Peaches on doing herself and gender ambiguity

I see you sitting, stuffing your face, why don’t you stuff me up? Eat a cookie, a big dick, everyday, what? Eat a cookie, a big clit, everyday, what?

Cruising from corporate owned radio station to radio station, you probably won’t chance upon these lyrics. From musician Peaches’ song “Stuff Me Up,” they celebrate aggressive female sexuality in a way still foreign to mainstream radio. And that’s just fine with Peaches. A focused, ever-evolving performer she’s done everything from rap with Christina Aguilera to play the titular role in Jesus Christ Superstar. She spoke with about Lady Gaga, gender ambiguity and her new transexual rock opera documentary Peaches Does Herself. How does using a stage name effect your work?
Well, for me, I think I chose a name people enjoy saying. It’s catchy and sounds cool. This however is only coincidental because I picked my name because of the way Nina Simone sings the name Peaches at the end of her song “Four Women.” I wanted her to be singing this to me so I took on that name.

AE: For you, what’s the difference between person and persona? In other words, how representative of yourself is your stage persona?
When I’m on stage it is not a normal situation. It’s far from a one-on-one connection. It’s me and a connection to 500 or 2000. I amplify my personality to fit this situation.

AE: You’ve talked about experiencing anti-semitism as a child. In what ways has feeling like an outsider carried through into adulthood? How has it effected you as an artist?
I question a lot of mainstream attitudes and laws. These are the basis for my art.

AE: Why do you gravitate to sexually explicit lyrics and images?
Pop music is full of sexual lyrics and images but not always expressed evenly through different genders. I enjoy twisting these expressions to fit my point of view.

AE: What’s so interesting to you about gender ambiguity?
We have so many emotional and physical ratios of male and female and I think it’s important for people to explore their own ratio.

AE: Do you feel pressure to outdo yourself in terms of provocative lyrics or explicit imagery?
I am constantly becoming myself and I do this through my artist challenges.

AE: Lady Gaga and you seem to share some aesthetic similarities. What do you think of her more mainstream acceptance?
It’s great the she is a model for young kids; it’s also important that she has great musical skill.

AE: Speaking of pop stars, what was working with Christina Aguilera like?
She is a fan and asked me to rap whatever I wanted on this particular song. It was cool.

AE: What made you interested in performing Jesus Christ Superstar as a one-woman show?
I love the music and I wanted to present in a minimalist manner just to focus on how strong the songs and lyrics are without the gaudy production.

AE: How did you come up with the idea for Peaches Does Herself?
I wanted to use songs from my past four records. The challenge was to construct a relevant narrative that could be presented solely through the songs without extra dialogue.

AE: What were the positive and negative aspects of directing yourself?
Directing is something I am quite comfortable with it’s actually having someone else direct that would be quite challenging.

AE: What do you hope viewers take from the film?
I want them to enjoy this neo-burlesque exploration. I hope it can become a sort of new Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Peaches Does Herself will make its U.S. debut at the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival on Friday, April 19.