The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye

The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye

Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge enjoys an "angelic" moment; she is one half of the eponymously titled documentary by Marie Losier THE BALLAD OF GENESIS AND LADY JAYE, an Adopt Films release.

The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye

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The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (2011/2012)

Opened: 03/08/2012 Limited

Clearview Chel...03/08/2012 - 03/22/201215 days
Kendall Square...03/23/2012 - 03/29/20127 days
Cinema Village...03/23/2012 - 03/29/20127 days
The Nuart04/13/2012 - 04/19/20127 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Facebook

Genre: Biographical Documentary

Rated: Unrated


Genesis P-Orridge has been one of the most innovative and influential figures in music and fine art for the last 30 years. A link between the pre- and post-punk eras, he is the founder of the legendary groups COUM Transmissions (1969-1976), Throbbing Gristle (1975-1981), and Psychic TV (1981 to present), all of which merged performance art with rock music. Celebrated by critics and art historians as a progenitor of "industrial music", his innovations have transformed the character of rock and electronic music while his prodigious efforts to expand the boundaries of live performance have radically altered the way people experience sound in a concert setting.

But that's just the preamble to the story. Defying artistic boundaries, Genesis has re-defined his art as a challenge to the limits of biology. In 2000, Genesis began a series of surgeries in order to more closely resemble his love, Lady Jaye (nee Jacqueline Breyer), who remained his other half and artistic partner for nearly 15 years. It was the ultimate act of devotion, and Genesis's most risky, ambitious, and subversive performance to date: he became a she in a triumphant act of artistic self-expression. Genesis called this project "Creating the Pandrogyne". Influenced, like so much of Genesis work, by Brion Gysin and William Burroughs "Cut Ups", it was an attempt to deconstruct two individual identities through the creation of an indivisible third.

This is a love story, and a portrait of two lives that illustrate the transformative powers of both love and art. Marie Losier brings to us the most intimate details of Genesis's extraordinary, uncanny world. In warm and intimate images captured handheld, Losier crafts a labyrinthine mise-en-scene of interviews, home movies, and performance footage. The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye documents a truly new brand of Romantic consciousness, one in defiance of the daily dehumanization of the body by the pervasive presence of advertising and pornography, conveying beauty, dignity and devotion from a perspective never before seen on film.

Note of Intent

My Encounter with the Third Kind

My story with Genesis P-Orridge begins five years ago in a typically miraculous New York City coincidence. Before I had ever met him, I'd seen him perform at a concert at the Knitting Factory, the now legendary club in Tribeca. For me, watching Genesis perform was pure enchantment. His words from the stage hovered somewhere between song and speech, deeply poetic, primitive, at times frightful. It completely hypnotized me. I had never seen anyone like him, because his appearance was that of the raw image one might have of a "rock-n-roll chick", and yet Genesis was a man. I knew immediately, I had to film this perplexing and powerful figure, perhaps as a way of understanding what I had experienced, but moreover to have proof of the existence of a being I was convinced had arrived from somewhere else!

A week later, I was at a gallery opening in Soho, one of those sardine-can spaces where you can barely walk and hardly breathe. Being relatively small, I got pressed into a corner where I inadvertently stepped on someone's toes. I turned to apologize and there was Genesis smiling, talking with the Icelandic singer Bjork, his gold-capped teeth glittering down over me. We spoke briefly, but in that time I felt something special had passed between us. He asked me about my films and gave me his email. Whether it was fate or pure clumsiness, this marked the beginning of our artistic collaboration, one that would develop into a close friendship.

Beat novelist William S. Burroughs, another collaborator and close friend of Genesis P-Orridge, once wrote of him:

"[Genesis] is the only person I've ever met who I had hero-worshipped, who turned out exactly as I'd expected him to be, and everything I'd hoped him to be. Which was incredible. Inhumanly intelligent. I was interested in him primarily as a character, the way he lived, and he was a 'more than real' real life character. A phenomena. I was already into the idea that the most important work is the way you live and you should live life as a work and try to make each aspect of it as interesting as you can."

Burroughs sums up what has most attracted me to Genesis, the simple and profound notion that the manner in which you live your life is the highest and most unimpeachable form of art that exists.

A Love Story

"My project is not about gender. Some feel like a man trapped in a woman's body, others like a woman trapped in a man's body. The pandrogyne says, I just feel trapped in a body. The body is simply the suitcase that carries us around. Pandrogyny is all about the mind, consciousness."

-- Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

Both Genesis and Lady Jaye were born with life changing illnesses, imprinting upon them from an early age an incredibly complex relationship to their bodies. Later in life, they became gender variant activists, their mutating appearance based on gestural aesthetics, a living project documented through their collaborative paintings, photographs, writings and performances.

It was in 2003 that Genesis changed his name to Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, beginning a performance series called 'Breaking Sex'. This project was about reunion and resolution of male and female to a perfecting hermaphroditic state through cosmetic surgery, blurring the line between the sexes, bringing Genesis and Lady Jaye nearer to one physically.By allowing me unprecedented access over these past many years to film their professional and personal lives, I believe I have material that transcends most fiction films, but whose message is ultimately grounded in the most humanistic and basic of desires: the affirmation of love.

Director's Statement

Much of the film has been shot using a silent Bolex 16mm film camera. Since I primarily shoot alone, the Bolex has become a vital part of my body, almost like an extra hand, a very human camera allowing me to communicate what I need to visually while liberating me completely from any fears during shooting. Being somewhat small and acrobatic, a dynamic relationship often develops between me and my subjects yielding beautiful, improvisatory, motion photography. In addition, I have employed state of the art HD video technology to capture numerous interviews and performances with Genesis allowing me exclusive access to his private film and media archive, literally hundreds of hours of found footage collected over many years, news clips and home movies (some dating back several decades and never before seen publicly).

