the NachtKabarett

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She wants me to be / perfect like Kennedy.
Marilyn Manson, Posthuman

First referenced in 1998 in Mechanical Animals on the song 'Posthuman', JFK and the impact of his death upon America has been a theme which Manson has subsequently and continually referenced in his work ever since. Most noteworthy of these references have been the songs 'President Dead', 'King Kill 33°', as well as many off-handed allusion throughout the album Holy Wood and very prominently in the video for 'Coma White' in which Manson actually reenacts Kennedy's assassination. To those unfamiliar with Manson this seemingly unrelated juxtaposed imagery may seem as a whole something of mere sensationalism but in reality has been a theme which Manson has always played upon even long before he used Kennedy as an example of this; Celebritarianism, which mankind's inherent violent nature and morbid fascination of such. In America, most children (though particularly of now slightly older generations) have grown up watching the Zapruder film of of Kennedy's head being eviscerated on camera. The concept of Celebritarianism is Manson's observation and indictment of a culture which places serial killers on the same celebrity status as a glamour starlet, where the very name 'Marilyn Manson' derives from. Celebritarianism (if taken literally, the devouring and consumption of the concept of celebrity) is where one is only cared about after one is dead; and where if one is killed on camera it's a guarantee of a posthumous celebrity treatment, with Kennedy's public and televised assassination being representative of this. After his death he became, and to many parties concerned, a Second Christ in the eyes of America.

Dear god the paper says you were the King / In the black limousine
Dear John and all the King's men / can't put your head together again
Marilyn Manson, Godeatgod
There was Christ in the metal shell / there was blood on the pavement
Marilyn Manson, Lamb Of God

Though the imagery Manson utilizes is one which both graphic and dark it is in no way one which is glorifying to such violence, and in fact quite the contrary. Manson has been quoted on numerous occasions that an artist he did not create the world but instead reflects upon it. This theme is one, as previously stated, concurrent throughout Manson's body of work but one most apparent after being scapegoated for the Columbine shootings and also a theme which was subsequently validated by the very same society and media blitzing that Manson was indicting. The point was proven when the two killers, only days prior were mere 'Nobodies', made the cover of Time magazine for a mass killing just as Charles Manson made the cover of Life magazine in the late 1960's under similar circumstances, just as the song 'The Nobodies' lyricizes on Holy Wood. On Manson's preceding album, Mechanical Animals, the song 'Posthuman' summarizes this in what is referred to in metaphorical terms is a society where violence is the religion and the saints are dead stars with the preconditional of being beatified is either a public death or causing one.

In all of her dreams / she's a saint like Jackie-O
Marilyn Manson, Posthuman
"A loved one laid his head in her lap. Red roses fell to the floor, and the world stood still."
(Sample introducing the track 'Coma Black', and describing this particlar scene).

METAL EDGE: How do you see Kennedy as a Christ figure?

MARILYN MANSON: First of all, my theory that I've really been thinking about since I had so much interaction with Christianity after doing 'Antichrist Svperstar', is that Christ was the blue-print for celebrity. He was the first celebrity, or rock star if you want to look at it that way, and he became this image of sexuality and suffering. He's literally marketed - a crucifix is no different than a concert shirt in some ways. I think for America, in my lifetime, John F. Kennedy kind of took the place of that in some ways. He became lifted up as this icon and this Christ figure. I started to, in my weird drugged version of Hollywood, dream up a world where these dead stars are really saints. Jackie O[nassis] is kind of like Mary Immaculate. That's what I was thinking when I was writing the album, and I hinted that in a lot of song like 'Posthuman'.The story was something that I had in my head, and that's where the songs came from. As the songs came to life the story kind of grew also. It's all really a metaphor for my own life, but the story, without giving away too much, takes place in an alternate dystopia of Hollywood where everything is taken to the extreme. It's sort of Andy Warhol's worst nightmare, combined with Scientology and communism. If you imagined everything was as far as anyone can take it, the way the movie stars are treated. There are a lot of references to the way that I see John F. Kennedy as a modern day Christ and how religion kind of sprouts from that. It's really a strange story, but in the end it's a parable about fame and love and what matters to you the most, but I can't say it's got a happy ending. The video for 'Coma White' is adapted from my script, so it will be a bit of a teaser, a hint at what people can expect... Though I'm sure they won't understand it or make it any clearer.

