Performing Arts

20 Questions: Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

Photo (partial) by Todd Crawford

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge warns PopMatters 20 Questions readers, "Pleasure is a cultural weapon. Use it wisely."

Psychic TV/PTV3

Mr. Alien Brain vs. the Skinwalkers

Contributors: Genesis P-Orridge, Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge, Michael Gira, Bryin Dall
Label: Sweet Nothing
US Release Date: 2008-11-25
UK Release Date: 2008-11-17


Hell is Invisible...Heaven is Her/e

Contributors: genesis p-orridge, david maxxx
Label: Sweet Nothing
US Release Date: 2007-06-12
UK Release Date: 2007-06-04

Throbbing Gristle

Part Two: The Endless Not

Contributors: Peter Christopherson, Chris Carter, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Genesis P-Orridge
Label: Mute
US Release Date: 2007-04-03
UK Release Date: 2007-04-02

Counter cultural pandrogenous provocateur Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and her reactivated Psychic TV aka "PTV3" recently released their second album Mr. Alien Brain vs. the Skinwalkers. Many know the British avant-garde music and visual arts musician through Throbbing Gristle, wherein Genesis and company synthesized the influences and philosophies of Gen's close friends and collaborators, including Beat writer William S. Burroughs; Beat poet and painter Brion Gysin; psychedelic shaman Dr Timothy Leary; queer activist film maker Derek Jarman; and those of legendary occultist Austin Osman Spare, theorist John Cage and various seminal underground authors, thinkers, artists and film makers. Genesis warns PopMatters 20 Questions readers, "Pleasure is a cultural weapon. Use it wisely."

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

We are reading science fiction voraciously recently. Since my "other half" Lady Jaye dropped her body, her "cheap suitcase". Amongst these endless books (we read more than one a day!!!) are, of all things, the Dresden series by Jim Burcher. In White Nights he writes …"There is a primal reassurance in being touched, in knowing that someone else, someone close to you, wants to be touching you. There is a bone-deep security that goes with the brush of a human hand, a silent, reflex-level affirmation that someone is near, that someone cares."

This made me weep and sob for Lady Jaye.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Good Lord!

3. The greatest album, ever?

Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake. Of every recording we own, only this one is all ways perfect for my mood. Whether we've just lost, or found, or dreamed love.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Trek. We grew up watching the early Star Trek episodes in England. Mixed with The Avengers they defined my fetish sex life. Star Trek works for me because it deals with the petty issues of humankind. Whereas Star Wars tries to be like the Illiad or Odessey and impose grandiose maps of nonesensus reality. Our preferred view is micro, not macro, for macro follows the illumination of perception in an individual.

5. Your ideal brain food?

My unconditional love. Usually one requires the other (half).

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

Pride comes before a fall, so we are glad to have discovered the first anti-gravity device!

7. You want to be remembered for...?

Lady Jaye always said to me, "I want us to be remembered as one of the great love affairs of all times." We truly have immersed our selfs into each other to a degree we have seen no evidence of before in HumanE Astory. My love for Lady Jaye is and always will be, my greatest, most pure achievement and we bless her for giving me that experience.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

Brion Gysin, inventor of the "Cut-Ups", inspirational Amigo of William S. Burroughs and a mass of other creators. Brion Gysin and Lady Jaye are the two angelic mentors of our lives, without whose inspiration we would be nothing, NO-thing.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

Marcel Duchamp's Large Glass.

10. Your hidden talents...?

This is a difficult question for a child of the '60s, like "What I am X." as we were all berated by the term ego-tripper if we in anyself as a positive force. We are still searching for our overt talents, yet other people tell us we have talents. Lady Jaye thought my weirding way was my most powerful "hidden" talent. As we trust her implicitly, we will take this opportunity to agree. My weirding ways/module.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

We were blessed with the teachings of Nadaste (Winterhawk) a Cheyenne-Apache shaman during the '90s. He taught us this map of the living and perceptual terrain of L-if-E…"No attachment. No judgment. No expectation". This guide is far more difficult to truly follow than it sounds, but is also far more effective than it appears. Try and live your L-if-E by it and you will discover what we mean.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

My first air ticket to Nepal.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or...?

