The Dope Show

The Dope Show
"The Dope Show"
Single by Marilyn Manson
from the album Mechanical Animals
Released September 15, 1998
Format 10" / CD single
Recorded 1998
Genre Glam rock, industrial rock, electronica
Length 3:47
Label Nothing/Interscope
Writer(s) Marilyn Manson (lyrics)
Twiggy Ramirez (music)
Producer Michael Beinhorn, Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson singles chronology
"Long Hard Road Out of Hell
"The Dope Show"
"I Don't Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me)"
Music sample
"The Dope Show"

"The Dope Show" is a song from Marilyn Manson's 1998 album Mechanical Animals, released in September of that year as the album's lead single. The lyrics were written by Marilyn Manson and the music by Twiggy Ramirez.


Song information

"The Dope Show" came at a point in the history of Marilyn Manson which saw the band shedding the dark, nihilistic trappings that had characterized the previous album, Antichrist Superstar. The single, a hard rock song styled after the 1970s work of T. Rex and David Bowie, acted as a sort of introduction to the band's new approach. Jeordie White (Twiggy Ramirez) has stated on the Q/A section of his website that the song came from "Ripping off Iggy Pop's song Nightclubbing" from his album The Idiot. He also called it "A mixture of Oasis and T. Rex.

The song's verse and chorus structures, delivered in drastically different styles, give the song a "hybrid" feel: electronic sounds are juxtaposed with classic rock-derived guitar sounds for a tone that is both classic and futuristic. The verse is carried by a deep, rolling B-to-D walking bassline provided by Twiggy Ramirez and accented by repetitive, synthesized hi-hat. The chorus, on the other hand, features a 4/4 stomp that drummer Ginger Fish described as "a full bump and grind. . . stripper beat",[1] power chords also played by Ramirez, who also played the simple, but effective lead guitar parts in the final chorus. The song was written and recorded in 12/8 time, using a swing beat in the verses.

In keeping with the album's themes of narcissism and consumerism, the lyrics are an admonition against buying into idolisation and fame, and helping to perpetuate life in the public eye, including especially mass culture and show business:

There's lots of pretty, pretty ones
that want to get you high.
But all the pretty, pretty ones
will leave you low, and blow your mind.

Further references are made to the obvious attractions and glamour of the world of fame, obsession, and drugs — and to the vacuity and absurdity of such a world. Echoing Andy Warhol's prediction that everyone "will be world-famous for fifteen minutes," Manson reproves society for partaking of this glittery, sinister utopia, declaring that "we're all stars now, in the dope show".

"The Dope Show" was nominated for a 1999 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.

An excerpt from the song was included in "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Polka Power" medley in 1999.

Music video

Marilyn Manson in the music video for "The Dope Show"

The Dope Show's single release was accompanied by a surrealistic music video directed by Paul Hunter, which began filming on August 8, 1998 and which premiered on August 20, 1998.[2] In scenes reminiscent of The Man Who Fell to Earth, Manson appears — red-haired, with his entire body, including prosthetic rubber breasts, covered in white latex paint — as an androgynous extraterrestrial wandering around the Hollywood Hills. He is captured, studied in a laboratory, and eventually transported by limousine to a stage where he and the other members of the band — the fictional band Omega and the Mechanical Animals — perform the song in concert before hysterical fans who end up rioting and crossing the security barriers. Actor Billy Zane makes a cameo appearance in the limo sequence, as a recording industry executive. This same sequence features parodies of SPIN magazine (as "Spun" in the video) and The National Enquirer.

The video's imagery employs several direct homages to Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain, most specifically a sequence involving the destruction of plaster casts of the main character's body in a crucifixion pose. In addition, sculptural pieces by German artist Rebecca Horn are recreated such as "Overflowing Blood Machine" in which Manson is bound by long, red, blood flowing tubes. In the limo sequence, "Cornucopia" a construction which seems to join the mouth and breasts with a self-nursing effect.

The video won a 1999 MTV Video Music Award for "Best Cinematography", as well as the "Maximum Vision" award. It was filmed on standard cinema-grade Kodak 35 mm film stock; the contrast, saturation, and color tinting were all altered dramatically to obtain its vintage look. The video was filmed over two weeks — extreme in comparison to the industry standard of two days. Interscope Records funded the video, while HSI Productions produced and filmed it. Manson co-directed. Shooting began on Tuesday, August 8, 1998.