Metal Edge, July 1999 'Marilyn Manson - Revelations of an Alien-Messiah'
A still frame from the 'Coma White' video portraying a crucified and deified Manson in the role of JFK, expressing how Kennedy had become a "second Christ" in the eyes of America when his televised assassination had made him into a martyr to the popular consciousness.
She's got eyes like Zapruder / and a mouth like heroin
Marilyn Manson, Posthuman

Left; detail of The Fight Song single showing a still of frame 313 of the Zapruder film depicting Kennedy's head being shot in the monitor screen on Manson's shoulder.

Right; Two stills of frame 313 of the Zapruder film which appear in the opening vignette of Frame 313 of the film, being annotated, is the frame in which Kennedy's head is impacted and explodes; coinciding the song "President Dead" is 3 minutes and 13 seconds long.

"We applaud the creation of a bomb whose sole purpose is to destroy all of mankind, and we grow up watching our president's brains splattered all over Texas. Times have not become more violent. They have just become more televised."
'Columbine: Whose Fault Is It?' Marilyn Manson.
Essay published in Rolling Stone, June 1999.
Background projection and subliminal image of JFK in the 2004 Personal Jesus video, among several other Personal Jesus's of history such as Staline or Gandhi.

For more on Celebritarian and Celebritarianism read THE LAMB OF GOD .COM, HIDDEN SITES, VALENTINE'S DAY and the CELEBRITARIAN CORPORATION section of The NACHTKABARETT.




"and I want you now to just kill the king..."
Marilyn Manson, King Kill 33°

One of the more esoteric references in Holy Wood, King Kill 33° is one of the most blatant references to the Kennedy assassination after the song 'President Dead', which again represents the theme of Kennedy becoming the Second Christ in the eyes of America because his death was televised and subsequently portrayed as martyrdom. The title is a reference to the manuscript 'King Kill 33' by James Shelby Downard and Michael A. Hoffman. Most Marilyn Manson fans at one time or another have probably come across the web page entitle King-Kill/33: Masonic Symbolism in the Assassination of John F.Kennedy which is a preface and excerpts to the entire 35 page manuscript, and upon reading the excerpt it is a very interesting treatise and is essentially what the song and imagery surrounding the album are evocative of.

Left; cover of Downard's 1987 essay 'King Kill 33'. Right; 18th century Masonic apron related to the death of Grand Master Hiram Abif, architect of King Solomon's Temple, assassinated by the three ruffians with a square, gauge, and gavel to obtain his secret soon after the Temple was built.
"The assassination of JFK was a performance of the occult ritual called The Killing of the King, designed as a mass-trauma, mind-control assault against the national body-politic of the United States."
James Shelby Downard, King Kill 33, 1987

The concept dealt with within 'King Kill 33' is reference to the esoteric rite of The Killing Of The King (an ancient, radical version of the Masonic initiation ritual of the Death of Hiram), often associated with alchemy, and particularly how the enactment of this rite was the motive behind John F. Kennedy's assassination. The number 33 is the highest degree of the Scottish rite of Masonry, it is also the degree of latitude at which JFK was assassinated at the Dealy Plaza, the degree of latitude which the detonation of the first atomic bomb at Trinity and the degree of latitude which the the Temple of Solomon in Israel is to be rebuilt, as foretold in the Book of Revelations as one of the signs heralding the Apocalypse, The Second Coming Of Christ.

Left; depiction of Hiram Abif, sometimes amalgamated with Hiram, King of Tyre, in his coffin surrounded by the three assassins.

Right; 1866 engraving from the book of Duncan's Ritual, in which the Mason aspirant blindly reenacts the final scenes of Hiram Abiff's life before being resurrected, a ritual Downard associates to the Killing of The King one in his essay.

"In the ancient mysteries the aspirant could not claim a participation in the hightest secrets until he had been placed in the Pastos, bed or coffin was called the symbolical death of the mysteries, and his deliverance was termed as a rising from the dead; the 'mind', says an ancient writer quoted by Stobaeus is affected in death just as it is in the initiation in to the mysteries. And word answers to word, as well as thing to thing; for burial is to die and death to be initiated. The coffin in Masonry is found on tracing boards of the early part of the last century, and has always constituted a part of the symbolism of the Third Degree, where the reference is precisely to the same as that of the Pastos in the ancient mysteries." .
Passage from Encyclopedia of Freemasonry quoted by Downard in 'King Kill 33'
"The Abraham Lincoln town cars / arrive to dispose of our king and queen
and they orchestrated dramatic new scenes / for Celebritarian™ needs"
Marilyn Manson, The Fall of Adam

The whole mass manipulation idea in the essay is obviously at the basis of Manson's Celebritarian philosophy, as illustrated in the lyrics for 'The Fall of Adam', with a nice allusion to Downard's essay :

