All Writing & Content © Nick Kushner Unless Noted Otherwise
Click thumbnails for full depiction and info for shirts & memorabilia. All items are from my own personal collection and are not for sale.
1995 circa 'Portrait of an American Family' / 'Smells Like Children' t-shirt bearing an image of Manson evoking his most 'Marilyn' half. An allusion to Marilyn Monroe, America's first true 'Goddess of Sex', and Marilyn Manson as 'The God of Fuck'.
1994 'Portrait Of An American Family' era t-shirt with the simple image of a hand giving the "devil's horns" salute, the symbol synonymous with heavy metal and dark rock 'n' roll. The hand sign was allegedly brought into the popular consciousness by former Black Sabbath lead singer, Ronnie James Dio, who professed it to be an age-old Eastern European sign used to either ward away the "evil eye" or conversely project it to an onlooker. Regardless of the initial origins the hand sign has come to be seen as the "devil's salute", with the pointer and pinky finger designating the alleged horns atop Satan's head.
Though deeper analysis can be expounded upon it needn't be necessary, for the fact that many of the early such Marilyn Manson t-shirt designs and slogans were designed to play upon the irrationality and reactionary "Satanic" invented perceptions by those whom Manson set out to indict from the beginning.
The reverse cover likewise, upon initial reading appears no more than a idiotic contradiction, whereas in reality it targets those very said hypocrites and contradictory self-righteous reactionary Christians who condemn Manson after seeing a mirror reflection of what they themselves practice, rather than the word of God they invoke out of context and pervert. The slogan also forms the introduction to 'Irresponsible Hate Anthem', the opening track of 'Antichrist Svperstars' ; the song which in its blind rage and contradictions is merely a descriptive of such groups which practice the behaviors Manson indicts within, but are too blind to see themselves objectively and instead engage in outward condemnation rather than self examination.
|1994 / 1995 Marilyn Manson 'Smells Like Children' era tour t-shirt|
Along with the multiple references to "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" alluded to in 'Smells Like Children', such as the video for 'Dope Hate' being a dark interpretation of the film with Manson as Wonka and the Marilyn Manson logo being based on the Willy Wonka signature font, a tour t-shirt for the era which read "Everlasting Cocksucker" in purple glitter on the back is another reference to the film. This being a malapropism of Wonka's "Everlasting Gobstopper" secret candy. Hand-in-hand, if one looks at the liner notes of the album carefully, the remix of the song "Everlasting Cocksucker" (a pun as it being the remix to "Cake & Sodomy") is credited to "Charlie 'Slugworth' Clouser", the then keyboard player for Nine Inch Nails taking on the middle pseudonym of the film's character who tried of steal Wonka's secret recipes.
|'Smells Like Children' CD cover artwork with Manson in the role of Wonka and Marilyn Manson logo styled likewise|
|1995 'Smells Like Children' era tour t-shirt|
Diary of a Dope FiendTrack 2 of Smells Like Children. 1995.
S e e a l s o o n T h e N A C H T K A B A R E T T :
ALEISTER CROWLEY | Manson has evoked Aleister Crowley in varying capacities ever since 'Portrait Of An American Family'. The "Abbey Of Thelema" sung in the song 'Misery Machine', for example, is a reference to Crowley's headquarters where he taught practical magick and philosophy to his adepts. Various lyrics within 'Holy Wood' and 'Antichrist Svperstar' are either direct quotes or paraphrasings of Crowley's writings. Even as recent as the Celebritarian and 'Eat Me, Drink Me' eras of MarilynManson.com (2006 - 2007 respectively) contained audio of Crowley reciting a magickal incantation.
Often known as 'The Great Beast 666' and referred to by many (including in his own obituary) as 'the most wicked man who had ever lived', Crowley was one of the most prolific poets / writers / philosophers of the Twentieth Century and developed his own system of magick. Even the popular term 'magick' was coined by Aleister Crowley. He still remains one of the most misunderstand and enigmatic figures in history, in many ways much like Marilyn Manson himself.
|1995 Marilyn Manson 'Smells Like Children' era tour t-shirt|
If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill himLinji, Chinese Zen Buddhist master. Died 866 AD.
