Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s Crowd-funding Voodoo Show (interview)
“Genesis has been the lightening rod; the conduit for uncovering the things we have discovered because of h/er experiences. That’s why I call h/er our Cultural Adept and not, as s/he’s been famously called, a ‘Wrecker of Civilization” * ).’
Branded a ‘wrecker’ by subsequently disgraced conservative Member of Parliament Nicholas Fairbairn in 1976, over their ICA Coum performance ‘Prostitution’, Genesis P-Orridge became one of England’s most vilified and feared artists of the 80s, simultaneously helping to invent industrial music with Throbbing Gristle.
Three decades on Genesis, (born Neil Megson in 1950) has become Breyer P-Orridge, an ‘amalgam’ of himself and now deceased love of his life Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge and insists on using pronouns s/he, h/er, and h/erself. Big Breasted and bleached blonde, s/he also continues h/er sometimes confrontational approach to art, life and music, though simultaneously is increasingly recognized as one of the greatest alternative artists and visionaries of the post 60s counter-culture.
Kicked out of Britain in 1992 for conducting ‘Satanic ritual abuse’ (a charge Genesis roundly ridiculed in an interview with the Guardian last year), s/he more recently has been investigating Vodun, the West African tribal religion which subsequently spawned voodoo.
Teaming up recently with US filmmaker, Hazel Hill McCarthy III, the pair recently started work on a documentary about the religion, taking to Kickstarter to see finance to help have it made (click here for more on Bight of the Twin;)
Chatting to Skrufff this week, as the campaign reached its climax, Hazel was upbeat about both their documentary and ‘one of the world’s oldest and most misunderstood religions’.
“The interesting thing is that this film actually explores something that’s missing in our western culture at large; the authenticity . . . rawness and purpose that weaves together the Vodun religion with its people,” she says.
“There is no separation from daily life and the religion. While we were filming, the people of Ouidah allowed us into their hearts and homes. There was no leap for alienation or urgency for ownership; they shared everything they had with us.”
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Why do a Kickstarter campaign- what happens to the footage you’ve already filmed, the project itself if the funds fail to materialize in time?
Hazel Hill McCarthy III: “The first part of the film that I shot in January of this year was funded by myself and the other artist/film makers I had invited to join me. I had a storyline, of course, of what I wanted to shoot but, as several other documentary makers who had filmed in Africa told me would happen, another story developed – the twin fetish. By the time I had finished shooting I already knew I wanted to return to Benin and I turned to Kickstarter for funding.
The Kickstarter campaign will cover the final production costs. Genesis is to attend the annual twin festival in Ouidah, Benin in September. This is where the commemoration of the twin of the living and the dead are celebrated. West Africa pilgrimages to this tiny town to pay respects to, and the importance of twins.
There is so much, specifically to twins, that we need to explore further in relation to Genesis’ connection to Vodun and to my understanding of the religion. If we don’t meet our goal July 23rd, I don’t know if completing the story will happen this year. The footage that I have is solid and a film could be made, but it would be an incomplete representation of what I am setting out to present – one person’s journey into Vodun allowing us to see the love and kindness of one of the world’s most ancient religions.
Making our Kickstarter goal also allows us to record the soundtrack on location with DJMREX (Douglas J McCarthy - Nitzer Ebb; Fixmer/Mccarthy and Cyrusrex) featuring Genesis and using a variety of modular synths, effects and in-the-field recording.
Skrufff: How much did you try for alternative funding beforehand: how much does Genesis remain beyond the pale/ taboo for most investors/ backers?
Hazel Hill McCarthy III: “I’ve approached several producers, TV and film production companies about the project. The main response is that they can’t see a profitable market for the film in their scope; a major hurdle, given the production cost of this film. So far, it has been independently funded.
I think the reason that there’s hesitation to back this project is that there is no defined market to sell to; ‘no niche’ was one Production Company’s response. I believe that Genesis brings provenance to a market (fans, contemporaries, etc) that would want to see this, but I think it’s true that it might be too specialized for a broader audience.