"The entire left wing-right wing scenario is a chess game where various pawns are motivated by emotions to follow the orders of "Kings and Queens" whose allegiance is to psychological control objectives and propaganda is one of the ways that psychological control is established."
James Shelby Downard, King Kill 33

As outlined by the book Secret Societies And Psychological Warfare, "Fabled alchemy had at least three goals to accomplish before the total decay of matter was fulfilled. These are :

  • The Creation and Destruction of Primordial Matter
  • The Killing Of The King
  • The Bringing of Prima Materia to Prima Terra

"The Creation and Destruction of Primordial Matter was accomplished at the White Head ("Ancient of Days"), at White Sands, New Mexico, at the Trinity Site. The Trinity Site itself is located at the beginning of an ancient western road in old Mexico as the Jornada del muerto (the Journey of Death).

"Early in this century a Freemason named Peter Kern was ordered to build a highly symbolic 'Gate of Death' at a key point on the ancient Jornada del muerto trail. It was known as the Gate with a Thousand Doors. At the front of this gate Kern was ceremonially murdered (decapitated) by a hooded executioner.

"The are 33 segments in the human spinal column which according to occult lore is the vehicle of the fiery ascent of the Kundalini serpent force which resides in the human body. 33 is the highest degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry. The Creation and Destruction of Primordial Matter occurred exactly on the Trinity Site, the 'Place of Fire,' with the explosion of the first atomic bomb, culminating untold thousands of years of Alchemical speculation and practise.

"The Killing of the King rite was accomplished at another Trinity Site located approximately ten miles south of the 33rd degree of north parallel latitude between the Trinity River and the Triple Underpass at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Dealey Plaza was the site of the first masonic temple in Dallas. In this spot, which had been known during thr 19th century cowboy era as 'Bloody Elm Street,' the world leader who had become known as the 'King Of Camelot,' President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was shot to death." The third and last goal, The Bringing of Prima Materia to Prima Terra, was also allegedly fulfilled in 1969 when the Apollo brought back moon rocks from the 'Prima Materia,' to the Earth, the 'Prima Terra.'

Left; photograph of Kern's Gate revealed in Marilyn Manson's hidden website, among other images hinting at the themes for the album.

"Peter Kern, a turn-of-the-century Mason built a ceremonial entrance to his land to represent an esoteric gateway to death. This is the Jornada del Muerto, the journey of the dead man. Some believe that JFK passed through here on his way to Trinity and on to Dealy Plaza. It is located near El Paso. To my knowledge, it has no affiliation with Nazis nor do I CONDONE or PROMOTE any such beliefs. This is merely a mystical and bizarre piece of architecture I discovered on my quest for knowledge. If you look deeper, you will see its connection to Adam Kadmon as well."
Marilyn Manson, in a post from his Official BBS,
Concerning his choice of Kern's Gate as an inspiration for Holy Wood.
Menu for 'The Death Parade' from the Guns, God and Government DVD, documenting backstage scenes from the band's trip around the world. The first part is entitled Journada Del Muerte as a reference to Kern Gate's site.

Manson has also used the moniker 'The King Of Camelot' in referencing Kennedy during the writing of Holy Wood. At a later date I plan on adding more on how this actually relates to In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death and the Triptych but as this is a very esoteric and misunderstood reference in Holy Wood, this is what the title of the song if referring to.

It should be noted that these facets of Alchemy stated here are those claimed by Hoffman in relation to the manuscript 'King Kill 33' which are his own interpretations and are are not discussed herein for the purpose of accuracy in regard to historical alchemy, but those which reflect the theme of the writing.


"The Masons apply this fertility information to their own death rites: ritual assassination, the symbolical euresis and the autopsy. The latter comes from the Greek, "to see with one's own eyes". In the ancient mysteries an autopsy signaled the communication of mystical secrets. After the autopsy the corpse or in the case of the ritual, the Fellow acting as a corpse, i placed in a coffin and the coffin on a catafalque and the catafalque in the center of a circle. There the symbolical corpse awaits resurrection."
James Shelby Downard, King Kill 33

The deadly ritual Downard invokes which is part of Greening Ritualism corresponds to a fertility oblation, and thus expresses by its symbolism an idea of cyclicical nature of time and actions, another theme which is recuringly played upon by Manson. This was first seen in 1996's Antichrist Svperstar where each of the albums three sections were titled 'cycles' and with the last track 99 flowing seamlessly back into track one creating such a loop. As Holy Wood is the third dimension of the story drawn upon in the Triptych of Antichrist Svperstar, Mechanical Animals and the aforementioned, the use of cycles continued and particularly through the use of alchemical themes. Most notable is the theme of rebirth and transformation which is not only present Holy Wood but is one of the most consistent links throughout all of Manson's works.

