Charles Manson 1981 Interview on
|Prison Life||Mother and Wife|
|Shorty Shea||Manson's Son|
|Gary Hinman||Society's Children|
|Helter Skelter||Magic, Jesus and the Nut Ward|
|Cielo Murders||Hit List|
|Pain and Prison Life||The Main Line|
|Manson's Mother||James Earl Ray|
|Judge Older||Nut Ward #2|
|Manson's Mother #2||Prison Life #3|
|LaBianca Murders||Manson's Music|
|I'm an Outlaw||Mother and Wife #2|
|Environment and Injustice||Sex|
|The Manson Killings||Women|
|The Family||Death, Games and Life|
Tom: Tell me about life here in prison, do you read newspapers? Do you listen to the radio? Do you watch television? Do you communicate with people on the outside? What goes on for Charles Manson in this prison?
Manson: Well, I can feel the grass growin’ out there on the lawn and there’s a few trees that’s got some leaves on that I can feel. And I’ve been in jail all my life so I’m actually right here at home, uh how long have I been in jail? 34 years? 34 years so um..
Tom: Out of 47 you’ve been here 34.
Manson: I’ve been in jail, uh prison, uh a long time. All my life. I was raised up in here, so I understand jail so I understand myself so I can deal with that. I sit in my cell and do my number like a convict does his number.
Tom : You like jail don’t you?
Manson: I uh, don’t dislike or like.
Tom: Let’s go back to 1967, the time you were winding up serving a term of a number of years, ten years, and written accounts indicate that you told the authorities "Don’t let me out, I can’t cope with the outside world." Do you have a recollection of that? And do you…
Manson: You’re making a desperate plea out of something, man. There’s no desperate plea out of it. I said I can’t handle the maniacs outside, let me back in.
Tom: I didn’t use the word desperate, that’s your word Charles.
Manson: Yeah, well, your inflection and your voice tones were, uh, implications there.
Tom: Well, uh, You use the word maniacs on the outside. How are you different from the maniacs on the outside, and why do you call them maniacs? Because you know something? They think you’re one.
Manson: Yeah, it would reflect. If you hold a negative up to the light, you don’t see the light you just see the negative. So I’m a reflection of your negative, there’s no doubt about that and I can handle that also. I been handling ain‘t I?.
Tom: I don’t know have you?
Manson: Well, I’ve been up and down in these damn hallways, in and out of these nut wards for the last ten years. You think you can follow that act?
Tom: Don’t want to follow that act, I don’t want to get in, why do you want to get into that?
Manson: What crowd you playing for?
Manson: I’m playing for my life. (chuckles) You’re working for money.
Tom: What does that mean, you’re playing for your life?
Manson: I’m working for my life mister. I’m not playing for money, I’m playing for keeps.
Tom: What do you mean you’re working for your life?
Manson: I’m playing for real.
Tom: What does that mean, you’re playing for real. How are you playing for your life?
Manson: Well That’s something you can’t buy.
Tom: When you say you’re playing for your life am I to assume to you think that someday you’re going to get out of here?
Manson: (chuckles) Get out of here? Hmmm…get out of here? Where would I go now see.
Tom: What would you do if you got out of here?
Manson: If I got out of here…
Tom: What if they said, they said to you tomorrow morning “Charles, hey listen, you’re free” You could go where ever you wanna go, do whatever you wanna do. What would you do?
Manson: I’d probably go out front in the grass and sit down.
Tom: For how long?
Manson: For, uh, right now. How long? I wouldn’t, I could put a track record on it or I could, um, put a computer on it.
Manson: Again? (chuckles) Well you guys are misinformed. I haven’t killed anyone.
Tom: What about, uh, what about Shea?
(Note from CharlieManson.com: According to Bruce Davis' 1993 parole hearing statement, Shea was murdered by Charles Manson, Charles Watson, Steve Grogan, Bruce Davis, Bill Vance and Larry Bailey.)
Manson: What about him?
Tom: Well, what about him?
Manson: He got killed.
Tom: Well, the word is you killed him.
Tom: Word is you stabbed him.
Manson: Oh, Word.
Tom: What does it feel to kill someone Charles?
Manson: Word…word is that you’re an old woman. Word is you have turkey in sky. Word is…I don’t know what word is. Someone else tell you that, I didn’t tell you that.
Tom: Did you kill Shea?
Manson: Hell no.
Manson: Hell .…yes. Yeah.
Tom : Why‘d you, How’d that feel when you cut his ear off?
Manson: Uh, I felt bad about it. .
Tom: The truth's fun now, isn’t the truth fun now when you... ok ok ok, you cut his ear off what did it feel like..
Manson: Yeah Yeah sure, sure. Is the truth fun? (chuckles) My Goodness.
Tom: What did it feel like when you cut his ear off?
Tom: Tell me about it, come on.
Manson: What did it feel like?
Manson: Well I had done what he said for about 20 years. I done everything he told me to do. And I got to thinking now, why don’t this guy do something I tell him to do? And he said uh, “no“. And I said “well how comes I’m always doing what you tell me to do but then you never do what I say to?” And he said ‘Well blah blah blah” So I said “now you do what I say“. And he said “no.” I said “you do exactly what I say!” And he said “no.” “I’m telling you! I’m not asking you! I’m telling you! You do exactly what I say!” He said ‘Wow, where’d you get that ?” I said “I got it from my father in prison. He gave it to me. I had a little charm bracelet I used to carry it on when I was about that big.”
Tom: Mmmhmmm. Skip that for a second.
Tom: Why was it so important for him to do what you say? Why do you like having people to do what you want them to do?
Tom: Why do you like to control them Charles?
Manson: Because. Wait a minute, no, no I was asked. The dude asked he says “are you my brother” I said “yeah I’m your brother”, he said “how much are you my brother?” I said “completely”. See if I’m gonna explain it to you, it’s not gonna be that easy. So you’re gonna have to bare with me. So Bobby said, he was a young dude, he said “I’m your brother” so I said “ok”
Manson: I’m your brother. Beausoleil, Beausoleil. I just got out of prison.
