear their point of view. They're just not willing to hear mine.

DAVID: The hype around you is huge right now. Is that causing problems for you?
MANSON: No. Unfortunately for them [the Christian protestors], usually all their complaining and protesting ends up selling more tickets. Sometimes I feel bad for them because they're just going about their job all the wrong way. If they really didn't want anyone to hear about it they wouldn't say anything. It's ironic. As a kid I remember all the bands that I ended up listening to, David Bowie and Black Sabbath and Kiss, I had heard about all of them through my church because I was told this was what I wasn't suppose to listen to. So I went out and bought it immediately.

DAVID: Well you probably saw interviews from back then when people were asking the same questions that I'm probably asking you right now. Twenty years from now are people going to be looking at that wondering why I'm asking you such stupid questions?
MANSON: No, I don't think so. In the past people would always back down when confronted about the darker side of man's nature, but I don't think it's something that we should be afraid of or ashamed of. I think things that some people consider sin are really some of the characteristics that make you a human being. I think people are just afraid of things they don't understand. Maybe they're not meant to understand me. But obviously some people do and that's important to me.

Edited Interview transcripts with Barbara Wyatt
Director, Parents' Music Resource Center

DAVID: When parents call you, what do they ask? What do they want to know about Marilyn Manson?
WYATT: They will ask "what do you know about the man Marilyn Manson?" And that there's going to be a rock concert in our area. I'll say from the reports that we get, and the lyrics that we have, if you are really concerned about it I would go check it out. Because we are very much aware of the fact that these are things that you may not want young children to see or hear. But we keep saying it's up to you as the parent to decide. We can tell you what's in it. Yes, there is sexually explicit material. They do use profanity. They do have satanic themes. And if you have an eighteen year old that's going to go see this that is one thing, but if you have an eight year old you may get a little concerned about whether they're able to handle all the messages. I do know that the young people are sometimes very much alarmed by the rather grotesque makeup that Marilyn Manson and his band wear.

DAVID: Have you listened to the music?
WYATT: I've heard just a little of it. You don't need to hear much of it. If I spent my time listening to everything we would never get anything else done.

DAVID: Is Manson's music violent?
WYATT: No, but it's an interesting statistic now with males, ninety-three point four percent turn to music as their coping strategy.

DAVID: What does that mean?
WYATT: That means if they're uptight or in a difficult situation they listen to music to relax. And of course if it's violent music and they're violent to begin with it's more likely to catapult them into a violent act. This is research done by a Ph.D. at Case Western Reserve. I have used this a lot in talking about the reports that have come out stating that the music does have an impact on the young people.

DAVID: Do you think that perhaps you're selling more albums for him?
WYATT: No, I think they would be sold anyway, but certainly it does catapult them to sometimes a greater prominence when we go after it. Our main mission is to educate the adults to what is in it. Now you choose what you would like to have for your children.

DAVID: Let's look at some of the lyrics here. Were there any particular lyrics that you wanted to point out to us?
WYATT: Not specifically, I have read through them and some are worse than others. Certainly their messages are not ones that I would want young children to hear. I keep going back to what sixteen, seventeen, eighteen year olds listen to is one thing. But so many of these young children with a walkman, they can put it on and parents don't know what they are listening to. This is a big concern for parents they want to know what's out there, what songs or albums have sexually explicit material. Because, as you know, the labeling is strictly designed for the companies to please themselves. We don't have anything to do with whether it's labeled or not.

DAVID: You have had issues with bands in the past. What makes Manson different?
WYATT: Manson does not appear to be an act. This appears to be the real self.

DAVID: Do you think his fans believe that?
WYATT: I have done interviews with the young people and some say yes that is the real McCoy and others say no, he is just doing it for the attention.

DAVID: Where is the harm? What can this music actually make a young person do?
WYATT: Well, anything that you put into your brain stays in there. Your brain doesn't sort out and say this is good so we will keep it and this is bad so we will not. When you bombard your brain with these grotesque songs that have messages in it that may not be ones that are in keeping with the values that your family would like to establish, then it can harm you.

