As a starry-eyed teenager in the late 1990s, Esmé Bianco had Marilyn Manson posters on her bedroom wall and pictures on her lunchbox.
Such was her devotion to the musician, famed for his grotesque shock-goth appearance and gruesome live performances, that she wrote down the lyrics to his songs. One of her first boyfriends even looked and dressed like her American idol.
But what would the 16-year-old Bianco have said if someone had told her that, nearly two decades later, she would be denouncing her hero as a ‘monster’? For having gone on to date him, the Game Of Thrones star last week accused Manson of horrifically abusing her during their relationship and said he ‘deserves to be behind bars for the rest of his life’.
The St Albans-born actress, 38, said: ‘I was bitten until my body was covered in bruises. On another occasion I was cut with a knife during sex, inflicting wounds up and down my torso. He took photos of my naked mutilated body and posted them online without my knowledge.’
British actress Esmé Bianco joins at least 11 other women who have come forward this month to accuse Marilyn Manson, 52, of physical and sexual abuse. Pictured: Marilyn Manson and Esme Bianco together in London
Her lawyers told the Mail that Bianco has now been interviewed by FBI agents about allegations relating to ‘human trafficking and sex crimes’.
The shocking claims, which have been corroborated by one of Manson’s former assistants, are the latest in a host of allegations of sexual and physical abuse flung at the 52-year-old musician during the past few weeks by at least 11 women, including Hollywood actress Evan Rachel Wood.
Manson, real name Brian Warner, says the allegations are ‘horrible distortions of reality’ and that ‘my intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners’.
He has not been charged with any crime but has been dropped by his agency, manager and record label, and all future TV appearances have been cancelled. Bianco appeared live on Good Morning America last Thursday, telling millions of viewers how Manson had left her with physical and mental scars, including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Manson, she alleged in a magazine interview, ‘controlled every aspect of my life’ and ‘almost destroyed me’. She says he left her with awful scars after whipping her across her back while filming her, and cut her with a knife.
So how did this scientist’s daughter make her way from the British home counties to the glitzy world of Hollywood before becoming caught up in the sensational allegations which have rocked the showbiz industry?
Ten years ago, Bianco — who has a degree in drama and theatre arts from Goldsmiths University, London — was a little-known burlesque star, model and actress on the verge of making her debut as flame-haired prostitute Ros in the first episode of hit HBO TV series Game Of Thrones.
Originally scripted to appear only in the 2011 pilot episode, the show’s creators enjoyed her performance so much that they wrote her in as a recurring character until her character’s death in 2013, tied to a bed and shot several times with a crossbow.
The shocking claims, which have been corroborated by one of Manson’s former assistants, are the latest in a host of allegations of sexual and physical abuse flung at the 52-year-old musician during the past few weeks by at least 11 women, including Hollywood actress Evan Rachel Wood (pictured in 2014)
Before that role brought her to the attention of millions across the world, she featured in Agent Provocateur’s 2003 campaign and modelled for London Fashion Week in 2005/06.
The late footwear designer Terry de Havilland called her his muse and named a pair of his shoes after her. She also appeared on TV at the 2007 Brit Awards and became the face of British lingerie label The Modern Courtesan in 2008.
Early acting roles included small parts in Chemical Wedding, a sci-fi fantasy horror film from 2008 and a 2009 arthouse film Burlesque Fairytales in which she appeared alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Downton Abbey star Jim Carter.
She appeared in the 2009 video for Robbie Williams’s song You Know Me, wearing a burlesque-style bunny outfit and riding a giant carrot. She also caught the attention of Christian Furr, the youngest artist to be commissioned to paint an official portrait of the Queen. His 2011 painting of Bianco, Flesh And Blood, went on sale in Chelsea in London for £8,400.
Bianco met Manson in 2005 through fellow burlesque star Dita Von Teese, who was in a relationship with the musician for seven years and married to him between 2005 and 2007. She said this week that the first words out of his mouth were ‘I’ve been a fan of yours for years’.
Her first impression was that he was ‘charming, intelligent, funny’. They shared an interest in art and music. She says Manson wanted to cast her in Phantasmagoria, a gothic horror film based on the works of Lewis Carroll. The project never came to fruition, despite the release of a highly-sexualised trailer starring British actress Lily Cole as Alice.
They began an affair, conducted in London and LA and, in March 2011, not long after she’d finished filming the first series of Game Of Thrones (pictured), Manson asked her to move in with him, promising to help her get a work visa so she could pursue her career in Hollywood
But Bianco visited Manson and Von Teese at their LA mansion and, after the marriage ended, they remained in touch. Their relationship, she says, was still platonic when, back in London, she got married in 2008 to the musician boyfriend she had met while still at university.
In 2009, she told U.S. magazine The Cut recently, Manson sent a plane ticket from London to LA so she could appear in the video to his song I Want to Kill You Like They Do In The Movies. He told her in an email: ‘I need to have a victim/lover. You are gonna have to pretend to like being manhandled by me. Sorry.’ He also insisted on a handheld ‘flip-cam’ so he could film the scenes himself.
While she considered the arrangement to be strictly professional, she says that once she arrived at his home, the line between art and reality became horribly blurred.
She claims he became violent, locking her in a room, tying her up with plastic cables to a wooden prayer kneeler, lashing her with a whip and using an electric sex toy called a Violet Wand to give shocks to her wounds.
