the NachtKabarett

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All Writing & Content © Nick Kushner Unless Noted Otherwise
In collaboration with Gilles R. Maurice

Aubrey Beardsley (1895)
painted by Jacques-Emile Blanche.
Marilyn Manson, as the Arch Dandy of DADA

"I'd like to think of myself as the arch dandy of the era", as Manson likened himself to a new persona while composing The Golden Age Of Grotesque, and this new demagogue emerged. The term 'Dandy' emerged with popular artistic and poetic association in the latter half of the Nineteenth century in England and France heralding the new rebirth and era of decadence in art, poetry and expressionism. A Dandy can be described as an individual in the arts, specifically during this time period, with radical political and social views, an often shocking style and manner of dress which is often androgynous. The term was associated and popularized by the expressionists of the era such as Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, whose portrait is hung above. Manson has cited both Wilde and Beardsley as influence on The Golden Age Of Grotesque, particularly expressing his admiration and appreciation of Oscar Wilde for his life and all his accomplishments, and it can be seen by comparison above Manson also likened himself towards these men, evoking the style and reveled decadence of this era.

Among the inspirations for the thematics in The Golden Age of Grotesque, you also have to mention Oscar Wilde or the Marquis de Sade, artists that were unfortunately persecuted in their everyday life simply because of their imagination or thought. Their lifestyle, as well as the fact of putting so much of themselves in their art, have always fascinated me.
Marilyn Manson, D-Side, May 2003 (translated from French)
Oscar Wilde in 1882, one of the foremost influences on Manson's writings
during The Golden Age of Grotesque and the original Arch Dandy.
Manson in the Summer of 2005 in the first online press
release of the forthcoming Phantasmagoria film.
GIRLS (in the spirit of Oscar Wilde):
Be obscene, be be obscene / Be obscene, baby and not heard.
Marilyn Manson, lyrics for mOBSCENE

Aubrey Beardsley was most famous for his illustrations for Wilde's play version of Salome (one of which was actually used in Manson's imagery, in a 2000 flashcard preview of The Love Song), which was controversial and risked losing it's funding for both being illegal to depict and portray Biblical stories on stage in England at the time, the very sensual and erotic portrayal of such, as well as Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations for it which were deemed obscene. His illustrations often contained and depicted many obscene and sexually suggestive imagery. For Salome many of his initial drawings were flatly rejected by the editors for the candles as phallic symbols, in one a masturbating boy and another, 'Salome on settle' which depicted Salome herself holding an object which was too evocative of an instrument of sexual pleasure for the editor's liking. "As each new design crossed [the editor's] desk, it was minutely examined with a jeweler's magnifying glass, upside-down and all around to ensure it contained no hidden indecencies." Beardsley's illustrations as a whole drew much controversy for their sensual minimalist nature, being demonized by critics as "audacious vulgarity and laborious inelegance" and that his work "intended to attract by its very repulsiveness and insolence".

Illustration by Beardsley for Juvenal's Sixth Satire, 1896. Still frame from a bondage scene in Manson's video for (s)AINT, 2004.

Already it can be seen why Manson would choose to evoke this era for a myriad of reasons, for it's decadence, it's beauty through "repulsion" and particularly the public's participation in such, because it is THE GOLDEN AGE OF GROTESQUE. And like Manson, Beardsley played to the public, as their reaction was as much part of his art as his art itself.

"If not everyone liked Beardsley, no one could ignore him. Some of his notices were positive; most were not - but he determined to rejoice alike in notoriety and praise. When the magazine Public Opinion, for example, said that his drawings 'do no belong to the sane body or mind...' and that 'men of robust intellect or healthy moral tone' would not approve of them, Beardsley told [Robbie] Ross how delighted he was to be set down 'as belonging to the Libidinous and Asexual School'."
Aubrey Beardsley : A Slave To Beauty by David Colvin
Illustration for Salome,
'Salome on settle', 1894.
Illustration by Beardsley
'Grotesque' from Bon Mots, 1893.
Still Frame from the 'mOBSCENE'
video, Marilyn Manson, 2003.

It can be noted here that most of all of the decor and aesthetic of The NACHTKABARETT are taken from Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations. Beardsley also did illustrations for a collection of short writings and musing called Bon Mots, as listeners will recognize the title as a lyric in the title track of The Golden Age Of Grotesque (just like Alexander Pope's 'The Rape of the Lock', which Beardsley did also illustrate, would later be mentionned in the song 'Eat Me, Drink Me'). But much like the decadence and degradation of the culture in 1930's Weimar Germany, this movement of Dandyism of the late Nineteenth in Europe was very inspirational for The Golden Age Of Grotesque, the era of the revival of Decadence, Depravity and Expressionism. And given this which his performance and art is evocative of, reveling in and bringing back this celebration, from expressionism to burlesque to vaudeville and cabaret gives Manson the well deserved title of Arch Dandy.

