Whatever Sells…

In the last year, an old bandmate and girlfriend, known as Cosey Fanni Tutti, accused P-Orridge in a memoir of being physically and emotionally abusive. P-Orridge said she had not seen the book, but denied the allegations. “Whatever sells a book sells a book,” she said.

I can’t believe what I’ve just read.

This new New York Times profile of Genesis P-Orridge is very cunning but this nod to an elephant in the room is so insultingly brief, I think the way it’s mentioned is perhaps worse than if it had not been mentioned at all.

Genesis is described as a manipulative, controlling and bitter person in Cosey’s book. Domestic violence escalates to what is effectively attempted murder.

Despite how that might sound, Cosey’s book is not sensationalist. Constructed in orbit of old diary entries, it’s a surreally objective book if anything, a sort of rememoir in which the past is looked upon anew by a very different person to the one who first wrote the entries that fuel it.

Accusations shared to sell a book? Cosey’s is not an autobiography of the #MeToo era. It’s not a politicised exposé. It’s the story of an extraordinary life, and one in which — even in her own words — Cosey is not presented as the central character, but rather as a vessel for strange events who is as bemused by her life as her readers might be.

What would Genesis’s autobiography be like? I can quite easily imagine.

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Cosey back stage in Hull before a Carter Tutti Void gig in 2017. We’d exchanged emails back in 2014 when, as a naive and unemployed resident of Hull, having a bit of a crisis with too much time on his hands, I threw myself into trying to singlehandedly organise a COUM Transmissions retrospective.

As far as I’m aware, I was the first person to publicly lobby for the idea but I was also very far from the best person to carry it forwards. My enthusiasm did get me further than even I had anticipated, however.

Unfortunately, I teamed up with the wrong people and it was a mess, but it seemed to provoke others into taking the suggestion seriously and doing it right, and that’s precisely what happened. Organised by The Quietus, the COUM Transmissions programme at the brand-new Humber Street art gallery was a dream come true for many.

When I introduced myself to Cosey back stage on the second opening weekend, I was greeted like an old friend by a woman of remarkable humility and generosity.

Her book hadn’t come out yet, at that time, but proofs were circulating. Genesis had come to Hull too and there was an anxiety amongst those in the know that having COUM members in the same room for the first time in decades might not actually be such a good idea…

Everyone was nervous about Gen…

A series of performances were scheduled: two solo sets, one each from Gen and Cosey. Cosey did about 40 minutes of improvised techno which felt fresh, forward-thinking, demonstrating a relentless and continuing trajectory of exploration and play. What I found must endearing was that, between each 3-4 minute techno vignette, she would look over her shoulder to Chris Carter, mouthing whether she’d filled up enough time yet. She seemed somewhat self-conscious but the crowd didn’t want it to end.

Genesis did a sort of spoken word performance over field recordings, ranting about memory, the Facebook generation, totally enamoured by the sound of their own voice. It was perhaps the most self-involved and pretentious thing I’ve ever seen — and I like going Café Oto…

It’s obvious to anyone that the Genesis described by Cosey is still the Genesis dining out on the story of their partner’s death today, walking around under a cloud of self-importance. They’ve passed it.

Give Cosey the credit and respect she’s long overdue.

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