The interesting thing is that this film actually explores something that’s missing in our western culture at large; the authenticity . . . rawness and purpose that weaves together the Vodun religion with its people. There is no separation from daily life and the religion. While we were filming, the people of Ouidah allowed us into their hearts and homes. There was no leap for alienation or urgency for ownership; they shared everything they had with us.”
Skrufff: Genesis still talks of his late wife Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge in the present tense and as ‘we’ in interviews: how much do you personally believe she’s still present?
Hazel Hill McCarthy III: “I believe that memory and commemoration make those who have passed alive. One of the things that I discovered through this film and through the understanding of Twin Fetish (Vodun that honors twins) is that the practitioners of Vodun truly create this commemoration through the little wooden dolls that are carved to represent the twin you had lost.
By going through a twin ceremony, you reconnect cosmically with this twin who agrees or disagrees to embody the tiny carved statue. If the twin agrees, you have committed your life to keep this doll with you; a representation of your connection. This doll eats, drinks, dresses with you and must be by your side at all times. This outward and overt expression of grief allows a freedom of feeling, an ownership and control over something that had been lost.
For Genesis, making this reconnection with Lady Jaye in the twin ceremony concreted h/er inter-dimensional connection and reinforced an idea that they truly were becoming one. So in that sense, Jaye is indeed present.”
Skrufff: As Genesis has embraced gender-neutral humanity, homophobia and fear of outsiders seems to be increasing worldwide, particularly in Africa; did you and Genesis encounter any hostility when you were in Ouidah, Benin?
Hazel Hill McCarthy III: “We hadn’t even thought about this possibility until after we were home; we did not experience any confrontation or phobias. In fact, Genesis being initiated in the Twin Fetish signified that the heads (priests) and adepts trusted, accepted and understood who Genesis is. In Vodun, the divine creator – the god who created life – is MAWU LISSA and embodies both female (LISSA) and male (MAWU) aspects. So for Genesis, coming to Ouidah and make this connection was like a homecoming.
Skrufff: Voodoo is also renowned for magic and spells in particular; how much do you believe in the power of such spells; why not use Voodoo to aid/ enhance the fruition of this project?
Hazel Hill McCarthy III: “Genesis has been practicing Santeria for years, h/er and Jaye spent their honeymoon in Haiti, and before we left for Benin, s/he performed a ceremony in the nest, h/er New York apartment. As Genesis says in the film about h/er realization of what s/he felt in Ouidah, ‘this is when it stopped being a documentary about Vodun, to becoming actually Vodun’.”
Genesis and I also collaborated on a sigil as a way of activating something positive for the film’s funds – i.e. selling it! It is 1-part my wax on paper rubbing on two sheets of paper from the bridge markings of Amsterdam that make up “XXX”, and 1-part photo collage with Genesis’ text, BREAKING SEX, a manifesto about breaking down gender roles that s/he and Lady Jaye wrote together. Daily, we’re practicing Vodun for the project. At its core, Vodun is about activation. By giving purpose to something, you are giving it power; giving it life. For me, this film is activated fully.”
Skrufff: Anything else to add?
We’re doing a book signing event at the LOS ANGELES MOCA (museum of contemporary art) this Thursday with Genesis for h/er recent book launch from FIRST THIRD BOOKS, with a special 10-minute preview of THE BIGHT OF THE TWIN and live performance with DJMREX: https://www.facebook.com/events/1425437644404965/
Kickstarter link: https://www.Kickstarter.com/projects/827802640/bight-of-the-twin
Genesis on society; (“To me it is still important and necessary for people who are like-minded to gather together and share their resources. Because there’s always going to be extreme fear of otherness and difference, you know? That’s always been there, it’s never really gone away. Hippies got killed for having long hair. Human beings are innately tribal and vicious . . .”
Jonty Skrufff: https://twitter.com/djjontyskrufff