For over a decade, electroclash punk artist Peaches has danced a wild line between pop artist and provocateur. While commercial mainstream pop singers come and go, the 46-year-old Peaches remains as feisty and in tune with her boundary-pushing sensibilities as ever. And now she can add filmmaker to her colorful resumé: With the concert film "Peaches Does Herself," which opened in limited release this weekend, Peaches directs an expressionistic representation of her stage show, featuring a lively rendition of 22 tracks ("Fuck the Pain Away," "Lovertits" and "Shake Yer Dix" all get their moments) -- and stringing them together with an eruption of lighting schemes, playfully erotic moments and vulgar rants that create the perception of the singer's persona come to explosive life. Following its Toronto International Film Festival premiere, Indiewire contributor Boyd Van Hoeij described "Peaches Does Herself" as "a 'Pina' for the queer and sexually liberated crowd." And Indiewire's Peter Knegt put it bluntly: "Peaches rocks the fuck" out of this loud and irreverent showcase.
With so much energy onscreen, it's almost jarring to discover that Peaches is actually a genial, introspective woman seemingly humbled by any opportunity to discuss her work. At this year's Locarno Film Festival, Peaches participated on a jury headed by Mexican director Nicolás Pereda and spent the weekend watching a lot of movies unlikely to play far beyond the insular festival world. Enlightened by the experience and in an especially reflective state of mind, she sat down with Indiewire at the city's Hotel Belvedere to discuss her take on various movies -- including, but not limited to, her own -- as well as how she cultivated and stuck to her unique brand.
Seeing you on this jury made me wonder what sort of decision you might have made if you'd been in the room with Steven Spielberg and company when his jury awarded "Blue is the Warmest Color" with the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Did you see that movie?
I had some issues with it, given the French history with that kind of eroticism of young girls and older men. This time, it's just young girls, but it's still a man's point of view, even though the sex scenes are really quite good. It's the best lesbian sex scene I've ever seen apart from it porn or something. It's really hot. And also that scene where they eat after a while in the cafe [and make out]. That tension is insane. [Adele Exarchoupolos]'s face is great. [The director] just left so much of storytelling to her face.
Given the kind of performances you give, do you feel like you need to take a stance on issues of female representation?
I think it's still relevant and it is a matter of entertainment and freedom of speech and not just women. Of course, it's the LBGT community, too. When my film was being introduced, [the programmer] said, "If you're interested in LBGT, you're in the right place." And I thought, "No." It shouldn't be a ghettoizing opportunity. It should be for anybody. Maybe somebody who's not in that community would actually enjoy it. A lot of gay people don't want to be married. They think it's a crock of shit, but from my perspective they should have a choice like anybody. I personally don't want to get married, but whatever. They should have the same reasons of anybody else, whether if it's for better taxes in an union or they don't want to have the situation where one person dies and the other person can't access their funds.
Where do you live these days?
Berlin. But Russia is not far away and it is ridiculous right there right now with gay propaganda laws. If you're a sympathizer and you are visiting Russia and a sympathizer of gay actions, you can also be imprisoned. There is a lot of scary shit right now with the Golden Dawn party, with their feelings. It's just incredible how much power organized religion can still have in this age. If you're religious, that's fine, but let other people be who they are, too.
You grew up in a Jewish community.
Yeah. We had two sets of dishes. The whole deal. No diary three hours after a meal. But you know, I really didn't feel connected to it. I went half to Hebrew school and half to English school, but I didn't feel connected to any of it. I didn't get anything out of it, to be honest. There were Israeli teachers who were disgruntled who were, like, horrible teachers, who they would bring over. It was bad. I didn't pursue it after grade six. I was like, "Why am I doing this?"
Was there a point in time where you realized your art was going to allow you to express yourself as opposed to just going with the flow of what people told you to do?
It's funny because it was all kind of go-with-the-flow kind of thing in a way, in that I didn't have any desire to be completely artistic. I only knew about theater because my parents would take me to plays that we would see when we would visit family in the north. So, that's all I really knew.
You went to Broadway shows and that was your notion of performance.
That was my notion of performance, right, and also that someone was on stage in front of you. That is the most obvious thing. I remember seeing Gladys Knight & the Pips when I was seven and things like that. I went with my parent's friends. I was the only white kid there and I was like, "Black people have way more fun at concerts." BB King opened up and the adults were just way more emotional.
What about movies?
I was really into "Phantom of Paradise," which I saw at a really young age. I also saw a lot of movies because we had a cottage and there were restricted movies, but me and my friend were always allowed to see every movie. So I saw the "The Sting" when it came out. I saw a lot of movies.