Cat's Cradle, Carrboro (near Raleigh) NC, 3/10/95.

Our story so far: EVB and coyote (much-appreciated fact checker for this account =), who had seen MM twice prior to March 9th, raved an' drooled to me about how mindfuckingly brilliant they were live, convincing me to come see them next chance. Next chance was three shows in a row in North & South Carolina, in March. I had tickets for all three shows, but EVB was careful to assure me that if I saw them and didn't like them, it was OK, I could just crash in the hotel on nights two and three.

So I saw them for the first time on March 9th, as I told y'all last night...

Well, here's night two, and you couldn't have kept me away with a pit full of Gaboon vipers. =)
Club called Cat's Cradle, tucked away in an innocuous strip mall (man, people will turn anything into a club! don't ya love it?) Waiting online outside we encounter the various Mansons, who prove amiable enough, submitting willingly to the autograph-and-photo routine. Not encountered is the reclusive leader of the pack, but Twiggy and Daisy are so impressed with coyote's lunchbox that they promise they'll coax him to come out and accept it.

(EVB and coyote have been carrying this masterwork around awhile - it's overdue to go home with daddy. A former Muppet Babies box sprayed black and reborn blacker, it now features a careful portrait of the band on one side and a lurid creature-feature version of the band logo in turbo-glow-in-dark paint and emerald glitter on the other. Plus more glitter and a death-black "Satanic Army" thermos. Genius.)

....I went off to get pizza and missed it...I'll never forgive myself... but I'm told he seemed pleased with it, and actually smiled. EVB made him promise not to torch it and he did so promise, clutching his new pet protectively as he returned to his lair. So I guess it was deemed worthy; certainly coyote seems to feel she was rewarded enough for her efforts. I console myself (marginally) with the thought that I have something to offer too...

--Let me backtrack a bit to the day's adventure. Enroute from Winston-Salem to here we'd stopped to browse a sprawl of junk/antique shops the kids'd had to pass up last time they drove through. In one of the first few I happened upon one of those sock-monkey dolls and at once bethought myself of Mr. Manson, maker of numerous monkey references, and of his frustration at being stripped of his stage show by North Carolina law. It might be just as bad tonight, said I to myself, being as we're still instate; might be a good idea to bring some toys to the show in case they need backup. (Notice this. I'm not a person to form allegiances quickly, but I'd just met them last night and already I was on their side. Marilyn Manson get what they want; forces of righteousness get fucked; new priorities overnight. Impressive.) But I hesitated, and left without the monkey, still debating. Next shop we went into was playing the old Motown hit "Monkey Time." The hand of synchronicity fell hard on my shoulder and I knew I'd been right. (Always trust your instincts.) But Store #6 had on display an even more awful monkey, a 50's-vintage stuffed toy with brown fur and floppy yellow felt feet, complete with collar and chain and those trick flicker eyes that shift side to side. A nasty little item with an idiot grin, straight out of some movie where toys go bad. It was perfect. We made an endrun around the cooing biddies who ran the place and for a mere six bucks changed the little monster's karma for good and ever...

So here I am in Cat's Cradle with this hideous furball on the shoulder of my leather, figuring how to deliver it to its destiny. EVB & local pals Deb and Eric, who'll spend the night down front and stage center, seem the best agents, so I park the simian with them and settle on the sidewall bleachers with coyote. (That's how cool this place is - you can stay on the dance floor and still have a seat.)---(BTW it truly is cool, a former clothes store stripped down, painted black, and refitted with genuine thought and care. Climate control, nicely distributed seating and dance space, a bar that sells not only liquor and beer but soda, springwater and earplugs (!), and an overall friendly vibe. I fall in love with it on the spot and decide to have one like it someday. Dig how they built the toilets into what must've been changing rooms...)

Monster Voodoo Machine are just as much fun as last night - in fact the show is identical to last night's.(But this time I appreciate it, not being in a fkn' icebox.) Bounce a bit and get psyched up. The crowd's not quite as young as last night's but still markedly under the usual age, which I've heard is the Mansons' standard audience. Have to grin at that. For appreciation you want college kids, but for fanaticism, hysteria, wild deeds of danger and devotion you want junior high, and here it is. Dressed for the event, too. They warm up by joining MVM onstage en masse and putting on a sustained stage-diving, crowd-surfing and (fairly modest) moshpit show that would give Phil Donahue the dry heaves. Hee.

But so much for fun time; now it's dark. Red light, weird tape, hissing clouds of smoke. We're on Twiggy's side tonight and watch as he settles himself in place like a sprinter, waiting for the gun. He looks like a ruined ragdoll but his eyes are as serious as a seven-year-old's, set in concentration -

And then there he is, emerging again from the shadows of stage left, coming into the hellish light like something you won't remember when you're completely awake. Less of a shock the second time, but just as impressive, this cold presence that's almost an absence, sucking the focus of the room into itself as it arrives. No one looks away. The emotionless woman behind me makes her only sound of the night - one gasp.

