An Analysis and Investigation of the Photo of Esme Bianco's Wounded Back


One of my favorite movies is Jaws, I see it at least three times every summer, and one of my favorite scenes in this film of many great scenes is when Hooper and Quint compare scars and wounds and recall how they got each one. Something similar was done by Evan Rachel Wood and Esme Bianco on March 11, 2019. At 6:34 am and 6:48 am that morning, Evan Rachel Wood shared two photos on social media which she claimed showed evidence of her being in an abusive relationship. Later that day, at 12:08 pm, actress, model and dancer Esme Bianco shared two photos which she also claimed were evidence of being in an abusive relationship. The fact that both shared their photos on the same day, and happened to be in a relationship with the same man at around the same time period, made many keen observers connect their alleged abuse with Marilyn Manson for the first time, though both actresses refused to name their abuser.

Having done an analysis and investigation of the two photos posted by Evan Rachel Wood, here we will begin an analysis and investigation of the first photo Esme Bianco shared. In her first photo, Esme shares with us a photograph of her back, which is slightly bent and extended, as she holds her hair up with her right hand. Her back shows at least four large elongated wounds, which Esme claims are the result of whippings. The caption she writes for this photo says:

"This is my back. The injuries you see are real. The whipping that I got here was filmed in the name of 'art'.  Despite the many years that have passed since this happened my night terrors and PTSD symptoms continue to get worse. I am a domestic violence survivor and #IAmNotOk."


Though Esme had alluded in her social media prior to sharing this photo that she was a victim of abuse in the past, this is really the first time where she clearly comes forward as a victim of abuse, and she does it with what she claims is photographic evidence, and she does this in association with Evan Rachel Wood. Both Esme and Evan have a similar style of writing about this subject, almost as if they were written by the same person. Both only share a very minimal amount of information, and are more interested in creating a narrative for the reader/observer than allowing the reader/observer establish their own conclusion after relevant facts are given. They both also anticipate detractors who will try to find holes and contradictions in what they say, which is why they both often include certain details with the sole intention of covering their asses so as not to be found with their back against the wall.
 
Esme makes it clear that what we are seeing is her back. Then she makes it clear we are seeing injuries that are real. She follows this by saying that the injuries were the result of being whipped, and the reason she was whipped was because she was told it was for a film and it had an artistic purpose. It is then revealed that this was done many years prior to 2019, and that whatever led to her receiving these injuries on her back has to this day been for her a cause of night terrors and PTSD symptoms that have become worse as time goes on. Finally she makes it clear that this was done by someone she was in a relationship with, because she sees herself as someone who had survived domestic violence. Then, like Evan did with her tweets, she ends with the hashtag associated with domestic violence survivors who tell their stories.

We are told the backstory of the photo, from Bianco's perspective, in the February 10, 2021 issue of The Cut. There it says the photo comes from February 2009, when the relationship between Manson and Bianco was platonic and professional and filled with mutual respect. Manson hired her to come to his home in L.A. from London so she could star in the music video for his song “I Want to Kill You Like They Do in the Movies.” He explained before she arrived by email that it would be shot on a flip camera for a home-video feel and would involve Manson “kidnapping” Bianco. “I need to have a victim/lover,” he allegedly wrote in an email. “You are gonna have to pretend to like being manhandled by me. Sorry,” Manson allegedly emailed her a few days before the shoot. 
 
Arriving in L.A., Bianco, who was 26 at the time, says in her 2021 interview that she spent the next three days in lingerie, barely sleeping or eating, with Manson serving up cocaine rather than food. She remembers him losing his temper and throwing the camera at a smoke alarm. Soon, she says, he became violent, tying her with cables to a prayer kneeler, lashing her with a whip, and using an electric sex toy called a Violet Wand on her wounds. Bianco says she was terrified but tried to calm down by telling herself, "It’s just Manson being theatrical. We are going to make great art." Manson and Bianco never had sex during this time she was with him in L.A., nor does she claim any form of sexual assault took place. When Bianco left to go back home, she says she felt sad to leave Manson and considered her wounds to be proof of their bond. A few days after the shoot, Manson emailed Bianco a picture of her back covered in welts with a note reading, “bringing sexy back.”