Tom: Wait wait, wait, wait, wait
Tom: Let me interrupt you for a second.
Manson: Yeah, well then we’re gone with that thought.
Tom: No, no, no, no no because you’re getting on to something…
Manson: Then we’ll go onto another one and you’ll make me look crazy.
Tom: No, no, no. You can make yourself look crazy, Charles, I can’t make you look crazy and please believe me.
Manson: Alright, I’ll believe you….
Tom: Let me...
Manson: and I’ll put it in my left hand pocket for later.
Tom: Let me, let me take you back to you wanting this man Hinman...
Manson: I cut the dude’s ear off because he was fucking over Bobby. And Bobby was a youngster and really didn’t know what the hell he was doing, and he was a kid and he never had no man show him nothing, see, so I was telling the boy, I said, uh, uh , the guy says “You got my money?”, I said “go over there and get your money or leave him alone.”
Tom: You’re taking me to another story.
Manson: No I’m trying to tell you the same thing. And we’ll be here for a thousand years unless you let me finish.
Tom: No, no, no, no we won’t be here that long at all if you just speak to this one point.
Manson: Ok, I made the point. Why I cut the dude's ear off, man, that’s the point.
Tom: I, I didn’t ask you that, I said why was it important to you to make Hinman do what you wanted him to do. If one follows your story…
Manson: Because the dude had a gun.
Tom: through the times at the ranch
Tom: in southern California, it was important to Charles Manson to be a leader,
Tom: to have people follow him.
Manson: Come on district attorney! See you’re full of brainwarsh. That’s the district attorney. I’m nobody’s fucking leader and I’m nobody’s follower. I got a parole officer. I got a sleeping bag and a guitar and I’m standing at old blind man’s ranch and that’s about the extent of it. All this occult and that hocus pocus stuff that you guys are playing, I don’t nothing about all that.
Manson: Yeah I know about Helter Skelter! It was a song that some people sang!
Tom: And that’s all it was?
Manson: and some other kids picked it up in their minds. And they said “What do you think Helter Skelter is” and I say “Well I get out of the penitentiary in the 50’s and everybody’s going (claps) “dun….dun….dun” (claps) and they’re walking like that. I get locked back up, and I get out of the penitentiary in 65 and it’s going (claps faster) “dun..dun..dun..dun” And locked up again I come out in 69 and it’s going (claps very fast) “dundundundundundundun” and I was thinking “Wow man, wow far out”
Tom: Wow what? Wow what? Come on keep going, Charles, keep going.
Manson: I was a beatnik, I was a beatnik in the 50’s before the hippies came along. You know, and I cut a rut down through Acapulco, and I smoked Acapulco before you knew what it was, and I lived in the tombs and I was in the Cook County jail in Chicago when you were playing cricket in, uh, high school. See, like you live in another world. I live in street peoples world.
Tom: Manson had a plot, “Helter Skelter.”
Tom: Manson had uh a little scheme called creepy crawlers. He’d send people in to move furniture around. Is that all a figment of someone’s imagination so far or is there any truth to that? Tell me Charles, I don’t know.
Manson: It’s a fairy tale. It’s worse than a fairy tale.
Tom: It’s a fairy tale?
Manson: It’s, uh, it’s, it’s a comedy. It’s a comedy tragedy, uh, opera that (chuckles) was played in the, uh, early morning.
Tom: Come on Charles off..
Manson: It was sickening. You know?
Tom: Get off the space shuttle.
Manson: Well that’s what the D.A. gave you as reality.
Manson: He stood in the courtroom and said “this man did this and this man did that“, and you all believed him. He said “this man did that” and I said “Your honor may I speak?” and he said “No you can’t speak” and I said “your honor I got a voice, let me talk” then he said “No sit down and shut up” and then he handcuffed me and took me to the back and whipped my (inaudible) what are you gonna do? I come out and sit down, I ain’t gonna get whipped again.
Tom: Didn’t you, uh, stand up in that courtroom
Tom: and by the way, by the way , let me just go back…
Manson: and I felt the reproductions of it in the back of it.
Tom: Ok ok, but you say the whole thing is a fairy tail. You say the whole thing is make-believe.
Manson: Yeah, that’s his Helter Skelter, it wasn’t mine.
Manson: Uh that’s make believe..
Tom: Make believe….
Manson: That’s make believe to the people that went in there and did what they did.
Tom: And who were those people? You know…
Tom: You know, but you know who those people were.
Manson: Sure I know who they were.
Tom: They were with you at the Spahn’s Ranch. They were part of this thing
Tom: if not the Manson Family or the Manson Cult, the Manson Ranch, call it what you will.
Manson: So then? What?
Tom: And Tex Watson testified in a court of law that you told him “go to the house that Terry Melcher used to live in and kill those people in the most gruesome way.” A man that was once your associate said that of you and now you sit here and say that’s not true, that’s all make believe?
Manson: You’ve got a stone wall there, won’t you take it down a little bit. Look here, I’ll explain something to you.. Um, Tex took the witness stand, and this is record, and he said “I don’t know whether I’m Charlie Manson or my mother” Tex didn’t have his own mind one way or the other . He was balanced back and forth because I had already took his mind in another game down the road that I was playing with some Hell’s Angels that you don’t know nothing about and you probably never will know nothing about it. Because you would have to know those people to get in that thought, see. But there’s different colors on different peoples backs doing different things. It’s a different world. I love the world I live in too just like Reagan loves the world he lives in.
Manson: (chuckles) Most a surely. It’s me.
Tom: You love all the pain that you’ve caused people?
Tom: All the anguish that you’ve …..
Manson: Oh! I don’t know pain! I don’t know pain! I have no depth of pain! I have no depth of suffering! I don’t know ridicule! I don’t know all the bad things! I haven’t been punished by you all my life since I was 10 years old! I’ve been in every reform school you’ve got across the country. I used to have to lay down and get my ass whipped till I couldn’t walk. Tell me about some pain. Yeah.
