Nobody, I’m Nobody!
by Tobe Damit
”No Name” Maddox a.k.a Charles Manson will die one day. That day whether we like to admit it or not. Some sort of pop icon will die, the devil according to many, Jesus to some others and both intertwined in one according to his followers and the members of The Family.
The name ”The Family” have spread international terror and has now changed to ATWA for Air, Trees, Water and Animals. This frightening character was revered before he went completely overboard with his mind control. I don’t know what is more scary, the fact that this guy manages to convince others to do whatever he wants them to do, even murdering a helpless pregnant women or the fact that he has become a pop idol. Don’t fool yourself. As much as lots of people would love to simply forget about him. On one hand, he influenced a lot of musicians that shaped the very foundation of music in the US and other artists which made No Name Maddox a part of US most (un)popular modern icons .
On the other hand, he is associated to the most gory, scary, surreal, vile murders to ever strike our imagination as he was also in contact with the most dreadful characters of various satanic cults that were so popular in the height of the Summer of Love and San Francisco Haight-Ashbury psychedelic boom.
Personally what keeps me being unable to forget No Name Maddox is the fact that when I look at the circumstances surrounding his birth, the way he was raised, his youth and the abuse he went through, I cannot honestly say that I would have been any better have I been walking in his shoes. He was just another kid like there are so many on the streets, juvenile homes and prisons. He is one of the rejected one, one of the undesirable, the ones we all want to forget about, one of the thousands of kids that the system failed to help them, failed to give them at least the feeling that they were allowed to feel, at least, as if they had the dignified right to be part of the human race.
His Sweet Sixteen Mother Kathleen Maddox, didn’t bother to give him a name since she didn’t know who the father was, she didn’t think he deserved to get one. Furthermore as she didn’t recall his real date of birth, later on she picked the 11th of November. She was wrong by one day, ”No Name” Maddox, as written on the birth certificate, was born 11/12/’34 as Vincent Bugliosi wrote in his book ”Helter Skelter”. It is also a well documented fact that a waitress who thought little No Name Maddox was cute, was told by Kathleen she could have him for a pitcher of beer. And she was serious. A pitcher of beer later she was out leaving her son. Several days later, his uncle had to search the town for the waitress and take the boy back home. Manson went from bad to worse, remaining institutionalised pretty much for the rest of life but getting a short break in 1967 at the age of 32. He begged the warden to keep him in since life outside prison scared him more than everything he had been in contact with since well… his birth? Doesn’t it right there show how much surreal the life of certain people can become? I know some people went to jail and still made it, but you know, some people just are born with a bad sign.
”No Name” Maddox finally landed at 636 Cole Street, the Haight’s house where he would live between April and November of 1967 . It was The Summer of Love, sex, drugs, music and satanic cults were pretty much the thing then. He must have thought that he wasn’t that dephased after all! Shortly after playing guitar (Maddox learned from Alvin Karpis, who had once made it to the top wanted man FBI list as part of the Barker-Karpis Gang and later became a respected bluesman in jail), doing drugs and ”preaching” to the Hippie youth in revolt surrounding him, the cultural orphans, the idealists, and the vague dissociation brought on by a barter marijuana economy and $1-a-dose Owsley LSD-25 made a natural magnet for potential followers who were looking for meaning, guidance, or a guru.
”No Name” Maddox fast got to be well-known, respected and admired as Charles Manson, using what he had learned in prison about various religions and cults including Scientology, the Satanic Church and specifically The Process Church of the Final Judgment in which Jesus represents God and Lucifer rolled into one. Manson mentioned more and more frequently that he was the Devil and Jesus into one being. Manson had changed his name earlier but I think for the first time in his life, it actually meant something to be….him. He was very charismatic and also older than most of the kids surrounding him. He also had LSD many times but it is always mentioned that he ALWAYS took it in smaller dosage than all the ones around him to make sure he could somehow maintain a certain degree of self-control. Now I never seen anyone backing that up. Why are we so afraid to admit that there is a possibility that it might be a tiny part of the reason why he lost it somewhere along the way. He totally lost it that’s for sure!!! And for sure it wasn’t JUST because of the drugs, I just would like to know why it is always mentioned each and every time the LSD trips are mentioned in each and every book you read a book about Manson. Is it because it provides a ”good” reason as to why all these typical hippies became bloodthirsty assassins or because it reinforces the notion that it was only, and only because of the drugs that Manson had such power over his followers and therefore he is the very first responsible for these atrocious murders. It would make sense that the CIA and the department of Justice would find that very possible because they were themselves doing very large-scale experiments on mind control within a military agenda, testing LSD 25 on the weaker and most vulnerable people they could find after having tested it on their own soldiers, causing some serious damages, partly because the people who were tested didn’t even know they were tested with dangerous amounts of this powerful hallucinogenic drug..
