Director’s Marie Losier seven-year passion project, The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (Adopt Films) offers a spirited exploration of the life, career, pioneering influence, and intertwined identities of musician and artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge — who passed away in March of this year — and their cosmic love affair with dom/performance artist Lady Jaye, who had tragically died in 2007, while the film was being made. Released theatrically in 2011, and already available to stream on demand, today the film is released as a DVD packed with compelling extra materials.
The narrative frame of the documentary is a love story. Beginning with the pair’s first meeting and spanning beyond death to keep the flame alive forever, the film hops between vintage videos, fresh interviews, and archival performance footage. As it backs up and fast forwards through P-Orridge’s progressive experimental bands Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, the film places the romance in the related context of collaborative performance art, body modification, gender identification, and what it means to have a true soulmate in this life.
The couple’s Pandrogeny Project involved a huge amount of plastic surgery and process documentation, as the two sought to take surgical and sartorial steps to become as physically identical as possible, along a non-binary gender continuum, rich with aesthetic and existential cues from punk rock and the avant-garde underground. This was chronicled and encapsulated not only in records and performative documentation but in P-Orridge’s visceral visual art as well, as was at the center of an ambitious two-part exhibition in Los Angeles last year at Lethal Amounts and the Tom of Finland Foundation.
William Burroughs famous “cut-up” process of randomized deconstruction and reassembly as an aesthetic and physical writing and art-making process influenced P-Orridge’s music and the ethos of the Pandrogeny Project — and it infuses the directorial and editing style of this film. In a sense, that renders the movie itself not only a chronicle but an embodiment of the pair’s influence. It’s a sweet, loud, bold, trangressive, romantic film, just like the lovers that inspired it.
The DVD bonus features include interviews with Lady Jaye, Orlan, Gibby Haynes, and Sleazy, performance footage featuring Psychic TV/PTV3 and Tony Conrad, and Papal Broken-Dance, a short film by director Marie Losier.