We try to wear only Lady Jaye's shoes (luckily we are the same size!) and her clothes. This required me to lose enough weight to have a 23-inch waist at 58 years old! Not easy. But we did it. To this day we only wear Lady Jaye's clothes and shoes. It has become an integral part of our pandrogeny project. Luckily we love to cross dress, so our desire and our conceptual vision of nonesensus reality as art balance. This ability to be as close to Lady Jaye as possible is our greatest source of pleasure.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

The Tibetan yogi and poet Jetsun Milarepa.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

To a point in our humane future(s) where war, intimidation, inertia and power were an obsolescent joke. To that nexus where compassion and evolution have become the norm of species imagination and desire. A place in our Astory where we are expading into space without causing any harm in any way. The moment our species can finally be "proud" of its self.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

Lady Jaye. Big love!

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or...?

We follow a path of no distinction so these are spanners in our "works". Pleasure is a cultural weapon. Use it wisely.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

Nepal. Our first visit to Nepal was in 1991-92. It changed everything in the best possible ways. We realized that all life (L-if-E) is, or ought to become, devotional. There is no distinction between reverence for existence and our senses and/or apathy. So all ways choose sensual perception. Change the ways to perceive and change all memorie(s). We have since taken others to Nepal and all have returned telling us that their map of the terrain of existence is forever altered in a most challenging but positive way. If there is a place where a Divine meets our mundane midway creatures, then Nepal and the Himalayas is it.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

No expectation. No attachment. No judgment.

Photo (partial) by Todd Crawford

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

A full length feature documentary in association with Marie Losier of the Lives and Times of Lady Jaye and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge; an expanded 300+ page edition of Thee Psychic Bible through Feral House Press; a re-assessment of The Process Church of The Final Judgment through Feral house Press; The Collected Poems and Lyrics of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge 1961-2008 through Heartworm Press; a first novel Mrs. Askwith through Heartworm Press; Esoterrorist, collected essays of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge through Heartworm Press; The Ballad Of Lady Jaye and Genesis a full length documentary of a love affair and pandrogeny by Marie Losier; Genesis: The Next Book of Creation, a commissioned work for Centre Pompidou, Paris; and ongoing concerts by PTV3/Psychic TV and Thee Majesty plus, finally an ever developing series of art exhibitions by the pandrogenous artist Genesis Bryer P-Orridge across this world.

Big hugs!

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In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Editor's Note: Originally published 30 July 2014.

10. “Bedlam in Belgium”
(Flick of the Switch, 1983)

This is a massively underrated barnstormer from the boys off the much-maligned (unfairly, I think) Flick of the Switch. The album was missing Mutt Lange, but the Youngs did have his very capable engineer, Tony Platt, as co-producer in the studio at Compass Point in the Bahamas. Tony’s a real pro. I think he did a perfectly fine job on this album, which also features the slamming “Nervous Shakedown”.

But what I find most interesting about “Bedlam in Belgium” is that it’s based on a fracas that broke out on stage in Kontich, Belgium, in 1977, involving Bon Scott, the rest of the band, and the local authorities. AC/DC had violated a noise curfew and things got hairy.

Yet Brian Johnson, more than half a decade later, wrote the lyrics with such insight; almost as if he was the one getting walloped by the Belgian police: He gave me a crack in the back with his gun / Hurt me so bad I could feel the blood run. Cracking lyrics, Bon-esque. Unfortunately for Brian, he was removed from lyric-writing duties from The Razors Edge (1990) onwards. All songs up to and including 2008’s Black Ice are Young/Young compositions.

Who’ll be writing the songs on the new album AC/DC has been working on in Vancouver? AC/DC fans can’t wait to hear them. Nor can I.

9. “Spellbound”
(For Those About to Rock We Salute You, 1981)

"Spellbound" really stands as a lasting monument to the genius of Mutt Lange, a man whose finely tuned ear and attention to detail filed the rough edges of Vanda & Young–era AC/DC and turned this commercially underperforming band for Atlantic Records into one of the biggest in the world. On “Spellbound” AC/DC sounds truly majestic. Lange just amplifies their natural power an extra notch. It’s crisp sounding, laden with dynamics and just awesome when Angus launches into his solo.

“Spellbound” is the closer on For Those About to Rock We Salute You, the last album Lange did with AC/DC, so chronologically it’s a significant song; it marks the end of an important era. For Those About to Rock was an unhappy experience for a lot of people. There was a lot of blood being spilled behind the scenes. It went to number one in the US but commercially was a massive disappointment after the performance of Back in Black. Much of the blame lies at the feet of Atlantic Records, then under Doug Morris, who made the decision to exhume an album they’d shelved in 1976, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and release it in-between Back in Black and For Those About to Rock.

