THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN THE WORLD
The following interview appeared in Rolling Stone magazine in June 1970.
An article about Manson was in the same issue.
THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN THE WORLD
An Audience with Charles Manson, a.k.a. Jesus Christ
Moving slowly across the municipal geometry of civic buildings
and police officers, a man comes toward us looking directly into the
sun, his arms stretched out in supplication, like the Sierra Indian.
From a hundred feet away his eyes are flashing, all two-dimensional
boundaries gone. A strange place to be tripping, outside the new, all
concrete, Los Angeles County Jail.
"You're from ROLLING STONE," he says.
"How did you know?"
No answer. He leads us to the steps of the jail's main entrance,
pivots and again locks his gaze into the sun.
"Spirals," he whispers. "Spirals coming away...circles curling
out of the sun." His fingers weave patterns in the air. A little sun
"A hole in the fourth dimension," we suggest.
His easy reply: "A hole in all dimensions."
This is Clem, an early member of the family called Manson. Inside
is another, Squeaky, a friendly girl with short, red hair and freckles.
Her eyes, too, are luminous, not tripping, but permanently innocent.
Children from the Village of the Damned.
We went to the attorney-room window to fill out forms. Two guards
watched from a glass booth above. A surprise: we were not searched.
"Step inside the gate," says a disembodied voice. "Keep clear of the
After nearly an hour he comes in. The guards greet him, casual,
"Hi, Charlie, how are you today?"
"Hi, man, I'm doin' fine," he says, smiling.
He's wearing prison clothes, blue denim jacket and pants. His
hair is very long and bushy, he pushes it out of his face nervously.
He looks different, older and stranger than in the press photos. His
beard has been shaved off recently, and it is growing back black and
stubbly. He has a long face with a stubborn jaw, wizened and weathered
like the crazy country faces you see in old TVA photographs. A cajun
Christ. He moves, springing, light as a coyote.
"Can't shake hands," he explains, jumping back. "Against the
He unfolds casually in the chair. He strokes his chin, like a
wizard trapped under a stone for a thousand years.
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR RECORD?
All the good music was stolen. What's there is a couple of years
old. I've written hundreds of songs since then. I've been writing a
lot while I was in jail.
I never really dug recording, you know, all those things pointing
at you. You get into the studio, and it's hard to sing into micro-
phones. [He clutches his pencil rigidly, like a mike.] Giant phallic
symbols pointing at you. All my latent tendencies... [He starts
laughing and making sucking sounds. He is actually blowing the
pencil!] My relationship to music is completely subliminal, it just
flows through me.
"EGO IS A TOO MUCH THING" IS A STRANGE TRACK. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY
Ego is the man, the male image. [His face tenses, his eyes dart
and threaten. He clenches his fist, bangs it on the table. He gets
completely behind it, acting it out, the veins standing out in his
neck.] Ego is the phallic symbol, the helmet, the gun. The man
behind the gun, the mind behind the man behind the gun. My philosophy
is that ego is the thinking mind. The mind you scheme with, make war
with. They shoved all the love in the back, hid it away. Ego is
like, "I'm going to war with my ego stick." [He waves an imaginary
rifle around, then sticks it in his crotch.]
IN "EGO" THERE'S THIS LINE, "YOUR HEART IS A-PUMPIN', YOUR PARANOIA'S
Yeah, well, paranoia is just a kind of awareness, and awareness
is just a form of love. Paranoia is the other side of love. Once you
give in to paranoia, it ceases to exist. That's why I say, submission
is a gift, just give in to it, don't resist. It's like saying, "Tie
me on the cross!" Here, want me to hold the nail? Everything is
beautiful if you want to experience it totally.
HOW DOES PARANOIA BECOME AWARENESS?
It's paranoia...and it's paranoia...and it's paranoia...UNH!
[He mimics terror, total paranoia, scrunching up his body into a ball
of vibrating fear that suddenly snaps and slumps back in ectasy.]
