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Archive for March, 2020

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit New York hardcore, there was NY Art Week 2020. Again, I had my VIP pass. It seemed like a good idea at the time – but worrying about Covid-19 has got me on edge. I suppose NY Art Week was NYC’s last hurrah before Coronavirus gripped the big apple. In the meantime, enjoy both these photos and videos from Art On Paper 2020.

Do have to say, Art On Paper‘s 2020 fair was on point. Of the four years I’ve been attending Art On Paper, this one was the best yet. There were fresh showings of art not seen before. The vibe was definitely party mode. The crowd did not wear any preventive masks, wore gloves, nor was there any hand santizers to be found. (There was some santizer seen on a few table over at VOLTA) Social distancing was not yet put into effect.

From Art On Paper 2020 opening party.

Thought I saw legendary rock photographer Bob Gruen walk by. Turns out, he had one of his most iconic photographs on display. It was Deborah Harry, on silkscreen, limited edition of ten prints available. Printed by Gary Lichtenstein, with sparking diamond dust added.

The Bob Gruen print was on display over at the Alpha 137 Gallery. When I was snapping a pic of the photograph, the gallery took a photo of me. It ended up on their Instagram account.

Me at Art On Paper, March 2020.

NY Art Week 2020 coverage will wrap up with the next post: The Armory Show.

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Before the novel corona virus gripped NYC, I attended a few fairs during NY Art Week.

Now I’m sort of regretting attending any of these events. Covid-19 is deadly, and I’m now on edge. So if you’re reading this, please take being quarantined seriously.

Anyway, let’s go back to a more carefree time, which was only a few weeks ago.

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In 2017, I had the opportunity to attend both VOLTA and The Armory Show. This year I managed to get a comp ticket for the VOLTA opening night. VOLTA is a slightly edgier or trendier than The Armory Show. In 2020 it was held in a somewhat smaller space. A bonus was the open bar.

Please pardon me. I had details of many artists and galleries shown at Volta. The current pandemic has thrown everything off. In the meantime, please enjoy these photos.

Hand santizer available on a booth table. VOLTA 2020. March 2020.

Although exhibitors weren’t wearing faces or masks, there were hand sanitizers available on dealer tables.

Artists and dealers traveled internationally. I met this lady from Japan, who encouraged me to visit her country. She showed the work of one artist, whose paintings take a year to complete. Many of the art came from Asian countries: China, Korea and Japan.

One booth had paintings that depicted NYC street life. First glance it looked like large scale photographs. Closer inspection showed it was life like paintings. Impressive.

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The last of a three post tribute to Genesis P-Orridge, who passed away on March 14th, 2020. P–Orridge had been battling leukemia for two years, so the passing wasn’t a surprise. S/he was 70 years old.

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As stated in previous posts, Genesis P-Orridge was many things. Among them, a poet, an artist in both fine and performance art, archivist, musician, occultist, and all around trangressor. Between 1993 – 2009, Genesis went under a series of body and face modifications with S/he wife Lady Jaye under ‘The Pandrogeny Project.’ The goal was to create a third gender. This is the reason for the S/he pronoun after 1993.

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Genesis’ path towards creative transgression started after leaving art university sometime during the late 60s, Gen joined a London counter culture commune. These communes were popular during those days. After moving back to Hull, he met Christine Carol Newby, better known as Cosey Fan Tutti. Tutti and P-Orridge became a couple, and formed COUM Tranmissions.

COUM Tranmissions wasn’t exactly ‘kid friendly’ entertainment.

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Influenced by the Dada movement, the performance art collective specialized in subversive confrontation. Subject matter included taboos such as prostitution and pornography.

 

In fact, it was the art performance of The Prostitution Show that gathered the attention of  not only the British press, but of Parliament. It was a conservative MP who declared the event, and persons involved to be “wreckers of civilization”.

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The Prostitution Show was also the debut of the seminal band Throbbing Gristle. Formed by P-orridge, Tutti, and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, with Chris Carter joining. Throbbing Gristle is considered one of founders of the genre  Industrial Music. 

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(Check out this PDF file.)

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Industrial has since morphed into various other sub-genres. If it wasn’t for Throbbing Gristle, certain bands wouldn’t even exist. One prime example is mainstream rock act *Nine Inch Nails. (Later, Christopherson, who formed the band Coil, got into directing music promo videos. Christopherson later directed videos for Nine Inch Nails)

Throbbing Gristle continued on their subversive mission. Their first gig abroad was performed in front of the Berlin Wall, before the unification. In 1980, the four piece  performed a concert at an English all boys boarding school.

