The Shady Truth About Marilyn Manson

His name is Brian Warner, but you almost certainly know him better as pop culture's official boogeyman, Marilyn Manson. The shock rocker and his namesake band have been stirring the pot of American culture and bristling the hairs on the backs of conservative necks since their breakout album, 1996's "Antichrist Superstar." All along, the singer has also indulged in a number of antics that befit his extremely family-unfriendly image. But is said image real or a complete fabrication?

Sure, it would be tempting to imagine that an artist as purposefully shocking as Manson would hang up his studded garters after a long day of creeping people out, and spend his off time crafting teddy bears and watching daytime soaps. However, the rock star's private life seems to be quite comparable to his wild outward appearance. In fact, Manson's history is a cavalcade of turmoil, scandal, and unsavory events, both alleged and admitted. Let's see how deep and dark this particular rabbit hole is ... by taking a look at the shady side of Marilyn Manson.

The following article includes allegations and descriptions of addiction, domestic abuse, sexual assault, and self-harm.

Marilyn Manson keeps peeing on people and things

On more than one occasion, Marilyn Manson has admitted to a fairly unhealthy hobby: He has been known to indulge in urine-themed antics on fans and colleagues alike. The singer once got arrested in Florida for peeing on the crowd, which seems like a strange way to greet the front row. In a 2018 interview with Rob Zombie, a man with his own dark side, Manson admitted that back when he was touring with the oft-troubled nu-metal band Korn, he pulled a similar, though possibly even nastier, stunt. "I used to piss on their catering," he told Zombie (via The PRP). "No, I just thought it was funny, they went on before us though." 

Somehow, even lacing his tourmates' meals with urine isn't the most suspicious pee-themed thing in Manson's resumé. In his autobiography "The Long Hard Road Out of Hell" (via Tyla), the musician revealed that his entire band once urinated on a deaf fan in a rather unsavory studio incident, that also involved covering her body in meat. In this case, though, Manson has insisted that the fan consented. 

Marilyn Manson and satanism

As anyone with even a cursory familiarity with Marilyn Manson's artist profile can attest, he's very much into provocation and shock tactics. As such, it's not exactly a miracle that he has flirted with satanism. In fact, this went a bit further than mere flirting, seeing as Manson has stated in his book "The Long Hard Road Out of Hell" that he knew Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey. Per Manson, LaVey even "gave me a crimson card certifying me as a minister in the Church of Satan." 

To be fair, Manson himself did note that the gesture amounted to little more than "an honorary degree from a university." However, "Marilyn Manson is an ordained satanist priest" is a pretty juicy one for the rumor mill, so it has been known to pop up online. In fact, when Manson blamed God for his onstage misfortunes in 2018, the Church of Satan's Twitter (now known as X) account felt the need to step in the middle of an argument about Manson's status within their organization. The church's stance on Manson being an ordained priest was pretty firm, stating: "No. Almost 30 years ago he was given an honorary priesthood for his real world accomplishments at the time. That is not 'ordained' nor is it related to anything he might say decades later."

Marilyn Manson and self-harm

Marilyn Manson has a history of pretty grisly self-harm and has a number of scars as a result. The musician has said that his single worst day of self-mutilation involved cutting himself with a razor blade no fewer than 158 times — an act that he hinted happened after a temporary breakup with Evan Rachel Wood in 2008. He implied a more manipulative purpose for the act in a 2009 interview with Spin, saying, "I wanted to show her the pain she put me through. It was like, 'I want you to physically see what you've done.'" Manson has also incorporated self-harm into his performances. Arguably the most infamous incident happened in 1995, when he sliced his chest from side to side with a broken bottle. The act left a permanent scar. 

That's not to say that all of Manson's onstage injuries are self-inflicted, though. In 2016, he was forced to cut a show short when a large prop fell on him, knocking him down and out. The accident also wrecked his leg quite badly. "I'm not sure what I hit my head on, but it did fall onto my leg and break the fibula in two places," Manson said to Yahoo!. "The pain was excruciating."

He assaulted a security guard during a concert

In July 2001, a stage security stint at the Marilyn Manson concert in Detroit was a very bad time for Joshua Keasler, who ended up having a rather unpleasant close encounter with the artist. Manson earned himself an array of charges when he (allegedly) ambushed Keasler from behind, wrapped his legs around him and, uh, rubbed certain leather thong-clad parts of his anatomy on the poor guy's head. 

This, of course, didn't go over too well with Keasler, who sued Manson for "sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress," as a cherry on top of the criminal charges the singer was already facing. Manson ultimately pleaded no contest to those and paid a reported $4,000 in fines. On January 28, 2004, he settled with Keasler. The sum was undisclosed, but the plaintiff seems to have been quite happy with it. "I can now go on with my life and try to close this unhappy chapter," he commented (via USA Today).