In the same article, a former roommate of Bianco is interviewed named Hannah Fox, and when she asked Esme about the cuts and bruises on her body at the time, she responded that it was “just part of the biz.” When Fox disagreed — she had managed a fetish nightclub and insisted that a BDSM film clip should never require actual physical injury — Bianco "pulled away".

Let's examine this narrative of the backstory of the photo based on her testimony in The Cut:

1. Focusing on how the photo came about (I will examine Bianco's other accusations another time), without the added 2021 commentary that clearly was the result of her looking back at the incident over a decade later, I fail to see how this photo of Bianco's injured back, based on her own narrative in The Cut, was the result of abuse in any way - something non-consensual and done against her will. In fact, she seems to have had pride in her wounds and at the end of the day it was a positive experience for her, so positive that soon after they began an on again off again relationship till May 2011. Bianco would claim years later that it wasn't until she was diagnosed with PTSD in 2018 that she "realized" Manson had abused her.

2. It is only when Hannah Fox chimes in that we get an opposing opinion. She says that a "BDSM film clip should never require actual physical injury." First of all, we are never told if this was a BDSM scene. Maybe it was a torture scene. Nonetheless, it is true that no scene for a film, whether it is a torture scene or a BDSM scene, should result in or "require" a permanent injury. However, injuries like bruises, cuts, and welts, whatever can heal, are very common in BDSM scenes, as I found out going through many photos on the internet and doing some research in chat rooms. The welts on Esme's back, whether caused by whipping or being tied up (this is debated), clearly never even broke her skin, since the photo was taken right after it was done. Hannah Fox is presented as someone with a professional opinion, but it seems like she has no idea what she is talking about here and only served to express doubts in Esme's mind about what really happened, though still Esme thought she was overreacting at the time, and it seems that indeed she clearly was.

3. If Esme didn't feel abused in any way at the time, based on her own testimony, and thought her friend was overreacting by being concerned, and first interpreted this film shoot as abusive only after she tried to associate the origins of her allegedly diagnosed PTSD with it in 2018, then it can be conclusively assumed there really was no abuse involved, and instead she has chosen to interpret it as abuse nine years later based on a supposed psychological evaluation.

When this incident was described on Good Morning America (Feb. 11, 2021), the interviewer asked Bianco: "At any point, did you ask him to stop?" Her response was, "No, I would never have dared to ask him to stop." Her attitude in describing the incident for Good Morning America is different than how she described her attitude for The Cut. Her attitude on Good Morning America shows herself as being very much aware that she was being abused at the time of the incident, but the details from The Cut show us she was very much not of this mindset. In fact, she contradicts herself, because earlier in the same interview with Good Morning America, she says that it took her seven years after the relationship for her to realize she was abused.

In the court complaint issued by Bianco against Brian Warner (Marilyn Manson) on April 30, 2021, she portrays the same attitude she had on Good Morning America with added details that frankly make the story sound even more absurd and reaching, and contradicts the attitude she had as she described in The Cut. Regarding the incident that led to the photo, the complaint says:

"Perhaps most horrifyingly, Mr. Warner locked Ms. Bianco in the bedroom, tied her to a prayer kneeler, and beat her with a whip that Mr. Warner said was utilized by the Nazis. He also electrocuted her. Ms. Bianco believed that if she protested any of this treatment, she would be seen as unprofessional and barred from future professional opportunities—or worse, that Mr. Warner would continue to harm her."

If this is a true reflection of her thinking at the time, then why did she shrug off Hannah Fox when she told her that her injuries weren't normal? It is not unprofessional to say to someone who is hurting you on set that you are in pain and need a break, or that some adjustment needs to be made. This is equivalent to having to go to the bathroom, but not being allowed to go to the bathroom (which no one accuses Manson of). "Barred from future professional opportunities"? Is this something Manson told her or threatened her with? We aren't told so, therefore why bring this up. "Continue to harm her"? This is a contradiction in the same paragraph - the whole point in the accusation is that he was continually harming her. None of this makes any sense.


Does The Photo Depict What Is Claimed?

Some have shrugged off the photo of Esme's wounded back, saying either it is not her real back, or the marks on her back are not the result of being whipped but of being tied up. It has also been assumed that this photo has no association with Manson at all. From what we can see, one or more of these allegations could indeed be true.

First, there is no context to the photo. Esme says in The Cut interview that Manson sent this photo to her in an email with a note reading, “bringing sexy back." Though this does sound like something Manson would do and say, still she does not provide the details of the email with Manson's note in order to put some context to the photo. Why?