On May 29th, 1981, Throbbing Gristle played their last concert in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. Gen and Sleazy went on to form Psychic TV. Sleazy later broke off from Psychic TV to begin his own band Coil. The other half became Chris and Cosey, later known as Carter Tutti.

They later reformed sometime around 2004, working on and off. During this period, three albums were released: TG Now (2004), Part Two (2007), and The Third Mind Movements (2009)

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Throbbing Gristle after reforming, mid-2000s. 

In 2009 TG embarked on U.S. tour. In New York, they played a series of concerts at a Brooklyn masonic hall, and at Le Poisson Rouge. I was lucky enough to see both TG concerts at the Brooklyn masonic temple. Not just once, but twice. During intermission TG had a meet and greet. Below are autographs in a sketch pad.

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Autographs from Throbbing Gristle. 2009.

Although I should’ve done this already, I still haven’t gotten those signatures framed. The sketchbook is tucked away somewhere in my home.

Below is a very bad cellphone recording of TG during one of those nights.

Throbbing Gristle hit another snag again in October 2010. Genesis P-Orridge announced s/her’s departure, and the rest of TG continued to tour under X-TG. The band broke up for good following the death of Sleazy. Sleazy died in his sleep, November 2010.

There’s way to much about COUM Tranmissions, and Throbbing Gristle to mention here. My suggestion is, if you can, find three books: RE/Search’s Industrial Culture Handbook (Andrea Juno and V.Vale) , the out of print Wreckers of Civilization: The Story of COUM Tranmissions and Throbbing Gristle by Simon Ford, and Cosey Fan Tutti’s 2017’s autobiography Art Sex and Music. (which does NOT paint Genesis P-Orridge in a good light; P-Orridge was described as being abusive and narcissistic.  Just one of various  accusations pointed at Gen.)

Perhaps I should do a blog post about Cosey Fan Tutti , or Chris and Cosey, aka Carter Tutti. In the meantime, here’s a sketch done in tribute to Genesis P-Orridge. Pen and ink, done March 2020.

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Illustration of Throbbing Gristle. Pen and ink. Drawn by Michele Witchipoo. March 2020. 

 

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In honor of all essential workers and first responders, here’s a Caturday sketch.

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Nurse Nettie. Drawn by Michele Witchipoo. March 2020. 

It’s based on Netzach Wondercat, aka Nettie. She’s one of my cats, and a character in my Squeaky comic. Sometimes when I’m not feeling well, she reports to duty. Sometimes she  falls asleep during her shift.

Stay safe everyone, and happy Caturday.

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Most people outside of the Industrial/Noise/Experimental scene have never heard of Merzbow. As someone once said “that’s a hard sell.”

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Masami Akita started the Merzbow project back in 1979. His style of music, or rather, anti-music combines distortion, feedback, and noises from synthesizers, machinery,  home-made noisemakers, with help from laptops. Due to his background in drumming, unlike other avant garde Noise musicians, Merzbow blends slight melody and rhythm into his aural assaults.

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Masami Akita started out as a traditional drummer and studied art at Tamagawa University. According to his Wikipedia page: “While at university, he became interested in the ideas of dada and surrealism and also studied Butoh dance.[8] At Tamagawa, he learned of Kurt Schwitters‘ Merz, or art made from rubbish, including Schwitters’ Merzbau (meaning Merz building, German pronunciation: [ˈmɛʁtsˌbaʊ̯]), which is the source of the name Merzbow.[9]” 

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Breaking away from Psychedelic Rock and Free Jazz, Akita’s style evolved over time. Mostly known for Noise Electronics, he’s collaborated with various other avant garde musicians such as Z’EV. Over time he’s been influenced by Grindcore and Death Metal, but later incorporated Psychedelia and Ambient styles into the mix. The tools he’s used also changes over time. Again from his Wikipedia page, “Starting in the mid-2000s, Masami Akita began to reintroduce junk metal and effects pedals back into his setup. By the early 2010s, he was using a large number of pedals, oscillators and tone generators, and reduced to a single laptop running granular synthesis software. In 2014, he toured without a laptop. In 2008, Akita reintroduced the drum kit, his first instrument. This can be heard on the 13 Japanese Birds series.”

In addition to his multiple releases, Akita has been involved in numerous music/noise side projects.

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Akita is known for advocating animal rights. He’s supported PETA while maintaining a vegan diet. In Japan he’s also a published editor, writer and author. Merzbow’s articles has documented music, underground/subcultures, and modern art,. Other articles spoke about BDSM and Japanese bondage. Akita’s other interests include painting, photography, filmmaking, and Butoh dance.