Tom: And that’s our fault, it’s all these peoples fault?
Manson: No, no one fault, make strong, good pain, understand pain. Not bad. Pain’s not bad, it’s good. It teaches you things. It teaches you things. Like when you put your hand in the fire, OW! You know not to do that again. Yeah I understand that.
Tom: But how come you didn’t learn
Manson: That’s the reason come I never stick my hand in fire.
Tom: But, excuse me! You’ve been putting your hand in the fire sense you were a little boy.
Manson: I have?
Tom: By, you just told me a couple minutes ago
Manson : I did?
Tom: that out of 47 years you’ve spent 34 of them behind bars, now if isn’t keep putting your hand in the fire, I don’t know what is.
Manson: Yeah, yeah, what year was that?
Tom: It’s uh, uh, the year’s not important.
Manson : Oh.
Tom: What’s important is you just say you learn by pain not to experience it again to put your hand in the fire. Why have you been in and out of prisons for the last 34 out your 47 years. Do you call that normal behavior Charles? Is that something you’re proud of?
Manson: No, no, no. I never thought I was normal, never tried to be normal. Normal runs in that little rut down there. I don’t know nothing about being normal. I‘ve been in jail all my life, man. I lived on the handball court. This guy raised me up. All the men in the joint raised me up, told me what to do, what was right and wrong, told me where to sit down , where to stand up, I just did whatever I was told. You know, and I got to the end of it and I just turned around and said "Wow, far out."
Tom: Alright, now that’s....
Manson: Then I went outside and all these little kids got a hold of me and said “We want to stop the Vietnam War and we want to do this.” What? there was a war,? I don’t know what’s happening. I just got out of prison. I never had any vocational, did you ever see me go to any vocational training, rehabilitation? I never played no rehabilitation. I sweep the floor in the kitchen then go play handball. I’m still 10 years old in your world. Your world I’m still a kid, I’m not gonna grow up, I’m not gonna go to college.
Tom: How old are you in your world?
Manson: Um, Forever. Since breakfast... I can’t remember.
Tom: I don’t know what that means, come on off the space shuttle Charles.
Manson: Yes…off the space shuttle.
Manson: How old am I? I’m as old as my mother told me (chuckles). How’s that?
Tom: Your mother? Tell me about your mother, what did your mother tell you?
Manson: My mother told me that when she worked on death row and they took that dude into hanging and his head popped off and went down them 13 stairs and rolled over by her, it scared the shit out of her. (chuckles) you know, and I said “Wow, that sure is a far out trip Moms”. So then when I got up on Death Row in cell 13 for 9 counts of murder 1969, and I looked at, at her fears of that guy’s head popping off of that hanging noose, and I said to myself “My goodness, what the hell am I doing here, I didn’t want to come here.” I didn’t break the law. The judge knew that. But the people didn’t want to hear it. The Judge knew it. He washed his hands. He said “I know it but what can I do? The people want this.”
Tom: The judge never said that.
Tom: The judge never said that.
Manson: that’s what Older said.
Tom: No, the judge never said that.
Manson: He got off and shook their hands, didn’t he?
Tom: The judge did not say he washed his hands
Manson: He’s a Flying Tiger man, from Madam Shanghai’s Shack. I just wrote him a letter today.
(Note from CharlieManson.Com: Judge Older flew a fighter in World War II. His group was called "The Flying Tigers.")
Tom: The judge did not say you were innocent Charles.
Tom: Let’s go back to your mother, what..
Tom: What is…
Manson: Wait a minute, wait a minute, let’s get back to that word innocent. Are you so white and pure?
Tom: The judge didn’t say you were innocent.
Manson: Are you innocent?
Tom: Innocent of what?
Manson: Oh. That’s what I’m saying.
Tom: None of us are innocent.
Manson: Yeah, just because you’re convicted in a court room doesn’t mean you’re guilty of something.
Tom: What does mean you’re guilty.
Manson: When you know you’re guilty.
Tom: And how do you feel about yourself, tell me about…
Manson: I feel, I feel pretty good.
Manson: Take me back to old river..
Tom: What else did see talk to you about besides the fellow who’s head popped off?
Manson: The head popped off, yeah. She was living in the Blue Moon Café and she hit a dude in the head with one of them bottles of uh, Jim Beam Whiskey. She tried to hustle a few dollars on the corner but there wasn’t no money, so when she jammed this whiskey bottle upside that clown's head, he went down and she took his bread and come up and got me and we left and went to Indiana.
Tom: When you were a boy, did you love your mother?
Manson: Uh, I didn’t know what that was.
Tom: Did you respect your mother? How did you feel about , how do you feel about your mom right now? If your mother, I don’t know if she is alive Charles or not.
(Note from CharlieManson.com: Manson's mother had passed away several years before this interview)
Manson: Yeah you don’t huh?
Tom: Do you?
Manson: Hmmm. Let’s see. Alive now…yeah, yeah, maybe..
Tom: I mean, if she could be watching this right now..
Manson: She could watching this right now..
Tom: What would you say to her Charles?
Manson: Oh well, what would I say to her…
Tom: What would you say?
Manson: I’d say, “you sure did go through a lot of changes to get me as far as you did. And you did a damn good job with the help of my grandma.” My grandma was a mountain girl (chuckles) from Kentucky up in the mountains. And uh she never did drink or smoke or cuss or lie. She used to cook for the Salvation Army and she was a human being, a good one. I’d go to Church down there and sweep the floor for her.
Manson: Depends on which school. I did very well in reform school.
Tom: (chuckles) yeah…
Manson: I did good in uh, in uh, every place that I was ever told to go good in. As much as I was allowed to do, you know. Lot of times good for some may not be the same for others. Sometimes it kind a bumps heads but when it does um, I just chew on my pipe and think about it and do the best I can.
Tom: Mmmmhmmm... but..
