Perhaps the most controversial musician of the late 20th century, Marilyn Manson has left waves of outrage in his wake after breaking onto the scene in the early 1990s. Indeed, the conservative media has blamed the singer for everything from promoting Satanism to inspiring the Columbine High School massacre. Meanwhile, stores like Walmart, Kmart and Target have refused to even stock his albums.
Behind the controversy, though, lies one of the oddest and most intriguing rock stars of our time. And while many of his most famous stories are sadly apocryphal, these 100 percent genuine facts prove just how weird Manson really is.
20. His mother suffered from a strange and abusive disorder
Based on his lifestyle, you might guess that Manson had an unorthodox childhood. But the truth is much sadder than most would realize. In fact, his mother Barb suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy and led the young singer to believe that he suffered from a string of ailments – including multiple bouts of pneumonia and allergies to fabric softener and eggs – that were actually entirely imaginary.
19. He suffers from a very real heart condition
Although many of the illnesses that Manson had as a child were imaginary, the “Beautiful People” singer does indeed suffer from a very real medical condition known as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. The disorder, which causes an irregular heartbeat, has seen Manson hospitalized on numerous occasions.
18. He went to creative lengths to get expelled from school
Like many kids, Manson hated going to school. In fact, the future star loathed his alma mater, Canton’s Heritage Christian School, so much that he employed some bizarre tactics to get himself expelled. Most memorably, he left his grandparents’ – ahem – marital aids inside his teacher’s desk in the hope of getting kicked out.
17. He has some pretty strong Satanic credentials
While his time at the Heritage School caused him to despise organized faith, Manson still associated with one controversial religion in later life. In 1994, for example, the “Antichrist Superstar” was summoned to infamous Satanist Anton LaVey’s home, where he was promptly ordained as a minister in the Church of Satan. Does that mean he can perform weddings?
16. His bedroom habits are beyond bizarre
Despite attracting beauties like Dita Von Teese and Evan Rachel Wood, Manson has some strange habits in the bedroom. Most notably, as he revealed to Rolling Stone in 2015, he refuses to remove his underwear past his ankles during “sexual congress.” “I have a phobia that the house is going to catch fire, and I don’t want to be naked,” he explained.
15. He didn’t originally choose a music career
Though Manson would become one of the world’s biggest rock stars, music wasn’t actually his first career path. During college, the star studied journalism and got his first job as a writer for a Fort Lauderdale magazine. He even interviewed Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, who would be instrumental in kick-starting his career in rock.
14. He loves collecting disturbing trinkets
Everyone needs a hobby to unwind, and Manson is no different. Indeed, as he told the Daily Record in 2015, the singer is an avid collector – but not of anything like stamps or action figures. “I have a lot of taxidermy, a prosthetic limb collection and a seven-foot tall, 100-year-old skeleton I call Ernie,” he revealed. In addition, he owns a painting by serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
13. His collecting caused a rift between his bandmates
Naturally, freakish fossils and asocial artworks don’t come cheap. And Manson’s collecting habits have actually gotten him into trouble with his bandmates in the past. According to a 2007 breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by his former keyboardist Madonna Wayne Gacy, Manson used band profits to buy Nazi artifacts and masks made from human skin. In a later interview with MTV News, though, Manson dismissed claims of mistreatment as being “ridiculous.”
12. A security guard sued him for getting down and dirty with his head
Most self-respecting rockers need to get in trouble with the law at some point. Manson himself possesses a mighty rap sheet, and he’s been the subject of some bizarre charges to boot. For example, a security guard accused Manson of sexual assault after the star hopped on his back and rubbed his crotch against the guard’s head during a 2001 show in Michigan. Manson was subsequently fined $4,000.
11. A woman accused him of killing her daughter
Although the previous case might seem relatively harmless, Manson has had some serious accusations leveled at him in the past. In 2002 the mother of Jennifer Syme – the ex of Keanu Reeves who died in a 2001 car accident after a party at Manson’s house – sued the singer for allegedly urging her to drive while intoxicated. However, Manson countered that he had sent her home with a designated driver.
10. He wrote an op-ed shortly after Columbine
With a death toll of 15 people, the 1999 Columbine High School massacre remains one of America’s darkest hours. It was also one of Manson’s darkest moments, as many commentators blamed his music for inspiring the tragedy. Rather than keep silent, though, Manson penned a response in Rolling Stone magazine in which he condemned “disgusting vultures” in the media for sensationalizing the killings.
9. His body is scarred beyond belief
Marilyn Manson undoubtedly puts on one of the most shocking live shows out there. Part of the singer’s controversial reputation stems from the outrageous acts he commits onstage – which include regularly cutting himself. By the time that his autobiography Long Hard Road Out of Hell was published, moreover, he had a reported 450 scars on his body – and that was some 20 years ago.
8. He once disrobed to prove his innocence to Italian police
Despite the outrageous acts that he is known for, critics are nevertheless eager to exaggerate his antics. After a 2002 show in Rome, one commentator claimed that Manson – dressed as the Pope – had ripped off his own genitals and thrown them to the crowd. The staggering accusation subsequently got him arrested. “They demanded that I unbutton my trousers and show them that they were still there,” he told The Independent in 2003. “I said, ‘Be my guest.’”
7. He has matching tattoos with an unlikely BFF
Despite being chastised by many in the mainstream media, Manson has found unlikely allies in the showbiz world. In particular, the star is friends with fellow oddball Johnny Depp, and the two even have matching tattoos. As Manson told Rolling Stone in 2015, the pair got phrases inked on their wrists and backs as a mark of friendship.
6. A famous child star introduced him to smoking
We’d have thought that a rock star like Marilyn Manson would be accustomed with all the world’s vices. However, as he revealed in a 2015 Reddit AMA, the singer was introduced to smoking by none other than Home Alone’s Macaulay Culkin. Incredibly, the actor bought Manson his first pack of smokes to prepare him for a role in 2003’s Party Monster.
5. His stage name has an intriguing meaning
Most people know that Manson’s moniker is a portmanteau of the names of blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe and murderous cult leader Charles Manson. However, according to the singer himself, its roots have a deeper meaning relating to celebrity culture. “The name signified the union of two opposing celebrities,” he explained to The Independent in 2003. “One a martyr, the other a killer.”
4. A magazine published pictures of his private parts
Over the years, Manson has been more than willing to show off his manhood. In fact, his predilection for nudity got him arrested twice for indecent exposure in 1995. Besides those incidents, nude photos of the singer also appeared in gay bondage mag Honcho in 1999.
3. He was denied entry to a place of worship
Due to his prolonged criticism of organized religion, Manson isn’t particularly popular within spiritual communities. What’s more, during a 2007 visit to Germany the singer was actually barred from visiting Cologne’s famed cathedral. According to Der Spiegel, the singer said he was probably denied entry because he was wearing lipstick at the time.
2. He let a dying fan be part of his music
Despite his terrifying exterior, Manson may actually be a softie at heart. The rocker has in fact made many charitable acts that belie his fearsome reputation. For example, after being contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2002, the singer invited dying fan Andrew Baines to visit him in the studio. He even included the 16-year-old’s backing vocals on his subsequent album, The Golden Age of the Grotesque.
1. He once smoked human bones
Whether it’s urinating onstage or covering groupies with raw meat, Marilyn Manson has been responsible for a wide range of shocking acts over the course of his career. But perhaps his darkest act was in 1995 when he admitted in High Times to having smoked human bones pilfered from a New Orleans grave. “It was terrible,” he admitted. “It smelled like burnt hair, gave you a really bad headache and made your eyes red.”