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Manson Family Feud

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This clearly hurts. "It's bogus," Putesky says. "I don't use the name Daisy Berkowitz, and I don't expect anybody who knows anything to use it."

"That was a character!" Klein persists. "It was your character then."

Fine. But putting forth a new image, of course, obligates promotional photos.

"How you wanna look for photo shoot?" Klein asks. "Let's start thinking now. You wanna come off as, you know, John Q. Normal? Is that good? Is normal good?"

Putesky was by far the most conventional-looking of the Spooky Kids. During the band's upward spiral, he dyed his hair green and appeared in public with his eyebrows shaved off. But lately, Putesky cultivates a close-to-traditional appearance that's just shy of clean-cut. His usual outfit starts with dress slacks, a nice shirt, and sensible shoes. His hair is mom-friendly. He's about as likely to be mistaken for the ex-guitarist with Marilyn Manson as is Katie Couric.

"I don't know -- we'll see," Putesky says. "Nothing's gonna be totally normal."

Maybe shave off the eyebrows again? "How about just one?" Klein suggests jokingly.

No way, Putesky says. "You always look worried or surprised."

"People want to see before and after," Klein says to a visitor. "If he looks normal like this, I don't know if people will get it."

Putesky is quiet for a long minute, lost in thought. Klein takes a conference call. Suddenly -- even though his eyebrows have since grown back to sub-Brezhnevian parameters -- Putesky does look worried.

"Oh, no!" he says. "You know what I'm seeing? 'Marilyn Manson just came out with a new record of his old stuff.' No! No, that won't happen, right?"

On April 28, 1990 -- which also happened to be Putesky's 22nd birthday -- John Tovar, a portly, narcoleptic, cigar-puffing, well-regarded rock manager whose clients included the Mavericks and Nuclear Valdez, was thirsty for a beer. He headed for Miami's Churchill's Hideaway, the Little Haiti dive where all local acts play at least once. He walked in and said hello to owner Dave Daniels, ordered a Bass ale, then joined about 30 stragglers in the other room waiting for some unknown band to play its very first show.

"They took the stage, and they were horrific," Tovar recalls in his thick accent, mostly Cuban but flecked with Iron Curtain intrigue. "They didn't have a drummer, just a drum machine. There was this tall lanky guy. I thought, 'Man, these guys are terrible. '" Picture one guy who'd previously played bass for an INXS cover band (Putesky), a wanna-be writer who'd penned a few short stories (Warner), a bookish keyboardist (Perry Pandrea), and a chubby hairdresser (Brian Tutunick), tentatively trying out a trio of would-be songs.

Tovar asked Daniels who the band was and laughed at their asinine name. He left after enduring three songs. But that December, he was driving on I-95 in Fort Lauderdale listening to ZETA's local program hosted by Glenn Richards. "He played the strangest thing I'd ever heard," Tovar recalls, a song called "My Monkey." Again, he wondered, "Who are these guys?"

"And there you have it, the most requested song, and the most popular band in South Florida right now, Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids!" Richards' voice boomed from the radio.

"Holy shit!" Tovar said. He picked up his cell phone and called Richards.

"It's true," Richards said. "They've become really popular in a very short amount of time. You should manage these guys, John -- they're going to be really big!"

"Glenn, I just saw them six months ago, and they were horrific!"

Richards talked him into going to see the band again the following week. Just before Christmas, Tovar drove to the Button South. It was midnight on a Thursday. Immediately, he could tell that the band had become a huge local draw.

"What surprised me is that the parking lot was full -- packed," he remembers. "There's about 300 kids, and they all looked like the band! They're all in costumes; they all have makeup."

The kids carried lunch boxes and wore Dr. Seuss regalia favored by the Manson clan. To Tovar, it looked like a crazy circus. "I thought, 'This is amazing! A marketing dream, this kid!' He took the stage, and I was blown away. It was like three or four of my favorite artists all rolled into one. It was Morrison, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, OK? Put all that together with Kiss and you have Marilyn Manson."

After the show, Tovar went backstage and shook Manson's hand. "I told him they'd be a much better band with a drummer," he recalls saying. Within weeks, Tovar became the band's manager. "Of course, the rest is history."

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton