Only Human(e) On The Inside
By Noah Michelson
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge's bio reads like the result of throwing a Grimm's fairytale, a Star Trek episode, a Shakespearean tragedy, and the Enquirer into a blender and hitting pulse. One of the founding members and lead singer of pioneering art rock outfits Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, P-Orridge takes credit for inventing Industrial music and having a hand in creating the rave scene of the late '80s and early '90s, was allegedly the last person to talk to Joy Division front man Ian Curtis before he killed himself, and received a $1.5 million judgment after s/he (P-Orridge's dual-gender pronoun of choice) was injured throwing herself out of a window when super producer Rick Rubin's L.A. mansion caught on fire.
And that's only the beginning of her astounding story. (P-Orridge claims several people have taken stabs at writing her biography but each in turn gave up after finding the task too daunting.) The "wrecker of civilization," as s/he was deemed by a member of Parliament, and her late partner and former fellow band mate, Lady Jaye Breyer, had been attempting to achieve -- with the help of extensive surgical procedures including matching breast implants -- perfect pandrogyny, a term they coined to describe the total unification of their beings into a single, evolved, genderless likeness.
After briefly speaking with P-Orridge for a profile that ran in Out's October music issue, I asked for a more extensive interview in order to discuss her relationship with Lady Jaye and what s/he considers her true life work -- overhauling the human species via pandrogyny. P-Orridge was all too happy to oblige and invited me into her massive Brooklyn home on one of the hottest days of the year. S/he answered the door wearing a gauzy, see-through white top sans bra which showcased the breast augmentation she had received just a few days earlier and giddily revealed her chest was now the exact size of Lady Jaye's at the time of her death. In what would be an interview first for me, P-Orridge lifted off her top and insisted I give her "ta-ta's" a feel (for the record -- they were lovely). But before I felt up one of the music industry's most influential artists -- recognized or not -- we sat on her bed and chatted about her being snubbed by Trent Reznor and Marilyn Mason, her dream of genetically engineered humans with gills, and Lady Jaye's influence over P-Orridge's life -- and body -- from beyond the material world.
Out: You've lived so many lives -- the things that you've done, the people you've worked with, the movements you've been involved in -- and yet I feel like you haven't really gotten the acknowledgment or the credit you truly deserve. People like Trent Reznor, or Marilyn Manson --
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge: They never mention me. And there are all these biographies of William Burroughs, and they never mention that I was his friend from 1971, that he got me my first Arts Council grant, that he got me a lawyer when the Queen [Elizabeth] tried to put me in jail for doing Queen postcards three years before the Sex Pistols and on and on and on. I've just stopped thinking about it.
But when you do think about it, does it piss you off?
It's depressing, because it means that young people are being completely misinformed. And that's sad. They're not getting the true story of their culture.
So you've never met Trent or Marilyn Manson?
No. But I know they know of me, because I know people who know them. Without sounding egocentric, if they put me and Psychic TV as we are now ' which is a really fucking shit hot pandrogynous multi-gender multi-sexual preference psychedelic rock band with a light show that's fabulous and all about gender and identity in your face ' everyone else is going to look like a bunch of wimps! All the kids are going to want to wear skirts and draw on mustaches. It's the last barrier of revolution and evolution. Can you imagine if we could make kids decide that fashion was cross-dressing? Would that not finally freak out America beyond anything?
Well, yes. That's the thing, though: counter-culture has become culture. But what you're doing is still counter-culture.
Pushing, pushing, pushing. It struck us that that's something we'd like to have happen. Already the more daring young people coming to our gigs are realizing that it's a safe, autonomous zone where it's joyful and it's fun and everyone is there to celebrate change, evolution, difference.
What would a world look like to you where you no longer had to 'push, push, push"?
The primary mode of the human species would be hermaphrodites, obviously. Get rid of the whole binary system. You realize all of this began as a romantic idea between me and Jaye.
You were ones who coined the term pandrogyny, right?
Yes. Positive androgyny.
When did this idea originate?
We were high on Ketamine and we were in this bliss zone and we had just made love and it was that kind of cosmic, ultimate love where you just become each other. And we thought Oh God, wouldn't it just be wonderful to always be like that? To always be able to be absorbed by each other? I wish I could just be inside of you and be you all the time -- I don't want to be me. I just want to be something of you -- I want you to absorb me, eat me, consume me. That's what it's all about -- that's what my idea of love is: this deeply romantic, lyrical, consuming, wonderful form. And so it began with that: the mutual orgasm is the two becoming one. For some people making a baby is the two becoming one and in sense all babies are pandrogynes in the beginning. Sadly, they get fucked up. Then we were thinking about cut ups.
Which was William Burroughs' method of creating new texts by chopping up and inter-splicing existing ones?
Yes. We were going to get surgeries to look like one another. First we were just going to dress the same, then we thought let's take this further. You know how Burroughs and [Brion] Gysin decided when they did their cut ups together neither of them was the author? It was this third mind. This other entity was the creator of this new material. So we thought what if we use ourselves as the cut ups and we created a third being and took that whole thing a step further into beingness and identity and DNA? And that's the pandrogyne. They called it the third mind, our entity is the pandrogyne. And once we got there, we're forced to look at DNA and we saw that it's a recording. It's a recording of all of human history back to slime mold. And therefore how is it possible to change behavior? Because the big problem with human beings is that they're clever monkeys with bad behavior. We can build this wonderful, miraculous, technological, futuristic environment, and we haven't bothered to check on our behavior since prehistoric times! We just assumed it was all right to be violent, fearful, and intimidating of anything different or unusual. We cower against change, we cower against anything that's unknown or that's a different way of perceiving something -- it must be the enemy! Everything is the enemy if it's not the same as ours. And that has been the tragedy of all human history. So how do we change behavior? We have to get into the recording. We have to get into the DNA.
Genetic engineering. That's why the governments are trying to control it -- because that's the liberating force of our future as a species. In a sense -- ironically -- transgendered people are the storm troopers of evolution. They're already bending DNA -- knowingly or not -- it doesn't matter. What they're doing is saying, 'I refuse to accept this prior recording of what I'm supposed to be culturally, physically, sexually -- you name it -- I refuse it. I want to have control over my own recording, thank you very much.' And once you have your basic species of hermaphrodite and people who have accepted that the human body is not sacred -- this is a very important thing for people to start to learn -- the body is not sacred. It's wonderful -- but it isn't sacred. That means that you're liberated to say, 'We want to go into space. There are too many people on the planet. Let's colonize space.' If we're going to be in weightlessness, we're not going to need this kind of legs -- they're actually going to be an encumbrance. So maybe we should genetically engineer ourselves to either have very short, stubby legs or no legs and four arms. And we could be cold blooded to save on having to heat the space ship. And why don't we hibernate like bears instead of being bored waiting to get somewhere? And maybe we could have fish scales and move into the sea and have gills. Why is there a limit to what we can imagine?