Mr. Manson cracks himself in the ribs with the mikestand and they're off into the set. Right away it's clear everyone's in a better mood, even this sepulchral creature. He douses himself with springwater and with a snap of the wrist throws the bottle in someone's face, allowing himself a little smirk. The set cooks, the kids pogo, and someone near us aims the tiniest video camera/monitor I've ever seen. Wow, a genuine bootlegger!

They've barreled thru about half the set in fine form, including a song I don't recognize at all [--it was "White Knuckles"], when Manson speaks up. Jesse Helms and the authorities are still forbidding him to display himself or do anything faggotly, it seems, but tonight he's decided to appoint a recruit in his place; "Who'd like to come up here and behave like a homosexual..?" he creaks. Tonight's token fag is a big kid (Marc from Florida by way of NC) who grabs the role with relish. "Smear this on real good," instructs Manson, handing over the lipstick, and Marc cheerfully does so, then faces the crowd.

"I'm his daddy--" he announces. Oops. So wired he blew his line and got prompted by the creature lurking at his side. "--he's my daddy, and I want to fuck him. I wanna fuck Daddy."

--You would just not believe the unbridled glee with which this nice, normal-looking kid delivers this line; his eyes are shining. I think he's wanted all his life to say something so wicked and perverse. Yet it's all bizarrely good-natured... He turns to Daddy with a look of pure adoration and Manson purrs, "Good boy." (The ungodliest noise in the world is that rusted hinge of a voice sounding pleased. It's kinda like Pazuzu having his ears scratched.) "Now get back down there, you fag," he adds, and Mark descends back to the front row, smeared and blissed. (The FBI guys must be having seizures back there. --Yup, we've got three FBI agents in the house, and they were in Winston-Salem too. We know they're Bureau; we ate at the table next to theirs last night, and we heard them griping about their assignment. Hope they're having more fun tonight...)

The set's running like clockwork this time. The lunchbox burns, and there's a singularly ripped and haunting "Sweet Dreams" - the remarkable, hand-lit setpiece Manson makes of the old Eurythmics song, which showcases his unexpectedly mellow baritone but opens the song's bitter heart to clear view and climaxes when he wails "- some of them want to be abused -" and shatters the light against his chest in a flash of sparks. (They tell me one night it didn't break but stuck, white-hot, and burned into his skin. He finished the set. I'm not surprised.)

But the best part, if I do say so myself, is "My Monkey." Manson fortuitously turns his back for a moment, and EVB, with perfect timing, tosses the toy in a nice soft lob over the monitor, so when he turns back, there it is. He tracks down, spots it, and those strange eyes light up; he uncoils toward and over it, reaching out in slow motion to snare the thing in his talons. I don't realize he has it until he rises up from behind the monitor and I see its hapless little yellow feet poking out between his fingers. (Pure, black-hearted joy and such peace of mind; we did the right thing.) He holds it up to face the crowd, finishing the verse, then jams it headfirst into his pants - I can't quit laughing, the damn thing is so absurd - and stalks over to Twiggy. Who, not one to drop a cue, goes to his knees and pulls the monkey out of Mr. M's crotch with his teeth, then proceeds to worry and shake it like a terrier before letting it fall. Just absolutely too goddamn wonderful and if the FBI guys aren't up for triple bypass by now they're not paying attention. (I can't see where it falls to and I don't see it again; later I find out some fan grabbed it off the stage as soon as the band cleared out. Kinda sorry the Mansons don't still have it, but just think of the reversal in that monkey's fortunes! Yesterday ignored in a dusty junkshop, tonight someone's treasured souvenir, plus -- I mean, my god, in Mr. Manson's pants and in Twiggy's mouth; some people would pay money to go where that damn toy went for free...)

Mr. M's pyro tendencies get the better of him and he firestorms the drumkit as well, scaring a year's life out of poor Sara Lee and maybe costing him some hair, before whipping off stage left as usual. Again the band members have the task of wrapping up the set (while the blaze is doused) and Sara, pissed, grabs up a stand and bashes the hell out of his scorched kit. No one ever taught these boys to say goodnight properly...

Let's gloss over the fact that, thanks to a fkn' basketball tournament, there's not a hotel room within 50 miles of Carrboro and we end up driving, dead tired and freezing, all the way back to Charlotte just to grab a few hours' sleep. It's just too good a night to bitch about.

more tomorrow night.
==angelynx== main gig reviews page.
Or go on to the next night.