In various interviews, especially from 2007 through 2010, Marilyn Manson explained that while he was married to Dita Von Teese he was faced with a new reality he wasn't prepared to face. He was faced with a sense of responsibility that was calling for him to grow up and change who he was, essentially. This made him feel disconnected from himself, and drove him into a deep depression. He was also disgusted with the music industry, which was driving him to never want to make music again. It appears during this time he even lost the motivation to paint. Since being an artist is intrinsically who he is and it is something he could not escape from, he decided to make a horror movie called Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll. Phantasmagoria was announced at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2006. This movie became his primary focus.
It was at this time that Manson met Evan Rachel Wood at the Chateau Marmont in the summer of 2006, when he approached her with the intention of getting her to co-star in his film for the role of Alice in Wonderland. They struck a friendship, even though Manson was still married. The time of Manson's separation from Dita in 2006 between late October and December 29th, the day Dita filed for a divorce, was a particular low point for Manson, but when he and Evan began dating in January 2007 he felt more like himself again, even resurrected.
Dating Evan helped him get creative again the way he always felt comfortable. This is the main reason his horror film Phantasmagoria was delayed over and over again and has still not been made. It was originally a concept he created when he wanted to drop out of music and enter the film industry, but now that he was feeling creative again it did not remain his primary focus. As he explains in an interview with Rolling Stone in June 2007:
"Painting was the one thing that essentially helped me get back into being creative again, and unfortunately for the situation in my life, the first painting, which I called Pretty Persuasion, was a painting of Evan that I did, inspired purely by the fact that I was so excited that somebody else in the world had some sort of connection to me, because I felt very completely untethered, alone and alienated."
|Manson painting of Evan Rachel Wood titled "Pretty Persuasion"|
It's interesting that he called this painting of Evan Pretty Persuasion. In 2005 Evan Rachel Wood starred in the black comedy Pretty Persuasion, in which she plays a 15-year-old student at an elite Beverly Hills academy who falsely accuses her drama teacher of sexual harassment. If art imitates real life, as many of Manson's current accusers say of him, then why can't this film be used in the same way against Evan?
It was also at this time that Manson began working on his album Eat Me, Drink Me which was released on June 5, 2007. Manson describes this album as autobiographical, beginning with his separation from Dita but evolving into an album of seduction for the new love in his life. It is about a broken person who was trying to become whole again, though Manson would later criticize the album of promoting an unhealthy and cowardly form of romanticism, like Romeo and Juliet, indicating the idea that it is better for two misunderstood lovers to die together than be apart.
All interviews during this time from both Manson and Evan depict them as having a loving and healthy relationship, and when they broke up in late October 2008 every statement by Evan indicated that she continued to love Manson, that there may be a possibility of them getting back together, but their careers were leading them in different paths - and she was very adamant that Manson was not abusive in any way towards her.
There are indications however that this may not be the whole story.
The High End of Low
On October 6th, 2010 the A&E Network produced and aired an authorized biography of Manson which indicated for the first time that the first break up between Manson and Evan in October 2008 came after Manson proposed to Evan to be his fiance and she rejected him. This was previously indicated in interviews where Manson talked about Evan as making a promise to him that she would be with him forever, but having gone back on the promise it brought deep pain within him, so that after their breakup Manson talks about spending his Christmas entirely alone, recording his next album from January 2 till his birthday on January 5, only seeing his band during this time, during which when they asked how he was, he replied: "Well, I'm at the high end of low," and this was chosen as the title of his next album, which was released on May 20, 2009. According to Manson The High End of Low is about having his "soul trampled on by women" but is also something that "makes you laugh."
On June 24, 2009 Manson gave a now infamous interview with Spin to promote his album The High End of Low. During this interview he made a comment about his Christmas alone, saying:
"I went through a tough period over Christmas, during which I learned the difference between love and dependence, and the difference between weakness and desire. And it made a big difference in my life."
There he described his new album as "about falling from grace and trying to fit in and be accepted as a mortal or as a normal person when people don’t see you as that. It’s also about giving up what you are to prove that you love somebody more than you love yourself. When you get to that point you’re unlovable. And for me, halfway through the record, you can hear it. It went from despair to anger, it’s like passing through the stages of destruction and reconstruction."
This was also the album that brought Manson and his best friend Twiggy together again after seven years apart. Both had gone through a difficult relationship loss when they reunited, so The High End of Low is a reflection of how they both felt at the time. In the Spin interview, Manson says something very significant about how his reunion with Twiggy on Christmas in 2007, when he was on tour and dating Evan, caused a disruption in his relationship with Evan:
"We both got ourselves into a lot of relationships that were probably unfair because of our lack of one another — we tried to have the girls in our lives fill a void that was missing in us as best friends. Looking back now I realize that played a big part. And him coming back into my life caused a great disruption in my past relationship, it just changed me in a way that initially was euphoric."
