Genesis P-Orridge

born 1950

Biography

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (born 22 February 1950) is an English singer-songwriter, musician, poet, performance artist, and occultist. P-Orridge rose to notability as the founder of the COUM Transmissions artistic collective and frontman of seminal industrial band, Throbbing Gristle. They were also a founding member of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth occult group, and fronted the experimental band Psychic TV. P-Orridge identifies as third gender.

Born in Manchester, P-Orridge developed an early interest in art, occultism, and the avant-garde while at Solihull School. After dropping out of studies at the University of Hull, they moved into a counter-cultural commune in London and adopted Genesis P-Orridge as a nom-de-guerre. On returning to Hull, P-Orridge founded COUM Transmissions with Cosey Fanni Tutti, and in 1973 they relocated to London. COUM's confrontational performance work, dealing with such subjects as sex work, pornography, serial killers, and occultism, represented a concerted attempt to challenge societal norms and attracted the attention of the national press. COUM's 1976 Prostitution show at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts was particularly vilified by tabloids and politicians, especially since the exhibit was funded by the Institute's £80,000 public grant. The event included pornographic portraits of COUM member, Cosey Fanni Tutti, labled as if they were artistic portraits in a gallery, used menstrual products framed in glass cases, among other similar items. Prostitution also featured the debut of P-Orridge's new band, Throbbing Gristle, which grew out of COUM and remained active until 1981 as a foundational pioneer of the Industrial Music genre. Conservative MP, Nicholas Fairbairn, expressed his outrage in a speech to the British Parliament, where he famously called COUM (and in part, Throbbing Gristle) the "wreckers of civilisation."

In 1981, P-Orridge co-founded Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth, an informal occult order influenced by chaos magic and experimental music. P-Orridge was often seen as the group's leader, but rejected that position, and left the group in 1991. Amid the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria, a 1992 Channel 4 documentary accused P-Orridge of sexually abusing children, resulting in a police investigation. P-Orridge was subsequently cleared and Channel 4 retracted their allegation. P-Orridge left the United Kingdom as a result of the incident and settled in New York City. There, P-Orridge married Jacqueline Mary Breyer, later known as Lady Jaye, in 1995, and together they embarked on the Pandrogeny Project, an attempt to unite as a "pandrogyne", or single entity, through the use of surgical body modification to physically resemble one another. P-Orridge continued with this project of body modification after Lady Jaye's 2007 death. Although involved in reunions of both Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV in the 2000s, P-Orridge retired from music to focus on other artistic mediums in 2009. P-Orridge is credited on over 200 releases.

A controversial figure with an anti-establishment stance, P-Orridge has been heavily criticised by the British press and politicians. P-Orridge has been cited as an icon within the avant-garde art scene, accrued a cult following, and been given the moniker of the "Godperson of Industrial Music."

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