'Smells Like Children' era tour shirt featuring a ventriloquist and his dummy with the caption, "If you meet your master today, kill him." A direct and metaphorical cry of liberation (religious, emotional, psychological, physical, etc) against the powers which oppress. In this illustration it is of course the "dummy" who is being controlled against his will and is the microcosm of the individual who is held under subjugation against his will, and is precisely misunderstood slogans such as this which has been one of the key reasons for Manson's persecution from the reactionary and conservative Christian America.
This very quote, however, actually finds it's roots in the teachings of Buddhism. A mantra commonly attributed to Ninth Century Chinese Zen Buddhist master, Linji (Rinzai, in Japanese) is, "If you meet the buddha on the road today, kill him." Once again, metaphorical but inescapably severe. The aim of the quote is not by any means illustrative of literal murder but the concept however that the Buddha is a mere man and should not be worshiped as a God (which he is not to practicing Buddhists). The precise meaning is the absolute avoidance of idol worship and demagoguery, which is a self imposed caste system and stimulus for the oppressor to take hold of servile masses, the very corruption which has befallen Christianity in its deviations from its original teaching over the millennia.
Though at base various conservatives, religious zealots and pretentious acadamites have decried Manson for messages which allegedly advocate violence, the act is no more than a complete self-deprecation as the slogan emblazoned upon the shirt has its roots deeper and more cultured than any of those who have voiced such condemnation against Manson. For example, the following the (originally circa) 1994 Marilyn Manson shirt which has been (mis)quoted on countless anti-Marilyn Manson pamphlets and fliers by Christian groups, compared with another similar quote by Zen Master Linji :
|1994, and prior, era Marilyn Manson t-shirt ; "...Kill God... ...Kill Your Parents... ...Kill Yourself..."|
Followers of the Way, if you want to get the kind of understanding that accords with the Dharma, never be misled by others. Whether you're facing inward or facing outward, whatever you meet up with, just kill it! If you meet a buddha, kill the buddha. If you meet a patriarch, kill the patriarch. If you meet an arhat, kill the arhat. If you meet your parents, kill your parents. If you meet your kinfolk, kill your kinfolk. Then for the first time you will gain emancipation, will not be entangled with things, will pass freely anywhere you wish to go.Linji
'Antichrist Svperstar' era t-shirt, circa 1997 depicting a novel variation of the traditional 'three wise monkeys' proclaiming "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil", but altered within the context of those who pervert the original teachings of Christianity and ween their followers into blindly conforming their wills. Illustrated via a three faced Christ denouncing the Truth.
Though the imagery originated as 17th Century folkloric Japanese iconography it has also been adopted by Christians throughout the world as an admonition toward living a pious and holy life. Interesting enough the imagery denotes man as his base, primordially self as an ape (while Christians, adopting the symbolism, also decry the Theory of Evolution as mortal blasphemy!) with the illustration that man must rise above his primitive desires and emotions in order to reach the gates of Heaven in the afterlife.
Certain, more rare, variations (at least which have been witnessed in person by this author) have been seen to contain a fourth monkey with his hands upon his crotch, as to deter one from sex and sexuality as to liken it as being an affront to God.
S e e a l s o o n T h e N A C H T K A B A R E T T :
SEE NO TRUTH, HEAR NO TRUTH SPEAK NO TRUTH ; THE THREE WISE MONKEYS | "I've kind of put up the challenge for someone to figure out what the.... I don't know.... it's some kind of weird "trinity of the monkey" on ['Portrait of an American Family']. I realized after the album was already out that the monkey occurs three times -- in three different songs. And just by coincidence, that picture under the CD (inside the case) has three monkeys on it. There's something there to be discovered.... I just can't say what." Marilyn Manson, 1994.
