While the war of words rages around the Church Of Satan shock rocker Marilyn Manson, the scary-looking singer with the pasty skin and one milky eye is taking it in his stride.
"It proves the hypocrisy of these people that hide under conservatism or religion, and try and stifle someone else's expression," says Manson on the phone from Winnipeg. His Monday night concert went ahead despite a venue change. Manson is at Varsity Arena tomorrow night.
"If there are people hiding behind Christianity and saying that 'Marilyn Manson is a moron and doesn't deserve to play,' what happened to the basic Christian virtue of 'Judge not lest ye be judged,' and 'Love thine enemy?' "
"Manson's concert in Calgary July 25 was cancelled after opposition from a combination of city officials and church groups decried his supposed "X-rated" stage antics. The move to ban Manson briefly infected Edmonton, where the concert did happen, and now Ottawa -- where Manson is scheduled to play Friday -- is on the anti-Marilyn bandwagon.
"I think anyone who listens to Antichrist Superstar (his album) or comes and sees the show would agree that it is provocative, but it's not something that should be suppressed any more than a book or a film or anything else," says Manson.
"I think a lot of the time, with the way that these people respond, they're proving a lot of my points. God and spirituality often have very little to do with religion. And I think I put into my music, and our fans put into their devotion, more spirituality than a lot of Christians put into their lives. And that's not to judge all Christians."
On a somewhat lighter note, last weeks' Entertainment Weekly dubbed him the anti-Hanson, referring to the trio of moptop teenage brothers currently dominating music charts with their bubblegum pop.
"For those kids to be that happy they couldn't possibly have created music where music comes from and music comes from suffering, as all art does," Manson says.
He also recently taped a segment of Politically Incorrect, which airs tomorrow night (at 10:00 p.m. on ABC), during which he hit it off with Florence Henderson a.k.a. Mrs. Brady.
"What I realized after doing a show like that," says Manson, "is if the archetypal mother we all grew up watching on The Brady Bunch can understand and enjoy me for what I am after a 30-minute conversation, then I think anyone's parents could if they took the time."
In the U.S., Manson's tour was met with protests and threatened cancellations as the Internet was flooded with reports of bestiality, child molestation, mass rape and other completely made-up horrors occurring at his shows.
"They've created all these lies about me to try and make people dislike me for all the wrong reasons," says Manson who is considering legal action against some of his detractors. "I mean I have no problem if someone understands my philosophy, understands my vision of the world and disagrees with it. I think that's great. At least they're thinking and they have their own opinion. But if someone doesn't know what I am and they're reacting in this way, I think it's sad and weak."
He says the title of Antichrist Superstar, which was released last year, is what caused the initial backlash. Then there was his membership in the Church of Satan.
"It has nothing to do with worshipping the devil. The word Satan kind of represents the ultimate in rebellion, against the mainstream, and it's about being an individual, and it's about giving in to the animal side of your nature.
"I draw influences from the Church of Satan, as well as Nietzsche, as well as Freud, Roald Dahl, Darwin, Dr. Seuss, the King James bible. I'm just as much a Church of Satan member as I am St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Canton, Ohio, where I grew up and was baptized."
Ultimately though, Manson thinks the debate about his live performances is useful if it furthers people's thinking about what is, and isn't, acceptable in art.
"It may be more trouble for me, but in the end the result is that people have questioned morality on many different levels. They've questioned censorship. They've questioned music. And I think that's a good thing."