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Spooky Kids era - 1989 to 1993

cartoon of tophat, stars and smiling skull Marilyn Manson spooky kids text cartoon of tophat, stars and smiling skull

Marilyn Manson band
Pogo, Marilyn, Gidget,
Daisy, Sara Lee

Local venues - Florida gigs - demo tapes

In 1989, Brian Warner teams up with guitarist Scott Mitchell Putesky. Their sonic experiments lead on to the formation of 'Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids' early in 1990.

Their first gigs are local ones in South Florida, and their first ever gig is at Churchill's Hideaway, Miami - on 28th April 1990 - when they open for a band called The Goods.

Their first night in showbiz is brought back to 'reality' for Manson when his car breaks down on the way home to Fort Lauderdale. Stranded overnight, a tow truck eventually gets him home. That's rock'n'roll.

Early in 1990, Manson and Daisy record the first of their demo cassette tapes and at least eight more such demo tapes are made in the time before they land a recording contract with Trent Reznor in mid 1993.

Bassist 'Gidget Gein' (Brad Stewart) and keyboardist 'Madonna Wayne-Gacy' (Stephen Bier) join the band, taking over from Olivia Newton-Bundy and Zsa Zsa Speck. It now becomes more like the group we know and love today. Without a keyboard for his first shows, Stephen sits playing with toy soldiers onstage until he's saved enough to buy one - an appropriately quirky start.

From 1st August 1992 onwards, the band name shortens to just Marilyn Manson, mainly because it's easier to say. The fans themselves become known as Spooky Kids or 'Spooks' for short.

Soon settling in as part of South Florida's alternative music scene, the fledgling four piece band begin as they mean to carry on - creating spectacle and highly distinctive entertainment. Manson refers to the early shows as Performance Art.

The band has an idiosyncratic, over-the-top approach that sets the tone for their provocative shows and songs. The stage settings and decorations play their part too: light-up toys, rude messages, and strange, often gory props or dummies/mannequins, placed around and hanging above the stage.

Comical rather bizarre songs combine with ones of brooding anger and revenge, all complementing the sights and sounds of repressions and inhibitions set free onstage. It makes for an unusual and memorable blend. And there are definitely elements of '1930s Berlin meets Rocky Horror' even in these early days.

With a girl in a cage, or tied on a cross, or pulling on a leash, or wrapped up in cling film and 'put upon' by Manson, they aren't concerned with being politically correct either.

Big on self-promotion, the band produce memorable show flyers, eye-catching stickers and T-shirts. Evidence of Manson's favourite cartoons - Scooby-Doo, Cat in the Hat - appear on publicity flyers drawn up for shows of the time.

Making the fans feel involved right from the start, they distribute a newsletter and provide a telephone answering machine 'Hot Line' where fans can leave messages or ask for advice - or angry parents can complain! Answering machine excerpts make their way onto song tracks. It's around this time that some fans acknowledge Manson's paternalism by calling him 'Daddy'. Is it just me, or does that seem a bit kinky?

*raises eyebrow* :)

Spooky Kids themes and influences

So where are the boundaries between poems, lyrics, music, imagination, stagecraft and fun? In the Marilyn Manson world, there are none. Quite right too. Amongst the early influences are favourite cartoons, stories, tv shows, films, teeth-rotting sweets (confectionary, candy), sado-masochism, serial killers, and kitsch gore. And whilst some people shrieked: "These people are freaks!", it all signalled to Marilyn that his mad mixture was a great success.

And I'm almost sure he was following Dr Seuss's advice:

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

Spooky Kids Timeline

Late 1989, Brian Warner and Scott Mitchell Putesky begin their collaboration. Some of the band's earliest songs were to be recorded upstairs at Scott's parent's house in Boca Woods.

Early in 1990, the band gets the first version of its name: Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids. I've been told that Manson and Scott cut their first track in late January 1990.

For a few months, up to June 1990, Marilyn's friend from theatre class, Brian Tutunick (bassist 'Olivia Newton-Bundy'), and Perry Pandrea (keyboardist 'Zsa Zsa Speck') join them in the band.

28 April 1990 - Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids play their first booking at Churchill's Hideaway, in the Little Haiti district of Miami, South Florida.

The line-up for the night is: Manson singing, Daisy on guitar, Zsa Zsa Speck (Perry Pandrea) on keyboards, Olivia Newton Bundy (Brian Tutunick) on bass, and the drum machine.

Their future manager, John Tovar, is in the audience for three songs. At the time, he isn't impressed at all.

3 July 1990 - Marilyn Manson open for Trent Reznor's band Nine Inch Nails (NIN), and Meat Beat Manifesto, at Club Nu in Miami. This is also Brad Stewart's (Gidget Gein's) band debut. He learned to play the bass guitar parts for the songs only the week before.

After the gig, Manson - reportedly high on drugs - thrusts a tape into Trent Reznor's hand and leaves. And from such little moments, greater ones arise.

9 July 1990 - After a spell of sitting onstage scaring the audience or playing with toy soldiers, Pogo and his keyboard now team up.

