Write or Wrong?

Marilyn Manson's Long Hard Road Out of Hell is paved with one journalist's bad intentions

As Manson relates this story, Strauss interjects statements such as "That's good; so go on," and "Hold on; how did he separate himself from Twiggy?"

A reporter might have balanced Manson's account with the girl's side of the story. A cultural critic might have ventured an opinion about what such behavior means, or challenged Manson on whether or not this behavior was really as consensual as he says it was. Strauss does neither. For his part, Manson is extremely savvy about the way the press works, and he knows that controversy sells. In his book, he describes his band as a "science project" designed to "see if a white band that wasn't rap could get away with acts far more offensive and illicit than 2 Live Crew's dirty rhymes." By any standard, he has succeeded wildly. In the midst of a six-city book tour to hype Road, Manson told the Chicago Tribune that he'd be disappointed if government and religious officials stopped attacking him.

"I wouldn't know what to do with myself while on tour," he said. "I'd have to start playing checkers. I expect my next tour to be just as bad as the last one, though I think people are going to have to find something new to hate eventually."

Strauss has reportedly been hanging out with Manson around L.A. quite a bit in recent months, and a longtime friend has heard him boast of the amount of "primo pussy" that he's been getting. He attended Manson's New York book signing two weeks ago and told Village Voice gossip columnist Michael Musto that "I definitely got a lot more than I expected [from the experience of writing the book]. I probably realized this in Marilyn's hotel one morning at 4 a.m. wearing a blonde wig and staring at a bottle of wine, two unidentifiable blue pills, and a nosehair trimmer."

Along with many other questions, Strauss declined to answer queries for this story about his personal relationship with Manson. "As for anything else that occurred during the making of the autobiography, I'll leave it up to your very active imagination," he wrote in his brief faxed response.

If Strauss's mission on the West Coast is to challenge Philips of the L.A. Times, he has so far fallen short. The L.A. paper published one of the most explosive music news stories of the year on February 22, the result of a month-long investigation by Philips (who refuses even free albums and concert tickets) and Times staffer Michael Hiltzik. Just days before the Grammys, the story detailed charges that the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the Santa Monica organization that sponsors the awards, has given only 10 percent of the charity money it has raised to the intended recipients, while organization president Mike Greene has been earning $757,000 annually and pushing the major labels to release his own solo album.

As of last Sunday, Strauss had yet to write a follow-up report on the NARAS controversy in the New York Times. The weekend that the L.A. paper ran its expose, he was in Hawaii covering a Pearl Jam concert for Rolling Stone. But even though they got scooped, Strauss's editors at the New York Times could at least find some consolation within their own pages: The Long Hard Road to Hell debuted at number 12 on the paper's bestseller list, and has since been steadily climbing.

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