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Keep The Love Up Peaches

Interview

OFFICE — You’ve been in Berlin since 2000, and it’s so trendy right now—it’s this hip place to be. Have you seen major changes in the city or the culture? Is it still somewhere you want to be?

 

PEACHES — Well I think gentrification is happening everywhere across the Western world, and not only is it cutting out affordable homes, but it’s also cutting out any sort of personality an area could have. I think it can become very generic. People will complain about it, but I still think Berlin’s a great city. A lot of food and artistic expression. A lot of great things happening.
 

O — I think everyone will move to Berlin if Donald Trump wins.

 

P — [laughs]

 

O — Have you been following the US election?

 

P — I’ve had to take a little break. I’m on a break now this week but of course I’ve been following it. I saw Donald Trump’s wife’s ridiculous speech, and Michelle Obama’s speech, and Trump addressing

LGBT issues and getting booed. But I think Hillary’s a horrible choice too, I don’t understand why people just want a woman for the sake of a woman. I think it’s really exciting to have someone like Bernie Sanders.

 

O — When has your music and your art felt most politically charged to you?

 

P — When I started I just didn’t feel like the music I was listening to was speaking to people like me. So I wanted to write songs with the same thoughts, songs that people feel comfortable dancing and singing to, but that also relate to them. And question things at the same time, but do it with the purpose of enjoying yourself and dancing. That’s all it was, but when you put a heteronormative spin on it, then it became politicized—to me, that was politicized. It affected me, it offended me.

 

O — Even outside of politics—this may be something every generation goes through, a periodic feeling, but there is a strong sense of collective fear, struggle and violence right now in the world, and it’s important to find those things that still inspire. Where do you look for that?

 

P — It’s not easy, but you have to. There’s no way, there’s no reason to not find hope, what’s the point of that? You have to keep the hope, you have to continue to be good to each other. It’s so easy! It’s like kindergarten bullshit. Be nice to each other. Do unto others, come on, it’s the fucking First Commandment, do unto others as you’d expect them to do to you. Back to basics, get a fucking grip.

 

O — Something I have always admired about your career is that you’re a gender pioneer. You were comfortable playing with gender before many mainstream artists were. Now I think we live in a time where many young people are identifying in different ways—have you seen progress in culture, gender-wise?

 

P — Yeah, definitely. And there are also a lot of complications and language we have to fix to make this work. It’s a progression, not just a trend, in regards to the people who actually care about it. Hopefully there will be more depth to it. It is easy to sensationalize the visual components around them. But there are also real issues, like we need more doctors to perform important surgeries and procedures and things like that. In Ireland there’s only one doctor in the entire country that will perform such a medical procedure. So it’s not just a matter of where you can get such a surgery, but get it safely and properly done. There’s a long way to go. There are places like Louisiana or North Carolina where businesses could not serve a person based on sexual orientation—not only with bathrooms, but just in general. There are also more restrictive abortion laws. You don’t want to be somewhere like the Philippines, where people go in back alleys and have horrific ways of getting rid of unborn children that are unsafe to the person who’s pregnant.

I hope people are sex-positive. What, do you want to be sex-negative? Isn’t it one of the basic needs in life?

O — Do you think there are any artists coming up right now who are following in your path? Speaking out about the same issues?
 

P — There are a lot of people. I don’t know if they are so much in their lyrics, but I see it in the visuals more and more. I saw this band, I forget the name, but their album cover is three girls, all in white, with period blood coming out of them. People are just fine with seeing all this stuff, which is great, it’s fantastic. I just came from doing this very transgressive performance for this huge dance festival where we had about two dozen participants. We did this huge show in Museum Square, which is one of the most popular places in Vienna. There were nine men and women, nude from the waist down, dancing in the middle of the square.

 

O — I saw some videos on Instagram, it looked amazing.

 

P — I don’t think you can show people naked from the waist down on Instagram and get away with it! [laughs] But not just with bodies—people just aren’t allowed to be who they need to be, or they’re scared, or they’ve been forced into this fear from certain ideologies, like organized religion and very close-minded political ideas that stop some young people who aren’t as well-connected as other people in metropolitan places. It’s very confusing to them.

O — I feel like whenever I read about you, there’s a certain phrase that always comes up—“sex-positive.” How do you feel about that terminology?

 

P — I hope people are sex-positive. What, do you want to be sex-negative? Isn’t it one of the basic needs in life? There’s shelter and food, and belonging, and self-exploration, and friendship, and also sex. I think that in a lot of ways we take our bodies and we’re taught to kind of hate them, from the very beginning. Or shamed, shamed is a better word. And we’re shamed with sex. Swear words come from sex. “You dick, you cunt, you asshole. Fuck you. Shit.” These are bodily functions, these are things that we have. Why is there a problem with being called a cunt? I have one. Why are we using all these words to shame ourselves when they’re things that have to be there with us and that we have to live with and that we have to love. It’s incredible to me how progressive we are and how much discussion there is, and we still can’t get it together in terms of letting ourselves be who we need to be.

 

O — This is an indulgent question for me, but I loved your cameo on The L Word. Could you tell me a little bit about that experience?

 

P — Oh, way back when. What was really interesting about that was that I had just come out with Fatherfucker, and I never really wore the beard onstage or anything like that—some of my dancers had, but I thought it would be too much for a whole show. But right away they said, “We want you onstage, we want you in the beard.” And I was like, that’s amazing, I am so happy you suggested that. It was kind of an homage to [bearded performance artist] Jennifer Miller, who has a history in her family of a lot of hair. Her grandmother and her mother would always be very concerned that they all be shaved, but as part of her practice she was like “No, I’m going to grow a beard, and I’m going to do a nudie calendar with the beard.” So then it was a thrill for me, because when I did Transparent, there she was. She was like the first person I saw on set, and I was like “Whoa! Amazing!”

 

O — They get the coolest, most intelligent people on that show.

 

P — Of course there’s Gaby Hoffman. What I think is so great about her presence now is that it’s just so real. It’s not trying to be any sort of performance of gender, blah blah blah. It’s just her.

 

O — Transparent is a very Jewish show.

 

P — It’s so Jewish.

 

O — You were raised Jewish. Do you still practice?

 

P — I don’t really practice, because I don’t follow any organized religion. I really have big problems with organized religion in general. It claims to be helping the community, but our community is larger than whatever religion you’re in. If you’re all trying to do the same thing, why set up all these different religions, you know? It’s just bizarre. But I definitely acknowledge my heritage, for sure.

 

O — Same. I watch a lot of Seinfeld, a lot of Transparent. Don’t practice. But speaking of religion, how did it all go down with Andrew Lloyd Webber when you adapted Peaches Christ Superstar?

 

P — I think he was wrapped up in doing his own production. It was kind of bad timing, because he had this idea to do this huge stadium show, where you have Johnny Rotten as King Herod, and Michelle [Williams] from Destiny’s Child as Mary. But it was a bomb. And as that was happening they had this show called Find the Next Jesus, which was sort of like The Voice. So that was all going on at the time, and I think that’s where all the controversy came from. But Tim Rice [who wrote the lyrics for the original Webber musical], he came to the show, actually. That was quite exciting. – END 

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