What Is Marilyn Manson’s Real Name?

You’ve probably heard the name, Marilyn Manson. After all, the celebrity has long been one of the most controversial entertainers in America. Known for music, videos, and concerts with violent and sexually explicit content as well as a vampire-like physical appearance, Manson is an artist known for shock value. But before he was shocking listeners and concertgoers across the globe as Marilyn Manson, he lived a far more pedestrian life.

Marilyn Manson smiling in front of a blurred background
Marilyn Manson | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

What is Marilyn Manson’s real name?

Born in Canton, Ohio, in 1969, to a religious family, Brian Hugh Warner attended Heritage Christian School for most of his young life. After transferring to Glen Oak High School, he attended Broward Community College in Florida to study journalism. He noted that he pursued this degree in part because his father told him not to in an interview with The Guardian. Manson also shared his father’s PTSD symptoms from his time serving in the Vietnam War, which had significantly shaped Manson’s outlook on violence, which would later be reflected in his lyrics.

Taking his name from both actor Marilyn Monroe and cult leader Charles Manson, Warner formed his first band, Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids in 1989. The band soon drew the attention of Trent Reznor, frontman for Nine Inch Nails. Reznor produced their debut album in 1994, and they slowly began to develop an audience. Their first big hit came in 1995 with a cover of a Eurhythmics hit. Their second album, Antichrist Superstar, gained further attention. And Manson gained a reputation for being the most outrageous of the so-called shock rockers with over-the-top on-stage antics.

Antichrist Superstar was the first in a trilogy of albums that gained widespread notoriety as its supporting tour was heavily protested by Christian conservative groups. During the mid-’90s, Manson also found himself targeted by Congress, as critics and lawmakers denounced Manson in the wake of a fan’s suicide. Nonetheless, the album and its follow-ups were hits, earring platinum certifications. He’s since released an additional seven albums, all of which have enjoyed commercial success and made waves.

Manson outside of music

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Manson is not only a musician. He’s appeared in multiple films, such as 1997’s Lost Highway and 1999’s Jawbreaker. Among other scripted television guest spots, Manson has appeared on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Riverdale, as well as had a recurring role for a season on the hit FX show Sons of Anarchy. And he’s appeared numerous times on Celebrity Deathmatch.

The musician has also long practiced watercolor painting. He held a show in 2002 of his paintings, and several followed in the early 2000s. Based mainly on his work, he developed an art movement called Celebritarian Corporation, which also became the name of a gallery he purchased. His slogan for the movement is “We will sell our shadow to those who stand within it.”

Beyond these pursuits, Manson has appeared as a character in several video games, including Celebrity Deathmatch. He also has contributed numerous songs to various videogames. A longtime fan of absinthe, Manson developed his own brand, Mansinthe, in the late 2000s, which has gained some critical praise.

Controversy on and off the stage

Manson gained his provocative reputation in part because of his on-stage antics, which have included cutting himself on-stage, parading around in fake breasts, and lyrics that praise Satan. But his on-stage provocations are no act, as he’s been involved in head-shaking activities in his personal life as well. Manson’s autobiography is filled with tales of his wild life, such as the time when he smoked human bones. His personal relationships have also been tumultuous.

He’s had relationships with several well-known actors and celebrities, including Rose McGowan, Evan Rachel-Wood, and Dita Von Teese, to whom he was briefly married. Manson stands accused of abuse of multiple women with whom he has been romantically linked, including Evan Rachel Wood. Wood has accused him of abusing her since she was a teenager, and nearly a dozen other women have made similar accusations.

As a result, Manson has found himself dropped from his recording label, talent agency, and manager while the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigates these claims. Manson maintains his innocence, noting in a statement that his relationships were consensual and that his art has made him a magnet for controversy. Guilty or innocent, the man known as Marilyn Manson is a far cry from the Christian school student Brian Hugh Warner.