“The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye”
Genesis P-Orridge and his wife, Lady Jaye are the founders of the industrial music movement. He is the lead singer of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV and is an artist as well. Genesis and Lady Jaye underwent transformations for what they called their Pandrogyne project. The two began to merge not only psychically but physically as well. They both had surgery so they could each look like the other.
I found myself totally pulled into the film—it is absolutely fascinating as it deals with the power of love and art as the two characters become one and the same. The story is intense and totally unlike anything I have ever seen. Genesis so loved Lady Jaye that they forsook having children and alter themselves to fuse their identities and ultimately mutate into surgically enhanced twins. In begin with Jaye’s fixing her nose to be like his and Genesis getting breast and lip implants to be like her.
The film made me smile, and it made me feel how love can conquer death. We watch as Genesis transforms himself from a man who occasionally worse women’s clothing to a copy of his wife with whom he shard physical characteristics. They shared a deep romantic bond. This is not a traditional biography and instead we feel like we are with them for a moment in time.
This is both “the most romantic and the saddest film I have seen in a long time. Genesis was born Neil Megson in Manchester in 1950, and a founding member of the COUM collective whose sexually explicit art earned them the label “wreckers of civilization” from one Member of Parliament; also in the 1970s he founded industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle. Lady Jaye was Jacqueline Breyer; almost half his age, she had run away to New York’s Alphabet City as a fourteen-year-old girl, and worked as a dominatrix to pay her way through nursing college.
They loved each other so much they decided to become as one. Literally: over a number of years they underwent a series of medical procedures – he received breast implants, she had surgery that made her nose like his – with a view to becoming pandrogynes. It was, as they describe it in Marie Losier’s affectionate and intimate documentary, partly an art project, but also a spiritually informed attempt to move beyond the categories of male/ female and create a “third being”. Even if you believe that love emerges from difference rather than a desire to erode gender distinctions, the bravery of their undertaking is undeniable.
In 2007, Lady Jaye, who had an undiagnosed heart condition, died in the arms of Genesis. Losier’s film, though a little unfocussed and technically ragged, is a celebration of their remarkable relationship. It features touching home movies in which the physically striking couple – he covered in tattoos and resembling a paunchy ex-wrestler, she tall and exuberant – frolic around in parks and subway carriages, have rooftop parties with friends, impersonate their pet dogs. They talk about themselves unaffectedly, and with some lovely phrases (Genesis describes their body modifications in terms of “human evolution – a cry for survival”)”.
We learn of the importance of jazz and its freedom in Genesis’s musical development and he pays homage to William Burroughs and Brion Gysin who served as his mentors. Genesis still talks of Lady Jaye as if she were still alive and the body he has now is in memory of her. H is still provocative and says he feels like a work in progress.
- Posted in: GLBT Film