Inside Marilyn Manson's Dark Childhood

Before he became the Antichrist Superstar, singer Marilyn Manson was a kid named Brian Warner. Even though there are rumors about Manson’s life - his removed rib, his time spent on network television - the true stories about Marilyn Manson's childhood are weirder than anything someone could make up. 

From the beginning of his career, Manson has courted controversy - but what was Marilyn Manson like growing up? Did he wear a back brace and run around like a monster or was he normal? Manson’s formative years are like something out of a David Lynch film. While there was a normalcy to many of his childhood surroundings, the people in his life were incredibly strange. 

Photo: Andreas Lawen, Fotandi / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

  • His Mother Suffered From Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy 
    Photo: Marilyn Manson / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    His Mother Suffered From Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy 

    When someone suffers from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, their entire family suffers along with them. This form of mental illness occurs when a caregiver fakes a child's illness. MSBP can take a myriad of forms, and in the case of young Brian Warner, his mother had him in and out of the hospital. 

    Manson told Rolling Stone that she convinced him that he had anemia, allergies, and overly long earlobes. That last point stuck with him so much that when his band was finally successful, he had a plastic surgeon cut his earlobes down. He explained his decision to seek out a plastic surgeon for his ears as a "suggestion" from his mother. 

  • Kids Who Thought He Was Gay Beat Him Up

    One major piece of Marilyn Manson lore is that as a young person he was routinely bullied by his peers for perceived homosexual tendencies. The singer has never spoken at length about the treatment he suffered at the hands of his classmates, but that feeling of being "the other" has definitely ingrained itself in Manson's head. 

    Rather than allow the beatings to make him conform, Manson transformed himself into the strangest person in the world. If his former classmates thought he was weird in school, then his transformation from Brian Warner to Marilyn Manson was sure to prove that he was weirder than they could ever imagine. 

  • Manson’s Mother Claims That Someone Tried To Smother Him As A Child
    Photo: Demystifying The Devil / Rock Docs

    Manson’s Mother Claims That Someone Tried To Smother Him As A Child

    One of the more terrifying stories from Manson's childhood is the claim that someone broke into his parent's house in the middle of the night and tried to smother him with a pillow in his sleep.

    His mother told him this happened when he was around the age of 8 or 9. Manson has no recollection of this, but he's never been able to sleep without some kind of noise in the background.

  • He Claims To Have Watched His Grandfather Pleasure Himself

    One of Manson's more outlandish - and incredibly dark - claims about his childhood is that he once crept down into his grandfather's basement and watched as the old man touched himself to explicit content over his model train set.

    The scene stayed with Manson long enough to make its way into his 1996 masterpiece, Antichrist Superstar, in the form of the track "Kinderfeld." The first verse of the song deals with an old man who "turns the trains on" to make his problems go away. 

  • He Feels Like He Was Terrible To His Mother
    Photo: Marilyn Manson - God Is in the T.V. / Interscope Records

    He Feels Like He Was Terrible To His Mother

    Manson claims his mother emotionally tormented him throughout his childhood, but he also thinks he was awful to her when he was growing up. He admits to being a "mama's boy," but says that even though they had a weird relationship, she couldn't exert any control over him. In 1997, he told Rolling Stone

    I was kind of a mama’s boy. But I had a weird relationship with my mom as a kid because it was kind of [harmful] - but on my part. I wish I could go back and change the way I treated my mom because I used to be really rude to her, and she didn’t really have any kind of control over me.

  • A Neighbor Allegedly Took His Dog’s Life

    The discography of Marilyn Manson is filled with creeps and unsavory characters. While it's not a stretch for someone to invent odd stories and even odder people like those in Manson's work, it becomes clear after reading stories of the singer's childhood that he's drawing on his past to imbue his creativity with an unsettling kind of truth.

    While speaking with Vice, Manson explained that he's a cat person because a neighbor once did away with his dog: 

    I was a dog person when I was a kid. But then a neighbor [ended] my dog and it kind of ruined the idea of having a dog for me forever. But I was actually considering having a dog again recently, I'm just not really sure yet.