Manson: You dealt , you dealt the hand down there in LA. You and that press, you and that uh, LA Times. You dealt the hand. You put me on "Life Magazine" and had me convicted before I walked into the courtroom. You had what people wanted to buy. When they wanted to buy it they didn’t give a damn if they had to convict the District Attorney. They’d convicted the whole building to get that dollar bill going there.. They had big bucks going there. They made twenty seven million, thousand, hundred, billion and I’m bumming fifteen dollars from a friend here..
Tom: Here's another newspaper account that you can now speak to since you haven't done it before. That on the night following the, uh, killings of the house on Cielo Drive in Los Angeles, you accompanied four people to a home occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Leo LaBianca.
(Note from CharlieManson.com: The group consisted of Manson, Watson, Krenwinkel, Van Houten, Grogan, Atkins and Kasabian.)
Manson : Yeah
Tom: That you went inside that house
Manson : mmmhmmm
Tom: And you tied them up
Manson : mmmmhmmmm
Tom: And assured them that they were not going to be hurt
Manson : mmmmhmmm
Tom: That you went back outside
Manson : mmmmhmmm
Tom : And sent Kasabian and Krenwinkel and Watson and Atkins inside the house to kill them.
(Note from CharlieManson.com: Watson, Krenwinkel and Van Houten were sent in. Not Kasabian or Atkins.)
Manson : mmmmhmmm
Tom : True or False?
Manson : mmmmhmmm (long pause)
Tom : Cause you know something Charles, that's what you were convicted of among other things.
Manson : Alright.
Tom: Is it true or false?
Manson: Do you deserve and in theory do you....
Tom: No no no. It's, it's a yes or no.
Manson: No, no, no, no, nothing’s played…
Tom: But it's so simple. Try it, try it, try it.
Manson :No, nothing‘s yes or no. No. You, you go, go, go through your little boxes and things. You know, look, look here, uh, first you have to see where I’m coming from.
Tom: Not on that question, there's no coming from anywhere on that question Charles. (long pause) Did you do that?
Manson : (very long silence)
Tom : Chair's getting hot huh? (long silence) Get mad, get angry, come over here and hit me if you like, but why don't you answer the question?
Manson : Hit you?
Tom: If you'd like
Manson : Nah.
Tom : But answer the question
Manson : I don’t want to hit you. I, uh, got out of prison and I went up in the streams and I saw a big fat dead rat laying in the water.
Tom : I'm gonna ask the question again Charles
Manson : Uh-huh
Tom : I'm gonna ask the same question again
Manson : (long pause) Same question again. (pause) Did I break the law? Is that your question?
Tom : No, the question was that on the night following the murders or the killings or whatever else you want to call it at the Melcher home
Manson : Mmmmhmmm
Tom: On Cielo Drive in Los Angeles, newspaper accounts claim that you, Krenwinkel, Atkins, Kasabian and Watson went to the home of Mr. & Mrs. LaBianca in Los Angeles, that you went inside the house, tied them up, assured them that they would not be hurt, then went back outside and sent the other four in.
(Note from CharlieManson.com: As mentioned previously, the list of participants is incorrect.)
Manson : Who told you that?
Tom : Newspaper accounts...I do..newspaper accounts and this is one of the things that for which you were convicted of in a courtroom in Los Angeles. Now here's your chance before the whole world to tell it straight once and for all. Did you do that?
Manson : Did I kill anyone?
Tom : No, did you go in and tie up the LaBiancas that night? Very simple question.
Manson : That night..
Tom : August 10th 1969
Manson : That night, August the 10th, 1969
Tom: Did you? Why duck it, why dodge it? why not answer yes or no once and for all put it behind you?
Manson : (very long pause) mmmhmmm (long pause) Did I kill anyone?
Manson : (long pause) That‘s what Susie said?
Tom : That's what she said
Manson : Yeah?
Tom : And you remember it. You were in the courtroom when she said it.
Manson : (chuckles) She’s written three books, and each time she’s said something different.
(Note from CharlieManson.com: He is likely referring to "The Killing of Sharon Tate" and "Child of Satan, Child of God.")
Tom : Mmmhmmm
Manson : Each time.
Tom : Did you time them up?
Manson : Did I?
Tom : Mmmhmm
Manson : (long silence) Well, we came down from Aberdeen, and uh
Tom : Let's stay in Los Angeles August 10th, 1969
Manson : And there was a hole-in-the-wall gang there.
Manson : Because I’m an outlaw and I go so far and then that’s all you know.
Tom: And if you did..
Manson: That’s like asking Jessie James "are you going to shoot somebody?"
Tom: And if, and if, and if, and if as others have written and others have testified and as the media has reported you did that ,and you sent your friends back in to do the deed, aren’t you a coward?
Manson: Oh my friends back in to do the terrible deed .
Tom: Doesn’t that make you..
Manson: The wicked deed. Um, did we have the castle there with the vampires and the Frankenstein, and the bugs and lizards dying in the desert? Did we have the water that is dying and the whales that are being killed and the seals…
Tom: Here we go again, lay it off on someone else.
Tom: Let’s point to all the other injustices
Manson: Oh I’m in the world all by myself?
Tom: Yeah, on this one you are. Yeah.
Manson: Yeah, hmmm, it’s ok, if that’s the way you see it for you.
Manson: Yeah, that’s what your history book will tell you.
Tom: So you can sit here and talk about the whales and Hiroshima and you can sit and talk about the environment and the Great Lakes and that’s all fine, but what it really comes down to in this particular instance is that this one is your ballgame.
Manson: Well if I could get some help from the doctor then I could get my mind straightened out a little bit and I come back and play like a human.
Tom: Well, you’ve never talked about this before, but I’m gonna try it one more time.
Manson: Yeah. Now, now, now
Tom: You can see
Tom: No sir. They wouldn’t let me in here if I had a pistol, you know that as well as I do, so why even ask the question? Okay?
Manson: Well, I just thought you might not like what I have done and want to do something about it.
Tom: I don’t much care for what you’ve done.