Read further for Manson's blaspheming "Monkey Trinity" revealed, which extends from 'Portrait of an American Family', 'Holy Wood' to 'Lest We Forget'. One of Manson's earliest, deliberate imagery riddles on his debut album.
TRISMEGISTUS | Trismegistus is the title of Marilyn Manson's art exhibition which opened in Paris on September 14th, 2004, followed by showing in Germany and around the world. The title piece painting of Trismegistus is a three-fold watercolour of the face of Christ and is named after the great magician Hermes Trismegistus, who is credited by some as to to be the originator (at least metaphorically) of Alchemy.
'Antichrist Svperstar' era t-shirt, circa 1997, depicting a full band shot and the back bearing an occult symbol which would reemerge within Manson's art seven years later, on the single for the Depeche Mode cover of 'Personal Jesus' in 2004. The reverse symbol is a stylization of what is known as the Chi-rho or Christogram; a single symbol (called a monogram), which represents the name of Christ. Used in irony of course, with a halo-ed Manson personifying the 'Anti-Christ, with his own shock symbol within the opening of the symbol's 'P' on the back art.
"Left ; cover artwork to the 2004 single of 'Personal Jesus' with a 'PJ" song initial variation of the Chi-Ro. Right ; Common style of Christogram, the "X" is superimposed on the "P" and the symbols of alpha and omega ("'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God..." Revelation 1:8 ; The Beginning and the End) which Manson replaced with double M's for his own 1997 variation.
"Of the several sacred monograms of Christ, the Chi Rho is one of the most ancient. It is generally formed of the Greek letters chi (X) and rho (P). These are the first letters of the Greek word "XPICTOC" (pronounced Christos), which means "Christ." The monogram has been styled in a variety of imaginative ways over the centuries. Other symbols are sometimes added to the monogram to call to mind a particular attribute of our Lord."Symbols In Ancient Christian Art & Architecture
S e e a l s o o n T h e N A C H T K A B A R E T T :
PERSONAL JESUS | Though a Depeche Mode cover, Marilyn Manson's video for 'Personal Jesus' contained many references which began with a new logo on the single cover, its accompanying artwork and even down to the apocalyptic imagery within the video for the song itself.
Additionally, Depeche Mode; the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; the legendary slayer of the dragon (ie - Satan), St. George; false prophets; and evangelical profiteers are all present within the one and only single from 'Lest We Forget'.
Above is the traditional "Jesus Fish" or Ichthys, the Greek word meaning fish, which bears the anagram in Greek letters "Jesus Christ, God's son, savior." The symbol is nearly two thousand years old but most modern day depictions simply replace the Greek with 'Jesus', the simplification of which is predominantly what Manson was parodying.
The symbol of the fish as a Christian symbol was designated on many levels ranging from the several mentions of fish in the Gospels, many of Jesus' disciples being fisherman, as well as the symbolic allegory of the Christian being a fisherman amongst men in casting out to preach the Gospels and save men's souls who are but 'lost at sea' spiritually, so to speak (the prior is this author's own description).
The fish emblem is ancient Roman dominated times also acted as a secret code or covert signification of the bearer of the symbol being a Christian, when the punishment for such was death during these times of early Christian persecution.
|1994 Marilyn Manson 'Portrait of an American Family' era tour t-shirt|
1994 circa Marilyn Manson t-shirt with 'Beware of God' emblazoned on the front as a sign post. A pun and inversion of the traditional 'Beware of Dog' signs which shopkeepers and homeowners (at least in America) use as a scarecrow to ward away would be trespassers. Likewise this same spiritually dyslexic pun was toyed with as the first track of Holy Wood with 'God Eat God' being an inversion of 'Dog Eat Dog', a famous verbal justification of man's outwardly vicious, self centered and self preserving nature towards those stand in his way. "It's a dog eat dog world."