Second, Esme's court complaint says she was whipped with a Nazi whip. I have looked at Nazi whips online, and can't find one that would create those types of injuries. In fact, I agree her injuries look more like she was bound with a rope than whipped, and we are told she was bound to the prayer kneeler. If she was whipped, then she was whipped no more than four times, but a whip delivered with any aggression would have broken her skin or at least given her deeper bruising, and I don't see that in the photo, where the wounds are clean. Also, the marks show the whipping would have been concentrated on her left side, which also doesn't make sense. If you whip someone, usually you focus on the middle of the back (unless the arms are suspended above the head, but that is not what we are told happened). And the aim is precise in how they are away from each other, which may indicate multiple tails on the whip, but the marks are of varying degrees, which indicates more force or pressure in one place and less force or pressure in another, thus dismissing the multiple tails theory. There is also a similar mark around the neck area in the form of a large horseshoe which looks more like a mark from an outfit or binding than the lash of a whip.

Third, wounds like these could have been from a film (she died on Game of Thrones bound), or one of her burlesque/BDSM acts onstage or from a photoshoot. To just throw a photo out there and give it your own context, and us having to rely on your narrative alone is a form of manipulation. If you want someone to believe you, you have to give a lot more information about the photo, especially if you are using it to destroy someone's life, whether they deserve it or not.

There are at least five questionable observations about this photo:


1. If you look at the centered lighting and darkening of the border of this photo and compare it to the photo of Evan's "self-inflicted" scars, you will notice they are very similar, as if they were at least edited by the same person. When you keep this in mind along with the fact that the descriptions that accompany the photos are also written in a similar fashion, you have to wonder if they both have similar origins or methods for manipulation. Perhaps they both had certain things purposefully edited out of the photos to help people focus on their narrative and not added details, maybe they had their lawyers involved, or one of the other women/accusers they conspired with helped them do it.


2. When we recall how Ashley Morgan Smithline was caught in an outright lie by posting a stock image of the wounded chest and neck of man that she said was the result of Manson's abuse towards her, then we have every right to question every other photo of an accuser, especially if it also looks like a stock image, whether if it is of Bianco or someone else.

 


 

3. In March 2011, Esme Bianco did a series of exclusive burlesque shows at the Tassel Club in London. In some of the photos you can see marks on her skin and even what looks like wounds from this show, which at least indicates that her wounds could have come from a performance (I sharpened the second images to highlight the marks). In her earlier career, her shows were even more physical.


4. On May 17, 2019, Bianco posted a thread on Twitter responding to some questions about filming violent scenes while having PTSD. In the second photo, her back injuries, which are clearly fake and more extreme, when observed closely, actually correspond slightly to the back wounds she claims were made by Manson and are real. Look at the side by side photo, and keep in mind that in the "real" photo she is bending forward, which could explain why one is a bit off.


5. If you compare the birthmarks in each photo, they don't seem to correspond. Even if you argued they did correspond, it does reveal how distorted the left photo is and how it doesn't exactly correspond to a normal photo of a back. The right photo is confirmed to be Esme dressed as a bunny she posted in 2019 on social media.
 
Concluding Remarks:

When I look at this photo of Esme Bianco's wounded back, I feel like I am being manipulated. When I read its description in the accompanying caption, I feel like I am being manipulated. When I read the backstory to this photo, I clearly see the contradictions, and I feel like I am being manipulated. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

Despite some possible evidence to the contrary, or at least given that there is enough reason to doubt, I am willing to concede this wound is from Esme Bianco's back, that the wounds are real, that they were given by Marilyn Manson during the filming of his music video, and she didn't enjoy getting them. Even if I were to concede all these things, and I am willing to do so, I would still be very far from convinced they are the result of Manson being physically abusive against Bianco with any sadistic maliciousness or against her will in any way. In fact, Esme admits this is so, and did not change her outlook until her entire worldview changed by becoming radicalized (Esme was still a Manson fan and attended his concerts and quoted his songs at least until 2015), apparently after she was allegedly diagnosed with PTSD in 2018. I find this way of interpreting what happened in February of 2009 entirely unacceptable and unreasonable.

Thus, my conclusion is that this photo in no way implies an act of abuse, and certainly does not prove abuse either.
 
 

 

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