Tom: A lot of people don’t. How do you feel about that?
Tom: They think you are a monster Charles.
Manson: Yeah, they think you are a monster because you reflect this news media on me. Cult leader. I never had long hair before I got busted. I never had a beard before I got busted. I went to shave and the guy’s “No, you can’t shave”, I said “I need a razor to shave”, he said “No you can’t shave” I said “Let me get a hair cut” he said “no we don’t want you to change your appearance.” So when you , first put that camera on me you got long hair and a beard. First time in my life I’ve got long hair and a beard.
Tom: You want, you want a shave and get a hair cut? I’ll shut them off and you’ll get a shave and a hair cut.
Manson: Am I telling him right? I’m not of this generation.
Tom: You want a shave and a hair cut right now? I’ll shut them down right now if you want a shave and a hair cut.
Manson: Yeah, yeah I was trying to explain to you man, that a lot of what they pushed of on me is not me. They said I had a great family and I was the followers and leader. There was no followers and leaders, bunch of kids out at the ranch playing, to me.
Tom: Playing at what?
Manson: Playing at living.
Tom: The accounts say that you, that you gave them dope. I’m just saying what the accounts say.
Manson: Oh yeah.
Tom: I’m not saying I know it to be so. So here’s your chance to say that it wasn’t true.
Manson: Yeah, yeah
Tom: That there was a lot of hanky panky. That you turned the girls on with dope and sex out there. That’s..
Manson: That’s what they said.
Tom: Alright that’s what they said, well are they wrong?
Manson: Oh! Well! I went down to Haight-Ashbury and a little kid 10 years old came up and said “You want an acid pill?” I said “what’s that?” he said “This is good. Make colors go” I said “No, I’ve heard of them things. I don’t want none of that.” And then, then another little kid was rolling a joint, and they were sitting there smoking a joint and asked me if I wanted one.
Tom: What’d you say?
Manson: I said “I used to smoke this stuff in the 60’s but it never, or the 50’s but it really, really wasn’t, you know, it was funny but it’s not…"
Tom: How much dope did you do in your lifetime? Were you a heavy user of dope?
Manson: No. I smoked a little grass and I’ve taken some acid, mescaline, uh, psilocybin, peyote, mushroom. But actually take uh dope, no. Nothing. I’d never take anything that I feel would actually hurt me.
Tom: Do you feel that those things that you just mentioned hurt you at all Charles?
Manson: Uh, physically or spiritually?
Manson: And then on what level? On the level of society the way you view the norm?
Tom: No, no, no, no, no, no. Stop the hogwash. Do you feel that the drugs that you did use in your earlier life time confused you, altered your mind, uh juggled, scrambled, made you see things differently, uh stay on that level if you can.
Manson: Maybe I find a uh, spirit of uh, cave man-think-through-brain.
Tom: Let me try it again
Tom: Do you think the drugs you used hurt you?
Manson: Nah. Drugs hurt me? No I don’t think the drugs have hurt me. If I overdone it I think it would.
Tom: Never did want to be anybody‘s leader?
Manson: No. Don‘t like attention.
Tom: Mmmmhmmmm. Then why do you
Manson: Most insecure people need attention. I don’t
Tom: I was just going to say then, if you don’t want attention, why do you keep, why all your life have you kept waving your arms saying “Hey look at me”?
Manson: That’s what I’ve been doing all my life?
Tom: Well I have to say a young man..
Manson: Let me see if I’ve got that documented.
Manson: (chuckles) Wife beating?! Now that bullshit, I’ve never whipped my old lady.
(Note from CharlieManson.com: Manson was married to Rosalie Willis in the 1950's and had one son.)
Tom: Didn’t you?
Manson: No, I punched my mother out once.
Tom: Oh you did, alright, we’ll call it mother beating. Uh, forging checks
Manson: But she was wrong. She lied to me and beat me for my money, and she, she didn’t do right. You know what I mean?
Tom: Forging checks, uh car theft, I mean these are ways of waving your arms and saying “Look at me, give me some attention”
Tom: And you say you don’t want attention. Now Charles, that’s a contradiction.
Tom: That doesn’t make any sense.
Manson: Well over a period of about 20 years, I would imagine you’d would want to change something. I’m not very wise to many things. But I am wise to one thing, you know.
Tom: What’s that?
Manson: Well I’m not gonna to tell you.
Tom: Ok. You punch your mother, did you hate your mother?
Manson: Nah, I loved my mother, she’s a good girl.
Tom: What about your wife, you were married once weren‘t you?
Tom: How’d that go? Why’d you wanna get married? That’s kinda conventional, that’s kind of normal. that’s kinda of in the rut as you say to get married isn’t it?
Manson: (laughs)I got married, cause I wanted to get in that (inaudible) That’s why I got married.
Tom: oh yeah? Married for sex was the reason you got married?
Manson: Yeah, I did know what was happening. I knew something was happening but no one would tell me so I had to find out, you know, I didn’t have books like you guys, you know, "Playboys" and stuff in them days. I had to find out for myself.
Tom: Mmmmhmmm. Why do you think that all us guys are playboys? That we can’t
Manson: AH MAN! I didn’t say you were playboys, I was talking about "Playboy" magazine-type thought man!
Manson: Uh Yeah, I got a kid somewhere.
Tom: Do you think about him?
Manson: Uh, not, about as much as my father did me.
Tom: So two wrongs make a right, Charles?
Manson: No I didn’t say there’s anything wrong with the way my dad’s been taking care of me. He lets me live, (laughs) I’m alive, you know.
Manson: Thank you.
Tom: In a courtroom in Los Angeles as saying “The children who came at you with knives are your children.”
Manson: Yeah, I didn’t raise 'em. You raised 'em.
Tom: “You are the ones that kicked them out. You are responsible for what they’ve done.”
Manson: That’s right, just as much as I am.
Tom: Mmmhmmm, so you , in my mind, were criticizing society for kicking their children out.
Tom: How can you criticize other people for kicking their kids out and you did the same thing?
