Rock ‘n’ Roll High School 52: Dear Mom, Marilyn Manson Signed This Photo For You

The Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (crazy) train is back, with Author/Twitter King/Master Media Manipulator Andrew Shaffer in charge. Good thing I asked him to guest back when he had a spare hour or so on his hands, far before he became, um, highly interested in the 50 Shades of Gray hullabaloo. If you haven’t had a chance to read his clever dissection, 51 Shades, you should do so. If you haven’t heard his stories about Marilyn Manson and high school in Iowa, well, that makes me happy. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here and I do so love the sight of your face.

Andrew Shaffer

Prairie High School, Cedar Rapids, IA, Class of ’97
, Currently: Literary Bad Boy

The first concert I went to was Nine Inch Nails, with opening acts 
Marilyn Manson and the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, in Iowa City. This 
was the beginning of my gothic cross-dressing phase (see photo). Trent 
Reznor was probably at his musical peak, at least as far as the album
 went (he was touring in support of “The Downward Spiral”), but on stage 
he was a drunken mess. It didn’t matter; rock shows tend to thrive on
 chaos. The opening acts stole the show, anyway: Manson masturbated
 with a rubber strap-on, and one of the Jim Rose “freak show” 
performers hung a cinder block from his penis. Juvenile stuff, but I 
was fifteen and thought it was the greatest shit I’d ever seen.

The local paper reviewed the concert the next day under the headline,
“Long on Trash, Devoid of Art.” After my parents read the review, they 
told me it was the last concert I was ever going to see. (It wasn’t.)

I wore the Marilyn Manson t-shirt I bought at the show to school the 
next day. You can imagine what my fellow students thought of this. “A 
dude with a chick’s name? What are you, some kind of [insert 
homosexual slur here]?” If you didn’t like Garth Brooks, you were an 
outcast at my high school. And you couldn’t get much further from
 Garth Brooks than the makeup-wearing Marilyn Manson. This was before
 the Internet, so it was a pretty lonely time to be a teenager with 
somewhat deviant musical taste. Nowadays, the freaks can congregate
 online on My Space or Tumblr or whatever kids are using.

I met Manson at a Danzig concert the following year. I have a picture 
of me (wearing a skirt) with his bassist somewhere. Fortunately, I
 couldn’t find it for this blog post, so you’re at least spared that
 eyesore. I told Manson my mother wasn’t the biggest fan of his work,
 and he signed a naked photo of himself for her, which I selfishly kept
 for myself. And which I also can’t find at the moment, so you’re
 spared that eyesore as well.

Andrew Shaffer is the author of Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love. You can be further entertained by Andrew at or follow him on Twitter via @andrewtshaffer and @evilwylie.

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