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Reign of the Oddities:
The Forgotten War Between Marilyn Manson
And the Human Oddities
Edited by Noah Masterson

The Human Oddities were a South Florida punk rock band that played in the same clubs as Marilyn Manson and his band, the Spooky Kids, in the early 1990s. What follows is a pseudo-oral history (it was mostly conducted via E-mail) of those days, as told by some of the people who were there.


NOAH MASTERSON (bassist, Human Oddities):
The Human Oddities were founded by James "Jimmy the Brain" Sevigny and Ian "Mr. Torso" Hussey. I joined up after ditching the cock rock band I was in, Abuse Farm. We also had two backup singers, Natasha and Janna, who preferred to be called "side singers." They saved us from being just another boy band.

JOHN SEVIGNY (Jimmy the Brain’s brother; later replaced Ian on guitar): I will never forget when you guys played at that Washington Square place on South Beach. I’d been playing music for a long time, but what you guys did was so much better than anything I ever did. I was standing next to [Henry] Farfan and both of us just stood there with our mouths hanging open. There was so much youthful energy, confidence and charisma coming from the stage, and the songs were so fucking good. I think Human Oddities was the best local group in the history of Miami. I think some of the people who saw the group would agree. I know Dave Daniels [owner of Churchill’s, where Human Oddities frequently played] would agree, and while he may not exactly be a music critic, he’s heard a whole shitload of south Florida music and he’s not easily impressed.

MARCOS MOURE (editor, Scrape): Not many bands can rip through a straight-faced performance while wearing matching metallic fire-retardant outfits and spinning light cone hats. And to do it in front of a packed house of exactly 13 half-drunk or indifferent fans is quite a coup. The Human Oddities’ short-lived domination of the Miami punk rock scene was a lot of fucking fun, the equivalent of getting a freezing Gatorade bucket dumped on you. They were impossible to ignore. In stark contrast, shows put on by Marilyn Manson & the Stoopid Kids (as they were known at the time) were simply a boring, grunged-out yawnfest of absolute mediocrity. They looked and sounded just like every other longhaired Seattle wannabe pearljamudhoneys. It was bad.

NOAH: The first Marilyn Manson demo I heard sounded like Nine Inch Nails, which was not surprising given their early association with Trent Reznor. But a year or so later, after Nirvana hit it big, I listened to their next demo, and it sounded exactly like Nirvana. I wonder what became of those tapes.

GREG BAKER (music critic, Miami New Times): I first met Marilyn Manson when he was Brian Warner and working as a freelance writer. He was doing a story about critics for a local magazine (I think South Florida, but not positive). I was music critic at New Times. He interviewed a TV critic, a movie critic, etc., and they made this weird little chart out of it. When he came to my office for the interview he was demure and a bit too respectful, calling me Mr. Baker, which was weird because everyone always has called me Baker. I spent some time talking to him about journalism and when we did the interview and photo shoot I tried to be provocative and to get him to loosen up and act, or behave really, a bit less sane and straight-laced, as in, "Loosen up, bro. We’re all cool around here, man. Relax. We’re no celebrities or anything, just a bunch of half-crazed losers putting out a weird newspaper. You party?" I got the feeling I scared him.

NOAH: I remember seeing the Spooky Kids outside the Cameo Theater, a once venerable institution where all the good touring punk bands played. I was handing out fliers for a Human Oddities show and the Kids were all camped out on the sidewalk beside a Volkswagen Bus, trying very hard to look like the original Manson Family. I asked if they wanted a flier, and one of them said, "A flower? Look, everyone! He’s handing out flowers!" and they all reached to take a "flower." What a bunch of dorks, I thought.


Noah Masterson

JOHN: The heart of my dislike for that group was that they were so predictably controversial. They were like, this obvious, way-too-late mix of Alice Cooper and David Bowie, put across by sheltered, Ft. Lauderdale rich kids. Their success was really irritating to a bohemian piece of white trash like me.

At the time, I thought they would come and go, like so many other overly hyped Miami groups. I didn’t recognize that this guy Warner actually had pretty good sense about marketing, and that kids would go for something so retro and obvious. He clearly knew what he was doing, or at the very least, he was willing to make a big bet and it paid off.