She told Good Morning America that she would have ‘never dared ask him to stop’ despite fearing for her life. The footage was never aired but, a few days after the shoot, she says he emailed her a photograph of her back covered in welts with a note reading ‘bringing sexy back’.
Despite being shocked and terrified about what had happened, she dealt with it by trying to normalise it. She said she told herself: ‘It’s just Manson being theatrical. We are going to make great art. I thought he was in love with me and I didn’t understand that what was happening to me was very, very wrong because he was incredibly manipulative.
In March 2019, Bianco posted a shocking photograph of her scarred back on Instagram (pictured), describing herself as a ‘domestic violence survivor’
‘Why didn’t I run? What was I doing? It’s not until you know what psychological abuse does to somebody that you can fathom why I would have stayed. I’ve been carrying this dark secret for so long.’
Her claims chime with other allegations made this month. Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood also claims Manson beat and shocked her and says she was ‘brainwashed and manipulated into submission… to him it was a way to prove my loyalty. The pain was excruciating.’
Back in London, as Bianco’s marriage began to fall apart, Manson showered her with attention. She said: ‘He told me I was his soulmate. He seemingly understood and saw me in a way no one had before.’
This week she said Manson had made her feel they ‘had a special kind of relationship’ and ‘would find a way of getting his claws back into me’ every time she tried to get away.
They began an affair, conducted in London and LA and, in March 2011, not long after she’d finished filming the first series of Game Of Thrones, Manson asked her to move in with him, promising to help her get a work visa so she could pursue her career in Hollywood.
Within two months, says Bianco, Manson had ‘almost destroyed me’. She says he controlled how she dressed, when she slept, how much she weighed and what she ate, as well as who she was friends with. She wasn’t allowed a key to his apartment which was kept in ‘complete darkness’ and ‘frigidly cold’.
She left him after one particularly horrendous incident when, after four days of not allowing her to sleep, Manson allegedly chased her with an axe. ‘He thought I had put cockroaches in the walls to upset him. He took an axe and started smashing holes in the walls to prove the insects were in there.
‘As I was trying to calm him down, he began to chase after me with the axe. It was at that stage I realised my life was in danger.’
It took seven years for her to process what had happened and summon the courage to speak to the police. ‘I was coerced, I was defrauded, I was transported from the UK to the U.S. I was harboured and then I was coerced into involuntary servitude, which included sexual abuse and physical abuse.’
She described Manson’s rebuttal that he always had consensual relationships with like-minded partners as ‘disgusting’ and ‘indicative of what a monster he is’.
When she took legal advice, she was shocked to discover that California’s Statue of Limitations meant that it was too late to attempt to bring a case against Manson.
Her decision to speak out about her allegations against the singer has been a gradual one.
Bianco’s claims chime with other allegations made this month. Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood also claims Manson beat and shocked her and says she was ‘brainwashed and manipulated into submission… to him it was a way to prove my loyalty. The pain was excruciating.’
In March 2019, Bianco posted a shocking photograph of her scarred back on Instagram, describing herself as a ‘domestic violence survivor’. Without naming her alleged abuser, she told her followers: ‘The injuries you see are real. The whipping that gave me these wounds was filmed in the name of “art”. I used to look at this photo with pride because I thought it was a sign of great devotion to my abuser. Now I look at it with horror.’
At around the same time she joined forces with 33-year-old Evan Rachel Wood, who was with Manson for three years, and also fell foul of Californian law meaning that her allegations, which date back to 2010, could not be heard in a court of law.
The women are ‘co-creators’ of the Phoenix Act, a bill to increase the statute of limitations on domestic violence crimes across all 50 U.S. states and ‘give victims more time to come back from their trauma’. They have worked with law-makers and domestic violence survivors and, as part of their campaign, both gave evidence to the California Assembly Public Safety Committee about the abuse they suffered — without naming Manson at the time.
It is largely thanks to their work that the Act was passed in California and came into law last year, increasing the window of time within which an abuser can be prosecuted from three to five years after the abuse takes place.
The change in law comes too late for either woman, but both have now set their sights on getting the Phoenix Act passed across all U.S. states, which have varying statutes of limitations.
Naming Manson last week has garnered new publicity for the cause the women are fighting for. Bianco’s lawyer Jay Ellwanger told the Mail she was ‘cooperating with relevant law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, as survivors bravely come forward to share their experiences involving Brian Hugh Warner, known professionally as Marilyn Manson’.
He added: ‘She has turned over evidence of her abuses by Marilyn Manson, specifically as they related to human trafficking and sex crimes. It is Ms Bianco’s sincere hope that this evidence and her continued involvement will aid in the ongoing criminal investigation and help all survivors achieve some measure of justice.’
Some of Manson’s die-hard fans have complained that he is now effectively being tried by media — a phenomenon which has become increasingly familiar in the ‘#MeToo’ era.
Others argue that the current U.S. legal system denies justice to survivors who may not feel able to speak out within the legal time limit for making a criminal allegation.
Until this is resolved, the clash between the weight of the law and the power of social media will continue.
Bianco admits: ‘I know I will never see justice for what happened to me.’ But she is clearly determined to take a stand for others who have survived domestic violence and still may have a chance to see their abusers brought to justice.