Saturday, March 31, 2012
Have you ever heard the term "Pandrogyny"? Neither had I until I saw the documentary film The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye.
Filmmaker Marie Losier documents this unusual love affair between an underground, industrial music front man/woman - Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and his/her better half - Lady Jaye. The two meet through a mutual dominatrix acquaintance and fall madly in love. So in love that Genesis and Lady Jaye decide rather than having a child (of which Genesis has two from a previous relationship) they would reform themselves into each other and therefore, symbolically, create one new person = Pandrogyny.
The idea sounds like sick, obsessive love, yet strangely that does not come across in the film. I suppose it's because both were avant-garde performance artists in their own right before meeting; so their decision to get plastic surgery to resemble each other, fell in line with the boundary pushing way of life they believed in.
The problem with the experiment - Genesis was already heading in the transsexual direction, a he more comfortable as a she. But Lady Jaye wasn't trying to look like a man; so although they both get plastic surgery (and breast implants as Valentine's Day gifts) there's no marked difference in Lady Jaye's appearance. It's really just Genesis (mid 50's) trying to look like Lady Jaye (early 30's), creating a fail on Pandrogyny in terms of aesthetics.
I was watching an interview with the director Marie Losier who met Genesis by chance at a gallery opening in Soho and was later introduced to Lady Jaye who chose Losier to be their documentary filmmaker. The three became very close friends and Losier had complete access to the couple on tour, through transformation and in their everyday lives - yet there's not a lot of footage: the plastic surgery aspect is a quick montage; there's far too many scenes of the band performing on tour; and yes, Lady Jaye does unexpectedly die during the making of the film, but that doesn't account for the fact that before her demise, she is not very vocal or filmed nearly as often as Genesis.
Perhaps this was by design to give the film additional mystique, as Lady Jaye's presence was somehow ethereal and oddly compelling. It would not have surprised me at all to see her ghostly image waft by in a posthumous cameo at the end of the film.