I finally had a chance to see him perform in 2015. The venue sold out of advance tickets, taking place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s Output (since closed). Genesis P-Orridge opened for him, doing a spoken word set. (Gen also walked on stage during Merzbow’s set for no reason, except to stand there with arms raised. Then quickly rushed off as quickly as S/he rushed on. Completely random.) There was another chance to see him over at Knockdown Center two years ago, but my schedule wouldn’t allow it.

Here’s a quick sketch I did last night. Hand drawn, pen and ink. Now that I have all this extra time due to the Coronavirus.

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Masami Akita, aka Merzbow. Pen and ink, hand drawn. Sketch by Michele Witchipoo, March 2020.

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Created this illustration back in 2015.

Now in 2020, we’re dealing with a global pandemic.

The pandemic was inevitable. Planet earth needed a break. The environment was being disrespected, and people were disrespecting each other. Greed became the new God. Intelligence is no longer valued. What smarts people have, it’s used to manipulate others. That all had to stop ASAP.

Instead of moping about being quarantined, use this a time for introspection. If you’re healthy, realize you’ve been given a gift. Officials failed us. Of course our government failed us. Any minute New York City will resort to what happened in Italy – make the call deciding who lives and who dies. Covid-19 is real, and it’s here.

This novel coronavirus is a form of population control. Culling the herd. Staying alive is the best protest. Breathing is your revenge. Don’t waste your life. Treasure every waking moment. Self educate yourselves. Don’t take health for granted. Don’t ever dare put others in danger just because you think it’s an inconvenience. If you think 20 seconds is a long time to wash hands, then use some hand sanitizer.

Have compassion for others. Have gratitude. Think about what’s really important in life. Learn how to combine both logic and emotion. Humor always helps. As they say, laughter is the best medicine. Because if you can’t laugh, you’re going to cry, and right now there’s not enough tissues to pass around.

Unfortunately there’s collateral. Innocent people will be harmed. Some will die. The takeaway is this. Now we’re finding out the truth. We’re learning who the good people are, and who isn’t. The masks are falling out, and I don’t mean the surgical ones. Everything you ever assumed was an illusion.

The earth will still be here long way after humanity is gone.

We can get through this.

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Pen and digital color. Drawn and illustrated by Michele Witchipoo, Feb., 19th, 2015.

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With this quarantine now in place back in NYC, I finally have a chance to post about the past few months. Of course, the pandemic wasn’t the way I wanted this happen. With that, let’s look on some happier times.

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Exhibit of panels during MICE Expo 2019.

I was invited to stay with a friend during MICE Expo 2019. October 2019 was particularly special, because it was their tenth anniversary. For those into indie, alternative, underground and non-superhero comics, MICE, which stands for Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, is one of the best indie comic cons. It takes place annually over at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In conjunction with MICE was Podtales, taking place next door.

One of the 2019 guests of honor was Xamie Hernandez, one half of Los Hernandez Bros. He had a panel discussing his career, from Love and Rockets onward. It should be noted that one of the sections, formely known as the Robert Crumb room, was renamed after Xamie Hernandez.

There were two other MICE panels worth mentioning. One was titled Understanding Nancy. The panel, moderated by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden spoke about the classic newspaper strip. Based on the Eisner-winning book How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels, they discussed how Nancy had an impact on the cartooning medium.

Drawing Power was the name of the panel discussing the anthology Drawing Power: Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival. On the panel was respected underground cartoonist Diane Noomin, along with three contributors, Katie Fricas, Claire Folkman and Kelly Phillips. Noomin was the anthology editor, gathered the contributors by invite only. The recent #metoo movement was one of the catalysts behind this collection.

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The crowds at MICE 2019. Cambridge, MA. Oct. 2019.

On Saturday night, MICE had an after con party celebrating their 10 year anniversary.

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After con party celebrating 10 years of MICE. Oct. 2019.

The next day, the event was just as crowded. Attendees discovered new comics and art.

Due to the COVID19 pandemic, MICE is reassessing whether or not to go ahead with the 2020 con. This was the right thing to do. By June, MICE officials should know whether or not to go ahead. You can check any updates on the website. Other comic cons scheduled in 2020 have followed suit. Until then, here’s to perhaps, 2021.

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Let’s take a few months back to October 2019. Only a few months before Coronavirus came along and ruined everyone’s plans.

