atkins told a cell mate later that she used to
perform fellatio on infants.
more incredibly, the women in the family were not allowed to ask questions. The word
“why” was banned. Only a few knew exactly
what the men were doing. The men had almost
a separate life.
The girls were always saying, “He’s not our
leader. He falls down at our feet, but doesn’t let
us step on him.” if they did, he’d punch them
in the face.
When Charlie would beat any of the girls,
they’d say, well, it was really because they wanted him to do it. Snake lake, for instance, then
fifteen, was to become a kind of punching bag
for Charlie during his anger spasms. But she
stayed on. The family claimed she wanted “
attention,” so she deliberately angered the devil.
The girls would fight among each other, but the
rule was when a man told them what to do,
they had to do it immediately. The girls would
say, “i don’t care or know about you, i’ve got
my love for me.” They talked his raps, spoke
his language, but over and over again, he told
them that he was not really telling them what
to do. as a matter of fact, that was the reason
that manson was amazed that he got indicted
for murder. Because he claimed he never told
anybody what to do.
But Charlie’s greatest hold on the girls was
fear. Threatening to cut off their breasts was one
of his favorite snarls. He’d always manage to
commit a few felonies in front of them and to
get them involved in murders and the burial of
bloody clothes and the wiping down of houses
for criminal fingerprints and the forging of
checks and the planning of robberies. They’d
think they were equally implicated in events,
even though they had merely witnessed them.
He’d always blend them into this plexus of gore
and grime and crime.
Early in the day, manson would “program”
the girls—give them a list of things to do. They
sewed a lot. Charlie always wore his corduroy
vest—embroidered with those witchy whorls.
Each girl wove a part of it, sometimes adding
locks of human hair with bright threads depict-
ing snakes, dragons, humans, and animals in a
mural of religious meaning that the family un-
derstood very well—it told stories and illustrated
the concepts of Charlie-ism.
and people ask how on earth it happened.
Men are what their mothers made them.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1860
thing. manson’s scam was the old live-forever
chosen-people hype. it was all summed up by
This group of people has come up from
millions of years. it’s like every one of
them is just so familiar that each person is
perfect. it’s like, you can remember—after
you took acid and stuff—you can sort of
remember all the lives you’ve lived, all the
people you’ve been, and all the struggles
and all the dying and coming back and
over and over and over. But this is the last
time. like, the way i feel is like i’ve got ex-
actly the body i wanted, you know for the
last time. The perfect, the strongest one, the
one that’s going to make it through. and
like, i’m willing to die for anyone, anyone
who’s me, ’cause it’s like one soul.
manson used to brag how he was a “man
with a thousand faces.” in a lifestyle where everything is a hype and a con, that is an assertion
Ed Sanders, from The family. Having lived with
his alcoholic mother and a religious aunt and uncle in
West Virginia, Manson spent his youth in and out
of reform schools and prisons, arrested on charges of,
among others, armed robbery, petty larceny, pimping,
and forging U.S. Treasury notes. At the age of thirty-t wo in 1967, he moved to San Francisco, where he soon
attracted a cult following among the counterculture
youth. Manson led his Family to commit several
gruesome murders in 1968 and 1969.