What It’s Like Being Marilyn Manson’s Own Photographer
Few rock stars are or will ever be as visually striking as Marilyn Manson. An artist in every sense of the word, the Antichrist Superstar turned Pale Emperor has evolved his character with every record, changing his image in the process. And for the past two decades, one man has been there to document it all.
Photographer Perou has been a part of the Manson family (not that one) since the late ’90s, first meeting The God Of Fuck on a magazine cover shoot. Since then, he’s shot countless photos of the shock-rock legend, and compiled 350 of his favourite photos a new book.
We caught up for a quick chat with Perou to find out more about his relationship with The Double M.
When did you first meet Marilyn Manson?
“In Los Angeles 1998. He was dressed like Elvis and I was dressed like an extra from Romper Stomper, in Manson’s words. We were not at a fancy dress party.”
How did you get the gig of becoming his photographer?
“There was an initiation thing I had to go through. It was degrading, humiliating and I don’t like to talk about it.”
Why did you decide to release a photobook?
I’d been sat in a box for 21 years doing nothing. I mean, I had 21 years of great photos sat in a box doing nothing, and it seemed like the thing to do. When I started photographing Marilyn Manson, I knew 21 years later, this would happen. I kind of hate Instagram and love books because you can really get into something.”
The first time Perou met Marilyn Manson, shooting for Time Out magazine, 1998.
Describe your experience of working with him for the past two decades.
“It’s what is says on the packet, and the packet says ’21 Years In Hell.’
How involved is Manson in photoshoot concepts?
“He has to be there, or it’s just me on my own, holding a camera with no-one to photograph. Everything begins and ends with Marilyn Manson.”
Do you ever butt heads over concept ideas?
“No, but we have head butts occasionally.”
What is Marilyn like on a shoot? Is he strictly business?
“He is Strictly Come Dancing. There’s a lot of funny business.”
Marilyn Manson at home, 2003.
What are some of your favourite memories of working with him?
“My favourite memories of working with Manson are probably when we are not working together. Marilyn Manson is great to photograph, but he’s not easy to photograph. If it was easy, anyone could do it.”
Has there ever been a concept deemed too inappropriate?
“We don’t self-censor on shoots, but some pictures will never be seen because Manson deems them inappropriate. I remember taking a polaroid of him laughing once, I showed him the polaroid and said, ‘Let’s shoot some film of you laughing!’ He said, ‘Yeah… no!’ And ripped up the polaroid.”
How is it working with someone as artistic and creative as Manson?
“Exhausting and addictive. I have a T‑shirt that says ‘Kill All Artists.’
Marilyn Manson press session in 2017.
Do you have an all-time favourite Manson photo?
I like the ones I’m in. It pleases my ego.”
What is it like in Marilyn’s inner circle?
“It’s more of a pentagram within a circle. Depending on the season, you’re kind of ‘on call.’
What do you think other artists can learn from Manson’s visual approach?
“Marilyn Manson understands the concept of ‘the more you give the more you get.’ He is constantly evolving and not standing still: creatively and physically.”
Are there any other rock stars you’ve not shot that you would like to?
Perou’s photograph book 21 Years In Hell is available to pre-order now.
Marilyn Manson was released by the LAPD on personal recognisance bail on July 2 in relation to 2019 assault charges.
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