The Untold Truth Of Marilyn Manson

Born Brian Hugh Warner, Marilyn Manson rode his third album, "Anti-Christ Superstar," to the top of the charts, becoming one of the most controversial rock stars on the planet at the same time. Possibly due to his, to put it lightly, controversial nature, there have been many urban myths about Manson, but we've dissected all this fiction, and uncovered the true untold story of Marilyn Manson.

Starting in 2021, a series of eerily similar stories have come out about Manson. While he had previously had a reputation as a provocative shock rocker whose fans believed that he had a more sensitive and intellectual side, these stories began to reveal a much darker Manson, one who wasn't just edgy and controversial to groups of concerned parents like "Mothers Against Manson ." Although Manson has aggressively denied all allegations, his fans have had to confront the possibility that their idol has physically, sexually, and mentally abused more than a dozen women.

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

The Columbine shooters didn't even like him

One of the biggest controversies Marilyn Manson has ever been associated with was the Columbine High School shooting of April 20, 1999, when Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, walked into their school armed with guns and bombs. By the time they were done, 15 people were dead — including the shooters — and 21 were injured.

The massacre shocked the United States, and Manson quickly came to represent everything wrong with pop culture. According to some religious groups, and even some media outlets, Manson's music had somehow encouraged Harris and Klebold, two outcast Goth kids, to carry out the shooting because they were being bullied. Due to the controversy, Manson was forced to cancel several tour dates, and he was picketed at the shows he did play at.

What's really remarkable about Manson getting the brunt of the blame is that, in the years since the massacre, we've learned that Manson had no discernable effect on the shooters' lives. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold weren't bullied Goths obsessed with Manson. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that either Harris or Klebold even listened to Manson's music. Essentially, what the Columbine shooting came down to was that Harris was a psychopath who wanted to hurt and kill as many people as he could. He used terrorist recruiting tactics to recruit Klebold, a depressed teenager. Then, after Harris and Klebold were dead, they couldn't be blamed and held responsible, and the already offensive Manson unfairly became a target for people's outrage.

He wrote about a bizarre groupie interaction in his autobiography

In 1994, Marilyn Manson and his band were in a Miami recording studio with Trent Reznor, recording some B-sides for "Lunchbox," a single from Manson's debut album. During the session, Manson invited a groupie to the studio, who happened to be a deaf woman. When she came to the studio, Manson ordered her to remove her clothes — when she did, Manson and others put raw meat, such as bacon and ham, all over her body, took pictures, and recorded some video. Then, Manson directed the groupie to perform sexual acts with two of his bandmates, Twiggy Ramirez and Madonna Wayne Gacy, at the same time.

While that was bizarre enough, the sexual escapade didn't end there. While the groupie was showering, both Ramirez and Manson urinated on her, and then threw raw salmon on her. Manson then wrote about it in his autobiography, "Long Hard Road Out of Hell."

His oddly specific sexual habits

That story about how Marilyn Manson removed one of his ribs to perform fellatio on himself is just that ... a story. But that doesn't mean his real sex life is vanilla. Plus, for a guy who claims to be incredibly shy, he's rather braggadocious about what he's up to between the sheets. In a Rolling Stone feature from January 2015, Manson says that he has sex five times a day, with a maximum of 10 sessions. He also claims that he dated a porn star who broke up with him because he wanted to have sex too much.

While Manson brags about his sex drive, he says that the sex has to be in a dark room, with black sheets, and their underwear can never can go further down than their ankles. His reasoning is both weird and oddly sensible: He's worried that the house will catch fire, and he wants to have some clothes on in case he has to get out of the house quickly.

His first sexual assault case

On July 30, 2001, Marilyn Manson was playing a show at the DTE Energy Theater, located in a suburb of Detroit. Manson was performing while only wearing a thong and pantyhose — at one point in the show, Manson focused his attention on a security guard named Joshua Keasler. Manson apparently spit on Keasler's head, then wrapped his legs around his head, rubbing his genitals against the back of Keasler's head and neck.

A few weeks later, Manson learned Keasler's sense of humor drew the line at actual criminal behavior, as the rock star was arrested for felony fourth-degree criminal sexual assault. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge and paid a $4,000 fine. He also settled with the security guard for an undisclosed amount, and Keasler appeared ready to draw a line under the incident, stating (via the East Valley Tribune), "I can now go on with my life and try to close this unhappy chapter."

His strange collection

Marilyn Manson's persona might appear to be an act, but Manson would likely be the first one to admit that he is a genuinely weird and crazy guy. With that being said, it really shouldn't surprise anyone that Manson is the collector of some truly odd things. Some of his notable collectibles are said to include a clown painting done by serial killer John Wayne Gacy, old prosthetic limbs, vintage lunchboxes, the skeleton of a 4-year-old girl, the skeleton of a man who was over 7 feet tall and used a wheelchair, and an unused can of Zyklon B, a chemical used by the Nazis to massacre people during the Holocaust.