It's like when I went into the courtroom. Everybody in the courtroom
wanted to kill me. I saw the hatred in their eyes, and I knew they
wanted to kill me, and I asked the sheriffs, "Is somebody goint to
shoot me?" That's why I feel like I'm already dead. I know it's
coming. It's the cops who put that feeling into their heads. They
don't come in with that.
They whisper, so I can hear it, "Sharon Tate's father is in
court." And then they go over and shake him down to see if he has a
gun, and they're just putting that idea into his head. He has a nice
face. I saw him the first day in court. He doesn't want to kill me.
They're putting that into his head. You know, they say things like,
"We wouldn't want you to shoot the defendant." And every day I see
him in court, his face gets a little harder, and one day he's gonna
And they put the whole thing in his head, feeding him all those
negative vibrations. And if you keep doing that, it's got to happen.
I know it's coming. They all got their things pointed at me, and they
want to use them badly. But actually they can't use them, and that's
what makes them so mad. They can't make love with them, they're all
suffering from sex paranoia.
They've been following me for three years, trying to find
something, and wherever they go there's like thirty women. And that
really makes them mad. They can't understand what all these women are
doing with one guy.
They're looking for something dirty in everything, and if you're
looking for something, you'll find it. You have to put up some kind
of face for them, and that's the only face they understand.
The answer is to accept the cross. I've accepted it. I can go
up on the cross in my imagination. Oh, ooooooh, aaaah! [The orgasmic
crucifixion! He gives a long sigh of relief.]
Have you ever seen the coyote in the desert? [His head prowls
back and forth.] Watching, tuned in, completely aware. Christ on
the cross, the coyote in the desert - it's the same thing, man. The
coyote is beautiful. You learn from the coyote just like you can
learn from a child. A baby is born into this world in a state of
fear. Total paranoia and awareness. He sees the world with eyes not
used yet. As he grows up, his parents lay all this stuff on him. They
tell him, when they should be letting him tell them. Let the children
The death trip is something they pick up from their parents, mama
and papa. They don't have to die. You can live forever. It's all
been put in your head. They program him by withholding love. They
make him into a mechanical toy. [He sings from his album, jerking his
arms like a spastic Tin Man.] "I am a mechanical boy/I am my mother's
Everything happened perfectly for me in my life. I picked the
right mother, and my father, I picked him too. He was a gas, he cut
out early in the game. He didn't want me to get hung up. [Charlie
laughs privately at his private joke.]
CAN YOU TELL US WHAT YOU MEAN BY SUBMISSION? IF WE ARE ALL ONE, HOW
CAN YOU JUSTIFY BEING A LEADER?
There is only One. I'm the One. Me is first. I don't care
about you. I'm not thinking about what other people think, I just do
what my soul tells me. People said I was a leader. Here's the kind
of leader I was. I made sure the animals were fed. Any sores on the
horses? I'd heal them. Anything need fixing? I'd fix it. When it
was cold, I was always the last one to get a blanket.
Pretty soon I'd be sitting on the porch, and I'd think, "I'll go
and do this or that." And one of the girls would say, "No, let me."
You've go to give up, lie down and die for other people, then they'll
do anything for you. When you are willing to become a servant for
other people, they want to make you a master. In the end, the girls
would be just dying to do something for me. I'd ask one of them to
make a shirt for me, and she'd be thrilled because she could do some-
thing for me. They'll work twenty-four hours a day if you give them
something to do.
