According to Manson, the album was inspired by radical art movements such as prewar German cabaret, the pretentious wit of Dandyism and the all-out brattiness of Dada. Describing himself as a voracious reader and moviegoer, Manson says he was drawn to this period after experiencing a few bumps along the way in his own life.
In 1999, he came under attack by the religious right, who blamed him for inspiring two boys to carry out the Columbine High School shooting rampage (to which he later responds in the Oscar-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine). He was slapped with various lawsuits, watched 2000's Holy Wood bomb and went through a very public breakup with his fiancee, Charmed actress Rose McGowan.
The final straw could have been his longtime collaborator and friend Twiggy Ramirez's departure from the group over creative differences, but it wasn't. In fact, things were starting to get better for Manson.
He was getting movie work (he plays a transsexual nightclub singer in Party Monster and is scoring the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and had begun a new relationship with Dita Von Teese, the fetish model and burlesque performer. Producer Tim Skold (formerly of the industrial rock group KMFDM) even offered to double on bass for the new album.
It was also about this time that Manson began collaborating with Austrian multimedia artist Gottfried Helnwein, who in a Kerrang! interview refers to the singer as "a true artist who reflects the state society is in."
He and Helnwein created a series of controversial photographs, most of which were deemed by the label as too risque to be album art, including one of Manson dressed in Nazi regalia and clutching a gun as a young girl looks on.
As for the Ozzfest, Manson says, "I've made a greater attempt to make my show not just the most theatrical thing on Ozzfest but the most theatrical thing I've done. And it's in a vaudeville, cabaret way that it's not about just entertaining the audience, it's about interacting with them, and not in the cliche rock 'n' roll way where you get them to hand-clap."