BTW the only authorised Manson biography is ”Charles Manson Now” by Marlin Marynick. I have read it and recommend it to all the true crime fans out there. there is a lot of ramblings by Manson but it surely gives us a quite unique view of how things go for real from inside the jail and how Manson gets his information in and out from his prison cell from which he has been in solitary confinement ever since he got in for the Tate-LaBianca murders.
On another galaxy not so far away, a guy named Bobby Beausoleil joined a band founded by Arthur Lee called the Grass Roots which name was changed toshortly after Bobby joined . While touring in San Francisco, Bobby Beausoleil met with Kenneth Anger, a filmmaker obsessed with Aleister Crowley and anything related to the occult who made Bobby the star of a movie that was to be named ”Lucifer Rising”. Like Maddox, Anger had been deeply impressed by the theories of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology, Aleister Crowley as well as the ones preached by The Process Church of the Final Judgment created by founded by the English couple Mary Ann and Robert de Grimston. Anger also had ties with Anton LaVey, author, musician, circus and carnival performer, and occultist, famous founder of the equally famous Church of Satan which was said to be the first public, highly visible, and long-lasting organisation which propounded a coherent satanic discourse. His books The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals, have been cited as having “an influence far beyond” the Church of Satan‘s membership. In 1995, the religious studies scholar Graham Harvey noted that although the Church had no organized presence in Britain, LaVey’s writings were widely accessible in bookshops almost worldwide. Take note LaVey was introduced to Susan Atkins who was with Bobby during that time. LaVey claimed that he had been appointed consultant to the brilliant horror film starring Mia Farrow, Rosemary’s Baby (1968), written by Ira Levin but directed by none other than late Sharon Tate’s husband, the famous movie director Roman Polanski. Sharon Tate was pregnant of the couple’s first child when she succumbed to a horrible death by the hands of the Family at 10050 Cielo Drive in Beverly Hills. The baby she was carrying died too.
Satan was hot stuff before and in ‘68, when Rosemary’s Baby was a box office hit. Vampires were hot stuff too back then and it sure is awkward that almost at the same time Polanski was shooting (he was also the leading role) The Fearless Vampire Killer during which he would meet his future wife Sharon Tate who was playing the ”damsel in distress”, LaVey had recruited one of the killers Susan Atkins a.k.a. Sexy Sadie who was present at all three sets of murders ordered by Charles Manson at the Hinman, Tate, and LaBianca homes as a topless vampire in a LaVey show called the Witches’ Sabbath also known as before joining the Manson family. Atkins played the role of a seductive vampiress who emerged topless from a coffin and would point her index finger, which had a long red-painted fingernail, at the leering audience. She would hiss and symbolically beckon for the blood of the trench coat-wearing customers who paid their admission to The Black Pope’s religious ceremony. Her stage act strangely presaged her later criminal activities. It was reported that after viciously murdering the pregnant actress Sharon Tate by stabbing her in the stomach. Susan then compulsively licked the blood of the popular star off of her own fingers. In a sense, I guess she took her vampire role to heart…
I’m not gonna go through the whole process of describing the complete history of The Family and the horrible murders they committed, it has been done so many times before, I’ll save you the process and if you didn’t know about it all in its most tiny and gory details since you can easily find them on the net, in many books and movies… Helter Skelter is probably the most referred to account of ”No Name” Maddox troubled childhood as he became Charles Manson, the beloved and revered leader of the Family, friend with Dennis Wilson from the Beach Boys who was fascinated (and scared) by his newfound troublesome guru, who went on to become one of the most famous killer of all times without having actually killed anyone, nor even being present on the site when the murders actually took place. Now Helter Skelter is a book written by Los Angeles County district attorney Vincent Bugliosi that has been made into a movie. My intention here is rather to acknowledge how huge of an ”(un)pop” culture phenomena Manson has become in the years that followed, especially after the first wave of fear lost its horror factor for most of us who weren’t in the front row seats, even if we were sort of offered those seats via one media or the other. Now most of the accounts that we were given, especially at first, gave a very grim portrait of the Family and its leader but as time went by, I would say relatively fast, some began to stand up and give a different point of view of what happened and especially of how the Justice system treated the whole thing. One of the first that comes to mind being the documentary ”Charles Manson Superstar” directed by Nikolas Schreck in 1989. Most of the documentary (the entire interview) was filmed inside San Quentin Prison. Schreck and Zeena (Anton LaVey’s estranged daughter) narrated the segments while images were shown, and music played in the background.