DAVID: What is going into the mind of teenagers through the music of Manson?
WYATT: Well I think certainly the satanic themes are in here and he has said very clearly that he intends to take down Christianity.

DAVID: Could it be that this is all just a big joke and maybe his fans don't take that seriously, that only their parents take it seriously?
WYATT: Oh I think that could be, yes. I think if the parents take the responsibility of raising their children seriously then you have to take it seriously. Your parents try to keep you on food that is acceptable to your growth and I think with the music it's the same thing. One of the sad parts about our children today, is they don't know other kinds of music. They are so involved in popular culture, they don't know jazz, they don't know American show tunes. They are not familiar with other music. They have shown that young people who are aware of, I'll call it "good music," have improved their SAT scores. They do better in school. There are a lot of studies that have been done to show that different types of music do have an impact on the mind.

DAVID: If his concert were a motion picture what kind of rating would you put on it?
WYATT: I haven't heard the language yet but I'm sure there is some in there that would probably be offensive, so PG would be the lowest one I would give it. One of the things is there's no happiness to any of these, I mean they're all so grim, they're so sad. They are so down. And in the world today don't you think we need a little of something that has some beauty to it? And there is none to this. To me it's a frightening picture for a young person to go see.

DAVID: But the really important question, where is the harm?
WYATT: Again it's what goes into the brain can stay in the brain and if all this is that grotesque, you can't call it music. I mean there is no way that you could ever hum that tune. That is one of the things that was said the other day by a professor from NYU. She said, "the sad part is our children today can't sing." Listen to the songs. They don't have a melody. You could not sing any of this if you had to.

DAVID: Haven't we seen all this before? Hasn't every generation had their shocker, so to speak? Elvis, the Beatles, Alice Cooper, Ozzie Osborne? And now this is just the latest generation.
WYATT: That's right, but somehow it seems to get worse. If you take Elvis and you compare it to today there is no comparison. I mean things were implied, today they are so blatant. The language, the explicitness, the anti-women, the anti-race, the anti-religion, they are not hidden. They are right out there in the front and they are offensive to many people and they are offensive to many families. This is why I think we have so many calls from parents who are concerned about this type of commanding individual. These characters are their heroes and they play a very important role in the lives of these young people.

DAVID: How many calls a week do you get about Manson?
WYATT: Oh goodness, probably several dozen. I know that does not sound like many but when you think of people calling from all over the country and I have to say we don't only get calls from this country.

DAVID: Several dozen a week though or total?
WYATT: A week.

DAVID: Ten or twenty years from now, are we going to look back on Marilyn Manson and wonder what's the fuss all about?
WYATT: I don't think so because you keep saying, can they push the line any further? I'm not sure that they can but if you look at where we were eleven, twelve years ago when we first started the PMRC [Parents' Music Resource Center]. I think it's gotten a lot worse.

DAVID: What's a parent to do though?
WYATT: I think one of the things you do is sit down and talk to your children and explain, these are the reasons that these things are not appropriate in our home.You have got to have that communication with your children and you can not wait until they are fourteen, fifteen and sixteen. You have to have it when they are young.

DAVID: How young is too young for this kind of music?
WYATT: Well I think that depends a lot on the young person themselves, there are some that are more mature than others. I would not let any under teenage years -- eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve -- go to this concert. I think they are so impressionable and they need a little more good in the world rather than all the things that make these people their heroes. That is the sad part about it, they like to copy them. Hopefully, if they have a strong base at home, and communication, then they will know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in their own family framework.

DAVID: What kind of underground messages are people are getting? I mean is that the right word: "underground"?
WYATT: I think you are right. There is an underground message in that he does promote the satanic theme and the anti-religion, anti-Christian message, there is a satanic message. The symbols that he promotes fit in with his mission.

DAVID: Would you define that as underground or is mainstream?
WYATT: Well he has become mainstream because he's No. 3 on the charts. But as far as families are concerned, I think they feel that there is an underground situation that is moving and growing. And I think that is alarming.

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