When artist and musician Genesis P-Orridge met his future wife for the first time, in 1993, she dressed him up in her clothes, makeup, and a wig, transforming him into her lookalike. That, in essence, was his first step towards self-transformation, two decades in the making. To this day, even though his wife Jaye has passed on, Genesis continues their love affair by trying to become her.
Genesis, who was born Neil Megson, was already a controversial musician, artist, and a pioneer of modern body transformation in the ’70s and ’80s, long before he met his wife. His 1976 art collective COUM Transmissions, staged an exhibition called ‘Prostitution’, which featured pornographic photographs, sculptures made of used tampons, and transvestite security guards. He had his genitals pierced in the early ’80s, making it to the front page of many British publications.
But his highly unconventional life got even more bizarre after his first meeting with Jacqueline Breyer, a.k.a Lady Jaye. Genesis fell hard for the tall, blond registered nurse, who shared his passion for body modification. “She told me she saw me as a mirror image of her, and that we were meant to be two halves of one,” Genesis recalls of that first meeting. Since then the two became inseparable.
“We fell in love the minute we saw each other, and as we became more and more obsessively in love, we had that whole feeling of ‘I wish I could eat you up, I wish I could just take you, and I become you and you become me,’” Genesis told New York Magazine.
A decade into their marriage, the happy couple began to use dress and cosmetic surgery to ‘become one another’. They started with matching breast implants on Valentine’s Day in 2003. They never went through sex change in the regular sense, because they only wanted to add to their bodies, not remove. Their mission was to become two parts of a whole, a single ‘pandrogynous’ entity.
They called their unusual art project ‘Pandrogeny’, treating it as an ode to the deep connection of love they shared. The breast implants were followed by eye and nose jobs, cheek and chin implants, lip plumping, liposuction, tattooed beauty marks, and hormone therapy worth $200,000. They always dressed in identical outfits, and always mimicked each other’s mannerisms.
Unfortunately, the project ended abruptly when, after returning from a tour in 2007, Lady Jaye died of stomach cancer. This was shortly before she was to get a set of gold teeth to match Genesis’s.
As heartbroken as he is, Genesis refuses to believe that his beloved Jaye has left him forever. Instead, he says that she still exists within him. He refers to her passing as “when Lady Jaye dropped her body”, and even refers to himself in the plural: “we,” “us,” “our.” He continues work on Pandrogeny, describing it as an experiment in behavioural science – testing the boundaries of identity, about how “other people encode their expectations and their needs on you.”
Genesis and Jaye’s unique story has been the subject of several documentaries. Through his body, Genesis continues to tell the tale of a love story that truly transcends the limitations of the physical body. French-born director Marie Losier, who captured eight years of the couple’s life on film, said: “There was an incredible bond between Gen and Jaye – a very unusual way of never letting go of each other’s hands, in the same hair and clothing, finishing each other’s sentences. This was something that touched me even more.”
“She used to say, ‘All I want to be remembered for is being part of a great love affair,’” Genesis recalled. “It made me really happy to see the film and realize Lady Jaye’s one true wish in life had been made possible.”
“I know it sounds weird,” he said in an interview about his relationship with Lady Jaye and their unique project. “We could have bought a house or something like that. But we’re artists. Artists do art. It’s not rational.”
Photos: Genesis P-Orridge/Facebook