I was not allowed to put the paintings on the cover of the record! Our anticipation was not to create album artwork. We wanted to create a collaboration, and from that came the idea to use it for the cover, because we did not consider the Golden Age of Grotesque to be limited to an album. An album is very limited with censorship, and with time constraints and space constraints. We did intend for the white and black images of me with the ears to be the front and back.
I feel the black one is very American, and the white one is very European. The black one is somewhat more evil, and the white one is kind of innocent. I actually think that the white one, visually, strikes me as more evil. It's like a Perot. You know, American versus European. The entire time that I did it, I don't think anyone mentioned the blackface and the relevance of it. The relevance of it is the exploitation of a performer, or an artist. The Mickey Mouse was invocative because of the hat, and a lot of people feared that it would be a lawsuit from Disney, but it does not even, in it's fullest frame, show both ears. The hat that I ended up making is very similar, but it's asymmetrical, because I have a real problem with symmetry. I like things to be different on both sides, like my brain. The white one, on the other side, is like the child.
All I can say about it is I'm glad that it makes it into the collection of images that represent me as best as it could. I think that it just scratches the surface of what Gottfried and I could do together. Also I think it was most appreciated and understood for it's biggest quality and it's biggest political impact.
Like I said, people can take it anyway they want. People took it as serious as it could be in Europe, particularly in France and Paris, and in Japan because they saw my commentary on America. They saw as much as people see Mickey Mouse as an American symbol. You cover your mouth with blackface, which really represents a franchise, moneymaking, and slave creation of entertainment, that isn't even human. That's an animal, on top of a podium that is exaggerated - a comedy form of fascism. It sounds very American to me. It sounds like a Happy Meal. That's not to say that's the only way you need to look at it.
There was one comment from one journalist, which I thought was probably the most flattering comment about making this record. He said, "Every war needs a torch song singer. World War II had Marlene Dietrich, who was the Blue Angel, and Marilyn Manson is our torch song singer, and he's the White Devil." That was really flattering to me.