But the fact that they were oriented toward marketing at all shows the grand difference between our way of thinking and theirs. Neither [Noah], James nor I ever gave a shit about anything other than kicking ass in front of a lot of people and looking clever in the process.

I have the impression that Warner was running around with a laptop in those years, analyzing demographics and market curves when he wasn’t washing fake blood out of his drawers. It proved to be a good way to do things, though.

GREG: I honestly think Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids circa early ‘90s at Washington Square was the peak for Brian creatively. Most of his later work bores me, and no matter how many times it’s been said, I’m not going to let it pass that he owes every success to Alice Cooper.

NOAH: Here’s the thing: Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids wore funny outfits; the Human Oddities wore funny outfits. Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids performed songs about serial killers; the Human Oddities performed songs about serial killers. Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids wanted to take over the world; the Human Oddities wanted to take over the world. The town was only big enough for one such band, and well, the better band lost. But we did set out to destroy them for a while. We absolutely loathed them.


Chuck Loose

CHUCK LOOSE (editor, Get Loose!; singer, Chickenhead): I was only vaguely aware of some kind of "competition" between the Spooky Kids and Human Oddities camps. I was only vaguely aware of most of my surroundings at that time in my life, but, to be honest, I always kind of figured that any kind of "competition" was more in the Human Oddities’ heads than anchored in any kind of reality. Then again, I also thought I could douse myself with lighter fluid, set it on fire, and not get hurt. Live and learn.

Anyhoo, to me, they both seemed to be doing totally different things, so, you know, apples and oranges and shit. I liked the Human Oddities; they had great, funny, simple punk rock songs about the most inane shit, that you could sing along with. The Spooky Kids had no memorable songs or even a musical style, and a lame bunch of shticky gimmicks that would only shock teenagers who had never seen Alice Cooper or a John Waters movie before... at least in Chickenhead we REALLY set ourselves on fire!! (I just converted the Chickenhead "fire" video to DVD… It’s pretty amazing.)

SHAYNE HANSEN (drummer, Human Oddities): We hated Marilyn Manson for no good reason. I think the bile came from this: the lunchboxes, the gothic thing, the Dr. Seuss thing–it wasn’t original, wasn’t creative. But their image was more marketable. The goth types aren’t going to buy into ballerina outfits and bunny outfits. I remember that other drummer [Henry Farfan, who replaced Shayne] wore a shark suit. That was way cooler than anything Marilyn Manson wore onstage.

IGGY SCAM (guitarist, Chickenhead; editor Scam): I think any relationship between Human Oddities and Marilyn Manson must have been imaginary. Marilyn Manson was this ridiculous band that was like a laughingstock in "the scene," like, "These dicks even have LUNCHBOXES!"

This was the big "punk making it big" time, so there were these two camps in town, like "THE PUNKS," who were trying to keep it real DIY and do, like, illegal generator shows in the Everglades and steal all their cassettes for demos and give them away; and there was the "pro-rock" Washington Square scene of bands trying to "make it." So, we always thought Marilyn Manson was just some bunch of "pro" fakers who were almost poignant in their desperate blend of south Florida lameness and ambition.

NOAH: The Human Oddities had a nasty habit of fucking shit up and getting banned from clubs. I don’t think Marilyn Manson could make that claim until he started playing arenas and fellating audience members.

"JOO" SCOTT SCHLAZER (editor, Githyanki and Painful Rectal Itch; the Human Oddities’ biggest fan): The Human Oddities and Marilyn Manson were supposed to play together at the Junkyard… Basically the HOs played first, and during the show Jimmy decided to hang on a pipe sticking out from the ceiling. Well, it broke, and water began to spurt all over the backstage, kind of like a pop shot to the face of a chick in a low-budget porno film. But what everyone failed to realize was that Marilyn Manson’s instruments were next to the stage and had gotten soaked and flooded by Jimmy’s mishap.

JOHN: That didn’t happen. James broke a water pipe outside. That’s it.

NOAH: Judging from this interview in Scrape #7, it looks like that night we were playing with a band called Insanity Assassin.