Manson: Difference, difference, difference on many levels. Difference. See my old lady left me and run off with a truck driver. She said “let’s steal a car and go to California.” and I said “Man, I ain’t gonna steal no car and go off to California and go back to jail.” She said “We won’t get caught”. Well we didn’t get caught, just I got caught. She didn’t get caught. So then she had a kid and then some truck driver came along, and I was a green kid and didn’t know what I was doin', you know. So she says “ You know, I got a ride, you know, see you later.” So she took off and got married to someone else, you know. She’s a good girl.
Tom: And besides the son from your marriage, you’ve got, what, four other children somewhere?
(Note from CharlieManson.com: The number of children is likely incorrect.)
Manson: Oh I don’t, uh, uh, think I’ve been uh, uh, uh, responsible for as much as you people want to lay on me.
Tom: Well how many children do you have Charles?
Manson: How many children do I have? Uh, I don’t know, I’ve got lots of children, man. Uh, in fact sometimes I even think that you’re a child.
Tom: But you just said you don’t have any children, you don’t have any family in the context of the Ranch. I’m talking about children that (sighs) are your, uh, natural children.
Manson: How many are my natural ego?
Tom: No, children.
Manson: Oh children? I would divide one child from the other?
Tom: Alright, somewhere out there, somewhere there’s at least one son that we know of that is your child, who’s probably about 25 or 26 years old right now.
Manson: Is that right?
Tom: Yeah. Look into that camera. What do you say to that kid? What do you say to your son out there, who’s watching his old man on television. Maybe the first time he’s ever seen his old man with his face all carved up and his eyes glowering. You talk to that kid, what are you going say to him?
Manson: You gotta catch it on your own boy. The train’s hard. The road’s ruff.
Tom: And that’s it?
Manson: That’s all I knew. That’s all anyone ever told me.
Tom: Alright. (sighs)
Manson: And you wanna hear something?
Manson: He’ll do it better than me. (chuckles)
Tom: Do what?
Manson: Whatever he does, (chuckles) he’ll do it a little better. Kids do, don’t they?
(Note from CharlieManson.com: Manson and Rosalie's son committed suicide in 1993.)
Manson: Yeah, (chuckles) that’s what makes them such a gas. They always seem to get through.
Tom: (sighs) There was a story of a celebrity hit list..
Manson: Was you ever a kid once?
Tom: Still am in many ways.
Tom: But not, not, not your way.
Manson: Oh my way? I don’t know what my way is, everybody keeps telling me I got all these things. I read the other day where I had magical powers, and I told everybody in the chapel, I said “ZAP-ZAP-ZAP-ZAP“. I said “where’s my magical powers?” Well you can’t, you can’t believe what you read in the press. I ain’t got no magical powers and mystical trips and all that kind of crap. (pause) Yeah, it’s kind of silly. Yeah, you got witches and devils and uh. One guy came up and said “I heard you said your Jesus” I said “Nah man, I ain’t said nothing.” He said “I’m glad“ He said “I’m damn glad.” I said “Why?” He said “I know you ain’t him.” I said “How do you know?” He said “Because I am.” (laughs) I said “Ok”. But I mean, you know I’ve been in the nut ward for the last 10 years, so you can’t expect me to, uh, to rationally take thing stuff serious.
Tom: Don’t you think that you belong in the nut ward?
Manson: It’s alright. I can deal with that.
Tom: I’m mean don’t you belong there?
Manson: Belong, where, I belong where I am allowed to go, man like, uh, you know, I belong there…
Tom: Let me nail down one of the real simple ones, listen how simple this is Charles. There was a story in the media, back when the trial was going on that Charles Manson had a celebrity hit list. I don’t know who was on it, maybe there never was such a list. But was there a list of people, famous people that you thought about harassing, bothering?
Manson: If I wanted to harass them I just wouldn’t watch their TV show.
Tom: Talk to me about your life in prison in terms of you being in isolation. You are not on what is called the main line. You don’t, you’re not in with the prison population here, how do you feel about that?
Manson: How do I feel about it? I don’t feel about it.
Tom: Would you rather not be in isolation?
Manson: Oh I’ve been trying to get on the main line, I’ve been trying to get to the prison for the last 13 years.
Manson: Why? Walk around, play some handball, play a little guitar. Uh, do my number, do my time like any convict does. Like I’ve always done. Like my mind been set to do. Like my uh, past lives have been in jail, doing time in jail. In fact when I got out I just got outside and sat down. I wasn’t going nowhere, I gave up, see.
Tom: If you were on the mainline, wouldn’t you be exposed to some dangers?
Manson: Come on man,
Manson: if you’re thinking exposure to danger, then that danger you’re thinking is coming around you.
Manson: Uh, James Early Ray’s got his problems, I’ve got mine.
Tom: Have you heard? He got stuck.
Tom: 22 Times.
Manson: Some people died in India too.
Tom: Got stuck.
Manson: And some other people died in Hawaii.
Tom: You wouldn’t be scared…
Manson: People are dieing all over.
Tom: You wouldn’t be frightened or afraid then of the uh, of the uh, prison population trying to make a hit on you.
Manson: Man, I’ve been staying alive in prison this long without no help.
Manson: It’s a nut ward.
Tom: What goes on there?
Manson: Uh, what ever goes on in there. You’d have to ask the people responsible for that.
Tom: Well, do you they do things to you in there?
Manson: Do they do things to me?
Manson: Uh, That depends.
Tom: Do they give you medication here?
Manson: Yeah, they give you medication here.
Tom: (long pause) You on medication now?
Manson: No. No. It took me about a few years to get off the medication. The medication has toned me down quite a bit. (pause) A whole lot. (chuckles) That’s the reason I like the desert, was I get out in the desert then I can let it out and say if I see you within 50 miles then we’ll know something. Yeah I used to love that desert, out in the woods and things. I didn’t know you could get out in the woods for 30 years.
