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A conversation with the writer who documented Charles Manson's last days

  Charles Manson Claims Innocence

Charles Manson is brought to trial in 1969 in Los Angeles. (John Malmin / Los Angeles Times on Getty)

82-year-old Charles Manson made a lot of phone calls last year in Corcoran State Prison, California.

Documentary filmmaker James Buddy Day received many of these calls, which were restricted to 1

5 minutes by the state prison system.

Day had initially contacted Manson for hearing that the notorious cult leader believed he was innocent of committing the cruel murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in 1969. These murders began 50 years ago at Tate. Although Day was interested in making a documentary about Manson's claims about his innocence, he never thought he would actually hear about the convicted murderer. But the day was wrong.

"I wrote him a series of letters and did not think he would call in a billion years," says Day InsideHook. "Maybe I'll get a letter back or something, and then out of the blue, he just called me this once, and when he called me for the first time, I thought he'd never call again, and it would just be a story Then he called again and then he called again and it became a reality that I could make this documentary and that he would help. "

Day spent the next year with Manson out of his jail cell He was the last journalist to have access to the man Rolling Stone who was described as "the most dangerous living man" in 1970. The tapes of these phone calls were the basis for the documentary C [HarrisManson:TheFinalWords as well as Days New Book Hippie Cult Leader: The Last Words of Charles Manson .

Day describes the conversation with Manson as "Surreal" and says that the aging icon "was aware of his own shame" and knew that his "name was scary to humans".

"I mean, the most important thing about Manson, you must know that he would just think. Whatever you brought to him, he would just give it back to you. "

" He was this huge personality that could be found everywhere, "says Day. "I never knew what I would get if he called. Sometimes he was a really good conversation partner. Sometimes he only scolded for 15 minutes. He sometimes spoke in rhyme, almost a riddle. The whole thing was really just trying to find out who this guy was and what he said. Manson somehow got stuck in the 60s.

Although the conversation was mainly about the past, Manson was aware of current events and public order.

"As this kind of Dark Messiah, he attracted tons of people who wrote letters to him and built up these relationships with him. He would take any help he could get from someone outside the prison, "says Day. "These dissatisfied white men would see him and hug him to be subversive. He has manipulated her by making her sell things to him or taking money from her, or putting her in contact with other inmates to improve herself in prison. "

" He was aware of US policy. I do not remember ever talking to him about Trump, but he definitely talked about Obama, which he was not a fan of, "says Day. "Manson grew up in the deep south of the Ohio River Basin … [And much later, in prison] He has a swastika cut across his forehead. He adopted a kind of racist personality to co-ordinate with people in prison who could protect themselves. In that sense, he was definitely a fan. "

  Charles Manson at the California Medical Facility
Charles Manson at the California Medical Facility in August 1980. (Photo by Albert Foster / Mirrorpix / Getty)

It was not only men whom the threefold father would exploit.

"He had relationships with women who were looking for other things than he did," says Day. "The most important thing about Manson is that he only thinks. Whatever you brought to him, he would give it back to you. That's how he manipulated. So he navigated the world. If you came to him in search of a father figure, he would simply return it to you. Many women have brought him something, and he would gladly give it back for his own benefit.

This kind of behavior is not surprising in view of Manson's various philosophies.

"He had this kind of solipsist philosophy in which he was the only person in the universe," says Day. "He talked about this kind of philosophy he had, where you are the only person who exists. "I am the only person who exists, and nothing else matters." It made sense that he had spent most of his life in prison thinking that more focused on his interior than on the outside world. Regardless of how he felt towards the outside world, a flood of films in the last two years – including Quentin Tarantinos Once there was once in Hollywood – I have it clear made the world still pretty focused on him, even though he died a week after his 83rd birthday in November 2017.

According to Day, that does not change that fast.

"Manson's story really begins in America in the 1960s, it has become such an American folklore," he says, "and it contains all these elements of sensationalism: a movie star being killed, the dark messiah manipulating the adolescent, and has a thrill cult, which is all involved in the hedonism of the 60s. When a story represents a certain moment in time, it only seems to swing forever. And I think we'll talk about Manson in 25 years and 50 years and even 100 years. Just as we do about Billy the Kid or Lizzie Borden or even O.J. Simpson. "

If you think about it, it makes sense that the same cult of cult that engulfed young women in the 1960s has a similar foundation in jail, be it by cellmates or desperate penpals. And that even today, two years after his death, Manson's story – twisted and somber as it may be – still exists.

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