The cyclical nature of Holy Wood is represented both by the parallelism of 'Godeatgod' and 'Count To Six & Die (The Vaccuum of Infinite Space Encompassing)', the first and last songs respectively, but also through the use of visuals in this occurrence. The hidden feature of Holy Wood when it was released was that it was an enhanced disc that when inserted into the computer it acted as a link to a video which most recently was also included as a bonus on the newly released Lest We Forget video collection DVD. As discussed above and the reasons for which, Manson has previously reenacted Kennedy's death. The bonus video of Holy Wood is a black and white depiction or Manson reenacting Kennedy's autopsy (or revelation of secrets), and the removal of his brain, the disappearance of which afterwards is compared in Downard's essay to 'aphanism', or disappearance of Hiram's body from the Masonic legend.

The operative intentional difference between the original footage of Kennedy and Manson's interpretation is that instead of the removal of Manson's brain at the end of the film, when his skull is sawed open the technicians remove from the head cavity a fetus attached to an umbilical cord.

"When One World Ends Something Else Begins
But Without A Scream...."
The Fall of Adam
Left; detail from Holy Wood artwork representative of life emerging from death, and also related to the Tree Of Life. Notice the fragments from Kennedy's autopsy cover sheet. Right; alchemical drawing borrowed by Manson on his website during Holy Wood. A remarkable depiction about cyclical nature of times and actions. Read more about this symbol on our page 'GODEATGOD - The Dawn of Holy Wood'.

Though a very squeamish and disturbing imagery, the autopsy bares much significance and many parallels throughout Holy Wood and Manson's work. One of the aspects which, prior to its release Manson stated about the album, was that two core themes throughout was the idea of evolution and revolution (and yes, that in itself is also a reference to John Lennon who, like Kennedy, is another public martyr) with this bonus video being yet another reiteration of such. Manson, in Holy Wood, took the concept of being Born Again and applied it to another more metaphorical dimension, which specifically in alchemy, is the idea that one transforms oneself continually throughout the accomplishments of one's work. This, again, was played upon in Antichrist Svperstar with the use of a cyclical timeline and recurs in Holy Wood with the illustration that metaphorical death is a necessary step to such a rebirth, with the use of a cyclical illustration to depict the regeneration to life. The title of the song 'Godeatgod' reflects this particularly in that, as in the above illustration, the concept of Ouroubourous the self devouring serpent to represent the infinite process that there is no life without death, an vice versa.

"...some of us are really born to die."
Valentine's Day
Left; Interior back cover of Holy Wood depicting a fetal skeleton within its mother. A morbid illustration of life emerging from death. Right;
The Four Worlds of the Kabbalah as shown within the Holy Wood booklet alongside the original sourced diagram of occult historical antiquity.
"John F. Kennedy, the one and only Catholic president of the United States, was a human scapegoat, a "pharmakos." "Pharmakos" or "Pharmak-vos" can mean "enchantment with drugs and sorcery" or "beaten, crippled or immolated." In alchemy, the Killing of the King was symbolized by a crucified snake on a tau cross, a variant of the crucifixion of Jesus."
James Shelby Downard, King Kill 33
Manson as the Magician holding the bronze serpent coiled around the silver crucifix. Besides bearing the reference to Moses' bronze serpent mentionned in our page The Tarot & Holy Wood, the serpent on a tau cross (right, from “Les Devises Heroiques”, 1551) happens to be an alchemical symbol for the Killing of the King rite according to Downard, and is believed by some to have given its shape to the Dollar Sign Manson would later borrow in the video for "Arma...Geddon".




Now we hold the 'ugly head'
A Place in the Dirt
The next day Mrs. White's funeral is held on a renovated motion picture lot still equipped with essential sound and lighting effects required for such a tragedy-inspiring media drama. This place is called the Holy Wood Memorial Cemetery and everyone is in attendance. The President wears his best mask of grief--Academy Award winning, in fact. He even adds a drop of glycerin to his eye before his eulogy. The best make-up artists available concealed his gash perfectly but a few more hours in the sun and it will get as the Gaelic say "Kennedy," which means, of course, ugly or wounded head.
HOLY WOOD, The Novel

The closing sentence is another reference to 'King Kill 33' and throughout the text of the one chapter of the Holy Wood novel which has been public are further allusions to Kennedy as the King of Camelot which is prevalent in the American lore of Kennedy but discussed particularly within the manuscript as occult elements surrounding Kennedy's assassination :

"For many years Dealey Plaza was underwater at different seasons, having been flooded by the Trinity River until the introduction of a flood-control system. To this trident-Neptune site came the "Queen of Love and Beauty" and her spouse, the scapegoat in the Killing of the King rite, the "Ceannaideach" (Gaelic word for Kennedy meaning "ugly head" or "wounded head")."
James Shelby Downard, excerpt from KING KILL 33

Within the album of Holy Wood, the song 'A Place in the Dirt' holds further reference to Downard's essay and Kennedy with the chorus repetition of "Put me in the motorcade, put me in the death parade" and with "Now we hold the 'ugly head'" to the manuscript allegations of Kennedy being Gaelic for the term "ugly or wounded head".


