Genesis, Lady Jaye and the Pandrogyne
GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:
Welcome back to SNAP JUDGMENT from PRX and NPR - the contents unknown episode. Today we're trying to find out about that which we do not know. We're going to kick this section off with a love story, the likes of which you have never heard before. Now, this is NPR - nothing graphic, but sensitive listeners and parents of young children are advised. Producer Brendan Baker spoke to Genesis P-Orridge.
GENESIS P-ORRIDGE: We're looking at various newspapers that have been reproduced in this book. And one is a full page which says, exposed -this vile man corrupts kids. Then there's a photograph of me. It is difficult to find the words to describe the activities of Genesis P-Orridge and his pop group, but we will try. And then, underlined, it says, vile, evil, sick, depraved - are just a few that come to mind. We're talking about, you know, psychedelic rock. And they're saying that we're trying to destroy England.
(SOUNDBITE OF THROBBING GRISTLE SONG)
BRENDAN BAKER, BYLINE: Throbbing Gristle's music might seem a little weird, and it certainly was experimental in the '70s when they recorded it. But, to me, it also sounds strangely familiar - almost modern. That's because Throbbing Gristle were largely responsible for creating an entire genre that we now call industrial music. If you were ever a fan or detractor of Nine Inch Nails, Ministry or even Marilyn Manson, you have Genesis to thank for it. Throbbing Gristle's music was inspired, in part, by the work of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin - writers and artists who popularized a form of collage called cut-ups, in the 1950s. Words on paper were physically cut apart and rearranged to create new kinds of poetry.
P-ORRIDGE: There would have never been industrial music without cut ups because we started to use, literally, tape recorders and cut in sounds from the street, factories, people screaming, television, radio. Everything and anything could be utilized in the music and chopped up.
BAKER: This is a story about cut-ups in a way. It's about what happened in New York City in the early '90s, years after Throbbing Gristle had broken up, in a dungeon.
P-ORRIDGE: A dungeon is a space equipped with S&M equipment, where certain types of men ring up, make appointments to be, in some way, submissive sexually, physically or even just mentally for whatever reasons. People have all these grandiose and scary ideas of what goes on, but sometimes it's really simple. There was a man who called himself the couch, and he would lie on the floor covered in a sheet, and all you would do is sit on him and talk about stuff and drink wine. That was it. There's the traditional stuff went on, too, but a lot of it was very much intellectual and all going on in the brain. That was when we met Lady Jaye for the first time.
BAKER: OK, quick note here - you'll notice that Genesis says, we, where most people say, I. It's a little confusing, I realize, but just hang on. There's a reason for it, and it's part of the story.
P-ORRIDGE: We'd been awake for three days. There were no more whites in my eyes. They were bright red. And we just finally went into the dungeon itself, and lay on the floor, pulled a sheet over me and went fast asleep amongst all these sort of weird gadgets for pulling people into the air and tying them up and so on. Hear a noise and somehow we woke up. Sat up straight, looked at the doorway, and this girl walked by with a beautiful Brian Jones blonde bob and all '60s clothes. And she was walking backwards and forwards with a cigarette in her hand, talking to somebody. And as she carried on walking back and forth, she gradually started to throw off those close and change into a really amazing leather fetish outfit. My goodness, who is that? She's so beautiful. We found ourselves saying out loud, dear universe, if we can be with that person for the rest of our life, that's all we want. That's enough. That turned out to be Lady Jaye. The person who she was talking to was another dominatrix who was saying, don't go in the dungeon. Don't go in there. There's some guy in there, and he's English, and he's really bad news. He's weird. A dominatrix thought we were weird? Wow. And of course, Lady Jaye's thinking, I want to meet this person. If this person is scaring a dominatrix, they must be really interesting. So she invited me to go out that night. We went to a club called Paddles in Manhattan - some sort of underground S&M club. Jaye's next to me, and she's in five-inch heels, and she was five foot 10 already. So she was six foot three next to little old me, who's 5'6." And we happened to look down, and on the floor was this man, and one of his hands was under the heel of her high heel shoe, and she was grinding it into his hand while we chatted. That's classy. That's really classy. Weird, but classy. We were together from then on. We were really surprised with ourselves, that we wanted to have a courtship where we got to know each other really slowly and savored every little thing. We knew there was no rush 'cause we were going to be together forever. It was incredible. Jaye was 26 and myself, 45. She just instinctively felt that my personality was bigger than just being male. And that was part of the aspect of why she was so drawn to me. One time, we were both kissing, and this kiss went on for more than a half an hour. And we both literally left our bodies together and went off into this amazing beautiful realm of pure love. And when we finally came back into our bodies, we looked at each other and Jaye said, did you feel what I felt? We went, I think we did. That was what we wanted to become all the time - that we were constantly, absolutely integrated together through love. If you imagine two lots of liquid, we wanted them to just end up in the same container. There would be no separation. We would become just one. Then we started thinking about it - how can we do that? Are there ways to enhance that happening? We started to dress like each other, and then we began getting our hair cut the same. You become mirror images, and as you become mirror images it helps you to maintain a sense of surrender to each other. It still wasn't enough. It wasn't what we'd felt in the long kiss. Going back to William Burroughs and Brion Gysin and some of their work, we thought, well, if they do cut-ups with literature and even with images and even with tape recorders, what if we do a cut up with our bodies so that we become a third being, not just a third mind?
