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Queer pioneer, musician and artist Genesis P-Orridge, who fronted Throbbing Gristle, dies after fight with leukaemia

Vic Parsons March 17, 2020
Genesis P-Orridge, who fronted Throbbing Gristle, dies of leukaemia

Genesis P. Orridge. (Neville Elder/Redferns)

Queer pioneer Genesis P-Orridge, the founder of industrial music and frontperson of Throbbing Gristle, has died of leukaemia.

Genesis P-Orridge was 70 when they passed away on March 14.

Known for their pioneering work on gender and self, as well as for founding cult experimental bands Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, the musician and artist had spent the past two-and-a-half years struggling with leukaemia.

Genesis’s daughters, Genesse and Caresse, confirmed their death in a statement.

“S/he will be laid to rest with he/r other half, Jaqueline ‘Lady Jaye’ Breyer who left us in 2007, where they will be re-united,” the statement said.

It ended by thanking people for their “love and support and for respecting our privacy as we are grieving”.

Genesis, born in Manchester in 1950, began their career in Hull in 1969 with radical art collective COUM Transmissions.

The collective held a 1976 exhibition at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts called “Prostitution”, which was seen as so scandalous it led to Tory MP Nicholas Fairbairn calling them “the wreckers of civilisation”.

Genesis P-Orridge went on to form Throbbing Gristle with their then-partner Cosey Fanni Tutti and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, releasing their debut album in 1977.

While fewer than 1,000 copies of the record were pressed, it had a strong influence on industrial music – seen as the more antagonistic version of punk.

Simon Reynolds, the author of Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, said: “In terms of being shocking, punk was pretty tame in comparison. They were writing songs about serial killers and cutting themselves onstage.”

In the early 1970s, Genesis formed another band, Psychic TV, which explored their interest in the occult and fetishism.

After their Brighton house was raided by police in the early 1990s, after a Channel 4 programme alleged Genesis was the leader of a Satanic cult, they went to the US in self-imposed exile.

It was there that they met Jacqueline “Lady Jaye” Breyer, a dominatrix and nurse who would become Gensis’ muse.

Together, the pair embarked on the “Pandrogeny Project”, undertaking various surgical procedures to look as alike as possible.

“It’s not male or female, not either/or — just complete,” Genesis told PAPER magazine last year. “We thought it was important to remind people of that idea, and as artists, we figured the best way to do so was visually.”

The couple adopted the genderless pronouns of s/he and he/r, explaining that they wanted to create a third gender.

In 1995, Genesis nearly lost their arm in a fire in Los Angeles and was awarded $1.5 million in damages. This allowed them to bankroll their cosmetic, photographic and artistic work, the latter of which in later years saw commercial success – including several pieces that were purchased by the UK’s Tate.

 

 

More: genderfree, genderless, genesis p-orridge, occult, PAPER Magazine, psychic tv, punk, Tate, throbbing gristle

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