Manson: Well, we’re our own prisons. We each our own wardens and we do our own times. We get stuck in our own little trips and we kind a judge ourselves the way we do. You know, I can’t judge uh, nobody else, best thing I can do is try to judge myself and live with that. See, what other people do is not really my affair, unless they approach me with it, and want me to do something about it, uh, then I’ll uh take into consideration what has to be done. But other than that I just uh, try to do my number, and do my time. Get out on the main line, play some tennis, walk around, make the chow a little better, you know. And then there’s the possibility the preacher can teach me something, because the preacher, the reverend is, is quite a guy. And I’m finding they got two or three doctors here that got a lot of sense. I mean as far as I’m concerned they got a lot of sense in my world, you know. And I’ve tried to shake two or three of them, but they, they’re pretty smart. And uh. then they got some uh, pretty good inmates here, trying to get out and work their lives into a decent sort of way. Trying to promote harmony. Pull ourselves together and be right and do right and have the understanding of what it is in a congenial form for world peace. There’s a lot of people working for world peace.
Tom: Let’s just make believe. Do you ever think you will be?
Manson: Yeah, do I ever think I will be? Well I’ve never been paroled before. I went up to the board and they never would, they said I was incorrigible. And uh, not only was I incorrigible, I’d never grow up. And I kind a agreed with them. I had a..
Tom: I mean let’s just make believe here for a second.
Manson: Make believe?
Tom: Let’s make believe, let’s make believe that you’re getting out tomorrow.
Manson: Tomorrow creeps it’s petty pace. Yeah
Tom: Would you go after anybody Charles??
Manson: After anybody? Hell no.
Tom: Do you feel, do, let me try another way,
Manson: I’ll come after you, man.
Tom: Do you, do you feel, do you feel that you have any scores to settle with anyone on the outside?
Manson: Hmm, let me think. Do I have any scores out there? Now we’re making believe right?
Manson: Well, I’ll tell you buddy.. (laughs) (long pause) Well, I don’t rightly know. I’m stupid (chuckles) to the point to where I’m not really sure, and if you’ll ask the question again, maybe the answer will come to you. What was it again?
Tom: If you got out tomorrow do you have any scores to settle on the outside?
Manson: Scores? You mean people that have done me wrong?
Tom: Or that you feel that have done you wrong?
Manson: That feel that I’ve done them wrong?
Tom: No, feel that they’ve done you wrong.
Tom: That you feel that done you wrong?
Manson: Oh well most people do themselves wrong.
Tom: But would you want, would you want to go get anybody if you got out.
Manson: They push, see what they do, see they take all that bad and then they push it off on each other. I told the dude, “You’re doing this to yourself man”. You know, I’ve been sitting in there, in other words I’m the cell, right, and they let me out, and I walk around and the guy says “If you don’t do this we’re gonna lock you back up.” I said “ok, I don’t care anyway.” Already gave up that thought. Prison’s in your mind, man, like you know.
Tom: Okay. Okay.
Manson: You sit in the cell, and they guy asks “You in prison?” I say “no, I’m just here.” He says “what you doin’?” I say “I’m just sitting waiting for these uh, people to get done doin’ what they’re doing so I can get out.”
Manson: Yeah, I used to watch it a little bit, but kinda it looks, I don’t really like it that much.
Tom: Ok, What about newspapers. Do you get newspapers?
Manson: No I don’t bother with those. I know that they’re jiving there.
Tom: Ok, Radio? Listen to the radio?
Manson: I listen to the Hearts and Space Program. I like that. And the rest of it is just like a bunch of (gibberish) There’s no uh..
Manson: I get some classical music on the 98 station that saying something‘..
Tom: Okay, but what about your own music? I remember reading
Tom: that you at one time you had a recording stint at a studio in Hollywood, that you liked guitar, that you wrote music, or that you sang music. Do you still do that?
Manson: Yeah, yeah I do that. Yeah I do that. But uh, the way I do it, ain’t the same way you guys do it. And the way I do it scares you guys. So I didn’t want to scare you guys out of the neighborhood right away. (chuckles) So I just took a can and started banging on it, you know. But we used to have some cosmic gatherings back in the mountains that would probably shake a Mormon Tabernacle Quire’s eardrums.
Manson: There’s only one person you should be a-scared of and that’s yourself. Afraid of what, loosing your bank account? Afraid of your wife going uh, away? You have all those things. I’m not afraid of loosing my watch or someone taking my money or robbing me. I went down to Mexico in the 50’s down where the Yakees was, and they said “Man you don’t go down to where the Yakees are. They‘re terrible” I said “Why?” he said “Well, they don’t like people like you.” I says “Well they didn’t say anything.”
Tom: Yeah. I asked that question in the context of, would you believe it or not, there’s a lot of people on the outside, that think about the possibility of you coming out of here, and they’re genially scared of you.
Manson: Oh boy I might just, just make dust, everything terrible. One little guy, terrible. Oooo. Boy, how insecure are we as human beings put all our fear on one little guy? And afraid to let him out, he might break all the toys. (laughs)
Tom: Why do you say little guy?
Manson: Because I’m not the guy you trying to make out of me. That’s not me. That’s some guy in somebody’s imagination that want to make a couple hundred million dollars for himself. He got rich. He had a good game going. He had a better game going than I did. But he had a good mother to help him. She helped him in a nice game, I was kind a over on the sidelines. See I had to get around that game and look over the tracks.
Tom: Ok, Now, here we go again on mother for a second. You said he had a nice mother to help him, does that mean you did not have a nice mother to help you?
Manson: Oh, well, I imagine I have got a whole lot of nice mothers that would help me. If I I would help them you know. How much would you help yourself?
Manson: That’s when I was 20 years old.
Tom: Yeah, what kind (chuckles) This is funny, what kind of sex life is there for Charles in this prison?
Manson: Well I (inaudible) get a little bit now and then.