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Cambridge, Massachusetts was where the first annual Podtales con took place. Podtales was an event created for anyone interested in Podcasting. The focus was on storytelling. Think back to the days before television, when radio ruled. From the 1920s to the 1950s, radio was the main source of entertainment for American families. Listeners tuned in to various dramas, comedies, soap operas, sci-fi, and other creative genres. With the current rise of podcasting, people are creating new audio worlds, straight from their living rooms to yours.

Admission inside Lesley University was free, coinciding with the annual MICE Expo, which was celebrating next door with it’s own tenth anniversary. Most of the Podtale vendors were from the Boston area, with a few traveling as far as the U.K.

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Many of the fictional podcasters focused on fantasy, Sci-fi, and horror. One such program was The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program. Another one was The Post-Medidian Radio Players.

One podcast was a political parody, making fun of Trump by reading The Mueller Report: A Radio Dramatization.

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Of course, since the pandemic, Podtales 2020 doesn’t look possible. It’s partner, MICE Expo is already cancelled. Hopefully Podtales will continue where it left off in 2021. Meantime, if you’re already bored of Netflix, check out some of the podcasts from the 2019 Podtales exhibitors.

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New York is now under a ‘forced’ quarantine.

Strange times indeed.

You think people would be fighting over food, shelter, and other necessities. Instead a good majority are hoarding toilet paper.

America – the country of assholes.

Hey. I don’t want to catch COVID-19 either. Otherwise known as my friend says, CRAPVID-19. After what I’ve seen the past few weeks, I have no problem going into isolation. I’m quite looking forward to it.

We’ll get through this pandemic. It’s not the virus I’m worried about.

It’s the ignorance, arrogance, and stupidity of the human race that will do us in.

Introducing the Psycho Bunny sketch of the week for March 23, 2020.

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Psycho Bunny. Drunk on Corona beer, sleeping on rolls of toilet paper. Based on the comicbook written and drawn by Michele Witchipoo, on WitchesBrewPress. March 2020.

Social Media. Cause we all know we don’t have s*** to do! You can check these out during your quarantine:  

Facebook: Psycho Bunny and for Michele Witchipoo – WitchesBrewPress.

 Twitter: One account for me, and one for Psycho Bunny.

Tumblr: World Ov Witchipoo

Instagram: there’s WitchipooArt

Want to buy some of my designs? There’s RedBubble: Witchipoo

Finally, don’t forget to purchase my Squeaky comic. $4.00. Venmo: @Witchipoo.

Also. I’m available for commissions. Comics and greetings are available for purchase. No shame in this plug. Especially with the financial impact. Questions? Hit me up: Witchipoo@witchesbrewpress.net. You can also contact me via Instagram, @WitchipooArt

Be safe everyone.

 

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In a previous post, I talked about the passing of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge. Gen passed away almost a month after S/He celebrated h/er 70th Lesser Feast, aka birthday.

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I first heard about Psychic TV way back during high school. This was during the ’80s. It was nearly the height of my Siouxsie wannabe phaze, which actually last a few years. (During high school, I was a Siouxsie clone.) By this point I was hopping around all the import record shops down in NYC’s Greenwich Village area. I remember all of the Temple Record releases. I believe this might’ve been the era where Psychic TV tried to release 23 albums, on the 23rd day for 23 months. Already the PTV brand caught my eye.

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One day, a friend told me a mutual friend of ours took her to see Psychic TV over at The (old) Ritz, which is where Webster Hall now stands. Her assessment wasn’t much. She called them ‘pretentious.’ Looking back, her attention span probably was due to the lack of the ‘cute’ guy factor. Despite her negative review, this only peaked my interest more. My disregard for her scoffing was proven correct. This ‘friend’ later went from being Goth to chasing after all those tacky hair metal glam bands of the late ’80s. Don’t ever trust a Guns n Roses fan.

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The turning point was a purchase of the seminal RE/Search book Modern Primitives. Before tattoos, piercings and body modification were accepted in the mainstream, the underground movement was documented by V.Vale. After purchasing the book from See/Hear, I discovered a new world. Among those interviewed were Genesis P-Orridge and his first wife, formerly known as Paula P-Orridge. It wasn’t just tattoos they discussed. Through this book, I discovered many other worlds. I believe this was one of the first times I heard about Alister Crowley and William S. Burroughs. After reading about the frequency of the number 23, I started seeing 23s everywhere. Maybe it was my subconsciousness bringing it on. Later I discovered The 23 Current. It was my introduction to the esoteric, or occulture.

