AND ALL THAT JIZZ – CELEBRATING TWENTY YEARS OF TEACHES WITH PEACHES
Dreaming Magazine caught up with the undisputed Queen of punk to talk about activated fashion, pussy masks, and twenty years of stickin' it to the pimp...
“So around June or July I got a call from Apple on my phone and I answered it. Apple will never call you just so you know. But I'm like “Oh! Apple is calling me!” and they're like “Ma'am you've been identified as being part of a child porn ring in South Korea and Russia and we have to check your computer”. Basically, I was being hacked and I didn't even know it. I was like “Oh my God!”. And they're like, “we need to check your Amazon account” so they screen-shared and said “Lets look at what you bought recently” and all I had bought was sex toys! Like double masturbatory things for my sculptures. So I'm like “I'm sorry you're looking at this, but I'm really not part of that child porn ring. I swear!” and they're like “ma'am keep calm”. They were just trying to hack me and steal my Amazon account. Then they said “let's go into a Best Buy account”. I'm like, I don't have one. When they figured out I wasn't in America, they just hung up”.
So in case you hadn't guessed we're talking to Peaches. This Iconic Queen of the night time world is never short of a fun anecdote or two, so imagine our delight when Dreaming got the chance to talk to her, not once but twice, over the course of the pandemic.
As one would expect, Peaches has been busy during this extended downtime. As well as releasing a pair of typically brilliant singles (the scorching 'Flip This' and current release 'Pussy Mask'), Peaches had been celebrating a particularly special anniversary. 20 years ago Peaches burst onto the scene with her unforgettable debut album 'The Teaches Of Peaches', an irresistible cocktail of rock, rap, and electro-clash, which is generally lauded as a modern masterpiece. The influence of that album cannot be understated. It's stand-out single 'Fuck The Pain Away' inspired so many young queer artists, including many here at Dreaming Magazine, to defy boundaries and celebrate their individuality with headstrong determination. So naturally we were curious to find out what queer artists stimulated a young Merrill Nisker to develop the trademark balls to the wall attitude that we have all come to know and love.
“There's this Canadian artist you might not know. The band is called Rough Trade and her name is Carole Pope. She had this song 'High-School Confidential', where she's talking about being in love with another girl in high school and being obsessed with her. And she's like ”What's the principal doin' with her?, Who's that guy, is he screwing with her? What's her perfume? Tigress by Fabergé! It makes me cream my jeans When she's coming my way!” They used to play it on the radio until like 1981 when they realised “you can't say that!”.
That kind of butch machismo and powerful gender non-conformism has been a staple of Peaches act since day one. Peaches reputation was forged in dingy clubs and subterranean sweat-boxes, where her fiery performances and organic outbursts of expression quickly became the stuff of legend. Peaches’ act was a constantly developing work in progress, a one woman show like no-other. As her sound developed, so too did her penchant for wild outfits and ‘Phantom Of The Paradise’ style theatrics.
“I started off with really disgusting little pink bathing suit shorts and a bad tank top, because people thought it was aggressive. We're talking about 20 years ago. And so I just bought this cheap outfit, and then people started throwing things on stage to me or like sending me stuff. And I was like some of these are pretty good! Then these designers called Wendy and Jim, they sent me a body suit that had a hand on it. And so I was like, I can use that! And eventually I started thinking “Oh I can use costumes as activated and not just fashion”.
Thanks to the intensity of those early shows, and the raw punk edge that she embodies, Peaches started to amass a big following on the rock and metal scene. Both ‘The Teaches Of Peaches’ and its brilliant follow-up ‘Fatherfucker’ were punctuated with big, distorted guitars on stand-out offerings like ‘Rock Show’ and ‘Kick it’, a leather-clad duet with garage-rock legend Iggy Pop. These two were a match made in hell, and this thumping track (along with its sensational George. A Romero inspired video) became a big favourite for fans of both acts, as the two icons sardonically offered lip service to each other.
“When I met Iggy Pop, his girlfriend was like, “this is Peaches. You need to know her.” And I'm like “Yeah, you need to know me! Come to my gig in Miami where you live in three weeks” And he's like “Okay”. They asked me if I wanted anyone on my guest list and I said “Yeah Iggy and Bowie”. So Iggy showed up and there were probably like 70 people there. He asked for my phone number and he covered ‘Rock Show’ where he basically just sang over my version of the song, and then he put it on his album. I said “I'm going to write a song for us ”And he's like “Yeah you do that and I'll sing it”. So that collaboration just kind of happened”.
