New Testament: Genesis P-Orridge and Mishka Outfit the Insurrection

Photographer John Francis Peters
May 10, 2011

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is not famous to the mainstream, but she is a superstar to many. A founding member of the world’s first industrial band, Throbbing Gristle, Genesis emerged from that original rebellion to form the group Psychic TV, and created around it a loose collective of like-minded people called Thee Temple ov Psychic Youth. TOPY’s mission was to be a positive force through practicing ritual magic and D.I.Y. community building. Genesis created the symmetric symbol of the Psychic Cross to stand as an emblem of their tribe’s unity.

Collectivity has been Genesis’ life’s work, and it was something she shared intimately with her late wife, Lady Jaye. Through the practice of “pandrogony,” Genesis and Lady Jaye ritualistically became one by wearing the same things, referring to themselves as “we,” (which Genesis still does) and even surgically altering their bodies to look similar. Four years after Lady Jaye’s death, Genesis still believes in their bond and in their commitment to the community. A brand new collaboration with New York brand Mishka on a line of clothes bearing the Psychic Cross is just a new phase in Genesis’ goal of spreading the communal gospel. Click through to read all of Genesis' thoughts and then watch our video interview with her.

Genesis P-Orridge: We hadn’t heard of Mishka when our manager Ryan brought us the idea of collaborating with them, but we agreed to meet. They were informed, they wanted to tell the world at large about what we do. We didn’t realize that people in streetwear would even know about us, let alone our ideas, and it was the ideas that they were really supportive of. We want this to be a way of disseminating ideas. People can go buy our clothes with the Psychic Cross logo and go home and look up what it means.

We had never even cared about clothes until Lady Jaye got us into it. Most of the fun’s gone out of it when it’s not the two of you dressing up. You know, girls together getting dressed up can be really good fun. We were the same size, same shoe size, too. Lady Jaye was the stylist. We’d wear the same outfits. She had a Christian Dior leather coat that went down to the ground, the most amount of leather we’d ever seen. All black, fitted at the top, and then it went out like a ball gown. When we worked as a dominatrix, one of Lady Jaye’s clients bought her that, so even though it was probably expensive, no cash went from our account to pay for it.

She made clothes fun that way, she introduced me to the idea that fashion could be fun. You didn’t have to become obsessed with values. Clothes were just part of it. Her favorite phrase was “Fuck ’em all.” Clothes became part of our idea that you could look like or be whoever you want.

For the Mishka project, we were thinking about strategy, about being a tribe that can recognize each other by certain symbols and dress codes. You could be anywhere in the world and see the Psychic Cross and think that a person is going to be similar enough to you to help you out, tell you where to go, or maybe let you spend the night. We were thinking that if this whole economy collapses in the next ten years, any right wing extremist groups or Hell’s Angels are going to be well prepared because they’re unified. They have symbols, a language. So why not take those structures and do something positive? Fashion is propaganda, like waving a flag.

New Testament: Genesis P-Orridge and Mishka Outfit the Insurrection