Highly Evolved

Psychic TV's long-awaited reunion pales in comparison to singer Genesis P-Orridge's odd transformation

Of course, there remains the question: why? Like that of all transgenders, P-Orridge's reasoning is not merely capricious, as the more ignorant members of our society are wont to believe; s/he genuinely feels as if s/he was born in the wrong body. But, in typically P-Orridge fashion, there's more to it than that.

"[P]eople say, 'I felt that I was a man trapped in a woman's body,' or that, 'I was a woman trapped in a man's body,'" says the singer. "Myself and Lady Jaye say, 'I just felt trapped in a body.' And if there's a difference, it's not that anything is more or less valid, it's just, we find being physically and biologically alive in a body mysterious and limited. And we resent being limited. So that's one aspect of it.

"Another one is that I used to work a lot with William Burroughs and Brion Gysin before they passed away, and you probably know about that idea with the third mind where you cut things up."

Two Less Lonely People: Genesis P-Orridge and 
his/her soon-to-be twin, Lady Jaye.
Two Less Lonely People: Genesis P-Orridge and his/her soon-to-be twin, Lady Jaye.

S/he goes on to explain the Beat poets' method of literary collage, in which words and phrases are cut up and reassembled at random to produce something new. If two writers are collaborating, the end result belongs to neither author but to what Burroughs called "the third mind." Genesis says that s/he and Lady Jaye are simply applying this technique to their own bodies in order to become one.

"We just take the cut-up literally. We just cut ourselves up!" s/he laughs.

In the abstract, this all makes sense, particularly for those who embrace recombinant methods in creating music and art. But in reality, it doesn't seem as good of an idea. There's a danger that, in attempting to be a master engineer, the creator is overtaken by the creation. And, in this case, the creation may just overtake an essential part of the equation, i.e., Psychic TV's music, simply by being more shocking.

"William Burroughs used to say to me, 'How do you short-circuit control?' And that's been one of the basic things that I use as a map when I'm thinking about new concepts and new projects: How can I short-circuit control? Have I got habits that I need to break? Do I assume that whatever was there yesterday is the same tomorrow?

"For example, I had my face peeled off and rebuilt and put back on. So one day I woke up with a new face after 54 years. And that was amazingly powerful and difficult psychologically."

It sounds like a lot of highfalutin rhetoric, perhaps, but P-Orridge gives no indication of being anything other than pleased with the results so far, especially given the warm reception that the Psychic TV gigs met with throughout Europe. Now the group is on its way to America to perform its "post-pandrogynous" interpretations of songs from Godstar.

"People have talked about it as being the Velvet Underground or the New York Dolls combined," says P-Orridge of the band's performances. "It's about pleasure. Pleasure is the weapon. In a time of darkness, to enjoy is radical. So it's a very happy, sometimes funny, but very hard-edged psychedelic rock-out."

A few moments later, Lady Jaye reminds her hubby that s/he has another interview scheduled. I throw out one more question: Does the physical pain involved in these operations ever make you question the need to make these modifications?

"Nooooo, no, no no. Painful, but fabulous!" s/he exclaims, referencing both a book and the title of an art show s/he held last year that presented P-Orridge's personal photographs of recovering from various cosmetic surgery procedures. "I'm sorry, I'm afraid I really must go now."

Nervous and rushed, I conclude the call by accidentally blurting out the absolute last thing one should say in parting to a pandrogynous rock star who's just attempted to provide an enlightening take on gender neutrality.

"Thank you, sir!"

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