Then there are the rumors surrounding what other items Manson owns. According to a lawsuit from former bandmate Madonna Wayne Gacy, besides the two aforementioned skeletons, Manson has procured Nazi memorabilia and also supposedly has masks made out of human skin. Manson had previously denied owning such items, he has shown reporters an item associated with the Holocaust. 

Multiple former partners have described his fascination with Nazis, and Manson has been accused of using these items to intimidate and even physically harm those close to him. Actress Evan Rachel Wood once alleged (via AP) that Manson threatened her by drawing swastikas and writing antisemitic threats around the apartment.

His mother's mental illness

Growing up, Marilyn Manson said that his mother hovered over him a bit. Originally, he thought it was just because he was sick and in the hospital a lot. As a child, he said that he thought he had contracted pneumonia six times, and that he had allergies to things like eggs and fabric softener. It was only years later that Manson found out that he was never really sick, and his mother suffered from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. This is a form of mental illness where a caregiver — in this case Manson's mother — makes up or causes an illness or injury for someone in their care.

Manson has always been fairly quiet on the subject. He's only talked about it twice in public, both times fairly briefly. He doesn't even mention it in his autobiography. Manson says that his mom, who passed away in May 2014 after a long battle with dementia, had a history of mental illness, and he doesn't know how far back the Munchausen by Proxy went.

Smoking bones

In 1995, Marilyn Manson and his band were living in New Orleans — according to the man himself, most of their time in the Big Easy was spent at bars and graveyards. At some point, his bassist, Twiggy Ramirez, started collecting bones from neglected graves. Apparently, when the band moved out of New Orleans, they left a bag of bones under a mattress in the apartment they were staying in.

However, they didn't leave all the bones behind. During a tour stop in Los Angeles, Manson said that he saw some "Hollywood type" people he didn't like, so he convinced them to smoke some chips of human bone he put in a marijuana pipe. Manson also took a hit, and said that it smelled awful and it gave him a horrible headache. Whenever asked why he would smoke human bones, Manson has always responded (via Spin), "Why not smoke human bones?"

Marilyn Manson's grandfather and his weird collection

When Marilyn Manson broke into the mainstream, there were more frightening metal bands out there (like Cannibal Corpses or Mayhem), yet Manson still managed to raise the creepiness bar. This has prompted several interviewers to ask what led him down this dark path, and Manson claims that his private Christian high school education played a big part, but another big influence was his grandfather, Jack Warner.

His grandfather apparently had a private den where he kept a strange collection of old condoms, weird sexual aides, and an odd and disturbing collection of pornography, which included recordings of bestiality. Manson found this den when he was 12, and began to explore it. By 13, he would supposedly sneak down to the basement where he would watch his grandfather — who had a tracheotomy and wore lingerie — masturbate to these videos. His grandfather used the sound of model trains to cover up the sounds. Manson wasn't so much disgusted as he was simply fascinated. He said that he looked at his grandfather then as if he were a monster, which is how he said he feels the world looks at him today.

Some of his videos are too violent for release

Most of Marilyn Manson's persona is clownish and intentionally over the top, but several of his videos have crossed a line into genuine violence.

In 2014, a video leaked online that appeared to be one of Manson's music videos, featuring singer Lana Del Rey acting in a rape scene. Mason explained that the footage was shot by Eli Roth and was never intended to be used as part of a music video, but it was edited together with outtakes from his other videos to make it appear to be something he created. In an interview, however, Roth told Larry King (via Billboard) that he had worked on an unreleased video with Manson, saying, "The footage is so sick, it's been locked in a vault for over a year."

While Manson claims that he was not involved with the video that leaked online, he himself has described other films that he made that are too violent for release. One of his concert videos includes a short clip of Manson screaming at a woman, part of a longer film Manson created. He stated that when he showed the film to his manager, he was told, "Please hide the masters. If anyone sees this you'll go to jail and your career will be over."

Evan Rachel Wood was only 18 when they met

Evan Rachel Wood has led the charge against Marilyn Manson, even releasing a two-part documentary on HBO about the horrific abuses he subjected her to over the course of their three-year relationship. When they first met, she was only 18, while Manson was 37, and he was still married to performer Dita Von Teese. While one might expect the public to react with concern for Wood, in an interview with Rolling Stone, she stated that people were generally hostile towards her about the relationship, despite her young age, saying, "Most teenagers are searching for identity, and I was thrown into a situation where I was supposed to have that already figured out. Then you're demonized for figuring it out and getting messy. People would call me a whore when I walked down the street, and you can't not be hurt by that."

Many fans of Manson's music know Wood from her appearance in the music video for his song "Heart Shaped Glasses," but fewer know that the song was inspired by an actual pair of glasses that the teenage Wood wore when meeting with Manson. While many might find their age gap concerning, Manson seemed to revel in it. The heart-shaped glasses that Wood wears in the video are a specific reference to the Stanley Kubrick film "Lolita," in which a sexual predator stalks a child.

