Broken Sex: remembering Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge

Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge, born Jacqueline Breyer in 1969, passed away Tuesday 9th October 2007. Lady Jaye and her partner Genesis Breyer P-Orridge spent the past several years living an “art as life project” sometimes called “Breaking Sex.” The couple altered their own appearances to look more and more like each other, forming a third ” pandrogenous” entity they called Breyer P-Orridge.
Lady Jaye met Genesis in 1993 and the couple began to align their appearances. Eventually, Genesis had gone as far as he could in making himself more feminine without surgery. So for their tenth anniversary, on Valentines Day 2003, the couple got matching breast implants together.
Genesis underwent the most visible changes, but Lady Jaye went through surgeries as well. The plan was not to make one look like the other, but for them to look like each other: to meet in the middle. In an interview with John E. Mitchell Lady Jaye said:

“My nose was made to look somewhat more like Djin’s. My chin was made to look more like Djin’s. Djin had cheek implants that resemble mine. There’s only so much that can be done in that way. We made a decision not to try to go after a conventional idea of beauty. We both could have changed our faces to look like some kind of ideal, but we wanted to look like each other, that was the idea. We didn’t want to look pretty according to someone else’s standard or anything like that.”

“Breaking Sex” was simultaneously an assault on the tyranny of gender and DNA and a deep exploration of Lady Jaye and Genesis’s relationship. In an essay titled “Our Practice in Art” Breyer P-Orridge explained the inspiration for hir art:

The work of William S Burroughs and Brion Gysin has been highly influential to us, particularly in relation to the practice of the “cut-up”. To liberate the word from linearity, they began to cut-up and, incorporating random chance, re-assembled both their own and co-opted literature “…to see what it really says…” They referred to the phenomena of profound and poetic new collisions and meanings that resulted from their intimate collaborations as the “Third Mind”. This was produced with a willingness to sacrifice their own separate, previously inviolate works and artistic “ownership”. In many ways they saw the third mind as an entity in and of itself. Something “other”, closer to a purity of essence, and the origin and source of a magical or divine creativity that could only result from the unconditional integration of two sources.

Breyer P-Orridge created art installations featuring photographs, collages, sculptures and personal items to share the experience of living in pandrogeny. The installations have appeared in galleries in both the US and Europe.
Genesis P-Orridge has not yet, to my knowledge, publicly discussed the question of whether Breyer P-Orridge died along with Lady Jaye. Lady Jaye told Mitchell “We view Breyer P-Orridge as a separate person who is both of us. Neither of us take credit for the work, the work is a melding of both of our ideas which we would not have had singly,” and “Both of us are in all of our art. That third being, Breyer P-Orridge, is always present.”
The idea that Breyer P-Orridge can exist without Lady Jaye seems counter intuitive. But consider this passage from the first Breaking Sex Manifesto:

The common view of cosmetic surgery is the Pamela Anderson archetype. In fact it is incredible how her particular idealized look has spread to hundreds of thousands of women. Almost as if she has cloned herself. Apart from the group idealization of an image made flesh this also culturally engineers a shift in what is an acceptable or desirable way to look both in terms of physiological technique and perceptual aspiration for people across all social and economic boundaries . The drone may mimic the queen.

Lady Jaye Breyer P. Orridge is dead. But she lives on through Genesis, and through the body of work the two created together. I don’t know if this extreme body transformation will catch on. But I’m certain that the sacrifices she made for art were not in vein. Her dedication has raised the bar for everyone.
More information:
John A. Mitchell’s interview with Jady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge.
Mitchell’s article on Breaking Sex.
Breaking Sex section of Genesis P-Orridge’s site.
Sex TV documentary “Breaking Sex” about Breyer P-Orridge (includes excerpt).
(This article original appeared in Key 64)

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