Manson: I try to hide it not to embarrass other people. But I’ve been doing it ever since I was 10. (laughs) I get to thinking, here I am an old man sitting in this cell, (laughs) that’s the damnest thing I ever seen, you know. It looks like I grow up, but I really don’t know how yet. I’m learning. Preacher’s teaching me how to grow up.
Manson: Certainly. My goodness, yeah, damn right, yeah. (laughs)
Tom: What do you think of women?
Manson: Oh I like them. They’re nice. If they’re put together well, and everything and they’re soft and spongy, yeah, they‘re nice. As long as they keep they’re mouth shut and do what they’re do what they’re supposed to do.
Tom: Why do you say that?
Manson: 'cause that’s what a woman’s supposed to do.
Tom: Keep her mouth shut and do what she’s supposed to do?
Tom: Who taught you that?
Manson: Well, I don’t want her snitchin’ on me.
Manson: Dieing is..
Tom: You know you were sentenced to the gas chamber and then they modified the death penalty, were you happy when that was done?
Manson: Was I happy when what was done?
Tom: When you found out that you weren’t going to the gas chamber.
Manson: You talking about dieing now it gets me nervous.
Manson: Did you have any thoughts about something? Was you wanting to go anywhere?
Tom: Were you happy when you found out you weren’t gonna go to the gas chamber, Charles?
Manson: Uh, I knew I wasn’t gonna go to the gas chamber, cause I hadn’t done anything wrong.
Tom: You scared to die?
Manson: (pause) Sometimes I feel I’m a-scared to live. Living is what scares me. Dieing is easy. Getting up everyday and going through this again and again is hard. See I’m carrying a heavier thought, see, the thought I’m carrying is very heavy. Like I’m on a football team, and everybody’s, and, and I’m a little guy, I don’t have no supp, I don’t have no home team. You got all the home, I got one, one uh cheerleader (chuckles) or one uh, uh coach. See you got me in a disadvantage because I’m on your ground see. So, and this is your street I recon, you got the cameras and the money and the things. But you can believe me that um, Bugliosi has you on a rib, and all them guys that sold you most of that stuff, sold you a bunch of things that weren’t uh, weren’t real. Not to me. We used to have games we would play on the movie set. We would take on different people. I’d be Riff Raff Rackus, Steve would be John Jones, just a-come in from Minneapolis and driving a truck. And we’d just take other people, and play act other people. And then we lost track of who we were. (chuckles) And it went off into other dimensions and levels of thought and understandings and comprehensions that were beyond most people minds, functions, computers, data. So, um, all I did was watch and learn everything I could from everybody I ever met. Then when I got out of prison I just walked around. I didn’t tell nobody to do nothing. I said do what you want to do. (inaudible) Don’t tell me what to do. I don’t like people telling me what to do. I just come from place where they told me what to do all my life, you know. I want to find out what to do for myself, you know. Never did. Not yet. But I was gonna take a trade, one of these days. Maybe learn to be a welder or something. (long pause) ‘Til I can get to the front gate anyway.
Tom: They got you involved in this whole drama where people got killed. How did you get involved in that drama?
Manson: Well I was borned illegitimately that put me on the other side of the law. I’ve been an outlaw ever since I was borned. I went to reform school when I was about 10. And I learned to box and cry, and I learned to do all the things that you do in reform school. And then I went to , uh, I escaped there a bunch of times and I went to prison. And I learned everything that you do in prison. And I talked to all the guys and asked them everything they knew, and they told me all the things they knew. And then I went to the end of it and then old man would be ready to die and he’d say “Well son, un, sincerity is the best gimmick remember that.” and I say “Alright, be sincere, that’ll win it?” He says “That’s it.” Sincerity and honesty he said will do it, it’ll trick 'em every time. (laughs) I said “Well, sincere and honesty, I’ve never tried that. I’ve tried everything else but maybe I’ll try sincere and honesty.” So then I looked in a book and it said “The wages of sin is death.” Now I figured well, I don’t want to die, so maybe I have been sinful here. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I’ll take a look at my life and say “well, I’m gonna change it and start all over.” You know, and I know I go to God and say “Hey man, are you gonna forgive me?” And he’s gonna say “What do you do? You gonna forgive you? What you come to me for? Forgive yourself man, don’t be botherin’ me.” You know, and I think well he must be a big mighty god, man. He just, you know, he ain’t got time, you gotta make an appointment or something, you know. So I see the whole aspect of the whole trip for children to play, you know, then I get stuck in the game of playing the goat here, or the lamb, or the, the some other trip. I was a teddy bear, then I was the goof ball, whatever, and uh, what is the real one, where is the real one. I don’t know where the real one is. He’s in a nut ward somewhere.
Tom: Now you’ve seen the real Charles Manson. Hardly the glowering, sinister and assertive mastermind that was pictured of his life before and after the Tate/LaBianca killings in Los Angeles. The real Charles Manson appears to be confused and frightened. Confused if you recall his admission that we look at ourselves to better understand him. Yet each time I pressed him on the details of the murders, Manson couldn’t even look at himself, nor his relationships with his mother, his wife and his son. And he’s frightened. During our conversation, you recall Manson said “I’m living aren’t I? They let me live didn’t they?” followed by that little nervous laugh. The man does not want to die. I think he’s frightened by death and I think he is as scared of us as we are of him. I get the feeling he’ll be quite content to spend the rest of his life playing mind games in the jail house. And I also believe that Charles Manson knows exactly what he’s done. A word about what you might think was my belligerence with Manson. I lived in Los Angeles all during his trial. I still live there from time to time. In a quiet neighborhood just across the canyon from where Sharon Tate and the others were murdered. At work by day I broadcast the six o’clock news in Los Angeles. The whole story of the trial. The shaved heads, the carved foreheads, the harangues and threats in the court room. And by night I tried to assure my young daughter, that yes even though the murder house was close by, Charles Manson and company were under lock and key and there would be no creepy crawlers in the night. So it was that Manson I was listening to, not the one that sits alone in a far away prison, where baring a most perverse miracle, he will spend the rest of his life. Thank you everybody for watching and goodnight.