She is a registered nurse. And of course, her work as a nurse and a dominatrix meant that she had a very unusual experience with the human body. She had worked in operating theaters. She'd seen that the human body is just this meat and bones that can be rebuilt, almost like a car, with screwdrivers and pins and so on. We have to try and remember how many surgeries. Jaye had more. We got Lady Jaye's beauty spots tattooed on my left cheek. She had the bottoms of her eyes done to make them more like mine - her nose done. She had a chin implant. We both got our lips made bigger. We got her eyebrows tattooed on. We got cheek implants to look more round faced, like Jaye, and had some liposuction and stuff done on the neck and the jaw line - not much. This is my third set of breasts, though.
We've never really received any truly negative reactions from people we know. When we told the children by the way, your Papa has now got breasts - and Genesse, my youngest daughter - she said, you mean you spent money on getting breasts, and I could've got a new car?
You know, people often think that what we've been doing has something to do with gender, and it doesn't. And we can see why people imagine that, but there's a really simple way to explain the difference, which is some people feel they're a man trapped in a woman's body. Some people feel they're a woman trapped in a man's body. We just feel trapped in a body. What we're talking about is an idealized future where male and female become irrelevant.
BAKER: Lady Jaye felt much the same way.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
LADY JAYE: I've always felt quite trapped in my body.
BAKER: Here she is in a home video Genesis took while she was being interviewed by the BBC.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JAYE: My consciousness - my brain - my nervous system is in this rather weak and insufficient package. I'm limited by time, by gravity, by all these physical forces. I wish my consciousness could be liberated and completely free to go everywhere - to be everywhere.
P-ORRIDGE: She had a very particular vision that the body was always holding her back.
BAKER: Years later they were married and living together in New York. In 2005, Lady Jaye was diagnosed with stomach cancer, but her treatment was working. By 2007, Genesis says the cancer had almost completely disappeared. And then one day in their apartment...
P-ORRIDGE: We made love, and she said, I'm just going to the bathroom, and then I'll back - lay in the bed and dozed, and suddenly woke up really quickly - almost sat up straight, and immediately, something wasn't right. Got out of bed and walked through the apartment, and we found her collapsed in the bathroom. So we layed her on the floor in the kitchen, and sort of screamed downstairs, come and help me, and then tried to do CPR. And then the EMTs came and cops, and firefighters for God knows what reason. And they were doing sort of those electric things, you know, where they do - and at one point they actually said you better go and pack an overnight bag for her 'cause she's going to be okay. And then after a little while longer they suddenly went, we're really sorry for your loss.
Meanwhile, one of the cops is saying, where's the husband? And we're going, that's me. They went, no dear, where's the husband? That's me. They made me go downstairs to the basement and find our wedding certificate to prove we were married. So then all of a sudden they all left, and there's Jaye lying on the kitchen floor. And our friend, Hannah (ph), who lived downstairs came up, and she sat one side and me the other, and we rubbed Jay's arms and hands to keep them warm. And then we laid in her - on the right side with her arm around me and fell asleep in her arms for the last time, even though she was already technically dead. And then these guys turned up and put her in a body bag and took her away. It was heavy.
Once we met Lady Jaye, our instinct was immediately that we were so instantly in love to be absorbed by each other. And when Lady Jaye, as we say, dropped her body, as a matter of principle, we wanted to maintain what we believe is the state of things, which is that she's still as much a part of me as before, so now my body represents us both in this material world, and she represents us both elsewhere. And then, hopefully, one day we will be we again, somewhere else.
WASHINGTON: Much love to Genesis P-Orridge, a musician living in New York City. We'll have more information about all that they are on our website, snapjudgment.org. That story was produced by Brendan Baker and Nick van der Kolk.
And you know, this is not the news. No way is this the news. In fact, if you had a secret - a terrible, awful, horrible, evil, don't-tell-anyone secret, and you told me that secret, and I didn't tell anyone your secret - at least, I didn't tell anybody who was not listening to this show your secret - you would still not be as far away from the news as this is. But this is NPR.
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