Growing up in Canton, OH, Brian Hugh Warner looked to rock gods like KISS and David Bowie as a way to escape his mundane suburban surroundings. Even before he started a band, and long before he took the nom de rock Marilyn Manson, he was putting on makeup in an attempt to transform into someone new. Although pictures of Manson without makeup are out there (you don’t have to look too hard), it’s rare to see him sans foundation and eyeliner unless he’s working on a project that requires him to be fresh-faced. If he doesn't have to be makeup-free, Manson’s usually powdering up and getting into character.
While the rocker has had plenty of outlandish looks over the years, his makeup hasn’t changed significantly since the mid-90s - though his budget has undoubtedly upgraded. He might seem mysterious, but Manson loves to talk about his makeup. And if you think this sounds boring, you’ve never read an interview with the mayor of Holy Wood, himself.
Before he was the Antichrist Superstar, Marilyn Manson was simply Brian Warner, a kid from Canton, OH. From an early age, Manson's mother encouraged him to try on her wigs and makeup. Manson explained to The Fader:
My mom used to put her wigs and lipstick on me when I was little. I have one weird picture of me as a toddler with an unlit cigarette in my mouth, wearing her blonde wig and a diaper, sitting on the couch. Wonder how I ended up here.
Before perfecting the makeup style that would define his look, Manson went through a heavy experimental phase that involved swiping eyeliner and foundation from stores in his free time. In an interview with The Fader, he talked about being a rebel on stage long before he was a well-known public renegade:
The early performances I did, I wore Maybelline eyeliner that I would [take] from grocery stores late at night. I had a mild bout of kleptomania in Florida. I [swiped] Max Factor Pan-Cake foundation, which was all-in-one: you just wet a sponge, and you put it on, and done. So when people say, 'Marilyn Manson wears pancake makeup,' technically that was true, though only back in the day.
Marilyn Manson is best known as a musician and enemy of polite society, but he also acts and paints. Manson began his creative ventures by decorating his face. He says he's been practicing with makeup since he was young, but before Manson used facial products, he tried watercolors on his skin.
Manson told The Fader his interest in painting his face came from a desire to be seen - but not necessarily as the Brian Hugh Warner people knew:
I suppose my fascination with makeup comes from me having a great imagination and not being able to contain it just to a piece of paper or a piece of music. When I was a kid, I used to do the KISS makeup with watercolor paints... I wanted to be seen; I just didn't want to be seen the same way that I was.
When Brian Warner's alter ego Marilyn Manson was born, the performer was using pancake makeup and eyeliner, but that all changed when a fan pelted him with a bottle in the middle of a show. The glass pierced his chest, and he used it as makeshift lipstick. He liked the look so much that it stuck.
Manson told The Fader: "Lipstick came a little bit later. Someone threw a bottle at me on stage once. I just cracked my chest with it and rubbed the blood across my mouth."