The centerpiece of Road is, appropriately enough, chapter 13, which is titled "Meating the Fans/Meat and Greet." Strauss presents it as a straight Q&A with Manson, who brags at length about an incident in a Miami recording studio involving a deaf groupie named Alyssa (a pseudonym that's close to her real name, according to a source who knows her). The girl likes metal because she can feel the vibrations of the music, and she is thrilled to be invited into Manson's lair. Once there, she is stripped to her boots; covered in raw meat; sodomized by guitarist Twiggy Ramirez and keyboardist Madonna Wayne Gacy, whose penises are taped together; engaged in fornication by the two men; urinated on by Manson and Twiggy; again penetrated, this time by guitarist Daisy Berkowitz; and finally assaulted with a dead salmon in a modern analogue to the infamous shark incident in the Led Zeppelin biography, The Hammer of the Gods.

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 long-time 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."

Strauss declined to answer queries about his personal relationship with Manson for this story. "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' 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 an explosive music news story 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, had given only 10 percent of the charity money it had 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' editors at The New York Times could find at least some consolation in their own pages: The Long Hard Road out of Hell debuted at No. 12 on the paper's bestseller list, and last week it climbed to No. 6.

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