That's a real shocker

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Since moving to the Hollywood Hills, Manson has--for reasons that are unclear to him--befriended a succession of former child stars, including his new neighbor, Leif Garrett. He concedes that his notorious rep can often create undue tension in these situations.

"I've always genuinely respected and admired all those people, so when I meet 'em, I'm genuinely excited," he says. "But I think they think I'm being sarcastic, 'cause most people are sarcastic toward them. Sometimes I push it too far. I think Corey Feldman got a little bitter because of my sense of humor. If you can't laugh at yourself, who are you gonna laugh at? Especially when you're Corey Feldman. You've got nothing else to do but laugh at yourself."

In a tour-diary entry from The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, Manson strained to find an intellectual justification for his onstage flirtations with fascist and satanic imagery. He wrote that he wanted Americans "to realize they don't have to believe in something just because they've been told it all their lives. You can't have someone who's never had sex or drugs telling you it's wrong. Only through experience can you determine your own morality."

It's a persuasive theory, even though it probably has little to do with the attention-grabbing desires that fueled Manson back when he was Brian Warner in Fort Lauderdale. In any event, the inevitable question is where Manson can go from here, now that he has already gobbled down as much decadence as any stomach could hold. How does Marilyn Manson grow old? When confronted with the same dilemma, Alice Cooper donned golf pants and became a respectable pillar of Paradise Valley outside of Phoenix. Manson can't see himself making that move.

"I imagine myself being a bitter old man who sits on his back porch shooting birds," he says. "That's how my grandfather was. I don't see myself making any tearful recovery from the way I am now. I think for [Cooper], and people like him, it's more about giving up drugs and alcohol, because it was a problem, and replacing it with Christianity, which is much more of a problem.

"I don't see myself finding the Christian idea of God anytime soon. I think I've found my own version in different things, particularly in music. And I'm too violent for golf."

Marilyn Manson performs March 23 at Reunion Arena. Monster Magnet opens.

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Gilbert Garcia