I envision the film as an agile, mobile, playful, hand-spliced patchwork of iconic images, one which captures the constant activity, flow and theatricality of the lives of Genesis and Lady Jaye. Second cameraman Benjamin Kasulke brings with him a completely original aesthetic. Having recently shot Guy Maddin's Brand Upon the Brain, a film whose surreal, perfectly crafted, black and white cinematography bristles with an intuitive sense of movement, Kasulke's mastery of magical Melies-esque superimpositions will be used to illustrate the Pandrogeny process.

Woven from stories, memories, dreams, music and interviews, several portions of the film have been shot in a studio employing elaborate costumes and choreography to dramatize key moments in the lives of Genesis and Lady Jaye.

I approach my subjects as if it were the beginning age of cinema, the time of George Melies and the Lumiere Brothers, by creating tableau vivants- comical, colorful, mise-en-scene recreating stories and interviews. By re-enacting scenes from their own lives, what begins to emerge is a truth that far exceeds the conventions of traditional documentary filmmaking. By approaching my subjects from oblique angles, my editing style functions like a colorful, incongruent, tapestry; small details offering a more acute sense of the whole.

The film will attempt to present the incredible complexity of Genesis' personality from many different angles, most especially my subjective point of view. From my earliest films, my feeling has been that when shooting real life subjects, my very presence changes the reality of what I am filming. Therefore, I am not a neutral participant, but one equally engaged and inspired by what is happening in front of my camera. I chose to capture the essence of my subjects from a multiplicity of angles, pulling back different layers of reality in an effort to reveal something unexpected. This is why, for me, fiction and fantasy have become integral parts of what I do. As a filmmaking practice, it is a form of psychodrama allowing my subjects to step outside of themselves and fixed habits of mind. What often happens is that hidden or unknown parts of their personality begin to emerge; through the veil of fiction one begins to understand a person's fantasy life, their secret wishes and desires, their most powerful feelings about the world and their place in it.

In one sequence, I filmed Genesis speaking about how he writes music in a beautiful bird costume I made for him. His words and gestures are translated into images as he whistles his music and talks about how he creates certain sounds. The whole scene becomes magical, he acts out his music, the costume amplifying a humorous, freer, aspect of Genesis's personality few have ever had a chance to see. In another scene, I built a set for him to reenact how he first met Lady Jaye. It is an incredible moving scene that poetically and visually expresses the stages of his love for Lady Jaye.

I have 4 hours of 16mm footage and 30 hours of interviews on HD video. I shot the staged and fictional elements with my Bolex 16mm giving this material a more cinematic, oeneiric, feel. I intend to weave this footage with the interviews and scenes from Genesis's daily life shot in HD, a format more traditionally associated with modern documentary filmmaking. Conforming and transferring the 16mm footage to HD, the film will be edited on Final Cut Pro, for a final feature length film rendered in high definition for transfer to 35mm.

Music is the primary way Genesis has made his living and will be an integral part of the film helping to shape its narrative and rhythm. Genesis has generously allowed me to use his music which will be combined with recordings of interviews, concerts and rehearsals, taped over several years and in many different formats including reel to reel, camera recordings and open microphone. I will be working with an engineer to mix and conform the sound so I can seamlessly blend the soundtrack over the images. Working with Brion Dall, a trusted collaborator of Genesis who mixed all of Psychic TV albums, his knowledge and care for this material will be of great benefit in composing a complex, other worldly, soundtrack employing speech, music and found sounds.

For 4 years I have been filming incredible stories from Genesis's close friends, including musicians, writers, and filmmakers Orlan, Jim Jarmusch, Tony Oursler, Peaches and Chris Christerpherson. I have many interviews still planned including Jenny Schlenzka, Film Curator at MoMA (NYC), where Genesis will be delivering a talk about her career in March 2010, and an interview with Caresse, Genesis's daughter living in Turkey, confirmed for next year pending additional funds that might help bring her to NYC.

About the Director

Marie Losier, born in France in 1972, is a filmmaker and curator working in New York City. She has shown her films and videos at museums, galleries, biennials and festivals. She studied literature at the University of Nanterre (France) and Fine Art in New York City. She has made a number of film portraits on avant-garde directors, musicians and composers such as Mike and George Kuchar, Guy Maddin, Richard Foreman, Tony Conrad and Genesis P-Orridge. Whimsical, poetic, dreamlike and unconventional, her films explore the life and work of these artists.

Her films are regularly shown at prestigious art and film festivals and museums, such as The Tate Modern, the Whitney Biennial, PS1, MOMA, The Berlin Film Festival, The International Film Festival Rotterdam, Tribeca Film Festival, The Cinematheque Francaise and the Centre George Pompidou in Paris... She was also included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial (Whitney Museum, NY).

She has started her first feature film, 5 years ago, a portrait of on the musical genius Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, and her band Psychic TV. The work in progress was presented in 2009 at The Centre George Pompidou in April to open "Hors Pistes" as well as at the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris in September.

She lives and works in New York where she is film curator at the Alliance Francaise since 2000, where she presents a weekly film series. She has hosted many notable directors and artists, including Raoul Coutard, William Klein, Claire Denis, Chantal Akerman, Jane Birkin, and Jeanne Moreau.

She also programmed experimental films at the Robert Beck Memorial Cinema and Ocularis and today programs and bring experimental films series in Europe and all over in the States.