In the book Phil Carson, who signed AC/DC to Atlantic, calls it “one of the most crass decisions ever made by a record-company executive” and believes it undermined sales of For Those About to Rock.

8. “Down Payment Blues”
(Powerage, 1978)

This is one of the best songs off Powerage -- perhaps the high point of Bon Scott as a lyricist -- but also significant for its connection to “Back in Black”. There are key lines in it: Sitting in my Cadillac / Listening to my radio / Suzy baby get on in / Tell me where she wanna go / I'm living in a nightmare / She's looking like a wet dream / I got myself a Cadillac / But I can't afford the gasoline.

Bon loved writing about Cadillacs. He mentions them in “Rocker” off the Australian version of TNT and the international release of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: Got slicked black hair / Skin tight jeans / Cadillac car and a teenage dream.

Then you get to “Back in Black”. Bon’s dead but the lyrics have this spooky connection to “Down Payment Blues”: Back in the back / Of a Cadillac / Number one with a bullet, I’m a power pack.

Why was Brian singing about riding around in Cadillacs? He’d just joined AC/DC, wasn’t earning a lot and was on his best behavior. Bon had a reason to be singing about money. He was writing all the songs and just had a breakthrough album with Highway to Hell. Which begs the question: Could Bon also have written or part written the lyrics to “Back in Black”?

Bon’s late mother Isa said in 2006: “The last time we saw him was Christmas ’79, two months before he died. [Bon] told me he was working on the Back in Black album and that that was going to be it; that he was going to be a millionaire.”

7. “You Shook Me All Night Long”
(Back in Black, 1980)

Everyone knows and loves this song; it’s played everywhere. Shania Twain and Celine Dion have covered it. It’s one of AC/DC’s standbys. But who wrote it?

Former Mötley Crüe manager Doug Thaler is convinced Bon Scott, who’d passed away before the album was recorded, being replaced by Brian Johnson, wrote the lyrics. In fact he told me, “You can bet your life that Bon Scott wrote the lyrics to ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’.” That’s a pretty strong statement from a guy who used to be AC/DC’s American booking agent and knew the band intimately. I look into this claim in some depth in the book and draw my own conclusions.

I’m convinced Bon wrote it. In my opinion only Bon would have written a line like “She told me to come but I was already there.” Brian never matched the verve or wit of Bon in his lyrics and it’s why I think so much of AC/DC’s mid-'80s output suffers even when the guitar work of the Youngs was as good as it ever was.

But what’s also really interesting about this song in light of the recent hullabaloo over Taurus and Led Zeppelin is how much the opening guitar riff sounds similar to Head East’s “Never Been Any Reason”. I didn’t know a hell of a lot about Head East before I started working on this book, but came across “Never Been Any Reason” in the process of doing my research and was blown away when I heard it for the first time. AC/DC opened for Head East in Milwaukee in 1977. So the two bands crossed paths.

6. “Rock ’N’ Roll Damnation”
(Powerage, 1978)

It’s hard to get my head around the fact Mick Wall, the British rock writer and author of AC/DC: Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be, called this “a two-bit piece of head-bopping guff.” Not sure what track he was listening to when he wrote that -- maybe he was having a bad day -- but for me it’s one of the last of AC/DC’s classic boogie tracks and probably the best.

Mark Evans loves it almost as much as he loves “Highway to Hell". It has everything you want in an AC/DC song plus shakers, tambourines and handclaps, a real Motown touch that George Young and Harry Vanda brought to bear on the recording. They did something similar with the John Paul Young hit “Love Is in the Air”. Percussion was an underlying feature of many early AC/DC songs. This one really grooves. I never get tired of hearing it.

“Rock ’n’ Roll Damnation” was AC/DC’s first hit in the UK charts and a lot of the credit has to go to Michael Klenfner, best known as the fat guy with the moustache who stops Jake and Elwood backstage in the final reel of The Blues Brothers and offers them a recording contract. He was senior vice-president at Atlantic at the time, and insisted the band go back and record a radio-worthy single after they delivered the first cut of Powerage to New York.

Michael was a real champion of AC/DC behind the scenes at Atlantic, and never got the recognition he was due while he was still alive (he passed away in 2009). He ended up having a falling out with Atlantic president Jerry Greenberg over the choice of producer for Highway to Hell and got fired. But it was Klenfner who arguably did more for the band than anyone else while they were at Atlantic. His story deserves to be known by the fans.

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