I have to mark a pause here and obviously make a relation between well know artist Marilyn Manson, the name itself evokes bad and evil, beauty and ugliness intertwined together… That is of course if you forget all the despair and anguish, the drugs and the depression that ultimately led to her death (BTW Marilyn Monroe had a very brief relationship that lasted around 2 weeks in the early 50’s, before she became a star). It is not however not the only thing that led to the choice of this scenic name but rather the fact that both of them represents to him the 2 most iconic names of the USA. Now it’s funny that if you try to link Charles Manson to Marilyn Manson you will not be helped a lot with the details if you are looking on the net. I will help you out here with only a few, main ones, just glancing here and there what I found to be most interesting as I’m doing since I been doing since the beginning of this article about Manson’s omnipresence in today’s culture, mostly modern music.
MM said that 3 of his albums are a trilogy: Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death), Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals. MM Manson said that the overarching story within the trilogy is presented in reverse chronological order; Holy Wood, therefore, begins the narrative. It was written in the singer’s former home in the Hollywood Hills and recorded in several undisclosed locations, including Death Valley and Laurel Canyon. Holy Wood (not Hollywood) is written the same way it was on the Family’s Black Bus that brought them all from Topanga Canyon to Death Valley. In the tour that followed the release of the album, MM appeared under the disguise of the Pope, Jesus Christ, Elvis Presley and… Charles Manson ”to celebrate the adoration and the martyrdom of famous people and deceased criminals” MM said himself except that Charlie isn’t dead! Did he want to denounce the fact that Charlie was reduced to silence in what was to him a parody of Justice? Mechanical Animal was the beginning of M.M. identification with Charles Manson. One could assume it refers to one of Charles Manson’s song called Mechanical Man without being 100% sure it’s a very strong possibility I would say. As of Antichrist Superstar, One could very well assume it’s a reference to Charles Manson Superstar, the documentary mentioned earlier. A lot of what I just mentioned can be confirmed by quotes by MM himself a the book by Gavin Baddeley titled Dissecting Marilyn Manson. ”Beautiful People” was a term used by Manson to design the people from the music industry and more generally, all those who had a certain power or influence in the artistic world in general. MM song ”Beautiful People” is coined from the first sentence of ‘‘Baby You’re a Rich Man” on the Beatles’ Magical Mystery tour album, ”How does it feel to be a rich man?” It is interesting to note that you won’t find almost no references to Charles Manson about this song on the internet. I could make a very long list of why MM has been influenced in
many ways by Charlie Manson but let’s just start with the first demo title made by MM was called Big Black Bus referring once again to the bus that carried the first members of the Manson Family throughout the California coastline and one of the songs the Spooky Kids were playing back then was called Dune Buggy containing a direct quote from Charles ”Tex” Watson: ”We’d swoop down on the town and kill everyone that wasn’t beautiful”.
This clip above was entirely shot at Cielo Drive where the murders took place.
Trent Reznor who would become MM mentor for several years rented Cielo Drive where the murders took place for the recording of ”The Downward Spiral” and invited MM to record his very first album, Portrait of an American Family (initially known as The Manson Family Album – a direct reference to serial killer Charles Manson’s own band – but was retitled prior to release). The record opens with an eerie intro called Prelude (The Family Trip) followed by ”Cake and Sodomy” which first lyrics are a direct quote from Charlie: ”I Am the God of Fuck”, words used to seduce Lynette Fromme to convince her to join the Family. there are also many references to the Fab Four White Album that was, in the eyes of Charlie, loaded with prophetic statements. In the book Dissecting Marilyn Manson, MM is quoted saying:’‘I think Charles Manson is the greatest rock star of all time. He was all about music. He never even had a hit and he’s one of the biggest stars that you could ever find. That’s something we can thank America for, whether you like it or not, America put him there”. The lack of information concerning the influence that Charlie had on MM must clearly be explained by the events of the Columbine killing during which MM was pointed as an influential factor leading to the tragedy because the killers were MM listeners. What is less known to the majority of people is that the main source of income of that city would come from the manufactured making of mass murder weapons and the fact that immediately very shortly after the Columbine school shootings in 1999, the NRA made the controversial decision to hold its national convention in neighboring Denver, Colorado, making sure no one threatens their sales. Nuf said. I think MM responded very well to the accusations but decided to maybe pull of from Ol’ Charlie as much as possible and avoid mob lynching! That is just my opinion though.
