03.05.2016

Psychic tv symbol

In the short time since we started publishing, there has perhaps been no artist we’ve covered more appropriate to be under the Agit Reader banner than Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. I caught up with Genesis at his home on the Brooklyn-Queens border, where we spent much of the afternoon discussing the here and now of Psychic TV, as well as past projects, and the guiding principles behind all of it. Genesis Breyer P-Orridge: February 1996, Lady Jaye and I drove from Sonoma County to New York. We were sleeping there when at six in in the morning we heard a voice screaming, “Get out!
Lady Jaye was a registered nurse, and she was going to get a job nursing to take care care of us financially while recovery took place. They’re always trying to find out what the alternative culture is really doing and one way they do that is to attack some significant people and try to get hold of their works so they can learn from it what their new strategies might be. Now the irony is that they’re showing the work they used to vilify at museums in Britain.
Do you think that society has begun to catch up to you or at least begun to understand what you are doing? How has Lady Jaye’s passing changed or influenced the transformative process you were going through? GBP: People tend to assume that the pandrogeny process and project must somehow grind to a half with Jaye dropping her body—or throwing away the cheap suitcase, as she would say.
We talked a lot before about what would happen when one of us became non-physical, and how we would communicate with each other. My children came here for the funeral, and three days afterwards, we were in that room next door with three or four friends and they were trying to persuade me to go back with them to California for a few weeks to get over the trauma and the shock.
Pandrogeny is an ongoing experiment and investigation that’s taken us to the strangest places.
GBP: After the fire and then the court case, which gave us this little next egg that is since long gone, it was the first time in my life ever—since we left home in 1968, we just lived on our wits and our art and our music, squatting or whatever to survive—it had been a non-stop process. She was also very skeptical about rock & roll having a real impact for change, that if often gave the impression of being a message carrier but in the long term didn’t seem to make a great deal of difference for the energy involved. COUM Transmissions at the beginning was an extension of improvised theater and street theater. So what came out of all of that is, first of all, looking at how come it’s okay to be naked on a nude beach, but not okay to be naked walking to the shops.
Then the same goes, how come I feel comfortable masturbating in bed, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable masturbating in an art gallery or in school or on the lawn or wherever? The video light show is an ongoing, organic mutating story that we consider essential to Psychic TV. GBP: We used to visit Brion Gysin several times a year, and we always took a video camera and record all his talks.
So if anyone thinks we’re being grandiose in the way we talk about culture, we talk from experience. Talking of Psychic TV, though, one of the reasons it’s working so well is because all the people believe in the ideas. GBP: Yes, Howard [Wuelfing, publicist] got in touch and said that World Cafe wanted us to do a special in honor of Lady Jaye.
Given the happenstance way this record happened, was there another album in the band’s future? One tradition on the shamanic side were the skinwalkers, who in their initiation had to commit a murder.
So basically the title is presenting the human dilemma as we see it now, and which way are we going to go.
What had happened was we had been in Los Angeles doing a secret Psychic TV gig, and Love and Rockets had just been signed to American Recordings by Rick Rubin. But it takes a year for a New York license to be ratified by the California State, which we couldn’t afford to wait to do. The Barbican just showed the tampon sculptures and had a catalog with full-page color reproductions of them, when in the ‘70s they said that those proved we were wreckers of civilization. After we finished talking, we showed the Pandrogeny Manifesto, we talked about Jaye and the whole project of evolution. The whole premise of cultural engineering is not to consider one’s self smart or unique or special if one comes up with something that is relevant, so much as it is just to observe the culture and try to see the trends and indications of how things are unfolding and then try to point them out. When we go to Europe our friend Ryan Martin, who does DAIS records, he comes to the apartment to live with Big Boy [Genesis’ dog] to take care of him.
It’s not easy to believe, even for me who would want to believe that they are messages from Jaye. And this—we call it nonsense—this reality is a tiny portion of whatever is going on. There seems to be no doubt in my mind—and Lady Jaye would agree—that there’s more than enough work to be done to last the rest of our physical life.
