The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (2011)

The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (2011) movie poster

director Marie Losier
viewed: 01/25/2013

It’s a love story.  Part of which is musician/performance artist/pioneer of industrial music, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge.  And his history and career.  And part of which is Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge, a performance artist, nurse, and ultimately Gen’s wife for over a decade.  And pandrogyny.  Their project to create a new entity, not through procreation, but through art, intimacy, and plastic surgery.

Mostly, it’s a love story.  Gen met Jaye in the early 1990’s and she became the love of his life.  He was 19 years her senior, not scandalous, but perhaps more pedestrian for a middle-aged man in a second wife.  Perhaps it’s the only pedestrian thing in it.

As a leader of COUM Transmissions art group, Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, Genesis P-Orridge is a significant and extreme figure in music’s avant-garde.  Radical, unorthodox, heavily influenced by William S. Burrough’s cut-up technique, applied to music, he’s had a long and influential impact on a variety of genres and styles and media.

But his project with Lady Jaye, an idea of crafting a new individual, becoming a singular person, led them through a series of plastic surgeries, including breast implants, to form an embodiment of their love for one another.  And clearly Gen had further to go, more to do, to merge with Lady Jaye in their pandrogynous being.  He’s in his early 60’s now, so his flamboyant outfits, botoxed lips, bleached blond hair, and mini-skirts strike a unique figure, even next to his slim, tall doppelganger.

As a love story, it’s sadly tragic.  Lady Jaye died quite suddenly at the age of 37 from complications regarding a long-running battle with stomach cancer.

For the film, it’s unfortunate, as well.  While there is plenty of Genesis, speaking both on-camera and off, at length telling their story, their ideas, his history, Lady Jaye has mostly flitting moments of time to discuss her life and this project, showing it to be truly mutual.  She’s much more elusive in the film and it’s hard not to wish to know her a little more.

The documentary itself is okay, not great, not entrancing or overly enlightening.  Not too radical, working with what it has.  Director Marie Losier sees this as a love story, not an analysis, not an exposé.  Which is fine.

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