Published May 12, 2011A genuinely beautiful love story, without downplaying any of the freakishness of the lead characters, The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye will certainly appeal to anyone who has ever felt an outsider-type of love.
Director Marie Losier details the "pandrogynous" relationship between COUM Transmissions/Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV founder Genesis P-Orridge and former NYC underground art world luminary Lady Jaye (née Jacqueline Breyer) using intimate access in their home and abroad, as well as footage supplied from the couple themselves.
Losier builds the base of the film upon P-Orridge's home footage archives, giving the viewer a brief run-through of P-Orridge's artistic and musical endeavours, and long history of challenging conventional aesthetics. The show is definitely more Genesis than Jaye, as he tends to hog the spotlight and commentary on the relationship. By the end, little is known about the mysterious Breyer, which actually serves to make her all the more alluring.
Inspired by the cut-up techniques developed by Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs (taking existing forms and cutting, reshaping and combining the to create new works), P-Orridge and Breyer set out to make one "pandrogynous" being by combining their visages. The main event of their relationship is when they receive plastic surgeries to more closely resemble each other.
The transformation is more obvious on P-Orridge; he receives breast implants, collagen injections in his lips and Breyer's hairstyle, and the two wear matching makeup. Breyer only receives work to her nose and cheeks, but the similarities between the two are striking.
The film isn't always particularly eventful, as there are long stretches of P-Orridge and Breyer just glowing and beaming at each other. While the imagery can certainly possess a beatific nature, how much enjoyment the viewer will derive is dependent on how charming one finds the antics of P-Orridge and his lady love.
The sudden death of Lady Jaye is affecting not only in seeing the legitimately likable P-Orridge losing his other half, but driving home how literal the "other half" had become. By taking on so much of Breyer physically, the audience can almost see how P-Orridge carries her with him after her death, making the experiment an unlikely success. By making their love an art project, his affection for her lasts beyond her passing.
For audience members willing to take the flamboyance of the couple in stride, it's hard not to be affected. There is plenty of weirdo artistry to behold and there are several brief interlude sequences of P-Orridge cavorting around on his set pieces in a goofy manner. Mostly these serve to show P-Orridge's abundant sense of humour about his life project, even as he remains steadfast in his adoration for Lady Jaye.