Manson, without the accent, says: "I have no persona called Arch Dandy." Then to Delilah--a persona non grata--The Arch Dandy proclaims, "I am merely an idiosyncrat."
Marilyn Manson, "These Foolish Things" journal entry posted 5/25/02
'Bathyllus Posturing', Beardsley illustration from
The Sixth Satire of Juvenal, 1896.
'The Green Whore of Love' (Series 3), watercolor by
Marilyn Manson presenting a similar posture.
I am a dandy in the ghetto with a snow white smile
Marilyn Manson, (s)AINT
"I memorize the words to the porno movies / This is a new religion to me" (Marilyn Manson, lyrics from 'Slutgarden', in The Golden Age of Grotesque).
Marilyn Manson in the porno-graphic banned video for (s)AINT, directed by Asia Argento and unveiled on the 'Lest We Forget' DVD.
"I have one aim—the grotesque. If I am not grotesque I am nothing."
Aubrey Beardsley
Three more illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley for Aristophanes' Lysistrata, his most famous pornographic illustrations, which he implored his publisher
to destroy after converting to Catholicism, in a letter he sent from his deathbed in France : “and by all that is holy all obscene drawings.”
I'm the Arch Dandy / No-goodnik and I'm headed / For Crashville.
Marilyn Manson, The Bright Young Things
Left; still frame from a backstage scene in 'This is the New Shit'. Center; the Arch Dandy in a still frame from 'mOBSCENE'. Right; Marilyn Manson during his Mechanical Animals era, already donning the Dandy's aesthetics, particularly fitting with the Glam Rock persona he was incarnating back then.


“The Arch Dandy of Da Da! Daddy, there’s a man in our TV.”
Marilyn Manson, title for a journal entry posted 7/4/02


As always in Manson's creations, and particularly The Golden Age of Grotesque, this self-appointed title of The Arch Dandy of Dada (the fullness of which was revealed in the journal line above) finds its origins in a multiplicity of combined times and places : Dadaism of the 1920s (a big influence on the album, as mentionned in our "Degenerate" Art section) thus suddenly overlaps 19th century Dandyism through the alchemy of Marilyn Manson.

The mere sight of a monocle in those days hurt the feelings of the petty bourgeoisie, who regarded themselves as progressive. But particular outrage ensued when a dandy from the Dadaist group, armed with a monocle, took the rostrum at a communist meeting.
Hannah Höch, in a later description of Hausmann's appearance

While this association of Dandy and Dada can seem unnatural, it becomes particularly apropos if we consider a very similar title was used to nickname Raoul Hausmann, more precisely by the artist's lover Hannah Höch in her photomontage 'Da Dandy' (the title of which is also reproduced as a graphic element in the collage), where she ironically references the hypocrisy of the Berlin Dada group and German society as a whole, towards her gender. The multi-layered arrangement caricaturizes Hausmann as a silhouette filled with clipped pictures from the popular women's weeklies, symbolizing her numerous young rivals, just like the suggestive cacophony of overlapping voices that can be heard in the song 'Para-Noir', when Manson auditions "the women of the world" to list their reasons for fucking him...


'Da Dandy', 1919. A complex photomontage by Hannah Höch, depicting Hausmann's head as a silhouette filled with nothing but motifs of young fashionable women with seductive postures, eyes and smiles directed
towards him, evoking Höch's difficult relationship with the artist.
'For God so love the world that he gave his only begotten son', 2004. Dadaesque collage by Marilyn Manson including photographs and Bible passages, all of which are listed on our page The God Bandaid, together
with an in-depth analysis of the concept behind that piece.


Dadaism was established because art had reached a point where people were wondering what was possible to do from what was already in place. On the album, the first line I sing is “everything has been said before / there's nothing left to say anymore”. It's quite dada. Dadaism is very childish. It's a bit like a child who's bored with his toy and wants another one. There's no intellectual element in it, but it doesn't mean it has no intellectual dimension. Somehow, this album is simpler because I don't present the philosophy in an evident manner. I tried to paint canvas, weird rhytmics that sometimes have no sense at all. I also used words that not only aren't comprehensible by all, but that simply don't exist in the English language.
Marilyn Manson, Hard N' Heavy, May 2003 (translated from French)


Of course Manson's identification to Dada goes far further than the mere self-entitlement, with the idea that "everything has been said in art" borrowed to Duchamp, the childish spontaneity dear to Manson, and above all the numerous invented words meticulously scattered by Manson in his lyrics and titles, the most evident being of course 'Doll-dagga buzz-buzz ziggety-zag'. These techniques clearly evoke the Dadaist manner of playing with words, phonemes and onomatopœia, in their collages and optophonetic poetry, which is also reflected in the typographic arrangements for the album's booklet, especially the title for 'This Is The New Shit' (above, from single cover).


Left; "ABCD" by Raoul Hausmann, a collage from 1924 playing with words, letters and rhythms. Center; 1920 photomontage by John Heartfield for
'Der Dada' #3, using the same photograph of Hausmann with a more visible monocle. Right; "Kp´erioum", optophonetic poem by Hausmann, 1928.
I've got an F and a C and I got a K too
And the only thing missing is a bitch like yoU
Marilyn Manson, (s)AINT


Manson continued to pay homage to the group in his own blasphematory way with several collages including the God Bandaid watercolor above unveiled in the Lest We Forget artwork, and later in three photomontage portraits for presented below :

Three Hausmann-esque montages representing Manson in later incarnations of his own website, respectively used in the Celebritarian flash emblem, ornating the splash page of's April 2006 version, its later Art Section (also from 2006), and the News page of its 2007 Eat Me, Drink Me skin.
Three 1920 collages by Raoul Hausmann : 'Tatlin at Home', 'The Art Critic' and 'Selfportrait of the Dada-Oven', probable influences for the above montages.