Manson further describes how the album is an evolution from the idealism of his previous album:
"I came off of Eat Me, Drink Me with this fantasy, a Shakespearean ideal of romance, you know, this 'If the world doesn’t understand us, then let’s die together' thing. Which, now, I think is cowardice. And you hear that going into the first track."
Regarding the first track, "Devour", Manson explained:
"That song is about when someone said to me, 'Okay, I want to be with you until I die.' And then they gave up. I was at the point in my life where I was like, 'Okay, let’s die, but I tell you what, I’m going to kill you first, because I don’t trust you.' Honestly. It’s hard to look back and see myself as the same person. I’m very objective now."
In a June 2009 interview with Revolver, Manson further explained the song: "It's kind of a murder-suicide story based on the reality of my life that day. The record maybe saved me, and the person I would have killed also. If somebody says they want to be with you until they die, I take that kind of seriously. It became a song...luckily."
The song was apparently written three days before what was planned to be a dark Romeo and Juliet murder suicide. He had planned to kill himself and his lover, but made a song about it instead.
Regarding the third track on the album, "Leave a Scar", Manson told France's Elegy magazine it was written "about and for Evan on the day we broke up. Maybe some of the things I say in the song are cruel, but it is how I felt at the time." When you read the lyrics to this song, he talks of Evan and himself abusing and hurting each other. This is a very different portrayal of the relationship before their first breakup that Evan portrayed in interviews.
The themes of the last two tracks come together in a more melancholy way with the seventh track, "Running to the Edge of the World". The line "Together as one, against all others" is most likely a reference to the "Heart-Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand)" music video, where at the end, Manson says "Together as one," and Evan Rachel Wood replies "Against all others."
The ninth track, "WOW", almost sounds like an argument Manson and Evan had before they broke up, told through Manson's perspective. The tenth, eleventh and thirteenth tracks also seem to be about how Manson felt about his relationship with Evan.
In the Spin interview, Manson was asked about his relationship with Evan, and specifically his lowest point, and there he talks more about what happened on Christmas when he was alone, and the eighth and fourteenth tracks on the album:
"I sing about it on 'Into the Fire.' I say, 'If you want to hit bottom, don’t bother trying to take me with you.' My lowest point was Christmas Day 2008, because I didn’t speak to my family. My walls were covered in scrawlings of the lyrics and cocaine bags nailed to the wall. And I did have an experience where I was struggling to deal with being alone and being forsaken and being betrayed by putting your trust in one person, and making the mistake of that being the wrong person. And that’s a mistake that everyone can relate to. I made the mistake of trying to, desperately, grasp on and save that and own it. And 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 look back and it was a really stupid thing to do. This was intentional, this was a scarification, and this was like a tattoo. I wanted to show her the pain she put me through. It was like, 'I want you to physically see what you’ve done.' It sounds made up but it’s completely true and I don’t give a shit if people believe it or not. I’ve got the scars to prove it. I didn’t want people to ask me every time I did an interview, 'Oh, is this record about your relationship with your ex-girlfriend?' But that damage is part of it, and the song 'I Want to Kill You Like They Do in The Movies' is about my fantasies. I have fantasies every day about smashing her skull in with a sledgehammer."
The comments in these two paragraphs would come to haunt Manson years later when the accusations against him for abuse would be made public. In 2020 Manson's UK PR representative was forced to explain the obvious meaning behind his disturbing comments by offering the following clarification:
"The comments in Spin where Manson had a fantasy of using a sledgehammer on Evan and he cut himself 158 times was obviously a theatrical rock star interview promoting a new record, and not a factual account. The fact that Evan and Manson got engaged six months after this interview would indicate that no one took this story literally."
Of course, anyone with enough common sense would know these comments and many comments that Manson makes of a similar violent nature are not true in a literal sense, but they are metaphorical and theatrical. It should be obvious that Manson did not have 158 scars on his face and hands, as can be seen by any photo from this time. And if he really called Evan 158 times, why didn't Evan answer, or why didn't she change her number, and if it was because she was so scared why didn't she ever mention it in her accusations against Manson, or produced phone records? You have to ask yourself also why the media at that time in their many interviews with Evan never asked her about these comments - it seems because everyone knew Manson was obviously using dramatization as an entertainer, and they would be right. Comments like these sell albums, and Manson often sells albums by making up dramatic stories to give people images he wants them to have in their heads. Manson often spoke of The High End of Low as being like a movie, with an Introduction, a Plot and a Conclusion, so what you get in this album is a very dramatized and violent depiction that is based on his relationship with Evan, and not literally about his relationship, otherwise he would have called it a documentary and not a movie.