Then we came to New York and we bumped into Morrison Edley, who was a friend of Jaye’s from when she was 15. Is it important for you to confront social mores or is it just that you’re trying to write your own narrative? It was part of the zeitgeist of the times, to question authority and attack social mores as a matter of course. But as it went on through the early-70s, it became more and more obvious to myself and Cosey [COUM and Throbbing Gristle member Cosey Fanni Tutti] that we were really looking at human behavior. Where is the line about what’s okay and what’s not okay, and who put the line there?
For example, how come it’s okay for rich people, usually, to see dominatrices or prostitutes or have their mistresses? While the music has shifted to a more traditional shape, albeit a very pure one, the videos become more important because we need to keep a balance of, for want of a better word, propaganda. He’d tell me all these stories, tell me how to make the perfect cup of mint tea—all those videos were destroyed. We were in Katmandu doing soup kitchens for lepers, beggars, Tibetan refugees at our own expense. One of the reasons we’re still here is that for all the flaws in American society there is a bill of rights, an innate belief in the constitution, and there is a belief in freedom of speech, and that is an amazing gift.
In 1972, at the Hull Art Center, we were invited to do what was the first COUM Transmissions public performance at a bona fide art center. The Anastasi Indians in the four-corners were a civilization that at one point had irrigation and agriculture.
They would wear wolf skins and supposedly if they passed their initiation, the skin would actually attach itself to their body permanently.
We could go with the dark forces, which might seem romantic and attractive, but would have a dark result in the long run. At the same time, P-Orridge and other half Lady Jaye had begun exploring pandrogeny, a set of philosophical ideas that led them both to undergo surgeries to more closely resemble the other. Unfortunately, tragedy would strike the same year, with Lady Jaye dying as a result of complications from stomach cancer.


They were living in Harry Houdini’s old mansion on Laurel Canyon, and they had installed a temporary recording studio there to do demos for a new album. Which means they took two tons of our archive and, as they claimed, destroyed it all with no legal right whatsoever. And the Tate Gallery is very interested in acquiring the archives for their collection, rather than destroying it.
So he did some surgery there and some more on my face to make it the mean average of how she was. Ryan works in Manhattan and every day he gets up and takes Big Boy out and gives him his breakfast.
He didn’t even know that Jaye had passed and he was meditating in California a few days after she passed. He started saying to me that it was a real tragedy that I wasn’t doing Psychic TV anymore.
He holds down a very stressful job at Sony and still spends all his spare time doing the work of a manager. It was a very new approach because it was one of the first times in history when a mass of young people had the luxury of the time and space to actually try to experiment with new ways of life.
Nothing can change in the greater world outside, in the macrocosm, until human behavior changes. If we want to survive and be able to look back and be proud as a species, we have to mutate.
Marie Losier, who worked on the DVD and did the light show the other night, she met Lady Jaye and myself about three years ago. Barrelhouse Press are in the process of putting out the Psychic Bible, Second Edition, which will be three times longer, as a hardback. We brought William Burroughs, Brion Gysin and John Giorno and everybody to London for a big festival where we wanted to show the link between the Beats and new groups like 23 Skidoo, Cabaret Voltaire, Psychic TV. Feeding up to 600 people two times a day through the winter to keep them alive, doing good work.
The band is used to project those ideas, and the musicians in PTV3 have made our dream of what it could be like in a way that never happened before. This is what we wanted it to be like in 1968, and it might seem odd to say so, but this is what we were hoping TG would be like.
The media has always been in love with this image of Genesis P-Orridge, scary person, weird magician, sorcerer.
We all talked and decided to do it, if for no other reason than to record the songs that had been unfolding on the last tour with Jaye and for which she had made all the samples. It would have taken longer, because David lives in Switzerland now and Markus and Hannah live in Asheville, North Carolina, and been a very different sound quality. They were reputed to be like werewolves, with these magical powers to travel huge distances very fast and to be able to disappear into the night. Still, Genesis and the band found the courage six months later to perform on NPR’s World Cafe, coming home from the broadcast with tapes that would lead to the recently released Mr. David J and myself were trapped at the top of the house, and the rest of the house was already engulfed. So in return for Jaye and I taking care of her grandmother 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, we got this apartment rent-free.
