It's around midnight, and I'm in the lobby of a loft building in SoHo, waiting for Lenny Kravitz, and I'm feeling savagely insecure. We're to go to a nightclub, GoldBar, and in my mind, I'm doing that old high-school composition thing, compare and contrast, and the subjects are Kravitz and yours truly. We're both 43, but he's a multimillionaire and I have no money in the bank, though I do have a nice amount of debt. He's famously handsome, the Brad Pitt of rock'n'roll, and has been married to Lisa Bonet and linked to Nicole Kidman and Naomi Campbell, among others. I'm bald, and my false front tooth has turned brown from coffee. He's sold millions of records singing about love -- his new album is called It Is Time for a Love Revolution.
Black metal gates swing open, and I steer my car up Marilyn Manson's driveway. It's a small hill, and there are odd, looming trees on both sides, forming a canopy, a scary dark tunnel. Manson lives in Chatsworth, a suburb of Los Angeles, it's around 9 P.M. on a moonless March night, and I feel like I'm in a goth version of Sunset Boulevard. Will I end up dead in some swimming pool, like the writer played by William Holden? I ring the front doorbell of the mansion, which has a grand, old-Hollywood look to it. The door opens and standing before me is a stocky young man in a dark T-shirt and loose jeans. There are two rings through his lips. "Follow me," he says. I enter the front hall, and about 20 feet away is a large, empty circular room; the only thing in it is a single white cat. Its shoulders are hunched, and it looks frightened.