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A ballad for the ages
Bizarre but touching film explores a unique love story
After founding an arts collective and helping create a musical genre, singer-songwriter, performance artist and musician Genesis POrridge embarked on another adventure: becoming a single “pandrogynous” entity with wife Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge.
P-Orridge founded the collective COUM Transmissions, an anarchic group of performance artists from 1969 to 1976.
After that came a tenure in the seminal industrial band Throbbing Gristle, and the later group Psychic TV. Along the way was a marriage to Paula Brooking, which produced two daughters, Caresse and Genesse, before POrridge, born Neil Andrew Megson, met Lady Jaye Breyer, born Jacqueline Mary Breyer.
It was, as they say, love at first sight. That love story is the focus of Marie Losier’s documentary The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, opening April 6 at the Cedar-Lee Theater in Cleveland Heights.
After being married in 1993, the couple contemplated having children, the typical thing to do. Genesis already had two beautiful daughters, and noted that people in love want to consume the object of their desire, just want to absorb them into themselves to have them always. That is when the concept of Breyer POrridge came into being, a single androgynous entity consisting of both spouses.
Despite her protestations, Genesis managed to bring Lady Jaye into the newest incarnation of Psychic TV, which stopped touring in 2007, when Lady Jaye died of stomach cancer at 38. Genesis has carried on their name and their philosophies since.
Losier’s documentary is a bizarre, touching film. Simultaneously a travelogue of art and music history, filled with spurts of name-dropping (William Burroughs, for instance, had been very kind to Genesis), and an exploration of gender identity and the falseness of a binary gender system, she has given a thoughtful, intriguing look at one of the most colorful characters of the 20th century.
Genesis POrridge is a family man. And woman. And all points in between. The love for Caresse and Genesse and Lady Jaye is evident on every frame of film, in every photograph. Here is someone who quite literally has had it all. POrridge espouses a return to Christianity’s ecstatic mystical roots, and in creating this new entity, Breyer POrridge, illustrates a path to the future while looking to the past. There is a certain Hedwigian influence there, two people creating a whole entity that is a true combination of its parts.
Genesis POrridge will also be in town for question-and-answer sessions after the 5 and 7:30 pm showings of The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye on Sunday, April 8 at the Cedar-Lee Theater, 2163 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. For more information, go to www.clevelandcinemas.com.
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Pop, punk, Yiddish and protest
It would be a shonde to miss the April 19 show at the Beachland Ballroom. A bissel of violin, a shmear of punk, three strong women and one man with a bow will be rocking the stage, fresh from playing queer and feminist showcases at Austin, Texas’ South by Southwest Festival.
It’s the Shondes, touring in support of their late 2011 release, Searchlights.
It is a far mellower, more pop-inflected album than their self-released debut The Red Sea in 2008, and a natural evolution from the more melodic 2010 release Dear One. Searchlights is a fun album combining elements of pop, punk, Yiddish and protest in one gorgeous package.
From all reports, as good as their albums are, their live shows make their recordings look like so much dross. Music blog Ear Farm said, “This is a band that rocks as if they just don’t give a fuck, but has crafted their art in a manner that shows they clearly do.”
The Shondes will play a 9 pm show at the Beachland Ballroom, 15711 Waterloo Rd. in Cleveland, with How to Breathe Underwater and Crave. For more information, go to www.beachlandballroom.com, and if you can’t make it (which would be a shonde), go to www.shondes.com to buy all of their albums and posters and T-shirts and everything else you can get your hands on. Or else.