"Sometimes we walk like / we were shot through / our heads, my love"
Marilyn Manson, Disassociative
Detail of Disposable Teens single cover with the Kennedy autopsy face sheet. Detail of The Fight Song single cover with Boswell's diagram of JFK's fractured skull.
Face/Descriptive sheet and diagram of JFK's skull noting the 10 x 17 cm missing piece from the President's skull as drawn by J. Thornton Boswell, MD.
"Dear god the sky is as blue / as a gunshot wound"
Marilyn Manson, GODEATGOD
Left; Cover of Holy Wood featuring the martyred Manson silenced via his absent jawbone with a detail of the Kennedy autopsy cover sheet which follows through the album artwork. Right; another fragment from the autopsy sheet dissimulated in a detail of the artwork... CAUSE OF DEATH: Gunshot wound, head.

Illustration of the "Magic Bullet" theory deatiled in the Warren Commission investigation into Kennedy's assassination in which a single bullet allegedly shot Kennedy, causing two wounds, and then hit Texas Governor Nellie Connally three times, passing through bone, and was removed from his left thigh in pristine condition as opposed to the completely flattened and obliterated state in which it should have been. Since such a series of wounds and as many multiple changes of trajectory of a single bullet are theoretically and otherwise impossible, the "Magic Bullet" theory remains as the key physical evidence which points to a conspiracy in the assassination of JFK as more than one gunmen from more than one location with more than the three shots which were documented as being fired would have been needed to to coincide with the physical evidence and witness testimonials of the assassination.

"Anti cop / Anti fun / Here is my anti-president gun"
Marilyn Manson, 1996

Left; the Secret Service agent John 5 as the Fool in the Holy Wood Tarot, wearing sunglasses and carrying a poster of Kennedy hung on his rifle; obliviously walking toward the abyss and unaware of the importance he plays to the man he must protect. Notice Jackie O in the pink dress worn the day he was assassinated.

Center; 'Eventually they discovered that J.F.K. was, in fact, a firearm.' Watercolor by Marilyn Manson.

Right; 2008 Rape Of The World tour poster, with an apropos montage for the Dallas venue of the tour showing the presidential couple with sights on JFK's head, a closeup his killer Lee Oswald's eyes, an epitaph and a period ad of the rifle model Oswald used for the killing.
The same rifle that was used for Manson's Gun Crucifix and microphone stand during Holy Wood.

"Am I sorry you killed the Kennedy's and Huxley too?"
Marilyn Manson, Target Audience

Left; Manson as a pope reenacts Psalm 23 during the Guns, God and Government tour, officiating a Celebritarian mass surrounded with tapestry reproducing the faces of iconic celebrities who are more revered in death than in life : Christ, Elvis, Monroe, Manson, Lenin and Kennedy.

Right; Lee Harvey Oswald's widow on Time magazine cover dated February 14th, 1964, as it appeared on Manson's hidden website launched February 14th, 2001, hiding links to a chapter of Manson's unreleased 'Holy Wood' novel and to the "sister" site

Left; background screen of JFK during the 'Against All Gods' tour, flashing with other fathers of nations like Stalline, Hitler or Bush a la Personal Jesus video. Right; video sequence of JFK displayed on a loop when hovering the News link on the late 2006 Celebritarian main page.
"Let's shoot up the mall / the school / or the president of whatever / or whoever wants to fight."
Marilyn Manson, Blank and White
Left; Manson's speech before his performance of 'The Beautiful People' with Shock podium reworked in the fashion of the U.S. Presidential Seal at the
1997 MTV Video Music Awards. Background subliminal projection of flashing words during the 2007 'Rape Of The World' tour in Manson's pure tradition.


Still frame from the "Día de los Muertos" procession of the 'Coma White' video.



Sources & references of interest within The KENNEDY: KING KILL33° section of The NACHTKABARETT:

  • King Kill 33 by James Shelby Downard & Michael A. Hoffman
  • Secret Societies and Psychological Warfare by Michael A. Hoffman