Rob Zombie (who was several time been seen with an X on his forehead too!) has made numerous references to Manson and the Family in his music but even more so in his horror movies. The House of 1000 Corpses, in one of the first sequences of the movie you can see 2 young guys in a car and the other one drooling over photos showing the Manson girls from back in the days coming from a magazine called Helter Skelter. You can see clear shots of pics of Leslie Van Houten, Sadie, Katie, and last but not least, Lynette ”Squeaky” Fromme. Little do they know that they will soon be confronted to a family maybe far more dangerous than the Manson Family and the youngest girl from this Family imagined by Rob Zombie called Baby (played here by Sheri Moon, Rob Zombie’s wife) exposes a little further on the base foundation of her clan saying ‘‘Whatever you need to do, you do it. There is no wrong. If someone needs to be killed, you kill ’em. That’s the way.” You have to admit that is very close in form and meaning to the words used by Sandra Good as an intro in Manson (documentary by Robert Hendricks, 1972) Good’s first word are:”When Somebody needs to be killed, there’s no wrong, you do it. And then you move on”. The sequel called ”The Devil’s Rejects” contains a direct quote Charles ”Tex” Watson used when he was about to kill Voytek Frykowski and said ”I’m the Devil. And here to do the devil’s work”. The family now lives in a ranch in the middle of the desert where a pig’s head is hung over the entrance. Then when the police gets on their trail they are forced to ride in a black bus (the black bus again!! Charlie used one on which he had Holy Wood Productions painted) and one of the family members is name Charlie and they also leave messages written on blood on murders scenes…
The list of bands goes on and on Black Flag, Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Boyd Rice/NON/Death in June, Skinny Puppy, Slipknot, Guns N’Roses, Kasabian,Current 93, The Charles Manson Experiment, The Lemonheads, Family Jams, Crispin Hellion Glover, The Ramones, Front Line Assembly, Scraping Foetus, Deicide, Klaatu, Sonic Youth, Sex Pistols, System of a Down, Giddle Partridge, Negative FX, The Mission, The Meteors, The Beach Boys, Necro, Righteous Pigs, Christian Death and many, many more have used Ol’ Charlie, A member of the Family or simply made direct or indirect allusions to what took place. One thing is for sure, Manson is now a modern icon, a symbol of a bloody rebellion against the establishment and everything it represents as well as a symbol of black gory satanism dedicated to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.
To me it’s Marilyn Manson (Marilyn Manson is a trademark owned by Brian Warner, his real name, it’s not a stage name), using the sad depressed beauty of Monroe and Manson’s sheer horror who has made the most pertinent links to be made with a society mirrored in all its ugliness as it wants nothing less than wipe out those events that put an end to all the peace and lovey dovey hopes that were born during this memorable Summer of ’67 and ended in a gory bloodbath. As rockstars and criminals face similar fate, maybe we should take a good hard look at how we treat the most unfortunate among us with a growing unsuccessful rate, only making the cut go deeper and deeper, giving way to countless future generations of fatherless (and motherless) families for (mostly black or latino) kids. Maybe Maddox didn’t have a name not because he was a nobody but precisely because he could be anyone of the unfortunate ones. Let’s just hope that repeating his name over and over and showing and hearing the grisly murders that took place under his ”reign” they won’t have less and less impact like it so often happens in those cases. Let’s just make sure on the contrary that we make sure that our institutions give the best they can to make sure that we do what can be done. Most people simply need to be dignified, to feel part of the human race again, is it that much to ask? The problem I see today is that Manson simply confirmed our darkest fears, revealed our hypocrisy when we say we put the need and the love of our peers before our greed. Let’s make him wrong but not only in some cases, let’s make him wrong about EVERYTHING!!! Don’t misunderstand me!! I never meant it was ok to kill any of those people!! I just mean the built up that lead to this ultimate result because in a way, what took place in The Family was a microcosm of what was happening, and still is happening on a larger scale. Let’s learn from our mistakes, let’s listen to our most distraught fellows and find the strength inside us to give what we can. I’m not saying a man is not responsible for his thoughts and his acts but I’m saying that we, as a society are responsible of how we take care of our kids, especially the ones who are in despair. Maddox had No Name, he gave himself one and the medias made him a legend and a pop icon. Manson sells. Sad but true. Greed.. Again!
STOP THE GREED!!!!