Perhaps you heard the news that Charles Manson is maybe, possibly engaged to a 25-year-old? Or at least that's what Manson's paramour, Star (left, with her bb on the right), told Rolling Stone's Erik Hedegaard during the arduous process of assembling a lengthy profile on the very famous convicted murderer. Unfortunately for the aspiring bride, when Manson was asked about their impending nuptials, he rebuffed the idea as "a bunch of garbage." But apparently that's just something endearing the face of evil does.
In any case, it's been nearly two decades since Manson cooperated (using that word loosely) for a lengthy and thorough interview, and Hedegaard's portrait of the man circa-2013 is absolutely fantastic. The senior citizen's most loyal and admiring companion is Star, an airy daughter of Christian Baptists who moved across the country to be closer to her life coach, and she's a subtly surprising complement.
Meanwhile, Manson doesn't disappoint. He dependably volunteers chilling asides, tries out some transparent manipulation, and even does his signature dragon-dance kung-fu. He also starts phoning the writer so much to ramble that Hedegaard avoids his calls, and it's with lonely details like that where the icon of evil starts to shrink to self-caricature. But then, because he's Charlie Manson, he spits out something terribly vile and you remember why he is who he is.
Here are ten snippets so jarring they don't need context; all but one of the quotes come directly from Manson's mouth.
"Sex to me is like going to the toilet. Whether it's a girl or not, it doesn't matter. I don't play that girl-guy shit. I'm not hung up in that game."
Sometimes he'll have to leave his cell while sniffer dogs search for contraband; during a recent visit, the dogs found nothing but did leave behind a single turd, delighting Manson.
"Leslie [Van Houten], well, I boned her a few times. She had a big, fat old ugly, it was like sticking your dick out the window."
His phone calls are recorded, but he can make pretty much all the calls he wants, collect only, 15 minutes at a clip, and he makes tons. I know this, because I have been on the receiving end for months now. He calls while I'm at the movies, while I'm driving, while I'm at cocktail parties, while I'm walking my dogs in the park, while I am everyplace he'll never be again.
He shakes his head and leans in on me, easing up close. "Well, you know what I'd really like to have? I'd like to have some real pussy. I'd like to have a little something to smoke. I'd like a good electric guitar. I'd like a good place to fart and shit."
"What's violent about pulling your finger across the trigger? There's no violence. It's just a person there and you move your finger and they're gone. What's violent about that?"
"You think I'm too old to jack off. You think, 'He's too old to fuck his pillow.' But I'm not. I'm still active with my roscoe. I'm still me."
"I'll tell you straight up, Charlie and I are going to get married," [Star] says. "When that will be, we don't know. But I take it very seriously. Charlie is my husband."
Will there be conjugal visits?
"No, California lifers no longer get them," she says. "If we did, we'd be married by now. You know, that's the only thing I want. I just want to be alone."
"You take a baby and" – here he says something truly awful about what you could do to that baby, worse beyond anything you could imagine – "and it dies," and here he says something equally wretched.
On his 79th birthday, he calls me, the drawl in his voice low and distant, and says, "What do you think? Do you think this story will help me get out of here, only for a little while, before I go?"
As a bonus, let's imagine this dinner party:
Right now, [Manson] has only about 15 other prisoners to contend with, among them Juan Corona, who murdered 25 people in 1971; Dana Ewell, who ordered the murder of his own family in 1992; Phillip Garrido, the rapist who kidnapped 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard and held her for 18 years; and Mikhail Markhasev, who was convicted of killing Bill Cosby's son, Ennis. So far, they seem to all get along just fine.