And at NYU’s gender studies, we did a panel on the changing view of masculine identity, and again they were shocked. Then Lady Jaye had this tattoo on her left arm, so we had that reproduced on the anniversary of her passing. While he was sitting there in whatever zone he goes into, Jaye turned up and started talking to him and gave him various messages. That suggests that the ultimate energy is creation, no matter how you want to describe it or turn it into deities or parables or whatever. For the first year, it was really uncomfortable for me to keep waking up each day feeling like we had to do something but not knowing what. The great pitfall of trying to create utopias or ideal situations is human beings are self-defeating.
But for the common working class, it’s policed and you can be arrested and intimidated and harassed for doing the same activity. Jaye had been saying for quite some time that we needed someone who just wanted to document our lives all the time, especially since we were doing the pandrogeny project.
If the interaction between the audience and the music becomes so relaxed and so sensual, we don’t want people to forget to think so we put more content into the video. And over night, we lost two houses, our record label, all those videos and films—everything—just because our ideas were considered too radical.
And then suddenly—and no one knows why—they moved up into cliff faces that were almost impossible to reach, which implies that there was something so terrible going on on the ground that they abandoned their civilization to hide in caves. You were saying earlier that maybe if you stick to something long enough that it comes round, so maybe that’s beginning to happen to us. The room they picked, they had to take out all the furniture because so many people wanted in.
It has to be something material, like an object, something that actually physically happens with stuff.
We had a collection of photos of us kissing that were on the wall on Jaye’s side of the bed so that the first thing she saw every morning was lots of pictures of us kissing. It took us three hours to get to the venue, when it should have been 30 minutes, and we were convinced no one would be there.
We have lots of material stacked up that we want to start releasing in DVD form too so that people can not just see Psychic TV as the band, but if they’re really interested they can go deeper and get closer to the conceptual center. Sometimes I get a funny feeling about letting go of the archives and letting it go to the same government that tried to destroy my life. It was standing room only in the actual room, and then there were people in the corridors outside trying to listen.
We come from a place in the ‘60s where if you did anything that appeared to be self-congratulatory you were accused of being an ego-tripper. It has to be witnessed by people who have no vested interest in her still being around or not. So the Tibetans have figured out a system that makes that feasible, but for Lady Jaye to have done it solo is remarkable and very encouraging because it tends to suggest that she’s waiting.
Jaye’s position was always go to the most exotic door as a matter of principle and see what happens. So after two or three years, we started pulling together the idea of Thee Majesty and focus on words and words as living beings and as entities and the way that language operated. Honestly, it had never occurred to us that we were songwriters, that we wrote songs in that way that stood up in and of themselves. Jaye gave me the gift of being able to choose what to do, and he gave me the space to do it. In fact, one of the things that happened in Nepal the first time we went there in 1991 was meeting the Agori Baba, which is the path of no distinction.


Therefore, we experimented with being naked to see if it did make a difference or if we did mutate because we were near a shop.
So she’s been working for three years now on a documentary movie about myself and Lady Jaye and pandrogeny. Nearly entirely improvised, though the band had been working on the songs, the record shows PTV3 to be as potent as any prior version of the band and that Genesis is still being guided by an unyielding creative itch. The FBI and the authorities did everything they could to intimidate Michael and get him to tell them where the archives were. Like that made people wake up and reconsider how serious we were and realize that it wasn’t just something whimsical. Again, we showed the Pandrogeny Manifesto and we talked about the theories that Jaye and I were developing.