19 July 1990 - Drummer Freddie Streithorst ('Sara Lee Lucas') replaces Daisy's Yamaha RX8 drum machine. A band newsletter entitled 'The Family Trip to Mortville', welcomes Sara Lee Lucas and credits him with 'baked goods, percussion'. The newsletter is illustrated with morbid cartoons, caricatures, comic or story book figures, guns, and needles and describes Mortville as the place 'where junkies, queers and killers live scot free!'.

They now perform songs like 'Cake and Sodomy', 'My Monkey' and 'Lunchbox' and sometimes throw things at the audience - peanut butter sandwiches being one of the nicer things to get hit with. And, offstage, the band now carry lunchboxes - something bass player Gidget Gein introduced. Or was it Manson? There's a fight right there ;)

December 1990 - Now an established, well-regarded part of Florida's music scene, the band attract devoted followers whenever they play.

Whilst driving, John Tovar hears a strange song called 'My Monkey' played on the radio. DJ Glenn Richards enthuses that it's 'the most requested song, and the most popular band in South Florida right now, Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids!'

Realizing he'd heard that name before, Tovar phones the DJ who convinces him to see the band's upcoming Christmas show at the Button South.

Tovar gets there to find about 300 fans, in costumes, wearing makeup, carrying lunch boxes. Manson takes the stage, and Tovar says 'I was blown away. It was like three or four of my favorite artists all rolled into one. It was Morrison, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, OK? Put all that together with Kiss and you have Marilyn Manson.'

After the show, Tovar meets Manson backstage to congratulate him.

January 1991 - John Tovar becomes the band's first manager. Manson is later to write about this portly, narcoleptic, cigar-puffing guy in his autobiography.

(And yet the liner notes of demo tape Big Black Bus, of 1990, say 'Management: Blind Man Productions, Joe Disano'. Need to check this. And looks like i need more entries for 1991)

Shows with Jack Off Jill? Singer Jessicka dates Jeordie White (later Twiggy) at this time.

1 February 1992 - Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids play the Button South as part of the 'Miami Rocks' East Coast Music Forum. This is a three day promotional event to showcase the South Florida music scene. A cassette tape was issued to promote the event.

1 August 1992 - the 'Spooky Kids' ending is dropped from the band's name, leaving 'Marilyn Manson'.

Thanks to their loyal local following, MM are nominated for two categories in the first South Florida Slammie awards in 1992:
  • Best Hard Alternative Band (nomination)
  • Band of the Year (nomination)
The Slammie awards are for thrash, hardcore and hard alternative music. Each award handed out is a ceramic skull with an engraved plate on the forehead.

New Times Magazine name MM as 'Best Heavy Metal Band'.

November 1992 - Manson gets a phonecall: 'Trent (Reznor) called me just after his Broken album was finished and asked if I wanted to be in a NIN video'.

Manson agrees to this and Trent flies him out to LA: 'We went to the Sharon Tate house for the shoot, and while I was there, he told me he wanted us to be the first band on his new label.'

May? 1993 - the band sign a recording contract with Trent Reznor's newly formed Nothing label.

15 July 1993 - MM win two South Florida Slammies in 1993:

  • The Grand Slammie (Band of the Year award)
  • Song of the Year (for Dope Hat)
They were also nominated for: Best Hard Alternative Band, Best Local Release (for the Family Jams demo cassette), and a Best Vocalist nomination for Manson.

Marilyn Manson is to present the award for Best National Release (for The Lizard) to local band Saigon Kick, but they are absent, so he tosses the award skull into the crowd, where it hits someone and gets smashed in the mosh pit.

By coincidence, one of the destructive people in the crowd is called Jeordie White.

October 1993 - need to check this but I have a note that:

The Marilyn Manson gang has been in L.A. the past three weeks finishing up Portrait of an American Family. The album was recorded at Criteria, but Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) wanted to remix and re-record some of it out there.

It goes on to say they're playing 'three big shows in the meantime': October 30 at the Cameo with Genitorturers, October 31 in Orlando and November 1 at Rosebud's. After the album release, MM will tour nationwide.

source: miami new times

December 1993 - Jeordie White, then of Florida metal band Amboog-A-Lard, replaces bass player Gidget Gein who is struggling with heroin addiction. But Gidget's contribution and influence carries on with the band. Jeordie takes the name Twiggy Ramirez.

Spooky Kids related offsite link

This next article/interview with Scott Putesky/Daisy is dated 13 April, 2004, but it's mainly info on the Spooky Kids era:
Rolling Stone article/Daisy interview by Andrew Dansby

Another very good article/interview about the Spooky Kids era and music, by Jeff Stratton, dated 15 April 2004:
New Times Broward-Palm Beach article/Daisy interview.

Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids
Gidget Gein, Sara Lee Lucas, Marilyn Manson, Madonna Wayne Gacy/Pogo, Daisy Berkowitz

Portrait Of An American Family era, 1994 to 1995»

Marilyn Manson cartoon

Daisy Berkowitz cartoon

Madonna Wayne Gacy (Pogo) cartoon

Gidget Gein cartoon

Sara Lee Lucas cartoon

phone cartoon