"There’s still the patriarchy, I mean we still have to bring it down and lift ourselves back up!"
The collaborations would continue to come thick and fast, not only with acts like Chicks On Speed and Pink, but with a whole host of fashion designers and artists who drew great inspiration from this one of a kind artist. A particularly memorable high fashion moment came in April 2009 with the release of 'Talk To Me', the first single from the beloved 'I Feel Cream' album. That music video saw Peaches in an abandoned house, cavorting with a bevy of women decked out in outrageously large wigs.
“I met this hairdresser called Charlie Le Mindu. He was French but moved to Berlin when he was 16 and began cutting hair in clubs. He started cutting my hair and making costumes for me, like in my ‘Talk To Me’ music video. Then he started getting huge and making stuff for Miles Cyrus and Lady GaGa. He was really inspired by me.”
Peaches ability to marry her songs with evocative imagery reached an all time high with the 2015 record 'Rub' and accompanying tour. From jumping into the wrestling ring with the masked stars of Lucha Va-Voom, to a wild day out with Dusty Summers and Satan's Angel for the 'I Mean Something' video, this was Peaches at her most playful. However, the stand-out moments of this era are undoubtedly a pair of tracks with some of the most iconic staging we at Dreaming have ever seen.
“Have you seen my blow-up penis? Another artist came up to me in a club and said “I have a big dick for you”! I could have hit him in the face! But he was like “no, no, no, it’s this piece that I use. I think you could use it to go out over the audience! I have a vision for you”. I thought that was so cool, and I wrote the song ‘Dick In The Air’ for it. These things kind of just come together. Like with Emperor Star. She put a laser in her butt and started doing an aerial performance and asked me to write a song about it. So I wrote ‘Light in Places’ for her and it’s become such a beautiful moment in our show. She comes out swinging over the audience and I’m singing the song. It’s a beautiful, authentic collaboration.”
Since the amazing success of ‘Rub’, Peaches has been busy maintaining her reputation as one of the most prolific creators on the planet. As well as a critically acclaimed re-imagining of the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic 'Jesus Christ Superstar' (naturally entitled 'Peaches Christ Superstar'), she undertook a major artistic project called ‘Whose Jizz Is This’. A Giger-esque menagerie of Dildos, flesh-lights, and all sorts of masturbatory devices, it was described by Peaches as a trans-disciplinary and transgressive approach to expanding the format of “the exhibition” by creating a living organism.
Even a global crisis couldn't slow Peaches down as she unleashed ‘Flip This’ in August, a fierce protest against mounting worldwide unrest. With a new album swiftly taking shape, Peaches recently dropped a tantalising teaser of what's to come. 'Pussy Mask' is a take-down of pandemic culture, delivered with all the punk attitude and razor-sharp wit that we have come to expect from this career agitator.
“So I was working on the album and I came up with this line “my pussy squirts so hard I gotta wear two masks” and I thought “this has to come out right now”. There was so much to build on there with all this pent up pandemic frustration, the insurrection, abortion laws... I was like “we are a global community and we’ve got to get it together”. We need to accept each other but we’re not doing that. So my pussy flew off me and had its own pandemic experience, with Karens and sneezing on dogs and Fauchi head-banging. I just took a ridiculous situation and made it more absurd!”
With a legacy that spans two full decades, you would think Peaches would be content to live off her own exhaustive list of achievements. However, it’s clear from our conversation that she is not that kind of person. As long as there is a machine to rage against, and humanity to both inspire and be inspired by, one gets the feeling that Peaches will still be doing her thing in another two decades. This revered performer has seen the music industry evolve over the years but knows there is a long way to go before her job is done.
“There’s still the patriarchy, I mean we still have to bring it down and lift ourselves back up! But of course there have been a lot of big changes. Intersectional changes. And a lot of really great, direct music is coming out and getting more and more recognition. Like WAP is such a breakthrough. I mean that’s a number one hit and it’s about wet ass pussy! Like come on!”
Tickets for ‘The Teaches of Peaches Anniversary Tour 2022’ are on sale now and you can follow Peaches on Instagram for more updates here
This article was taken from Dreaming issue one which is available to buy in print and digital here