3 min

Mayhem erupts

An unchained & electric performer

JUICY. Few women rockers today can match Peaches' raw playfulness. Credit: Xtra files

While I’m chitchatting with Peaches backstage at Vazaleen last year, a would-be cub reporter – a sexy and mischievous platinum blonde – interrupts our interview.

“Have you ever sucked pussy before, Peaches?” the cub reporter teases.

“Yes, I have,” Peaches answers.

“Do you rub your whole fucking face in it?” the reporter presses.

Peaches ups the ante: “I fucking rub my whole body in it!”

Mayhem erupts briefly, then Peaches returns to our conversation. “You have to keep that in,” she says.

The night before, Peaches performed at the Power Plant gallery’s Power Ball fundraiser, captivating a crowd that included well-heeled arts patrons and her parents. She wore tight, tight hotpants, from which streams of blood flowed down both her legs, as though she was having a heavy day.

Peaches relishes her body and its ejecta in all its fleshly glory. In the lavish video for “Set It Off,” her body grows hair continuously as the video progresses, so that by the end, huge ferns of pubic hair erupt from her shorts and spread down her legs. The look on her face is one of purest pride and joy in her own carnality.

Peaches is renowned as a leading-edge artist, but in many ways, she feels like a throwback to the 1970s and ’80s. Her creativity transcends gender boundaries, echoing David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, Carole Pope and German mother of punk, Nina Hagen. She cites Pope and Iggy Pop as influences.

In those days, it seemed that female performers were flagrantly ignoring any expectations to be pretty and traditionally feminine. Who wudda thunk we’d end up here and now, where Peaches’ persona stands against a formidable army of market-researched Barbie-doll pop clones?

Peaches is a rare and precious gem. Her raw playfulness and derring-do contrast the posey faux punk of Pink and Avril Lavigne. The full beard she sports on the cover of her current album, Fatherfucker, is a breath of fresh air after a decade dominated by the pious and ethereal Mother Earthy garb of Sarah McLaughlin and company.

Peaches shines brightest during her live performances. She is unchained and electric, boasting bona fide rock star charisma. She cavorts around the stage with the suspended inhibitions of a teenage headbanger playing air guitar in the mirror. She pulls contorted faces, gyrates with ludicrous abandon and bounds about with childlike agility.

I ask her how she experiences the act of performing, and whether she’s aware of her magnetism. “I feel comfortable up there, for some strange reason. And fearless.” She pauses, then adds, “I feel powerful up there.”

Do different crowds respond differently? She says it varies dramatically, especially when she’s opening for other bands. “I opened for Queens Of The Stone Age for, like, 11 shows… and I would have guys telling me, ‘Get off the stage, gay man!’ and turning around so they couldn’t see me.”

Reared in Toronto, Peaches now basks in the creative oasis of Berlin. “Berlin takes more chances with its art and with its younger people,” she says in comparison to Toronto. She cites Berlin’s use of derelict buildings; how they accept proposals from young people and artists who want to make use of them. “They just let people take them and use them…. They just have that sense of public space. People try things out.”

She describes Berlin’s collective synergy that helps her creative juices flow. “I don’t mean this in an egotistical way, but I think I inspired a lot of people in Berlin, and that’s exciting…. People get inspired by each other.” She points to Vazaleen as the kind of chance-taking she relishes in Berlin.

Peaches admits that the overt sexuality of her work frightens some people, but she is not bothered. “I remember seeing performances when I was young and it was like, ‘What the fuck was that?’ And then, five years later, going, ‘Oh my god, that’s the heaviest thing I’ve seen.'”

And is the sexuality meant to make a political statement or is she simply being expressive? “Expressive,” she says definitively. And with that, she answers the few who dismiss her as a shock artist.

Peaches practices sexual glossolalia, wherein some spirit of sexual energy gushes out of her like verbal cunt juice. Check her out and fucking rub your whole body in it.

* David Walberg is Xtra’s publisher.


$20. 7pm.

Wed, May 5.

Opera House

735 Queen St E.

(416) 870-8000.