1987 - Charles Manson interview with Life Magazine
Life: What was the Manson Family?
Manson: The D.A. put the word “family” on it to make me a leader and bring me into the conspiracy. They’ve never really been my family or my followers. We were together in a dream, man.
Life: You stay in touch?
Charles Manson: I know everything they’re thinking. They won’t think nothing in the next 20 years that I don’t know. I answer their letters before they write them. If you got all those people, and you put them in this room, everything would be all just like it once was. We’d sit around and sing. The family circle can never be broken. We’re still together. There’s no taking us apart.
Life: How did this group get started?
Manson: I get out of the penitentiary— a man can understand this— and I haven’t been with a broad in a long time. So I meet a broad on the street corner. She’s real young. So I ask to stay with this other broad [Mary Brunner]. So we meet another chick [that] didn’t have no place to stay. That was Squeaky [Fromme]. Then we meet Patty [Krenwinkel]— and Patty’s got a credit card! So we’re just going to have a little vacation trip, so we get a bus. We’re just tripping. And Susie [Atkins] wants to freeload, see? So I look up and I’m sitting on the beach with 12 girls. They’re lighting my cigarettes, spoiling me, and actually it’s a pretty nice little trip I’ve got going.
Life: Why did it go bad?
Manson: The troubles came when the guys came. Every guy that came had troubles. And everybody that comes in that circle, I gotta go through all their changes.
Life: The troubles weren’t your fault?
Manson: I’m not saying I didn’t influence— I did influence. But no more than I’ve been influenced. It’s hard to explain 20 years of a running psychotic episode. It had no logic, no good, no evil; it all runs in insanity. You put 30 people in a circle, and you’ve got a vortex of everybody’s thought and will, and it reflects off onto one head, and that head goes off into madness. I was stuck in that psychotic episode.
Life: Are you psychotic?
Manson: We can go in and out.
Life: Do you every hear from these people now, like Squeaky?
Manson: She’s in the joint doing life.
Life: Do you write to her?
Manson: Back and forth. She’s me.
Life: Do you hear from Sandra Good, who was jailed for writing death threats to corporate executives?
Manson: yeah. She’s out now.
Life: She’s the one in Vermont?
Manson: She’s your blue socks.
Life: How about Mary Brunner?
Manson: Mary Snitch?
Life: Is she still in jail?
Manson: No. she snitched. When she had [my] baby, I held the baby up and I held a knife to it and said, “If the cops come and say, ‘Tell or we’ll kill this baby, what are you going to do?’ She said, “I won’t tell. I won’t tell.”
Life: Is Susan Atkins, who boasted of the killings, still in jail?
Manson: If they let her out tomorrow, she’s still going to be in jail. She’s imprisoned herself. She’s playing Jesus for parole. They say, “If you accept Jesus as your savior, we’ll let you out.” So she says, “O.K.” But I got nothing against Susie. I love her. You know. But I wouldn’t want her around me.
Life: Do you regret that those people are not free and happy today?
Manson: Don’t you realize what those kids have done for you people? What do you think would have happened if the Manson family hadn’t did what they did? You seen the Vietnam war stopped, didn’t you?
Life: Because of what you did?
Manson: No. because of what these kids did. You forgot? It was the peak of the revolution. [Sings] “You say you want a revolution…”
Life: Are you saying the murders were political acts?
Manson: Why was people killed? There was $250,000 worth of gold coins laying by the dead body, by LaBianca. Why didn’t they pick it up? You think we weren’t in the peace movement?
Life: Are you at peace with yourself?
Manson: Sure. How do you think I’ve survived all this madness? By not having a mother and father.
Life: You think your suffering absolved you from later deeds?
Manson: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Later deeds? I’ve done nothing I’m ashamed of. Nothing I couldn’t face God with. I wouldn’t kill a bug.
Life: But you’d kill a person?
Manson: I’d probably kill all of them if I could— is that what you’ve been waiting to hear? Hey, time and circumstance made me into this Manson guy, Satan. Society wanted to buy this evil, mass-murdering-devil-fiend. I’m nobody. I’m the hobo in line. Give me a bottle of wine and put me on a train.
Life: You said you lived in darkness.
Manson: I do. It’s away from the light. I don’t fit into the world you guys live in, so I live over there in the shadows of it.