If by chance you haven't seen "Beautiful People," it's sort of like Mummenschanz From Hell performing Nosferatu Gets Root Canal; unless you had the privilege of catching Corbin Bernsen in The Dentist on Cinemax a few months ago, you've never seen such creative application of dental clamps, vises and assorted invasive oral whatnots. While it's tempting to dismiss Manson as the latest musical joke for dysfunctional trailer park kiddies-you don't so much look at this guy as rubberneck him-there's no dismissing the video or its director. Shades of Tarsem and REM's "Losing My Religion" of some years back, perhaps? Hey, stranger things have happened.
At any rate, while Marilyn Manson is really the utterly prosaic Brian Warner from Canton, Ohio, just who is Floria Sigismondi? She's the utterly exotic Floria Sigismondi, 31, Italian-born, Toronto-bred and -based, an Ontario College of Art graduate and an award-winning Canadian fashion photographer who turned to music videos several years back and won a passel of prizes at last year's Canadian Music Video Awards.
She signed with The Underground about two years ago for U.S. representation (via Commercial Artists Management), and she's developed a modest reel of Canadian and American spots, all air work, no spec. The U.S. work includes spots for JBL loudspeakers and Lady Footlocker, with the writing standout being a Mistic flavored iced tea spot featuring the first and only pair of uncloseted lesbians in a beverage commercial. But there's nothing on her reel besides an artsy cosmetics promotion to remotely suggest the joie de vivisection of "Beautiful People." None other than Snoop Doggy Dogg pronounced the clip in Spin as "some dope shit." Well!
How'd she get this prize gig? She competed for it, pitching a concept, "and I guess he thought I got what he was trying to say," Sigismondi recalls. The song is about "the fascism of beauty in America," as Manson himself explained on MTV, hence the faux-doc Il Duce-type footage. Besides the fascism, "these leaders try to handicap their followers both physically and mentally," says Sigismondi. "That's why I chose physical restraint with medical devices, and not bondage or the typical sort of video thing." As for the gangly tall figures, "that's what these people end up becoming; larger than life. The followers are all brainwashed, zombielike. It's not that there was a storyline, but you can get the gist of the idea from the lyrics." Indeed, Sigismondi claims she dreamed most of the images after listening to the song countless times. "When you're on the same wavelength, ideas just grow," she muses. Sweet dreams are made of this, as an earlier Manson video hit has it.
While her personal taste runs more to the trip-hop of Tricky, and her Canadian clips are mostly in the alternapop mode, Sigismondi had no trouble getting down with Manson's no-brow headbanging. "I like the music," she says. "I can't really come up with ideas if I don't like the music, I need to connect with it." Sigismondi, who studied painting in college, connects best with the offbeat side of film, naming the Quay Bros., David Lynch and Tim Burton among her influences-"The more surreal, the more I'm attracted to it."
After the video smoke clears, she's looking forward to some very real at-tention from American agencies in the area of "image/style, not strictly fashion, athletic shoes, for instance," she says-assuming they aren't scared off by the dental damnation. "Everybody's freaked out by the dentistry devices," she