Did Marilyn Manson Quote 'Punch-Drunk Love' When Talking About His Violent Fantasies?
In the awkward love scene of Punch-Drunk Love, the characters played by Adam Sandler and Emily Watson express their passion for each other humorously with words of violence, such as wanting to bite, chew and smash their partner's head in with a sledgehammer. Since Manson is sometimes known to mix both his humor and sexuality with acts of violence, did this influence him when he said of Evan Rachel Wood: "I have fantasies every day about smashing her skull in with a sledgehammer.”
In an interview with Manson and Evan Rachel Wood in Greece, when she was asked about her role in True Blood, Manson joked: "She likes to bite me all the time at home." To which Evan replied: "It hurts so good." Who is to say that they, being huge lovers of film, didn't also have their own private exchange in imitation of Punch-Drunk Love?
And Jenna Jameson has said of Manson's weird and violent sex talk: “I'd never be able to tell to what degree he was joking and to what degree he was serious." Since we know he has never literally acted out on these extreme 'fantasies', we can probably assume, like the movie, Manson says these things to lessen the awkward tension with harmless dark humor, assuming his partner shares a similar type of dark humor.
From the time of Manson's and Evan's first breakup in October 2008 till the release of The High End of Low in May 2009, it appears Evan was concentrating on her career and not involved in any relationship, at least publicly, while Manson does seem to have had one fling in December 2008, which he denied being a relationship, with 24 year old model and photographer Isani Griffith.
Manson appeared with her at an art exhibition in Florida on December 4, 2008 and introduced her as his "special lady friend", he as well made some paintings of her. They were seen kissing and holding hands in a romantic way at the art exhibition as well as some other times, and it was believed that she was his girlfriend. Shortly after her relationship with Manson became public, she deleted her MySpace profile. On December 24, 2008, Marilyn Manson posted a message on his official website claiming that she was not his girlfriend, and that he currently has no girlfriend. He wrote:
"Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to make an announcement. The rumors that I found a ‘replacement’ for Evan, or that I have a new girlfriend are absolutely not true. I am finishing up my album, and I also have never even met Ne-Yo. I can assure him that he would not want to be associated with something this godless. Get over the holiday so I can happily ruin the new year for anyone that assumed music was going to stay boring and sweet. MM"
Keep in mind that this was written on Christmas Eve, which was the day before his infamous and alleged Christmas alone in which he horrifically scarred up his face and hands and harassed Evan with 158 phone calls.
Six months later, on the 12th of May 2009, Manson and Isani Griffith were seen together again leaving Katsuya Restaurant. They had gone to the premier for Drag Me To Hell. The song 'Pretty as a Swastika" leaked on the internet the next day.
|Manson painting of Isani Griffith titled "Pretty as a Swastika" in which she is posed as a swastika.|
The second track on The High End of Low, "Pretty as a Swastika", was written about Isani Griffith. When asked about the title in an interview with Time on May 26, 2009, Manson commented:
"It's something I said to a girl because of her complexion — with black hair, red lips and pale skin. I mean, it was a complex and poetic comment that soon led to intercourse, so I felt no reason for it to be seen as confusing, hateful and destructive."
Isani Griffith does not seem to have made any comments about the recent allegations about Manson.
|Evan Rachel Wood at the Oscars in February 2009|
In February of 2009, Manson and Evan had a brief reunion. On Valentine's Day, Manson and Evan were seen leaving Nobu. There is also a photo of her from Valentine's Day laying on a bed. Later that month, they were spotted on the morning of the Oscars leaving LA’s W Hotel together. Not much is known about this reunion, except that Evan and Esme Bianco were filmed in February for the unreleased video of "I Want To Kill You Like They Do In The Movies".
On April 23 of 2009 TMZ caught up with Evan where she revealed that she and Manson were "maybe" together. In this video Evan also exposes Manson as being charming and sweet when she says: "He's got a great sense of humor. I wouldn't date a man for three years if he wasn't very charming and sweet." This indicates the relationship that began in February could have still been on the table two months later. In fact, it was confirmed by Evan in an interview with GQ that was published in May 2009, where she said they were back together after "taking some time away from the relationship.
On June 5, 2009 it was confirmed that Manson was dating the pornstar and model Stoya. They were together when The High End of Low was released and she accompanied him on his next tour. Their relationship would last till November of 2009. More will be said about their relationship in the next post, among many other things.