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A Miami Goth-Scene Pioneer's Battle With Cancer


Scott Mitchell Putesky grew from '90s green-haired goth rocker to clean-shaven musician, but he recently let his mustache grow. It's a symbol of his fight against stage-four colon cancer.

“It represents my personal crusade," he says, two months into his six-month chemo treatment. "Cancer: Take my hair. Take my mustache. I challenge you. I still have my hair and mustache. So I’m winning.”

On Aug. 14, after nearly six years of mysterious abdomen pains -- some so piercing he ended up in the emergency room -- a colonoscopy revealed the 45-year-old had cancer. They prescribed him six months of chemotherapy.

Putesky was the founding guitarist of the Fort Lauderdale-born, industrial-metal group Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids, formed in 1990. He and vocalist Brian Warner, a.k.a. Marilyn Manson, were drivers of the goth scene in South Florida.

“Goth culture came up in Florida. Who knows why? But I attribute it to our success,” Putesky says. “Goth, I think, is an expression of defiance: I am gonna wear all black in the sunniest part of the country.”

Their band dressed in gear fit for Halloween parties and played shows at venues such as the Button South, Squeeze, and the Reunion Room. Putesky performed as Daisy Berkowitz. 

Credit Scott Mitchell Putesky
Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids circa early '90s

“For me, it was more of a costume than a character. I wasn’t acting or trying to be someone else, I was just having fun with it,” he says.  “It was so liberating that no one knew who we were."

Two years later, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails signed Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids to his label Nothing Records.  In 1993, the band garnered national attention with its debut tour in support of “Portrait of an American Family," and South Florida became fertile ground for dark-rock culture.

But Churchill's Pub in Little Haiti was where Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids played their first show. And this Saturday, a string of South Florida artists will play a benefit concert there, called Beat 4 Life, to help Putesky raise funds for his treatment.

The honoree won't attend because he's receiving medical care in Philadelphia, but his friends are among the 12-band lineup.

Russ Rogers, playing Saturday with his new band A New Way To Live Forever, was a member of an iconic local-underground band called Kill Miss Pretty. 

“Scott and I connected as friends in the 1990s and in 2009 he joined [my band] ... Kill Miss Pretty,” Rogers says. “He’s one of my favorite guitar players — him and Prince. His meticulous style of playing and the darker tones he tends to do have definitely sunk into me."

Credit Amy Baxter
Visual artists donate their works to raise funds. From upper left to right: Collin Christian, Sas Christian, Francesco LoCastro, W Kelley Lucas, Skot Olsen, Rich Rethorn, and Jodi Turchin.

Musician Amy Baxter, who organized the event, says she knew Putesky before his Manson days.

“[H]e’s always been so nice and kind to me," Amy Baxter, the event's organizer, says. "[I] asked him to produce my album, so he did. And played the bass and worked on the bass machine. If it wasn’t for Scott, I wouldn’t be playing music again.”

Beat 4 Life will take place 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami.  Go here for event information.