I can get along with girls, they give up easier. I can make love
to them. Man has this ego thing. [Charlie stiffens up, holding on to
his prick.] I can't make love to that. Girls break down easier. When
you get beyond the ego thing, all you're left with is you; you make
love with yourself. With a girl, you can make love with her until
she's exhausted. You can make love with her until she gives up her
mind, then you can make love with love. [Charlie starts to run his
hands up and down his body, caressing himself like a stripper, his
fingers tingling like a faith healer in a trance. They dance all over
his body.] You climax with every move you make, you climax with every
step you take. The breath of love you breathe is all you need to
believe. [Charlie pulls a thousand postures from the air. He squirms,
stiffens, anguishes with ecstasy.] Oooooh, aaaaaaaah, uhhhhn! Your
beard, it feels sooooo good, mmmmmmm! [His fingers, with half-inch-
long nails, fondle his own face, his stubbly chin, impersonating the
hands of an unseen lover, making love with himself.] Your beard feels
sooo good, mmmmmmm, yes it does. It all comes from the father into
the woman. [Suddenly he assumes his teaching position.] See, it's
because I am a bastard that I can accept the truth. Hell, I am my
father! The Father... the Son... [He withdraws in mock terror from
some imaginary host of accusers, pushing the thought away with
extended hands.] No, no, NO... it's not me... you've got it all
wrong. I'm not-you couldn't think that! I don't know what you're
talking about. Listen, I'll get a job. [He continues fighting his
phantom, Jacob wrestling with his angel, then giggles.] See, the
cop-out is Christianity. If you believe in Christianity, you don't
have to believe in Christ. Get a job and you won't have to think
about it at all.
Being in jail protected me in a way from society. I was inside,
so I couldn't take part, play the games that society expects you to
play. I've been in jail twenty-two years. The most I was out was
maybe six months. I just wasn't contaminated, I kept my innocence.
I got so I actually loved solitary. That was supposed to be
punishment. I loved it. There is nothing to do in prison anyway, so
all they can get you to do is "Get up! Sit down!" So solitary was
great. I began to hear music inside my head. I had concerts inside
my cell. When the time came for my release, I didn't want to go.
Yeah, man, solitary was beautiful.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL ABOUT JUDGE KEENE TAKING AWAY YOUR PRO PER PRIVILEGE?
The judge is just the flip side of the preacher. He took away my
pro per privilege because they don't want me to speak. They want to
shut me up, because they know if I get up on the stand, I am going to
blow the whole thing wide open. They don't want to hear it.
Between you and me, if that judge asks for my life, I'm going to
give it to him right there in the courtroom. But first of all he is
going to have to deal with my music, the music in my fingers and my
body. [Charlie demonstrates. His nails tap out an incredible riff on
the table, the chair, the glass of the booth, like the scurrying foot-
steps of some strung-out rodent.]
He is going to have to deal with that power. I'm probably one
of the most dangerous men in the world if I want to be. But I never
wanted to be anything but me. If the judge says death, I am death.
I've always been dead. Death is life.
Anything you see in me is in you. If you want to see a vicious
killer, that's who you'll see, do you understand that? If you see me
as your brother, that's what I'll be. It all depends on how much love
you have. I am you, and when you can admit that, you will be free. I
am just a mirror.
Did you see what they did to that guy in the Chicago Seven trial?
Hoffman saw in those guys what he wanted to see. That's why he found
them guilty. The white man is fading, everybody knows that. The black
man will take over, they can't stop it. And they won't be able to
stop me either unless they gag me.
WHY DO YOU THINK BLACK PEOPLE WILL GAIN POWER?
They were the first people to have power. The pharaohs were
black. The Egyptians took one man and raised him up above the rest.
They put him on the throne and they fed all these lines of energy into
him. [He folds his arms across his chest like Tutankhamen, holding
his pencil between two fingers like a pharaoh's rod.] That means
power. This represents the penis, the power. They built the pyramids
with this energy. Love built the pyramids. Power without love is
aggression. There has been no true love since the pharaohs. Except
for J.C. He knew what love meant.
Tempt me not. Do you remember the story about Jesus on the hill?
You know, the devil takes Him to the edge of this cliff, [Charlie
leans over the table as if precariously on the edge of the Void] and
he says to Him, "If you're God, prove it by jumping off the edge."
