Manson Family Feud

Can't you Spooky Kids just play nice? Marilyn Manson refugees need a referee.

Warner and Tutunick were friends in high school. "Back then, he never talked about wanting to be a rock star," Tutunick says. "He said he wanted to write a book. After he met Scott, though, it all changed." He remembers Putesky not as a metal-head but as a new wave disciple whose favorite band was the Police.

Putesky doesn't recall much about his first meeting with Warner. It was at a party, he's pretty sure, in an apartment building off Miami Road in southeast Fort Lauderdale, just blocks from the Institute of Art, where he went to school. He was aware, dimly, that Warner was a writer for a new, glossy, local-culture magazine called 25th Parallel. The two exchanged numbers.

Warner remembers the encounter in more detail.

Nice Mardi Gras beads: Putesky and Trent Reznor in happier times
Nice Mardi Gras beads: Putesky and Trent Reznor in happier times
Putesky enjoys some backyard bliss.
Colby Katz
Putesky enjoys some backyard bliss.

"An intoxicated, pie-faced twit with greasy brown hair flopped onto the couch next to me," he writes in The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, the autobiography he published in 1998 with writer Neil Strauss. "He introduced himself as Scott Putesky and seemed to know a lot about music making, and even better, he owned a four-track cassette recorder. I had a concept but no musical skills whatsoever, and I was easily impressed."

Not the makings of immortal musical harmony, perhaps, but that's how Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids was born. Tovar is quick to give Putesky credit for producing the group's formative works. "To be bluntly honest, Scott was always the mastermind behind the band," he says. "It was a combination of his creativity and Brian's vision that appealed to me." Some of the band's earliest songs were recorded at the house Putesky shared with his parents in Boca Woods.

"Believe it or not, it was very quiet," Sandra Putesky remembers. "He and Brian would get together and close the door, and we really didn't hear too much of anything. Scott was very ordinary compared to Brian. Brian looked weird to me. He had that white skin and long, stringy hair, and he was very quiet. He never talked. He'd just give me a nod of his head and then sneak upstairs."

Warner's friend Stewart was recruited, though he didn't play an instrument. Putesky ended up providing him with a crash-course bass lesson, teaching him the Spooky Kids' songs at the same time. "Scott was resentful," Stewart believes. "Here was someone who didn't even know what he was doing, and then all of a sudden, I'm the guy. But Scott didn't take me seriously. He thought he was the musical genius behind the band, which is not true. Though he was a good part of it."

In the beginning, when the affectation of carrying lunch boxes attained Manson family must-have status, "He didn't want nothin' to do with that," Stewart notes in Demystifying the Devil. "Me and Manson had this idea of what we wanted to create as a band, and Scott never wanted to go along with it. And he was jealous because I got more attention than him."

Image was everything in the early days. "Brad Stewart, if you look at those old pictures, is a very striking guy," Tovar says today. "In those days, he attracted a lot of girls."

Laura Simpson was a member of Jack Off Jill, another Broward-based band often considered a female version of the Spooky Kids. "Scott was a good player, but image-wise, he was hopeless," she says in Demystifying the Devil. "Brad was the image of the band."

Sandy Torres, who was writing for Rag Magazine and other local rock publications, is even more detailed. "It wasn't Brian Warner they were coming to see," she says. "It was definitely Brad. Everyone gravitated toward him. Chicks dug the hell out of him -- they'd show up just to stand there and gawk."

The performances were getting bigger and crazier by the week. "You had no clue what they were going to do next," says Torres, excited at the memory. Concertgoers still remember the time Manson chained his nude girlfriend to a cross and whipped her on-stage. "You didn't know if they were gonna have naked, underage girls underneath the keyboards or if [Manson] was gonna strip and somebody was gonna give him a blowjob on-stage. You just didn't know. So everybody came to watch."

Among the witnesses was Trent Reznor, busy perfecting his own distopian recipe of drum-machined doom with his band Nine Inch Nails. Industrial rock's first superstar, Reznor turned out to be the ideal benefactor for Fort Lauderdale's finest. Just a few months into Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids' existence -- July 3, 1990 -- the fortunate foursome was invited to open for Nine Inch Nails and Meat Beat Manifesto at a club in Miami. Warner had already interviewed Reznor for 25th Parallel and went up to introduce himself after the show. Manson claims he was tripping on acid at the time but managed to pass Reznor a tape of the early Spooky Kids material.

That evening was Stewart's first show with the band. "I'd just learned to play bass the week before," he recalls, "and here I am in front of thousands of people. So that was cool."

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