The Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, Illinois • October 30, 1998
Marilyn Manson will never achieve the beauty of his “namesake” Marilyn Monroe, despite going glam. Fact is, Manson needs a tan on his bony, white ass. The fact that he wiped his bony, white ass with the American flag (during the encore, upon finishing “Irresponsible Hate Anthem”) is a slap in the face to patriotism. But that comes as no surprise because he reeks of controversy. (Just ask any Christian fundamentalist.) Yet he follows the realm of many others who have been there/done that (e.g. Kiss and Alice). He also needs to lift some weights to substantiate his slender, lanky frame. (Ironically, it is that same slender, lanky frame that makes him appear bigger than life.) His eyes are weird. He’s even more androgynous with his new blistering, red hair. So, no matter what he says, his sexuality still seems questionable. (For the record, he did show up at 6:00 p.m. to sound check with a chick in arm — which a confidant later told me was Rose McGowan from the movie Scream. Like I cared… ) He says “fuck” way too much. The fact that he mutilates himself is sick. Judging from the blow job he was rumored to have given himself the previous night at the Milwaukee show, I’d also say he also SUCKS. Thus, Marilyn Manson is not my ideal role model. (Not that he ever claimed to be.)
Yet, he is irresistible. I am both repulsed and intrigued. The fact that he once told me sweetly that his tour bus driver was a country singer (“Ask him to sing for you” he nudged excitedly with schoolboy charm) softens his jagged edges — makes him more human. Still, he smolders with passion like a god — albeit with trailer park sensuality. His music emanates a dark and heavy pretentiousness, even when he belts out such innocently sugarcoated, pop ear candy as the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” What he lacks in singing ability, he makes up for with personality.
Concentrating “The Dope Show” predominantly on the new album, Marilyn’s near perfect two-hour set gave the illusion of a bonafide, arena-oriented rock show — sans the demonic frenzy of past shows — blitzed with colorful costumes, of which Manson donned many, and hair to match (courtesy of blood redheaded Manson, and hot pink ostrich feathered, midriff-baring guitarist ZimZum, whose mane was azure); and accented with a sleek, yet simple backdrop of a lily-white Manson face framed in silver that would soon be eclipsed by glittered, raining confetti (inasmuch as the brightly lit flashing “DRUGS” sign that complemented “I Don’t Like the Drugs [But the Drugs Like Me]” fell hard against the eye from the black background, compromising the song’s audibility as if trying to allure its audience). Marilyn worked the crowd in knee-high, turquoise, leather boots, and long-sleeved turquoise and silver jersey with matching g-string. Later, he wore a similar fate in red (to match his hair); donned stilts and a Friday the 13th Jason-style crash helmet during “Mechanical Animals”; and a long, black coat and hat for “The Speed of Pain” ballad. A pair of Tina Turner wannabes countered Manson’s nasal snarl with sharp, soulful background vocals, yet their choreography was too commercial for the gothic atmosphere, and oftentimes not in sync.
Shaking his water bottle provocatively at his crotch, Manson played with himself often, and gyrated slowly, thumbing his g-string at the audience. The crowd — some in Halloween garb — was tamer than it was strange. No one really moshed. Instead, the masses seemed hypnotized when Manson stood Christ-like at the podium in mock arrogance preaching “Antichrist Superstar,” ripping pages from a book that appeared to be a Bible. “Repent!” Manson urged in the song. I suppose, in light of my Christian upbringing, I’d have to, considering witnessing Manson in concert turned out to be my guilty pleasure.