1985 - Charles Manson interview with High Society
High Society: In October ‘84, you were attacked by inmate Jan Holstrom, a Hare Krishna who claimed you threatened him. I see that your hands are still very red. What actually happened?
Charles Manson: A cup of paint thinner was thrown at me and then set afire. You have to understand this on the level we’re running on in this particular insane asylum. He was baptizing me.
High Society: You didn’t threaten him?
Charles Manson: He took what I said as a threat. He showed me a picture of a Hindu and told me it was his father. He’s a blond hair, blue eyed kid, and I told him that Hindu didn’t look like his father to me. He was upset about that. Then I implied that he was going to have a hard time living to get out of jail, because he’s here for taking a life, and he walks around the yard with this thing on his forehead, which creates confusion.
High Society: Did you defend yourself?
Charles Manson: He had a blade tied to his arm. I put the fire out once and kicked him off of me with the blade, then the fire started up again, but I out-danced it.
High Society: You’ve been in prison for the Tate/LaBianca murders for 15 years now, what do you do with your days here?
Charles Manson: What do the animals do in the zoo? That’s the same thing I do in my cell. I play with myself, I make little string dolls, and I talk to roaches. I’m in jail for nine counts of murder, and I didn’t do it. I’m in solitary confinement,. may I add.
High Society: Why are you in solitary and not with the mainstream prison population?
Charles Manson: I’ve been in the mainstream just a short time. They have the fear, they have the guilt. Every time you do somebody wrong, you feel fear. You feel guilt. I was sentenced to death, but I ain’t got no killing coming. I told that to the judge, and I will tell the world again: I know, God knows, and the Holy Spirit knows.
High Society: You think you got an unfair deal?
Charles Manson: Let me ask you the same question. Do you people think you got an unfair deal? You got a guy up there representing the people, and he picked off your whole generation. I am talking about the district attorney [Bugliosi]. I put an ad in Free Press for defense funds, I got $14.93. Some woman put an ad in the paper for a dog with a broken leg, and she got something like $8,000. It’s partly the public’s fault, and partly the system’s fault, because they cover up the truth. You say to the lawyer, “Let me tell you like it is,” and the lawyer says, “Oh no, we can’t sell it that way.” When the district attorney can make himself millions of dollars on a defendant, what does that do to the initiative?
High Society: What’s solitary confinement like? What prison privileges do you get?
Charles Manson: I get nothing. When I say nothing, I mean zero, jack. Damn it frustrates me. Do you understand solitary confinement? Go in a closet and lock yourself in there for six months.
High Society: You’ve been eligible for parole since 1978. What keeps you from being paroled?
Charles Manson: Parole man, that’s all money. All I get is the fear and the confusion and the bureaucratical nonsense that everybody keeps kicking back off on me. Everybody is so sure that as long as I am locked up, everybody is okay, the world is running smoothly. They justify the fear of the public that they create. The fear of the public locks me down, it says, "He killed that woman and ate the baby… he’s trying to destroy the world, he’s the devil half the time.”
High Society: What keeps you going under the circumstances?
Charles Manson: I have my own center. Being raised up in a penitentiary all my life, you have to realize man, that I know all kinds of killers. People get killed around me all the time. I will be playing music in one cell, and somebody is getting stabbed to death in the next cell. That doesn’t run over on my road because I have peace on my road.
High Society: But you want out, don’t you?
Charles Manson: Well— I really don’t want out, I want in.
High Society: How did the family get started? How did you gather this group of people?
Charles Manson: Whoa, now that’s another false premise. I didn’t gather no group of people. This gathered a group of people [he gestures towards his crotch]. If I lay down, and I fuck it, it generally follows me around— and it does the washing, and it does the cleaning.
High Society: I read that you beat the women.
Charles Manson: I don’t have to hit a woman, man. I throw rocks at them and run them off. If you want to hang around, behave yourself. If you don’t, go somewhere else.
High Society: What was the intent of this group of people, this commune?
Charles Manson: I didn’t have a commune. I had a motorcycle, a sleeping bag, and a guitar— I used to do this [he mocks guitar strumming]. The broads would come and say, “Could I be with you?”
High Society: What about the Family?
Charles Manson: The D.A. had to have a family in order to win the conviction. He put the Family on me to win.
High Society: How important did a part of drugs play?
Charles Manson: Drugs, man, I don’t fuck with drugs. I smoked a little grass, and dropped a little acid now and then, but I don’t shoot smack, and I don’t fuck with nothing heavy. Social bullshit, that’s all.
High Society: Sadie [Susan Atkins] said in her book that you all were using a lot of drugs.
Charles Manson: Oh, come on, man. Let me tell you something about Sadie. Sadie- and you’re a woman, so you know. Sadie was always coming to me and saying, “Do you love me?” And I’d say, “Do you love you?” She would say, “Tell me you love me, do I look pretty?” And I’d say, “Tell yourself you look pretty.”
High Society: You don’t believe in flattering a woman, huh?
