1985 - Charles Manson interview with Nuell Emmons
Nuell Emmons: Have you turned religious?
Charles Manson: Well, I have been termed ‘religious.’ [tape cuts] Control.
Emmons: People that lie, it’s only their [inaudible].
Manson: Yeah. See, you live in a world that I don’t know that much about. It’s not the same world that I live in.
Emmons: Why is that?
Manson: So, not to say that it’s bad or good or indifferent. It just reaches the point of understanding that you know and you’ve always known as we all know the same thing that we all know.
Emmons: So, you are religious in your own way?
Manson: Sure, in my way. Yeah. I have respect for holy men. They’re with me here on earth. Ristach is a good man. There’s a lot of good men that I’ve met in my life, that I have much respect for.
Emmons: If you and Nuell write a book, what are you going to talk about? What are you going to try to bring out in your book?
Manson: I never even thought of anything like that. I’d have to give that some thought. I was doing this on Nuell’s request. He wanted to write the book. I don’t particularly care to explain nothing. I don’t look up at you for any reason. I don’t bring my report card home anymore. That make sense?
Emmons: Well, what I am trying to find out is what would you want to bring out in the book that can teach other people?
Manson: What can you teach other people?
Emmons: That’s what I’d like to know. What do you think you could teach other people.
Manson: That’s what I’d like to know, too. I know how to be reborn and start all over. I start all over. I don’t start over with the same ole-same ole, I just start all over. Even though I might be old, I’m still brand new every day. Because I live one day at a time. Just like that old convict used to tell me— [looks back] isn’t that what he used to say, man? “One day at a time.” So, I’ve learned to live my life one day at a time.
Emmons: Is there anything you think you could pass on that society isn’t really ready, that you can tell them about?
Manson: Society knows, what it wants to know. it’s just a jelly fish that’s only controlled by the people who wants to move the sheep around. They’ll tell them anything. Everybody knows that everybody is lying. Do you know anyone that tells the truth? Can you trust a lawyer? You can’t trust a lawyer. You can’t trust— who can you trust? The President Nixon? Watergate? Look at what your children are looking at. Who can they trust?
Emmons: So you would tell parents something about raising children?
Manson: I will tell the children how to help the parents.
Manson: By realizing that the parents [tape cuts] child. Because he doesn’t understand the child, but the child understands the parent. When I talk with little kids they tell the truth. There ain’t no lie in them.
Emmons: What are you going to point out in the book if you bring that up? What would you like to point out?
Manson: You people are on your road going where you are going. If you don’t want to stop from going where you are going, I’m not going to stop you. You’re going to your destruction, not mine. I’ve already established mine. I’ve already went through mine; I’ve been judged. The judge gave me nine life sentences.
Emmons: [tape cuts] but in your philosophical talk, a lot of people won’t— it will go right over their heads. That’s what I’m trying to say. Put it in— so they can understand it in lame language. Can we do that?
Manson: Well, it’s sad all over, really. It’s hard for me to express how much sadness I have went through to reach this point. I understand now that I am talking to you from— how are you going to help someone who don’t want to be helped? Hit them in the head and make them do it?
Emmons: Will your book do that? Will you try?
Manson: Will I try?
Emmons: To explain that?
Manson: Will I try to help you people? I don’t know whether it would help anyone. And I’ve never thought about that. You guy would have to show me what help is so I’d know what it is. Teach me, I will learn. I’m just a little kid in mind. See, I’ve been in jail thirty-something years. I’ve never been in your world outside. I’m like a little kid out there.
Emmons: Will your life story help somebody else understand how to proceed?
Manson: If it was possible to present everything that has came down in the past few years in a positive perspective, it would be advantageous to other people, I would imagine. But if they had eyes in their head, and could see under the bed, they would see the heads are lead with eyes of wood. And it really doesn’t matter because rubber fingers are taking their hands off into the universe anyway. The level of comprehension that you hold in your mind is only taught to you by a school book. it’s in a sorority house. My father jumps off of the second world war in the ruptured ducks wearing the little pins and the buttons, in section eight in the nut ward. And all of the people that have gone crazy.
Emmons: Your father was crazy?
Manson: My father was all men that I have ever met in prison. Nuell was one of my fathers. Creepy Karpis is another. I learned something from everyone; the captains, the wardens, I never missed anybody. I learned as much as I could from anybody I could get a hold of. And I never met anyone that I couldn’t learn something from. But now I have learned what I have learned, I don’t think you people want to know what I know. You wouldn’t like it.
Manson: Well, because it’s not very nice.
Emmons: Well, why?
Manson: Because the people you let run your lives aren’t very nice. The people that govern you. The people that tell you people what to do. They’re not good people.
Emmons: Let me change the subject for a minute; you have been back on a job, out of solitary for how long now?