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After barely graduating high school, I started collecting Psychic TV albums. Similarly I learned about the Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth. I sent away for information. The instructions received wasn’t something I was prepared for – although I kept that manual for many years. (Might even still own it)

Finally had a chance to see Psychic TV live in NYC, year 1991. This was during their ‘Acid House’ era. To this day it still remains one of the best concerts I saw in my life. Why I say this. Looking back on the concert, it wasn’t the performance, but the vibe, the energy. It’s only now I realize that concert might’ve altered my life. My perceptions slowly started to change. Still, it wasn’t until many years later when I decided to act upon my influences.

As the ’90s went on, my life switched directions. Psychic TV wasn’t on my radar so much. Occasionally I brought scattered PTV releases, such as a (now) rare spoken word CD which was later *stolen* (a-hem).  In the meantime, Gen, Paula and their two daughters had to go into exile. After settling in California, Gen and Paula divorced.

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In California, Genesis P-Orridge later got into a nasty accident while hanging out with the British band Love & Rockets. Escaping a fire, Genesis later sued record producer Rick Rubin, winning a large financial sum.

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Didn’t get into Psychic TV again until maybe around the early 2000s. By then, Gen had moved to NYC, met Lady Jaye, and a new chapter developed. It was known as the ‘Pandrogeny Project.’

In summer 2007, I saw Psychic TV live for the second time. The concert was at The Bowery Ballroom. I had just arrived back from Kansas City to NYC. It was the end of a chapter in my own personal life. During this gig, Lady Jaye was in the background playing the tambourine, as the latest incarnation of Psychic TV, now known as PTV3, embraced a more guitar psychedelic vibe. Video montages of the Pandrogeny couple flickered on stage as the band performed.

NEW YORK STORY (2007) originally made as a video projection to be projected behind the band Psychic TV during their live performances. Breyer P-Orridge, also known as Genesis P-Orridge and (recently deceased) life partner Lady Jaye, have garnered attention in recent years by undergoing medical procedures to eliminate their physical differences. “One of the central themes of our work is the malleability of physical and behavioral identity,” they explain, giving rise to their merged identity. The two intended to create a new gender, the “pandrogyne” called Breyer P-Orridge. This video takes Breyer P-Orridges exploration of the fictional self one step further. A video about identity and trans/formation that blurs the line between fantasy and reality. A video by Nicolas Jenkins

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Unfortunately Lady Jaye dropped her body that same year. I managed to catch this incarnation of PTV3, just in time.

After Lady Jaye’s death, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge continued with Psychic TV. I saw Gen’s spoken word performances numerous times during this period. (One spoken word project was known as Thee Majesty.) Once was when Gen was on the same bill as (early) Cold Cave and Boyd Rice. It was commemorating the anniversary of the Manson murders. The last spoken word GPO performance I saw was in 2015. S/He opened up for Japanese noise musician Merzbow. Gen’s whole set was really about Lady Jaye, eight years after her death. It was the saddest I’ve seen Gen. Afterwards, Gen walked on stage in the middle Merzbow’s set, no reason given. S/He stood there for a few minutes, then walked off. That was it. The concert version of “photo bombing.” My words the next day: ‘Gen is not a well woman.’ 

In 2016, Gen had an extensive exhibit at the Rubin Museum, Try To Altar Everything.

Winter 2019. I decided to see Cold Cave in concert again, partly because Psychic TV was booked to be the opening act. This was never meant to be. At this point, Gen was diagnosed with leukemia. The night of the concert, Genesis was much too ill to perform. PTV had no choice but cancel their set last minute.

That’s when I knew Gen didn’t have too long to live.

Luckily, Gen found a new love, who supported not only Gen emotionally, but was comfortable living with Lady Jaye’s memory.

Now it’s 2020, a year of chaos and uncertainly. While COVID-19 was just starting to be acknowledged as a serious threat, news broke about Gen’s passing. Just happen to be cruising through Instagram, when I stumbled upon a post by Cold Cave. Genesis Breyer P-Orridge went on to H/She’s Greater Feast on  Gen’s death was expected, but it still left a void. Despite all the controversies, (people have told me over the years how S/he screwed many people over), Gen still broke boundaries, influencing many worldwide. It’s this blog post that I acknowledge the crucial influence GPO had upon me.

Here’s an illustration I did the other night. It’s Genesis P-Orridge from s/he early PTV days. Around the time Thee Temple of Psychick Youth was formed.

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Poor-trait of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge from the early Psychic TV days. Illustration by Michele Witchipoo. March 2020. 

The next and final GPO post will focus on COUM Transmissions and mainly, Throbbing Gristle. Stay tuned.

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