Lady Jaye represents us both in the immaterial world, and this body represents us both in the material world. It struck us that it’s almost like one big body with two heads kissing [both Genesis and Jaye are draped in red in the photo] so it was very much the pandrogyne. He went into the bedroom, where he had made the bed, to check that he hadn’t left anything behind. For me, though, it’s hard to imagine that this person we are today is the person we were yesterday. By 1969, it was set into me, that collective way of living and that constant questioning of behavior were essential to a creative sanity. We were performing in Birmingham once, in the middle of this big shopping center, and it was a very simple sculptural piece where everything was either orange or blue. Bit-by-bit we kept on looking at these questions and we’d experiment on ourselves with different possibilities and what they implied.
We hope that it solidifies their personal desire to live a life controlled by themselves or to feel less isolated. So basically the result of that was that it was impossible for me to make any money or work or play music. He looked at the bed and someone had folded back the bed covers in a perfect triangle and two rainbow-colored, wooly bed socks had appeared on the sheet.
That’s why comedy is so powerful, why Lenny Bruce could make people laugh but also make them change their mind.
Orange was male and blue was female, and at the end we switched outfits, which meant that at some point we were both naked.
What we came up with by the time Jaye and I were looking at pandrogeny is that in prehistoric times the human species had a built in genetic program, where the male of the species was aggressive and it suited the small clan. Everyone was really focused on making this as a good as possible for Jaye, and we all went into a really pure zone and listened to each other.
Alien Brain was visiting from another planet and thought these human beings were very strange creatures. And obviously that becomes more difficult with something like losing Jaye because that’s such a deep bond. But anything that was outside—anything that wasn’t understood, anything that was different—had to be seen as a potential enemy or threat and would be attacked if necessary. That picture then flew up in the air, crossed the room, turned over and dropped to the floor.
We always promised each other that if there really was something other than oblivion—she called it door number one—that we would wait for each other.
In a dark time like this, with so much negativity and so much cynicism and people trying to be cool and not look unhip, smiling becomes shocking. In one country, eating poo might be acceptable or even a delicacy and in another it’s taboo. The females were the suppository of replication so they would be protected and also treated as merchandise.
By then we had settled the court case with the insurance company on the house, which we used to pay the hospital bill, which was $120,000. What he didn’t know was that whenever we had to go away and leave Jaye behind, she would always make the bad and fold back the covers like that to welcome me home. The ultimate point of pandrogeny, for us personally, is to be able to be together forever infinitely in some form, even if it’s just a form of merged consciousness with no tactile existence. The songs actually stood up on their own and stayed interesting and pleasurable, despite time passing. They were people that to this day trust us to be as open-hearted as possible when we perform and when we create. We all know this, that social mores are contrived by society to police itself by the people in power. At a very early stage, that DNA program of fight, attack and kill something different or mystifying, actually helped the human species to evolve and survive. When Hannah and Markus were living downstairs, Hannah just loved the name the Alien Brain and has had a life-long obsession with extra terrestrials. We had to take it to court, all the way to the Supreme Civil Court of California, with a two-week jury trial, which we won. Whatever is possible, we want to be with each other, and then the evolutionary part of it is sort of a surprising bonus: that we could be useful to the species. The longer things go on, the more baffled we become and yet the universe remains fascinating.
So we paid off all the debts, bought the house from the family, and the money that was left over we used to pay for my gold teeth and to begin the pandrogeny project. We started doing video light shows and audio mixing for his performance piece, How to Operate Your Brain. The human species has to live up to its potential and take responsibility to grow and change. And very strange, that after thousands of years, all the different eras of human history are actually present somewhere on this planet simultaneously. We haven’t bothered to apply the same research and development to our behavior as we have to our tools.
That seems to suggest that it’s all very artificial and very arbitrary, and one needs to look for something outside culture, something that makes sense all the time, that has nothing to do with a specific culture or a specific imposed belief system. The ‘60s was the only time people tried to redress the balance and work on consciousness and behavior. Then they were very skillfully maligned and smeared by politicians who had a vested interested in the status quo.
Nowadays, people are scared to death to call themselves a hippie or say they believe in peace and love. Have we built it for ourselves or have we taken the easier route and just accepted what we’ve been told is appropriate?



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