When I first came online at BB, a few people kindly asked for me to share some of what it was like to play keyboards for Psychic TV. It was magnificent, life-affirming, a bit grueling, but as total an experience as transcendent sex. For me, rehearsals were actually more fulfilling than performance – it felt like we could experiment more freely there than onstage with real paying people listening and watching. Plus, it's a hell of a harder harder to hear what you're doing in most stage settings with monitors and everything going on than it is in a little rehearsal room with an amp and a beer.
But still, onstage with Genesis, there was this overwhelming sense of fun. Pure joy, even during the most aggro songs. That was unexpected. This sense of being part of a family of weird, loving, geeks just trying to bring everyone into the spirit of shared celebration and experimentation. Very much the way I see BoingBoing. But it was scary as well, and having a front man as self-assured and quick-witted as Gen made us all feel safe. He was the interface between us and the potentially unruly crowd; in the realm of musical performance, which was quite new to me, his was a very welcome presence.
I managed to co-write and record one song, "Lies and Then." Then responsibilities of new fatherhood forced me to pass the keyboards onto to Marcus, who has been with the band for the past two years, and bringing the sound to all sorts of new places.
Last year, Gen's partner in art and life, the amazing Jackie Breyer P-Orridge (Lady Jaye), died of a sudden seizure. Gen and I met to speak shortly after – he wanted to get down a lot of his first feelings before they changed. That whole conversation will appear in The Believer in January. They've kindly given permission for me share an advance snippet from the part where we're talking about our first PTV show after Gen's "big change."
Rushkoff: And when we played that first PTV show at the Coral Room, right after you got the breasts – to be on stage and see those guys' faces then they have to come to terms with seeing Gen like this. They were all modeling what they thought was Gen's – for lack of a better word, machismo. 'Oh, he can stick a spike in his balls and survive… Okay, now, the person I've been 'modeling on', whose tattoos I have on my skin, is now crossing a boundary that is really frightening to me. That was sort of the greatest gift, I thought…
Genesis: "Even further…"
R: Yeah…"even further."
G: Well, that was one of the reasons we terminated the 'Topy' project in 1991 was exactly that; the people who were doing the whole 'accessorizing' again; just as we did 'industrial' 10 years before… and the final postcard that we sent out, as you know, just said 'changed priorities ahead'. Which was a traffic sign I saw as we were driving along one day and I looked up and there was this sign and I thought 'That's it'!
R: I wonder what that even means in the context of traffic. It's a great sign off, though: changed priorities.
G: …and that was it; that was the last message. Oh, I though it was great; it was an enigmatic final message from this huge network which says 'change priorities ahead'.
R: And now the priorities change again….
R: From pandrogeny to…can we talk about it? Whatever this next phase of the project between you and Jay is going to be? Now that she's crossed over?
R: We don't have to.
G: No, it's hard, but I should.
R: Maybe we should start at the beginning. For those who might have no idea what pandrogyny is about. I mean, you have big breasts and wear women's clothing. What's the difference between pandrogyny and transvestitism or transgender?
G: Well, the main difference is that pandrogyny is not about gender it's about union. The union of opposites. One way to explain the difference is very easy: with transgender people the man might feel that he's trapped – the person feels they're a man trapped in a woman's body, or a woman trapped in a mans body. Where as in pandrogyny you're just trapped in the body. The body and DNA are a real concern as is the breaking down of consensus or as we would say consensus reality. So pandrogyny is very much about the union of opposites, and through that reunion the transcendence of this binary world and this illusory, polarized social system.
R: Doesn't that happen in sex, anyway?
G: Of course the orgasm. When people have an orgasm together that's a moment of pandrogyny. And when people have a baby, the baby is pandrogynous, sexually. Because it is literally two people becoming one.
R: So then these memes – this ability to transcend polarity and gender – are already at our disposal. Why do it the way you are, through surgeries and implants and all this medical activity? All the social challenges of getting into the ladies' room as a pandrogene. How does the literal cutting and pasting of gender traits dissolve these polarities any more than it underscores them?
G: Well as you know it went in steps. In the beginning it was very much romantic. Jay and I decided we didn't want to have children. But we still got that urge to blend, to merge and become one. I think the heart of a lot of the romance in couples, whatever kind of couple they are, is that they want to both just be each other – to consume each other with passion. So we wanted to represent that. First we did it by dressing alike. Then we started to do minor alternations to our bodies. Then we decided that we would try as hard as we could to actually look like each other in order to strengthen and solidify that urge. So it was initially a very self-centered thing to do.
But once we started to think about it we realizee that it was a bit like William Burroughs and Brion Gysin in The Third Mind, where they said the two of them together, will no longer be the writer of the piece, where it's the two things cut up and being reassembled. That was the product of the Third Mind…when they did cut-up's. Well we thought if we use each other as separate artists, or individuals and we cut ourselves up maybe we can create a third entity, which is the padrogyne, so that's very much the third being…a new state of being.
Burroughs always used to always talk to me about how you short-circuit control. And Jay and I talked a very long time about that. And we decided that DNA was very much the recording – the tool of control. Perhaps even DNA is a parasite and we're just the vessels at its disposal.