The Long Hard Road Out of Hell by Marilyn Manson (1998)

I was scared to death of Alice Cooper as a child, a man I thought was the devil himself. After putting on black leather and distorting his face with makeup, Alice Cooper would prance around the singing about hell and murder and all kinds of things that gave me nightmares. KISS fell into the same category; I assumed they were all in league with the devil, and I was afraid that by listening to them, I would be too.

And then one day I saw KISS on television without their makeup, doing an interview. Not long afterwards I saw Alice Cooper — real name Vincent Furnier — participating in a golf tournament. Alice Cooper, the Devil’s right hand man, playing golf! That was the day I realized that these guys were just performers. It was all an act.

In The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, Marilyn Manson goes to great lengths to prove that what he does is not an act, and that the scary and dangerous guy you see on stage is the same scary and dangerous guy he is off stage as well. If everything in this book is to be believed, the off stage one is the one to avoid.

Born Brian Warner, it doesn’t take Manson long to get to the goods. By page two of the book Warner and his cousin have already discovered their grandfather’s basement and its secrets, including his collection of hardcore pornographic photos, his cross-dressing wigs and dresses, and much, much worse. Manson spent the majority of his junior high and high school days running, both away from bullies and toward girls and alcohol.

In its earliest incarnation, Manson’s band (known then as Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids) was a bunch of guys performing bad music and worse performance art, known more for filling the stage with chickens inside of cages and whipping a woman at the end of a dog leash while spitting on her. By the way, on a scale of 1-10, whipping a woman on a leash while spitting on here, compared to what Manson and the rest of his goons do to their fans, girlfriends, and each other, is at most a 2. Trust me, this girl got off light.

Manson and his pals don’t waste much time turning things up to 11. On any given day, Marilyn Manson has snorted more cocaine, drank more alcohol, and had more sex than everybody on this planet you personally know, combined. Have you ever met someone at a party who tells you a completely unbelievable story, only to follow it up with another one, and another one after that? Now imagine if that person did it for 288 pages…

As time goes on, Marilyn Manson becomes more and more numb. During one story in which one of his friends may die from an overdose, he notes that he cared less about his friend dying than having to deal with the cops afterward. Each story is worse than the last, with Manson and his pals increasingly tormenting and torturing their fan base. Woe to the teenage girl who ended up backstage at a Marilyn Manson show.

Fortunately for those in search of debauchery, Marilyn Manson has no qualms in dishing dirt on every single person he met along his journey. Although Manson occasionally blacks out from drugs and alcohol, his memory is as sharp as a tack when it comes to retelling the dark secrets of friends, girlfriends, family members, band members, and anyone else he happened to cross paths with. At one point, Manson goes back to his hometown to attend a wedding and is legitimately surprised that his family is upset that he has aired the family’s dirty laundry. It must not have upset him greatly, based on the contents of this book.

Look — I’m not a prude, and I realize there’s truth behind the saying “sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” but if this book is taken at face value, that’s literally all there was. And the really upsetting part is that he doesn’t talk nearly enough about the rock and roll!

In regards to the band, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell covers his early days with the Spooky Kids through the release of Antichrist Superstar in 1996. Since then, Marilyn Manson has released seven more albums and, no doubt, accumulated another 20 years worth of stories for the inevitable sequel.

God help you if you told him any secrets.

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