He considered murdering an ex-girlfriend

Marilyn Manson's 1998 autobiography, "The Long Hard Road Out of Hell," which he co-authored with Neil Strauss, featured a number of eyebrow-raising and skin-crawling tales. However, one of the most disturbing stories saw the shock rocker admitting that he considered murdering an ex-girlfriend named Nancy.

Writing a first-hand account of what went through his mind, Manson laid out how he planned to commit the act, even enlisting the help of a friend. "While I didn't think it was right to take a human life, I didn't think it was right to deny myself the chance of causing someone to die either," he wrote, "especially someone whose existence meant so little to the world and to herself."

Manson discussed how he followed Nancy for a while in order to establish her routine as well as her general comings and goings. Eventually, he and his friend decided they would set fire to her home while she was inside. They headed out to follow through on their plan, but got cold feet after being noticed by an unhoused person and then seeing emergency vehicles in the area. Manson wrote that all plans to kill Nancy stopped there, since he feared he would get caught and realized he had told too many people about his intense dislike of her.

Marilyn Manson and the strange case of smoking human bones

Marilyn Manson isn't a stranger to drug misuse and outlandish claims, but in a 2017 interview with Rolling Stone, he managed to combine the two in a characteristically gruesome manner. When asked about the drugs he absolutely avoids, he casually revealed that he's attempted to get high on human bones — though he doesn't recommend the experience. "I've smoked human bones and taken acid. I don't want to do either again, because all your demons appear when you smoke bones or take acid. The older you get, the more demons chase you around and you have nightmares." Though acid and human remains appear to be strictly on his no-no list, Manson still considered both superior alternatives to bath salts, though. The stated reason for avoiding that particular drug: "I don't want my flesh to fall off."

This actually isn't the first time Manson has discussed smoking human bones. In a 1997 interview with High Times – which was impressive enough to be quoted in a congressional paper called Music Violence: How Does It Affect Our Children – Manson actually called the interviewer back to recount a tale of him and an old bandmate raiding graves in New Orleans to acquire human bones, some of which they eventually smoked. On this occasion, he didn't mention seeing demons, but did note that the experience gave him a headache and that the smoke smelled awful.

The assault rifle incident

Marilyn Manson's performances can be shocking — in fact, that's kind of the point of being a shock rocker by trade. However, in the summer of 2017, Manson may have gone a few miles too far when he pointed a fake assault rifle at the audience of his concert in San Bernardino, California. This was in particularly bad taste because San Bernardino had recently endured a mass shooting in which two shooters — armed with similar rifles — killed 14 people and injured many more.

According to Exclaim, a statement from Manson later clarified his intent and defended his decision to use the assault rifle microphone prop, which he said was never intended to show disrespect and was, in fact, sanctioned by a police officer. "In an era where mass shootings have become a nearly daily occurrence," the statement read, "this was an act of theatre [sic] in an attempt to make a statement about how easily accessible semi-automatic weapons are and how seeing them has become normalized." 

Marilyn Manson and the Spin executive editor

In 1998, Craig Marks, executive editor of Spin magazine, got a little too close for comfort to Marilyn Manson ... or, rather, his bodyguards. Marks was present at the artist's concert at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom but ended the night getting roughed up by Manson's bodyguards. In addition, he says the singer hurled some pretty nasty threats at him. "I can kill you," Manson allegedly told Marks (via MTV News). "I can kill your family; I can kill everyone you know." The editor felt that the whole thing was Manson's revenge for having to share the magazine's cover with another artist, instead of having it all for himself. 

All of this sounds pretty bad — not to mention a bit of an overreaction — and Marks reflected this by suing Manson for a total of $6 million. As for Manson, in 2016, he told Alternative Press that his altercation with the Spin editor apparently included more than his bodyguards and verbal threats. "Once I got arrested for putting a gun in the mouth of the editor of Spin and I hid out at the Trump Tower," he said, reportedly referring to the incident. As for the lawsuit, it was ultimately settled. 

His former band members keep suing him

Marilyn Manson might be a shock rocker, but his former band members have apparently developed a habit of delivering some shocks of their own — to him, in the form of lawsuits. Over the years, Manson has taken several dips in hot legal water, thanks to assorted breach-of-contract lawsuits that his old associates have been filing against him. The aftermath of Marilyn Manson's very first album, "Portrait of an American Family," featured a lawsuit from the band's co-founder Brad "Gidget Gein" Stewart, who contributed to the album but was fired from the band before its release. Stewart sought a reported $15,000 in songwriting royalties and suchlike. 