And Jesus says, "There ain't nothing to prove, man." When you doubt,
your mind is in two parts. It's divided against itself. See, Christ
is saying, "Past, get behind me." The Devil is in the past. The
Devil is the past. What he is saying is, "Don't think. He who thinks
is lost, because if you have to think about something, to doubt it,
you're lost already."
My philosophy is: Don't think. I don't believe in the mind that
you think with and scheme with. I don't believe in words.
IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN WORDS, WHY DO YOU USE SO MANY OF THEM?
Words are symbols. All I'm doing is jumbling the symbols in your
brain. Everything is symbolic. Symbols are just connections in your
brain. Even your body is a symbol.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE MEANING OF REVELATIONS, CHAPTER 9?
What do you think it means? It's the battle of Armageddon. It's
the end of the world. It was the Beatles "Revolution 9" that turned
me on to it. It predicts the overthrow of the Establishment. The pit
will be opened, and that's when it will all come down. A third of all
mankind will die. The only people who escape will be those who have
the seal of God on their foreheads. You know the part, "They will
seek death, but they will not find it."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE PROPHECIES YOU FOUND IN THE BEATLES' DOUBLE ALBUM?
[Charlie starts drawing some lines on the back of a sheet of
white paper, three vertical lines and one horizontal line. In the
bottom area he writes the word SUB.] Okay. Give me the names of
four songs on the album. [We chose "Piggies," "Helter Skelter" and
"Blackbird," and he adds "Rocky Raccoon." Charlie writes down the
titles at the top of each vertical section. Under "Helter Skelter" he
draws a zigzag line, under "Blackbird" two strokes, somehow indicating
bird sounds. Very strange.] This bottom part is the subconscious.
At the end of each song, there is a little tag piece on it, a couple
of notes. Or like in "Piggies," there's "oink, oink, oink." Just
these couple of sounds. And all these sounds are repeated in
"Revolution 9." Like in "Revolution 9" all these pieces are fitted
together and they predict the violent overthrow of the white man.
Like you'll hear "oink, oink," and then right after that, machine-gun
fire. [He sprays the room with imaginary slugs.] AK-AK-AK-AK-AK-AK!
DO YOU REALLY THINK THE BEATLES INTENDED TO MEAN THAT?
I think it's a subconscious thing. I don't know whether they
did or not. But it's there. It's an association in the subconscious.
This music is bringing on the revolution, the unorganized overthrow of
the Establishment. The Beatles know in the sense that the subconscious
WHAT DOES "ROCKY RACCOON" MEAN, THEN?
Coon. You know that's a word they use for black people. You
know the line, "Gideon checked out/And he left it no doubt/To help
with good Rocky's revival." Rocky's revival - re-vival. It means
coming back to life. The black man is going to come back into power
again. "Gideon checks out" means that it's all written out there in
the New Testament, in the Book of Revelations.
DO YOU THINK YOU WILL EVER GET OUT OF JAIL?
I don't care. I'm as at home here as anywhere. Anywhere is
anywhere you want it to be. It's all the same to me. I'm not afraid
of death, so what can they do to me? I don't care what they do. The
only thing I care about is my love.
Death is psychosomatic. The gas chamber? [Charlie laughs.] My
God, are you kidding? It's all verses, all climaxes, all music. Death
is permanent solitary confinement, and there is nothing I would like
more than that.
* * * * * * * *
A bell rings. A deputy comes over to tell us the time is up.
The jail is closing for the night. Charlie gives us a song he's
composed in jail, "Man Cross Woman," written neatly on lined yellow
paper ripped from a legal tablet.
Charlie just stands at the entrance to the attorney room,
smiling. Outside, in the distance, Clem and Squeaky wave and smile
back ecstatically at their captured kind, their fingers pressed
against the glass. The deputies watch Charlie, puzzled, as he flops
his head from one side to the other like a clown. They cannot see
Clem and Squeaky behind them, imitating his every movement, communi-
cating in a silent animal language.
Posted by boxcarro