Genesis P-Orridge (1950-2020)
The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (2011)
Directed by Marie Losier, 72 min.
New York Times
By Jeannette Catsoulis
March 8, 2012
Highlighting the wacky while playing down the distasteful, Marie Losier’s playful profile of the English musician and artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and his second wife, Lady Jaye (who died in 2007), takes a lighthearted look at the things they did for love.
Or, some might say, for attention. As “The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye” makes abundantly clear, this couple thrived on two things: loving each other and making spectacles of themselves. When, in 2000, they began a series of plastic surgeries — including matching breast implants — in a bizarre attempt to merge identities, these twin passions dovetailed into a continuing performance piece that they called “pandrogeny,” but that others might call working out your issues. Either way, Ms. Losier’s entranced gaze leaves no room for questioning artistic merit — though the opinion of the record producer Rick Rubin, whose money probably inadvertently helped finance this gender-bending enterprise, would have been well worth soliciting.
Floating airily across the surface of Mr. P-Orridge’s notable music career, Ms. Losier allows her kinky subject to control the message, adopting a whimsical, superfan approach that steers well clear of his darker interests. Frayed-looking performance film alternates with cuddly home movies and the director’s theatrical interventions, but the couple’s willingness to bare flesh only heightens the overall feeling of artifice. Straddling the line between avant-garde and Looney Tunes, their extraordinary union seems strangely childlike, its happy innocence in harsh contrast to their aggressively explicit public provocations. As we listen to Mr. P-Orridge recall his horrific experiences as a schoolboy in Britain, it’s clear that lost little boy is still here, bathing the film in a melancholy that even its most effervescent contrivances cannot dispel.