Speaking with Genesis P-Orridge – founder of industrial outfits Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV and the subject of an unusually heartwarming new documentary “The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye ” – time seems to fly.
Recently in San Francisco with French film director Marie Losier to promote the movie, the brainy bohemian’s amulets, worn over a billowy Psychic TV T-shirt, initiated a fascinating 15-minute dissertation.
“These are from Katmandu, from the Naga cult, which is one of the more extreme of the Shiva cults,” P-Orridge, 62, says. “And this one in particular is a Naga healing necklace, which we got there last November.”
The musician was emotionally drained after countless screenings of the critically-acclaimed “Ballad.”
The film is labor of love for Losier, whose handheld-camera footage tracked P-Orridge and late wife Lady Jaye (born Jacqueline Breyer, she died in 2007) as they underwent matching surgeries, including breast implants, to look increasingly alike and create a pandrogynous third entity, Breyer P-Orridge.
“Every night we’d be watching the movie, and we’d see Jaye and we’d lose Jaye again, and it was just killing me,” says P-Orridge, who refers to himself as “we” and is dubbed “she” by Losier.
Retreating to Katmandu just as an earthquake hit, the performer sensed a “black, ectoplasmic cloud” surrounding him. Long story short: Doctors diagnosed a cancerous gall bladder, P-Orridge refused treatment and bought Naga talismans instead, and one week later, the cancer was gone.
“So we’re staying safe by wearing these still,” she said. “I believe in being completely open to the most unlikely explanation.”
In "Ballad," P-Orridge – born Neil Andrew Megson – recounts even more remarkable sagas, from his bullied childhood through artistic triumphs in music, to friendships with with reclusive figures like William Burroughs and Brion Gysin.
Once he meets Lady Jaye (sporting bondage gear in a Big Apple dungeon), their Santa Rosa-held marriage morphs into their Pandrogyne project, inspired by the Burroughs/Gysin cutup art method.
Breyer was preparing for her next operation – to get gold dental implants, like P-Orridge had, when she died.
But Losier kept filming: “I had no production or crew – it was just me and my camera and rolls of film that I paid for myself, with no script. And thank God we both continued with this, because it made it a real love story,” she said.
“That’s all that Jaye said she wanted to be remembered for,” says P-Orridge, “as a great love affair.”
IF YOU GO
The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye
With Genesis P-Orridge, Lady Jaye
Directed by Marie Losier
Running time 1 hour 12 minutes
Note: Losier will speak at 7:40 and 9:50 p.m. screenings today at Landmark’s Embarcadero theater in San Francisco, and at 6:30 and 8:15 p.m. Saturday at the Shattuck in Berkeley.