In 1997, a $15 million lawsuit was filed against Manson and the rest of the band for breach of contract, this time courtesy of former band member Scott "Daisy Berkowitz" Putesky. In 1998, the case was settled for an undisclosed sum. 

A decade later, a very similar thing happened with yet another band member. In 2007, Manson's former keyboard player Stephen Bier Jr. (aka Madonna Wayne Gacy) sued the singer for over $20 million, claiming Manson had used a considerable amount of money belonging to the other band members to fund his various morbid excesses. In 2009, the case was settled out of court for $380,000.

Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese

One of Marilyn Manson's most famous relationships was with burlesque star Dita Von Teese, but their story ended in 2006 when she suddenly left him and filed for divorce just days later. Von Teese freely admitted that their relationship didn't end because of a lack of love on her part and that leaving Manson was hard. She was rather reluctant to elaborate on precisely what caused her to leave Manson — but she has made it clear that she very much had her reasons. "Let's just say that it must have been something pretty bad for me to move out of the house after six years together and to pack up my stuff on Christmas Eve," she said to Harper's Bazaar in 2007.  

Years later, and in the wake of abuse allegations against Manson, in 2021, Von Teese opened up about the circumstances of her sudden departure with a statement on Instagram (via NBC 7 San Diego), which revealed that she left Manson "due to infidelity and drug abuse." Though she noted that her experiences with him didn't include the sorts of horrors that have been in the news recently, she expressed her support for people who have been abused in relationships.

Marilyn Manson and Evan Rachel Wood's abuse allegations

If Marilyn Manson came to your attention in early 2021, there's a good chance that it happened because of Evan Rachel Wood. On February 1, 2021, the "Westworld" star released an Instagram post in which she revealed Manson as her abuser. "He started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years," the post continued (via The New York Times). "I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission. I am done living in fear of retaliation, slander, or blackmail. I am here to expose this dangerous man and call out the many industries that have enabled him, before he ruins any more lives. I stand with the many victims who will no longer be silent."

Wood met Manson in 2007, when she was 18 years old to his 36, and the two broke up in 2010. In early 2022, Wood also alleged in the documentary "Phoenix Rising" that Manson had sexually assaulted her during the filming of a music video for "Heart-Shaped Glasses." As of early 2024, Manson has denied all the allegations made against him, but it is worth noting that, back in 2009, he did tell Spin that he regularly indulged in fantasies of "smashing [Wood's] skull in with a sledgehammer."

In March 2022, Manson filed a defamation lawsuit against Wood. The case was gutted when, just over a year later, a judge struck most of the charges made by Manson, leaving the embattled singer owing almost half a million dollars in legal fees to Wood.

More allegations against Marilyn Manson emerged

After Evan Rachel Wood posted her allegations of abuse against Marilyn Manson on February 1, 2021, other women soon began to speak out against Manson. Over the next few years, more than a dozen women, including Wood, publically shared their stories about getting abused by Manson. These prompted Senator Susan Rubio to push for an FBI and Department of Justice investigation into the musician.

Many of Manson's former collaborators and employees also came forward with allegations about him. According to Loudwire, Manson's former guitar technician and P.A. Dan Cleary confirmed that Manson "broke" Wood and that he later witnessed Manson abusing others. Former Manson guitarist Wes Borland (of Limp Bizkit fame) stated on Twitch (via NME) that "every single thing that people have said about him is f****** true." Even Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor — an old collaborator of Manson's — released a damning statement, reminding people about his still-burning anger over Manson spreading allegations that he and Reznor once assaulted a woman together. "I have been vocal over the years about my dislike of Manson as a person and cut ties with him nearly 25 years ago," Reznor wrote (via Pitchfork).

Manson continues to deny the allegations, and has had several cases against him dismissed or settled.

Marilyn Manson was dropped by several companies

When Evan Rachel Wood went public with her abuse allegations against Marilyn Manson, and others started sharing similar experiences with him, the business entities involved with the artist were quick to respond. Manson's record label, Loma Vista, reacted the very same day, dropping the singer and their promotion of his work like a hot potato. "Due to these concerning developments, we have also decided not to work with Marilyn Manson on any future projects," the company's statement about the situation proclaimed (via Variety).

The rest of the entertainment industry was also swift to react to the situation. In February 2021, Manson was dropped from the Starz network show "American Gods" and Shudder's "Creepshow," and also removed him from any episodes that had yet to be aired. Starz made no bones about the reason behind its decision, stating that the network "stands unequivocally with all victims and survivors of abuse" (via The Guardian). Even his agency, CAA, severed ties with Manson. In the following years, it has been estimated that Manson's net worth has tumbled by a factor of 10.

Outside of court, Manson has still had something to keep him busy: In February 2024, he completed 20 hours of community service, ordered by a court for blowing his nose on a videographer during a 2019 concert. 

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