Charles Manson: No. Do I have to go around like a little puppy dog, saying, “Oh, you look good, oh, you sure look nice,” and all that bullshit? Accept yourself and be with yourself.
High Society: Did Sadie accept herself?
Charles Manson: No. She lied, she faked. She was always stealing stuff and going out and giving it to everybody else.
High Society: Let’s talk about sex and orgies that went on at Spahn’s Movie Ranch.
Charles Manson: I am not sure how to relate to this. Each man that you take away from his natural environment and put into an artificial environment, like prison, oppresses his natural sex drive. Sex becomes more dominant to his life than let’s say, a college graduate. What happens is, while you’re in jail, you jack off looking at all those magazines for five or ten years, and then when you get out, it seems like you’ve got a coke bottle that you shook up, and there’s all this pressure inside that you got to release.
High Society: Are you saying that promiscuity in 1967 through 1969 was based on you being fresh out of prison? And what about the other members of the Family, the circle?
Charles Manson: It’s like this, I’m with me, and you’re with you. What you do is your business. I don’t dictate to you, that’s your life. Be, do, what you want and that’s all I ask in return— the same thing. It’s like when I tried the married game. The broad got me to marry her, and then she got me to steal a car to come to California, then she goes off with a truck driver down the road with my kid. When she does that, she’s got the law on her side, so what’s going to hold me to a wedding ring? I wanted to do the right thing, but if there’s no such thing as right, then we’re all running on divorce court. We’re all running on broken homes, and the children have to go through all the madness that their parents created for them, you dig. Well I am one of those children, but luckily I didn’t have no parents, so I raised my own self up. I raised my own self up to figure the damn thing out for myself, and sex was one of the hardest things that came by. When I was a kid, they didn’t have magazines and they didn’t tell you what was going on.
High Society: You said that you were Satan, and you said that you were Jesus Christ.
Charles Manson:I ain’t never said I was anything. I will tell you where that came from. In 1948, a guy named Krishna Venta blew himself up in the Fountain of the World over in Box Canyon. He used to preach there on the weekends, on a cross. I was a little kid at the time. He got blown up with something like 15 women. It just so happened spiritually that I ended up with 15 women standing in the same place that he got blown up. When I was busted, I was running around with a guy named Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], who spelled his name like Jesus [J-e-s-u-s], and he lived in the mountains. When I got busted, the cops said, “Are you Jesus?” and I said, “No, I am Manson.” And they said, “Oh yeah, Manson— Son of Man.” And they marked me down as Jesus Christ as an a.k.a.. They put it in the L.A. paper that I was this guy that was over in Box Canyon who used to hand on the cross on the weekends.
High Society: Let’s talk about mind control.
Charles Manson: First of all, there’s no such thing as the individual mind. There’s only the mind, and the mind is all. It is everything. It is Buddha, it is Christ, it’s the Devil and it’s God. it’s where the music comes from and it’s where all the sex comes from, and the energy of life comes from it.
High Society: So you didn’t claim to be Jesus Christ?
Charles Manson: No, I didn’t need to say that.
High Society: or Satan?
Charles Manson: Well, now [laughter], I used to ride around with a motorcycle group, and we used to call ourselves Straight Satans.
High Society: Explain Helter Skelter.
Charles Manson: Helter Skelter is a night club in the desert, and the D.A. took it and made it into a motive for a crime— and he sold it.
High Society: Helter Skelter is a song on the Beatles’ White Album.
Charles Manson: Let me tell you something, I am not a Beatles fan. I have never been a Beatles fan. I am a Bing Crosby fan. I am 50 years old, I am not a little kid. You see me in 1969, and you act like I was born in 1969. You think I am a generation of the sixties, but I am not. I am the generation of the forties and fifties.
High Society: Bugliosi connected the Hinman/Tate/LaBianca murders to the White Album.
Charles Manson: All right. You’re at a party and someone is playing the White Album all the time. They say, “Boy, he sure does like the White Album,” but you never played it. Everybody else liked it and played it. And everybody else had a thought about it and would asked me what I thought about it. Then I’d give my interpretation.
High Society: So the connection made in the courtroom to the Beatles is wrong, not true?
Charles Manson: Oh, it’s real. The D.A. won that reality. It wasn’t mine. We got a little nightclub going, the song was playing, so we called the club Helter Skelter.
High Society: At Hinman’s place, as well as the Tate residence and at the LaBiancas, there were words written on the walls— POLITICAL PIGGIES, RISE, HELTER SKELTER…
Charles Manson: See, again, you apply that as if I had something to do with that.
High Society: You didn’t?
Charles Manson: Directly, no. Indirectly, yes. I influenced all kinds of people, doing all kinds of things. My attitudes were like waves that went through their minds, but I never realized how people were looking up to me, because I never had anyone look up to me before. I have been in jail since I was nine years old. I have only been out six months here, three months there, so when I finally did get out for a couple of years, and people gathered around me and said, “You do that good,” or, “We like you, you’re a nice guy,” I’d say, “Who me?” So I played good guy for them, and as long as they were good to me, I’m good back to them. They were good to me all the way, and truthful.