Manson: I don’t know. I got up and came out here today.
Emmons: How long have you been working in the chapel?
Manson: I’ve explained to you: I live one day at a time.
Manson: I don’t have any life outside of: one day at a time.
Emmons: What brought you back into the mainline population?
Manson: What brought me back to mainline? The preacher. With his love and respect and help got me back on the mainline.
Emmons: After all those years of solitary, after all those years of segregation, how is it?
Manson: Still, right now, I am doing the same day I’ve always done. I just had to bring it a long ways. But it’s still today and it’s still a good day. And every day gets a little better. No matter what you do to me.
Emmons: Are you at peace with yourself?
Manson: Whatever that means, I never bothered with asking myself if I was. I don’t generally talk to myself. But I guess talking to yourself would be alright. [tape cuts]
Manson: I want to ask you a question.
Manson: I want to give this thought a lot of consideration. You don’t have to answer me now. But can you imagine what it would be like to be interrogated by the SS?
Emmons: I can imagine not.
Manson: Think about it.
Emmons: Although, I know what their tactics are. Can I answer it after the interview?
Manson: There’s no doubt about it, is there?
Emmons: Can I answer it after the interview?
Manson: Very serious, isn’t it?
Emmons: Sure. Can I answer it after the interview?
Manson: You don’t have to answer, all you have to do is just think about it.
Emmons: I will. Let’s talk about Helter Skelter. Bugliosi paints you as a small, would-be pop singer, as he describes it with little talent. How do you react to that?
Manson: Bugliosi looks in the mirror every morning when he shaves, that’s the only person in Bugliosi’s world. Just him. Ask his wife, she knows it.
Emmons: What about the inaccuracies in the book, Charlie?
Manson: He had the dates right and the names right, but he had a million illusions that had nothing to do with my reality. he was only trying and convicting his own reality. It didn’t have anything to do with me. I have already been through all these prisons.
Emmons: But he did paint you as one of the most universally known persons around.
Manson: To who?
Emmons: To readers. People who read it.
Manson: And they believed it.
Emmons: I don’t know. What do you think?
Manson: Well, then they’re not as good as what they read, are they?
Emmons: But the book; how accurate or inaccurate is it?
Manson: I’ve never read it.
Emmons: Didn’t you read it at one time?
Manson: I’ve read parts of it.
Emmons: How did you find it?
Manson: Like I said: it was reflections of what he was thinking. It had nothing to do with me. Seriously. The Charlie Manson that you created, that’s not me. That is only an illusion in your minds. That ain’t got anything to do with me.
Emmons: What’s the real Charlie Manson?
Manson: I really haven’t been able to make him up. I’ve just been reborn again, see? I’m learning now. I’m starting all over. And I’m learning. The preachers teaching me. The teachers teaching me. The counselors counseling me. And the doctors looking out after me. The guards don’t bother me that much and I don’t bother them that much. They do their jobs, raise their kids and I do my job and I do what I do for my kids.
Emmons: There was a time a while back where when you got out into the mainline you ran into trouble. Ran into Bobby Davis up at Folsom.
Manson: I ran into trouble?
Emmons: Well, you got into trouble.
Manson: Who told you that? See what I am saying?
Emmons: Did it happen?
Emmons: Did you fight?
Manson: Many things happened and no I didn’t fight.
Emmons: Have you fought, when somebody was somebody after you?
Manson: Sure, I have fought many times.
Emmons: Did somebody come after you?
Manson: Someone come after me? Well, someone could come after me if they wanted to.
Emmons: But, did they?
Manson: No, they’ve always left me here, nobody’s wanted me.
Emmons: Ever have trouble on the outside?
Manson: On the outside, where?
Emmons: In prison.
Manson: In prison? The population— I get along with most convicts. if the convicts get along with themselves. There’s much harmony in prison. It’s a war every day. There’s much wisdom in prison. More every day.
Emmons: Take me back to the book; what is this magnetism that people keep referring to as— beyond that. People writing you, wanting to meet you. Your people that you had in the desert…
Manson: Why don’t you answer that question.
Emmons: I am asking that question.
Manson: Well can’t you see?
Emmons: Tell me, what is it?
Manson: Well, what do you think it is?
Emmons: Do you know?
Manson: Do you know?
Emmons: Don’t play games with me.
Manson: It’s no game. I know. That’s why you are asking me questions and I’m not asking you questions. You see, I don’t need to ask you questions. I already know.
Emmons: Could you tell me?
Manson: Sure I could tell you. Do you have the time?
Emmons: I’m here.
Manson: When would you like to start?
Emmons: Well, what it is? Go ahead and tell me.
Manson: What is what? Are you secure?
Manson: The government of the United States— the government has never been more secure. We have never been more secure than it is right now.
Emmons: Hold that thought. [tape cuts]
Emmons: What is it that draws people to you?
Manson: [dances] Motion. Generating. Attention. Reality. I know! When you know, you just simply know. Jesus on that cross: we know he’s there. [to guard] Is he there? Is the cross there? I know the cross is there. You don’t have to put me on the cross to witness the cross. I can see the cross. Now what I am trying to do is get back to earth, so I can go out into the desert. I’ve already cleaned that thought up once. And you put another President in.
Emmons: You said…
Manson: And every time I clean it up, you put another President in.
Emmons: Alright. You said people are in harmony with you. What do you mean by that?
Manson: The people that are in harmony with themselves. In the will of the child. The child has a will. You tell a child to come here and the child will walk over. You tell the child to sit down, he will sit down. He’s just in the will of the child. God and his children are in the will of the child. It’s just as simple as the Bible said you must believe the little children before you get into the Kingdom of Heaven. If the Christians had believed in the Bible, then we wouldn’t have all this conflict. Evidently, the only ones that are in conflict now are the Christians. They don’t seem to believe in their own God for some reason, I don’t know what it is. Maybe they need to see him on the cross again. Or maybe they should pray for him to come out of the sky on a silver platter. Or… I don’t know. I’m just here and you’re there and it’s your reality. Where do you get your energy from? And where does your soul flow? And your thoughts. How do you know, you know unless you have to some say, “Charlie, how’s the Dow Jones?”
Emmons: Do you read the Wall Street Journal?
Manson: Certainly, I read the Wall Street Journal. I’m right at the top of your brain. And I will read that Wall Street Journal until you let me walk out that door right there a free man. Or we will just use Indian Head pennies for earrings.
Emmons: What if you did get a parole date in November? What would you do?
Manson: I’d give it some serious thought. I don’t have room in mind for could-bes. I have to deal in what-is. I can’t think about what I want, I have to deal with what I am allowed to have.
Emmons: What if you got a date?
Manson: If I got a date, then I would probably have a date.
Emmons: Do you know what you want to do?
Manson: Yes, I have many plans. A lot of plans. I’d like to clean up the water. I’d like to go to the top of the mountains, start at the top of the mountains and clean the springs up. Take all of the pollution out of the water so I can drink it. Clean up all of the green things. Pick up all of the old beer cans. Clean all the way to the ocean. And then maybe I will be able to save our air and water for our children. Because I am living in my child’s world now— I am working on his world. My world already went to the gas chamber.
Emmons: What if you don’t get a date?
Manson: If I don’t get a date, then I won’t have a date.
Emmons: Have you thought about it? I know you want to get a date.
Manson: I’ve gave it some thought, but not that much. I gave it thought in relation that they will be pushed to make some sort of rule to alleviate the pressure that they put on themselves. If there’s any way that I can help that, I would. That way I can achieve that I am after, also. All I want is what the Constitution said I can have. The liberty and the right to look for my freedom the way I want it. If you gave the Constitution to me like you were supposed to, then I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t have been here the last eleven years. But if you let the politicians play like they are Christians and use their courtrooms to further their own purposes, then all you are doing is mixing business with your own childrens’ lives. It really doesn’t make sense to me, but I don’t have the President’s spot to make any change. If I had the control to make the change, I’d have the power [tape cuts]
Emmons: You know we were talking about this [holds Helter Skelter]. The book Helter Skelter.
Emmons: You said there were a lot of things wrong with the book. [hands the book to Manson]
Manson: Well, it looks alright. Make with good paper and all that. All this paper comes from trees. It’s a shame to waste all your trees writing this trash for your children to be raised up in. Do you want your children to be raised according to the gospel of Helter Skelter?
Emmons: What are the inaccuracies in it?
Manson: Well, it would take me as long as it took him to point them out. It took him two years in court to invent them, it would take me two years in court to un-invent them, redo them and show the proper perspective.
Manson: Yeah. Helter Skelter simply means confusion. And if you don’t see the confusion in the world, and there’s always been confusion in the world, then you don’t know what confusion means. When I get out of jail, and every time I get out of jail, society’s moving a little faster and they’re doing crazier things. I get out and I could never adjust to it— it was almost impossible to do anything right. Everything was wrong to somebody and then you have to hide. You have day people and night people and everybody’s all divided up.
Emmons: Did they invent the evidence that they used in court?
Manson: I think a percentage of it they found and created themselves. They pushed a fingerprint together until it got to be, they justified it, then sent it to another office and they pushed it a little bit, and then another office, they pushed it, until finally they find another point and then they come up with the fingerprints. Then the people who supposedly left the fingerprint has never lied to me, nor I to them— told me that I wasn’t even there. In that particular portion of the crime I was I was over in this particular portion of it. In other words, all the little things that they come up with, like the trailer… [tape cuts]