Genesis P-Orridge Cuts Many Figures

Born Neil Megson, Genesis P-Orridge first came to the attention of the London avant-garde in 1976, when his art collective, COUM Transmissions, staged a retrospective called “Prostitution.” And the transgression, as they involved rituals and the body, hasn’t stopped. As a ten year anniversary gift P-Orridge and his lover, Lady Jaye, embarked upon a project they called “Pandrogyny” and which involved the gradual melding of their bodies. A retrospective, “30 Years of Being Cut Up,” opens tonight at Lower East Side Gallery Invisible-Exports and focuses on collage works. We asked P-Orridge to respond to some of her looks through the year, with first-hand commentary.

1. This is one was taken Laure Leber right after I got my surgery—you can see I’m still out of it from the pain killers—and my shirt says “stop staring at my tits.” Lady Jaye and I always thought black eyes were really sexy. 

2. This is a still for the Psychic TV video that we made called “New York Story.” In the video, Jaye and I play these two glamorous call girls who are so in demand that they’re still bandaged up from their latest procedure while working Times Square.

3. I don’t know if it was a premonition or what, but Lady Jaye contacted Laure Leber and said she wanted her to document our love affair, which she did with still images and which Marie Losier is doing with her documentary film. You can really begin to see the melding of the two of us here. 

4. This is probably from 1974—so we’re 24 years old in that picture. Here, we’re dressed as a character we called Crystal. We did quite a lot of political drag, and would run around Notting Hill Gate and cuddle straight men, and kiss and makeout as a statement for gay rights.  You can see the “Mum and Dad” collage that’s in the Invisible Exports show in the background.

5. This is Eva Adolf Braun Hitler, a character I invented. This was in New York City in 1996, for a night out at Jackie 60. We actually grew that mustache, just for one night out. Jaye also filmed me as this character for a series of short films I made for Pigface, an industrial music super-group I was in.

6. I was 21 years old in this picture, and we look older here than we do now. That’s the hairy one—most people could never imagine, when seeing me now, that I once looked like that. The biggest way to say, philosophically, you’ll never be part of a war is to look completely the opposite of anyone in a war.

7. I love this one. It’s so glamorous, and the outfit was all Lady Jaye’s clothing, and all the gold jewelry was both of ours’. And I have the perfect Nico hairdo. I had been grieving Jaye for six months, and I’d gotten skinny enough to fit into all her clothing.

8. There’s me as a little boy. Looking a bit mischievous, like we’ve got plans. I imagine we’re thinking, “Wait ‘til we grow up out of this little boy’s body, you’re gonna be shocked what we’ll do to your culture.”

9. Jaye used to call my dreds my “hair tent.” This was 1993, and one of her friends, Miss Marti Domination—Jaye was in the House of Domination—took these pictures. All the objects in my hair, the beads and the snake vertebrae, were woven in by Jaye.

10. This was at university in Hull in 1969. It was really strange there. All the people at university were very aristocratic—except me, because I was on scholarship. And everyone there voluntarily wore suits and ties every day. And this was in the 60s! And I’d discovered psychedelics by the time this picture was taken—you can tell from my eyes.

11. This is just a straight rock and roll picture from 1978, with me playing bass in Throbbing Gristle. We’re 28 years old here, but we look like a little boy again.

30 Years of Being Cut Up opens tonight, 6–8 PM, and is on view through October 18. Invisible-Exports is located at 14A Orchard Street, New York.