High Society: I read somewhere that you bragged about killing 35 people.
Charles Manson: They bait the questions, and then you give them the answers and they say, “He was bragging.” I will give you an example. There was a white guy and some black guy took his old lady, you dig? He don’t have enough fucking guts to stand up to the dude, so he went and beat the broad for some money and got me all involved in it. I went over there with a pistol, and the broard is in bed saying, “Help, help, this guy is killing me!” I run like Sir Galahad and save everybody and have to shoot this fool. I went back to the dude who got me involved and said, “Man, look at the shit that you caused me…” then he writes in his book that me and him plotted it all out, and that it was my duty to do all these things. Everybody’s got a book, and everybody’s got a point of view that they’re making for themselves, and they’re saying what’s best for them.
High Society: Let’s discuss the Gary Hinman Murder.
Charles Manson: I can tell you simply that Gary Hinman was killed because of a bagpipe. It comes to music, a French whorehouse and the three numbers 666. Aleister Crowley from Ireland died in a French whorehouse. The French owed Scotland money in the occult, spiritual world, or however you want to call it. Bobby BeauSoleil— who called himself Cupid, then Eagle Man when he wore a tall hat and played keyboard, then Lucifer. He’s under the name Lucifer now, and he plays gigantic music, music like you’ve never heard. Zappa and the Beach Boys and all of them people, they steal from him, but they won’t let him through because if they let him through, they have to give him the whole thing and they don’t want that. He [BeauSoleil] was writing some concert parts in a four-part harmony for Hinman, and Hinman was going to give the bagpipe to the wrong place. In the occult, Bobby owed one and had no choice in the spiritual aspect. Hinman and I got into a fight, and I cut his ear off. I couldn’t kill him because he was clan, and you can’t kill someone of your own clan. That is the law of the Scottish— damn, man, you could write a whole book on that, the episode, the drama, and all of the different interplays in it. It was not just somebody going over and killing somebody.
High Society: History says that Bobby BeauSoleil went to Hinman’s with Mary Brunner to steal or get money, then killed Hinman and stole his Toyota.
Charles Manson: What are you going to steal a $65 automobile and take a guy’s life for when you can go to Beverly Hills and get a Rolls Royce for that matter? What am I going to steal a ‘55 Volkswagen for when I got as Ferrari, an XKE, a Rolls Royce, a Cadillac, four trucks, three dunebuggies, nine motorcycles, 18 fucking horses.
High Society: What was the gripe with Hinman that cost him his life?
Charles Manson: First of all, Hinman sold Bobby’s wife some bad dope and she lost her baby. That was one of the things. He sold some bad acid to two or three people. He was working undercover for the government, trying to gather information on the hippie movement. He was doubling as a musician and had a direct line to the CIA. He was feeding them bullshit information while he was dealing his dope. He had this little game going on that had nothing to do with me. I told Bobby, “I will be your brother, son.” We were playing music together, and this is where the Family came in. We had a music group called The Family Jams, and we were playing at a rock and roll joint in the Valley. There were five people in the group and Bobby was on the keyboard.
High Society: Did you send Bobby BeauSoleil to kill Gary Hinman?
Charles Manson: Bobby and Hinman were arguing, and I took up the argument for Bobby. I said, “When you are dealing with this kid, right now, you are dealing with me. If you beat him, you’re beating me. This is my brother, my life, you dig?” And he [Hinman] had a gun, and I said, “Give me the gun,” and he said, “No,” so I took the gun away from him, and I put my life on the line to get it away from him so he’d be right with Bobby. He paid Bobby what he owed him, and I said, “Are we right here?” and he said, “Yeah,” and I said, “Are we even in the truth?” and he said, “Yeah.” and I said, “Is your word your bond, and your bond your life?” and he said, “Yeah.” I said, “This is not my picture, and I don’t want no more to do with it, and I’m not going back to the penitentiary, you dig? You kids handle your own fucking lives, and don’t try and drag me into facing what you are afraid to face. You have to face yourself sooner or later.” Hinman gave his word and promised that he would not tell my parole officer, and I left.
High Society: What could have Hinman told your parole officer?
Charles Manson: That I cut his ear off!
High Society: You cut his ear off?
Charles Manson: Yeah, almost, but I put some Scotch tape on it.
High Society: Scotch tape? Charlie, you can’t Scotch tape an ear back on.
Charles Manson: Sure you can. Scotch tape is as good as any kind of tape. Anyway, he [Hinman] got the gun and said he was going to kill, “that little punk” [Manson], and Bobby told him that he’s not going to do that. Then he said, “Yeah, I’m going to kill him. I’m going to shoot him,” and Bobby said, “No, I won’t let you.” Bobby was doing this for me, you dig what I’m saying? Bobby handed him a knife and said, “Here, kill me, but you’re not going to bother him because he was standing up for me.” Hinman handed Bobby back the knife, and Bobby said, “I tried to give you my life, now I will take yours if you go after him.” and so Bobby stabbed him, and he killed him.
[end part 2] [incomplete]