The "Hollywood Hills" scene with Manson walking outside was actually filmed in the city of Simi Valley in southern California. The building in the background is the House of the Book building at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute and was previously shown in the children's TV show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

"The Dope Show"'s performance sequence was filmed in front of the Los Angeles Municipal Traffic Court Building, South Hill Street by architect William Allen. The Brutalist architecture did not permit a reasonable angle or height from which to film; instead, the band was placed on top of the trailer of an 18-wheeler transport truck. Cameras situated on mechanical arms, and at a distance across the street, were used to film the dramatic concert shots. These scenes are interspersed with cuts of underground transvestite performer Johnnie Baima dancing in a yellow, sequined dress, similar to that worn by Twiggy Ramirez in the same video. The costumes for the video, including the dresses and Marilyn Manson's red, diamond-patterned boots (which featured a 6-inch sole and heel) were designed jointly by Manson and Terri King. The Goddess Bunny's custom couture sequine gown (worn for the video and the live MTV awards performance), was designed and hand sewn by Kris Hendrickson, aka littlemskris of San Francisco.

The video is available on a DVD included with some editions of Lest We Forget, as well as on the VHS compilation God Is in the TV, which also included "uncensored" outtake footage, such as Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gacy and the Goddess Bunny undressing in the back of a limousine.

The video reached #16 on MuchMusic's 50 Most Controversial Videos, for Manson's shocking appearance.

An alternate version of the video just featuring Manson and various close ups was released on the old Marilyn Manson website Marilyn prior to the official release. Parts of this first video can be seen in the finished video. [3]

Lyrical variation

During live performances, Manson often changes the lyrics. As seen in The Last Tour on Earth the lyrics go from "Cops and Queers" to "the pigs and fags".[4] Also the line "the drugs, they say are made in California" is changed to "the drugs, they say are made right here in (city name)". However, if the city name does not reach four syllables, the lyrics are changed. For example; during the Rape of the World tour in Austin, TX, the line is: "They say are made in fuckin' Austin".

Also, the line "We love your face, we'd really like to sell you" is regularly changed live to "We love your face, I'd really like to cum on it"[5]


Critical reception

Barry Walters of The Village Voice commented "The Dope Show is the first Manson single as memorable as its video. Over a skipping Gary Glitter beat, the pied piper of gloom celebrates the Clinton-era narcotics of oral stimulation and headrushing authority. Its sing-along chorus lends the social study a levity the Reznor period denied, and the bite-sized lyrics--bon mots like "Cops and queers make good-looking models"--help the medicine go down. Despite the guitars pumping the hook in the proven grunge tradition, this bouncy sugar pill is radical for Manson not only because it's pop, but also because it's something few '90s rockers have attempted: it's sexy." He went on to conclude, "This born sophist once merely dared to deconstruct sexiness. By now embodying it, Satan's ambitious little helper has relocated Manson theory out of its logical head and into a freshly liberated and femme-y cyborg that sets it in motion. Its slinky gloss going against the rough Reznor grain, Manson's alien mannequeen declares independence from the industrial factory."[6]


"The Dope Show" was nominated for the Best Hard Rock Performance category at the 41st Grammy Awards (1999).[7] Spin Magazine ranked "The Dope Show" the 3rd Best Single in their 1998 End Of Year List.[8] The music video for the single would later win the Best Cinematography in a Video category at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.[9]

Formats and tracklistings

UK CD single 1
  1. The Dope Show
  2. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (Live)
  3. Apple of Sodom (Live)
UK CD single 2
  1. The Dope Show
  2. The Beautiful People (Live)
  3. The Dope Show (Video)
UK 10" vinyl picture disc
  1. The Dope Show
  2. The Dope Show
Australian Enhanced CD single Numbered limited edition
  1. The Dope Show
  2. Sweet Dreams (are made of this) (Live)
  3. Apple of Sodom (Live)
  • also featured an interactive Electronic Press Kit
Japanese CD single
  1. The Dope Show
  2. Sweet Dreams (are made of this) (Live)
  3. Apple of Sodom (Live)
  4. The Beautiful People (Live)

Production credits




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