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He has been called an emissary of Satan and falsely blamed for one of the most notorious shootings in US history. But the singer has never been afraid of outrage. Is that really an excuse, though, to flick our interviewer’s testicles?
It is while discussing the difference between his stage persona and his day-to-day life that Marilyn Manson leans over and flicks me in the testicles. This comes as quite a surprise: I have encountered a lot of unusual things as a journalist, but have thus far managed to get by without an interviewee touching my genitals. More surprising still is that leaning over and flicking my testicles appears to form part of his answer to a question about whether he has ever felt consumed by the character he created a quarter of a century ago, in the same way that Bowie struggled to separate himself from Ziggy Stardust or the Thin White Duke. Certainly, the way he says: “That’s the difference!” immediately afterwards suggests it is, but I’m not sure.
For one thing, I am distracted by my sore testicles, and, for another, I wasn’t really following his line of argument at the time. First, he took my notepad, wrote “person” on it and added an “a” at the end. “I’m this and I’m this,” he said. “A person and a persona. But I can’t really divide the two. There’s a difference on the stage; people I don’t know I just seduce, in a lot of ways. You go offstage and people … even me and you now, talking …”