A documentary on the 15 year relationship between industrial/avant-garde pioneer Genesis P. Orridge and his pandrogenous partner Lady Jaye. Yes, the two outsiders fell so madly in love that they decided to create a new kind of human being as only a performance artist could. In order to look as similar as possible and thus symbolically merge themselves into a single entity, the lovebirds underwent plastic surgery that included facial reconstructions and matching breast implants. It sounds like tabloid fodder, but director Marie Losier wisely constructs the film in the interesting cut up manner of Burroughs and Gysin, both mentors of Porridge in the late 60s/early 70s, and includes enough biographical information to keep things interesting throughout its 70 minute running time.
Genesis is best known as the leader of the English industrial outfit Throbbing Gristle, who basically invented the “industrial” genre of music in the 1970s (there’s a great anecdote in the film about the first time they saw an “industrial” section in a major record store), and later as the front-person of Psychic TV (who just happen to be playing Johnny Brenda’s tomorrow night, 3/24). The majority of the film features Genesis in his oddball apartment as he cooks food, plays music, and acts like he’s constantly performing (life is a stage, after all). He describes the traumas of his youth, the spiritual encounter that was his first meeting with Lady Jaye, and the difficulties of telling his children from his first wife about his transition towards pandrogeny. The news of Lady Jaye’s passing in 2007 doesn’t emotionally connect with the viewer as it should, which is understandable as the barrage of imagery and music is somewhat deadening (isn’t that the point of industrial music in the first place?). The film’s final image of a topless Genesis draped in white fabric, hair blowing in the wind, caressing a stuffed deer head, is actually rather powerful, but those with no patience for the avant-garde need not apply.
The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye opens today at the Ritz at the Bourse.
Author: Eric Bresler
Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of Cinedelphia.com whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.