He has been accused of abuse by more than a dozen people

Marilyn Manson has vehemently denied all accusations, but more than 12 women have accused him of abuse or sexual assault since 2020. Several of his accusers have stated that Manson used his reputation as a shocking and edgy rock star to distract from the actual horrific violence he had been inflicting on his partners for years.

In 2018, actress Evan Rachel Wood spoke to the House Judiciary Committee in support of a bill designed to protect the rights of sexual abuse survivors. At the time she kept her abuser's name anonymous, but described having her life threatened, being sexually assaulted, and physically bound and tortured. Many speculated that she was talking about Manson, and in 2021, Wood confirmed that he had been her abuser.

After Wood spoke out about Manson, many more of his former partners came forward with their own stories of horrendous abuse. One of these was actress Esme Bianco, who accused Manson of biting, cutting, and electrocuting her, as well as keeping her from eating or sleeping enough. On one occasion, she stated that Manson chased her around his apartment with an ax. Bianco and Manson settled a lawsuit resulting from these allegations in January 2023.

He owns a glass cell

One of the most bizarre accusations against Marilyn Manson is that he has a glass cell in his bedroom for keeping his victims captive. While it sounds like a plot point in a thriller, and reminded some fans of the cage owned by the stalker protagonist of "You," by Manson's own admission, the cell is real.

It is described as a locking, soundproof glass box resembling a steam room, and supposedly located in a bedroom. In interviews, Manson referred to it as the "Bad Girls' Room" and stated that he would lock people inside. An expose from Rolling Stone determined that the small soundproof box was already there when Manson moved in. The former tenant had built it with the intention of using it to make music. According to Manson's former partners, Manson used it as a place he could keep them prisoner, often as punishment for perceived slights against him.

Dita Von Teese left him on Christmas Eve

Marilyn Manson married burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese in November of 2005. By December of 2006, the two were already getting divorced. In an interview with Spin (via Times Herald-Record), Manson described how devastated he was by the breakup, saying: "I was completely destroyed. I had no soul left. I define myself as a person, a human, an artist, as someone who makes things – writing, painting, music – and I couldn't do anything."

Exactly what went on between Manson and Von Teese is unknown. While Von Teese has since stated that Manson never suffered the kind of abuse that many of his other partners have reported, she did blame his cheating and drug misuse for pushing them apart. Both Manson and Von Teese kept the specifics of their breakup private, but in an interview with Harper's Bazaar, she stated, "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 ... sometimes things change overnight, and you have to make a choice as to whether you're going to respect yourself and say, 'I'm not going to accept this. This is not okay.'"

He has self-harmed onstage and off

For a long time, one of Marilyn Manson's most shocking on-stage gimmicks has been to cut himself while performing. Sometimes, this appears to be real, while in some performances it is simulated (including one time in 2013 when he appeared to mimic a related non-fatal incident involving Janet Jackson when she was a teenager). According to a 2009 interview Manson did with Spin, not all of his self harm was for the benefit of his audience. Shortly after his breakup with Evan Rachel Wood, Manson admitted to calling her over and over again on Christmas, saying, "Every time I called her that day — I called 158 times — I took a razorblade and I cut myself on my face or on my hands ... I wanted to show her the pain she put me through."

While this statement was not widely talked about at the time, in light of the horrific behaviors Wood later reported in her relationship with Manson, many began viewing this behavior as a part of the abuse. Tellingly, in the same interview, Manson also admitted: "I have fantasies every day about smashing [Wood's] skull in with a sledgehammer."

Manson ended a bizarre New York show early

Marilyn Manson has always been known for strange onstage stunts, but in 2018, he had one particularly unusual performance that left fans frustrated. Manson was scheduled for a regular concert in a theater in Long Island, but was around an hour and a half late to start the show. Fans might have forgiven that as typical rock star behavior if what followed was an excellent concert, but unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

According to those in the audience and some unfortunate videos taken from the crowd, Manson only sang five songs before the performance devolved into a strange mumbling rant, during which Manson insisted the fans shout that they love him over and over. Seemingly believing the show was taking place in New Jersey, he briefly insulted the state, and then walked offstage. Fans waited, but Manson never returned to finish his set. Then, security kicked the crowd out of the venue.

He had to pay Evan Rachel Wood's legal fees

In 2022, Marilyn Manson attempted to sue Evan Rachel Wood and her partner, artist Illma Gore, claiming that they had impersonated FBI agents, hacked his personal computer, and called a SWAT team to his house to harass him, as well as having encouraged other women from his past to tell the media that he was physically and sexually abusive. Manson claimed that this was a coordinated attack against him, designed to ruin his career. While parts of the case are still pending, so far, the law has not agreed with Manson.

In January and February of 2024, a judge determined that these accusations were baseless and that neither Wood nor Gore had pressured anyone to lie about Manson. The judge also ruled that by California's anti-SLAPP statute, which aims to prevent people from being silenced by the risk of having to pay massive legal fees to defend themselves, Manson was responsible for paying Wood and Gore's legal fees. Between both defendants' lawyers, he owes about $374,000.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, may be the victim of domestic abuse or sexual assault, or needs help with mental health, contact the relevant resources below: