Peaches Does Herself (2012, Peaches)

Who would have thought that a film that could fairly describe itself as a gender-bending, genital-waving, cabaret ‘cock-rock-shock-opera’ could be quite so boring? Watching Peaches ‘do herself’ is not anywhere near as titillating as it might sound and 70 minutes feels like a lifetime in Peaches directorial debut. Part autobiographical pseudo-provocation, part concert film, full bore. “Fuck the pain away” indeed.

Peaches begins her show with lycra suited backup dances emerging from pink fabric labia and miming sexual acts, and operates at this level of maturity throughout. It is great that Peaches is expressing herself without any degree of restraint or self-consciousness, and no doubt singing about queefing or prostrate stimulation or any of the other topics covered in Peaches musical ouevre is very empowering, but as much as Peaches would like to believe she is the ultimate agent-provocateur, nothing said or shown here is really all that shocking or original. After the umpteenth disguised sexual reference in a lyric (“diddle my skittle” being the best) and the third or fourth swinging member, prosthetic or actual, any degree of offense is overwhelmed by the overriding urge to yawn. Peaches’ game is lowest common denominator goading, and whilst sometimes funny, occasionally clever, it is mostly just a bit dull.

Amongst the drudgery, there are some moments that are slightly more compelling. A gag involving a revolting but strangely sympathetic aging stripper who sings songs more cringe-inducing than even Peaches own is dragged out for so long that it keeps getting funnier and more uncomfortable. Further, a number with a painted gold, completely naked transgender pornstar feels immediately more daring, and when the costumed Peaches adorned in a prosthetic garb made top half with breasts and bottom a giant, waggling penis shares a waltz with someone who has achieved the same look through surgery it pushes on surreal.

Also, Peaches’ decision to essentially not perform her most recognisable song – ‘Fuck the Pain Away’ is pleasing. The song comes as Peaches walks off the stage and out of the theatre door, climbs on a lowrider bicycle and chants the iconic lyric over and over without musical accompaniment as she rides around seemingly empty streets. At this moment, riding around on her bicycle, gurning at the camera positioned in her face, she looks like she could easily feature as a character in a Harmony Korine film.

These moments though, are lost amongst a mass of much more forgettable material. Obviously, this is of a taste, (read: no taste) and to fans of Peaches’ din and demeanour, this is probably the culmination of everything she represents, but these individuals would most likely have already seen the live performance, of which this recording almost certainly adds little to. The crowd at the gig recorded though, were oddly quiet. Perhaps even Peaches fans are getting tired of her.

**

Viewed at Sundance London on 22/04/2013. Originally posted on Front Row Reviews.

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