Coincidently to the various Wonka references throughout the 'Portrait of an American Family' / 'Smells Like Children' eras, 'Beware of Dog' is also the title of a short story written by Roald Dahl, author of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'.
On March 4, 1966 at the height of The Beatles' fame, John Lennon sparked an international controversy that resulted in a backlash of boycotts and record burnings for his interview statement that :
Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first; rock and roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me. John Lennon. London Evening Standard. March 4, 1966.
Because of course it's Marilyn Manson, the present day demagogue of all that's evil, he is by comparison 'Bigger The Satan', letting John maintain his in-jest likening (most often misquoted as being "We're bigger than Jesus") to the devil's benevolent and less exciting counterpart. Another of the myriad subtle Beatles references by Manson since the band's inception, and a quote which was also the closing line of Manson's 1998 autobiography 'The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell'.
|Official Satan's Bakesale shirt, Manson's then self-styled merchandising company. Funny to note is the almost hidden 'satan's 666 bakesale 666' text surrounding the pentagram which is one of the only overt toyings with such imagery which is blatantly perceived by Christianity as being "Satanic" after the band hit the national stage.|
|The 1996 / 97 'No Salvation, No Forgiveness' (as it is emblazoned on each of the sleeves) 'Antichrist Svperstar' era tour shirt depicting the Baphomet|
S e e a l s o o n T h e N A C H T K A B A R E T T :
ANTICHRIST SVPERSTAR & THE BAPHOMET | The image of the Baphomet is one that Manson has often evoked within his art. The traditional and most well known depiction, as displayed left, was drawn in the mid-Nineteenth Century by the magician Eliphas Levi, who also illustrated the pentagram depiction of The Tetragrammaton which appeared within the 'Holy Wood' album artwork.
Similarly to his Tetragrammaton, thematically the Baphomet, is representational of the same concept in magick and the Occult. Christianity completely misunderstood what the Baphomet represented, believed it to be the god worshiped by the pagans (those Christendom sought to subjugate and convert), thus construing the image as the antithesis of Christianity and therefore the personification of its Satan, much similarly as was done with the Pentagram, and why in today's popular conscience it is inherently viewed as a depiction of "evil".
In a play off the concept of the 'Manson Family', whom Charles Manson's cultish followers were known as, membership to the Marilyn Manson official fan club offered a signed "adoption certificate" for the applicant who had been admitted into "The Marilyn Manson Family" and the "Church of the Antichrist Svperstar". Before the internet had taken prevalence (the official Marilyn Manson website had only opened in September 1998 preceding the release of Mechanical Animals, and was then only MarilynManson.net), Manson had a massive fan club following through mail order campaigns of leaflets and periodic newsletters. A response to this can be heard by the irate mother's answering machine message to the official fan club after the last track on Portrait of an American Family.
While not any specific visual allusions to the occult necessarily, it is however a funny pun on the idea of a traditional fan club and playing off the 'Manson Family' concept that journalists inevitably would have done in a derisive manner otherwise.
Note however, the universal date of acceptance into The Family as February 14, 1997, the recurring date within the Triptych of Antichrist Svperstar, Mechanical Animals and Holy Wood. For more see February, 14 | Valentine's Day section of The NACHTKABARETT.
A general merchandise poster from 1997 during the 'Antichrist Svperstar' era of Manson lackadaisically on the toilet. Humorous as it is, it's actually inspired by a promo picture of 1960's & 70's shock rocker, Frank Zappa, who was closer to a psychedelic visionary rather than shock rocker but is nonetheless notorious for lewd and raunchy lyrics and was one of the several musicians who testified before the US Senate during the PMRC hearings on music censorship in the 1980's. And was also coincidently responsible for the major label signing of shock rock founder Alice Cooper.
Though it can be taken at face value as simply funny it's also a poignant allusion to another musician who fought against the censorship of his art, particularly as the summer of 1997 was the apex of the crusade against Manson with virtually every performance being protested, threatened with bombing and cancellation due to the political influence of the Religious "Right".