Excerpt from Scrape #7:

JAMES "JIMMY THE BRAIN" SEVIGNY (singer, Human Oddities): We used to play the Junkyard a lot. What a dump! This was before we busted their plumbing. They had a pipe in the back and I just yanked it out of the wall...

JOHN: You were just hanging from it!

JIMMY: I yanked it! I pulled as hard as I could and water started shooting out. I had a mohawk back then and it was full of Aqua Net and it was running into my eyes.

NOAH: We tried to put it back together but the water pressure was such that we all got ten times as wet.

JIMMY: Then we said Fuck it. All those guys at the Junkyard are dicks anyway, so we ran.

NOAH: We continue to hear terrible rumors about how much damage we did.

JOHN: Thousands of dollars! For some reason the toilet blew up at the same time and Insanity Assassin were playing and the water just ran into the club.

JOHN: The funny thing about that whole rivalry was that Marilyn Manson, or Brian Wernerstein, or whatever his name was, was long-before quoted as saying that the Human Oddities were his favorite local band, or were among his favorites.

NOAH: I was listening to the local-music show on WSHE, and Marilyn Manson was at the station as a guest. When the DJ played the Human Oddities’ "Henry" single, Manson was like, "Oh my God! Who the fuck are these guys? That was great!" At that point, he didn’t know how much we hated him. He’d never even heard of us. We must not have begun our campaign of openly antagonizing his band. For instance, I swiped their 8-by-10 publicity photo off the wall at Yesterday & Today Records, and we used it to make a flier for the next Human Oddities show–plastering our logo over their skinny girly bodies.

JOO: Well, what happened was that Marilyn Manson’s manager [John Tovar] had made the flier for the show. It was your typical Marilyn Manson flier, with Marilyn Manson pasted all over it, and the Human Oddities were the opening band, so the Human Oddities had like this little blurb mentioned on the flier–like less than an inch in diameter, very unnoticeable. So, of course, the genius of the band, Jimmy, took one of the fliers and revamped it with a huge "H.O." across the top and put Marilyn Manson as the opening band in sort of a small mention. But the best part was that he cut off all the heads of the band members of Marilyn Manson, and affixed the heads of the Human Oddities. It was a great day and very triumphant indeed for the Human Oddities.

NOAH: I love Joo Scott’s version of events, but I still have that flier (see picture) and it reveals the much humbler truth. We just appropriated their image to make a flier for one of our shows. I don’t think we ever shared a bill with Marilyn Manson. But rumors abounded that the Spooky Kids’ manager, John Tovar, seriously thought he could sue us.

SHAYNE: Tovar was kinda arrogant, always wore a hat–not a cowboy hat, but like one of those hats Lynyrd Skynyrd would wear. He had imploding belches. He was a real gasser.

JOO: The next day, Brian–oh excuse me, I meant Marilyn–was enraged by this and struck out on a mad pseudo-punk-gothic-horror-fetish-metal rampage! Later on there was talk of suing the Human Oddities, kicking there asses, and plenty more gratuitous bodily harm, which of course never happened.

JOHN: I remember one gig at Churchill’s, after James or yours truly had mouthed off really bad about Marilyn Manson, a few of those idiots showed up to Churchill’s to "kick our asses." I only saw the bass player. I remember Chuck Loose walking up to him and telling him to "Eat my pussy." Of course, those morons never tried anything. Not because any of us were tough, but because they were far wimpier. I remember James saying something onstage that night about how they’d sent a "posse of pussies" after us.

CHUCK: I remember trying to coerce one of them to buy me a beer through idle threats in front of Churchill’s one time. I can’t remember if he kowtowed and bought the beer (probably not) but I do remember thinking to myself, "Wow. This guy must be, like, king of the art fags."

JIMMY: I’ll take that motherfucker on anytime, anywhere!!!


Shayne Hansen

SHAYNE: I did a ‘zine, EELGASTOE. In one issue, I drew comics of Manson blowing farts through a megaphone and the sycophants in the crowd holding their lunchboxes in the air. In that same issue, I also did a piece of fiction about football players Deion Sanders and Timmy Mac from the Atlanta Falcons and yours truly in tow kidnapping the Spooky Kids and "putting the fear of God into them," then dropping them off in [burned-out ghetto] Liberty City! No wonder that Manson guy hated me!

Anyway, I was hanging out with [local drummer] Tim Vaughn, who was gonna audition for Marilyn Manson.

We were at Faith Farm [thrift store], looking for shit–whatever Tim could get to sell to toy geeks–and Marilyn Manson popped in to look for lunchboxes. Tim introduced us. I shook his hand, and he was like, "You’re that Shayne guy. You’re the one that did those comics about me. Oh, that was great. That was hilarious." So I wasn’t down with hanging out with this guy. But Tim said to Marilyn, "Come over to my house and hang out with me and my girlfriend."

So we’re hanging out there, and Marilyn’s like, "Those comics are great. You’re such a dick. Fucking faggot. Great comics!" He called his girlfriend and said, "I’m here with that asshole Shayne Hansen–the guy who did the comics about me." He would go back and forth, one minute telling me how cool I am, the next telling me I’m the biggest dick. But it never came to blows or anything. I never packed his fudge like I should have. When he left it was like, "‘Okay, take care asshole.’ ‘Okay, dickhead!’"

JOO: Let me tell you about my last encounter with Marilyn Manson. It was April 8th, 1994. My friend Allyson had put on a benefit show for women who get beat up by their husbands. The bands that played were Babes in Toyland, 7-Year Bitch, Jack Off Jill, and Livid Kittens. You remember the date, don’t you? It’s the day Kurt Cobain died.

Anyway, not that this article has anything to do with me or Kurt, but I was the dude assigned to pick up Babes in Toyland and 7-Year Bitch from the airport. After I found them and introduced myself, I began to be my usual dickhead self: I ended up losing my car in the parking lot for like an hour. We were walking all over, running out of things to talk about. Not remembering they were from Seattle, I decided to make fun of Kurt Cobain’s death, which the two bands, being on a plane for 6 hours, knew nothing about. Needless to say they were all friends with Nirvana, and I made all the girls go through a traumatized tearful car ride, and when we got to the club, they totally hated me.

Now, this was the last night I ever saw Marilyn Manson. I was backstage with Babes in Toyland, when suddenly the crowd opened up, just like when Moses parted the sea, and in came Marilyn Manson and entourage. They sat themselves down backstage and proceeded to be the popular trendies that they are today.

MARCOS: [Marilyn Manson]’s transformation into a Bowiesque Acid Casualty B-Movie Horror-Flick Extra is striking. No doubt. But underneath the torrid makeup and contact lenses, nutty videos, and oh-so-profane and "controversial" stances, Marilyn Manson is still stoopid.

JOHN: I don’t have anything good to say about their music. They don’t shock me. They don’t even interest me.

NOAH: The Human Oddities released two singles and went on two tours. Once we played with Urge Overkill and the Poster Children at the Cubby Bear in Chicago, and totally choked. We actually had to stop the songs and start again…repeatedly. We were so fucking nervous. But we were ambitious as hell, and had great songs, and if we weren’t so young and impatient, we probably could have made history. Our albums would have mopped the floor with Marilyn Manson.

IGGY: At first, I thought Human Oddities were in the DIY camp, but they seemed to head in the "wanting to make it" direction when John Sevigny joined the band and then they just got annoying and even a little embarrassing, too. You will note that they didn’t really get anywhere or last too long after they tried to go pro and they ended up breaking up, leaving a ton of great classic songs like "Smooth Sippin’" in the dustbin of south Florida history.

JOHN: We were young people with the best singer around, incredible songs and loud guitars. We wanted to play for as many people as possible. We never wanted to be part of some secretive little cult of post-punk, rhythmically challenged suburban buskers who couldn’t afford their own instruments. We were fucking performers and we wanted attention…

The Human Oddities were among the best live bands to ever take a stage in Miami. They kicked ass, they were funny, they were strange, and more than anything else, they were entertaining. All those things were true before I joined the band, and they are true today.

Hear the Human Oddities at
www.ratedrookie.com/HO/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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