Interview:1997/02/15 CNN American Edge The Complete Interview with David Mattingly

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CNN American Edge Complete Interview
M Wheeling WV Interview Feb 15 97.png
Interview with Marilyn Manson
Date February 15, 1997[1][2]
Interviewer David Mattingly
Following is the complete interview [3] with David Mattingly in Wheeling, West Virginia for the CNN The American Edge Marilyn Manson Deeper Than Hell documentary.

David: What's your music all about?

Marilyn 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.

You've really tapped into something. What makes this message so appealing?

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.

What's the message behind [The Marilyn Manson CD] Antichrist Superstar?

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.

Some of your critics say we've seen this before, the makeup, the onstage persona. How are you different than Alice Cooper?

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.

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.

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.

People are always trying to put labels on groups. Are you mainstream or underground?

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?

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?


You perform sex acts on stage?

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.

We've got more here. True or false, you want to bring about the end of the world?

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.

We also heard that you planned to commit suicide onstage.

They said that was what I was going to do last night. But apparently that's false because I'm still here.

True or false, you practice self-mutilation?

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.

This is one more: fans actually bring you gifts of prosthetic limbs?

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.

One thing that is really setting the woods on fire is your involvement with the church of Satan. Could you explain that?

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.

You talk about underground and you can't get any further underground than Satan I suppose?

That's the fascination that everyone has and I touch a little bit upon on an Antichrist 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 Antichrist 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.

Is this message getting through the hype? Do you think people are actually listening when you're up there?

I think our fans don't have a problem understanding it. It's just usually their confused parents.

What is it about you that scares people?

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.

There's a candlelight vigil tonight organized by a reverend who says in no uncertain terms that you are evil. Are you evil?

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.

The hype around you is huge right now. Is that causing problems for you?

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.

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?

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.


The CNN American Edge documentary[4] from the interview first aired on May 28, 1997.

CNN American Edge - Marilyn Manson Deeper Than Hell Documentary


  1. 1997/02/15 Wheeling, WV
  2. 'These can be seen in CNN's "American Edge" interview with Manson, which had been shot here earlier that day.'
  3. No date.
  4. '5/28: CNN airs an excellent Manson profile as a segment of its "American Edge" program.'