Teaches of Peaches
At an embarrassingly under-attended electronica show at 6Odum this past April, a curly-haired white woman calling herself Peaches spit and moaned nasty lyrics while her kinky Super-8 films about lesbian cowgirls and bicycles ran in an orgasm-inducing loop. She danced coolly to her own bitchy beats, flaunting her dirty hot-pink panties. Almost everyone in the audience ached to sleep with her, and so when she asked them to grovel, they said, How low? She turned on the theremin simulator on her Roland MC-505 and ordered one guy to manipulate the laser beam with his tongue–or as she put it, to give head to her Groovebox. After the performance she sold CDs out of her panties. When a guy requested change for his $20 bill, she refused, forcing him to buy two copies.
Peaches’s new CD, Teaches of Peaches, is all about the pleasure of the power of sex. “I like the innocent type / Deer in the headlight,” she raps in “AaXxx.” Her lyrics read like a romp through a juvenile delinquent’s twisted sex diary–“My labia majora / Is soft like angora / Dancin’ the hora / You know you can’t ignore-a it”–but Peaches is in her 30s, the age where today’s teen-obsessed society considers most women musicians to be tough, wiry old broads. She got a late start: 12 years ago Peaches was a Jewish Canadian folksinger named Merrill Nisker.
There’s a little folkie left in her: on the scathing “Rock Show,” she indicts cocky male musicians as boneheads acting out masturbation fantasies onstage with their instruments. Thankfully, the blatant feminism stops there; otherwise it might be misconstrued that Peaches is either “art” or a mouthpiece for a gender-specific agenda. Peaches’s only agenda is to work it while she’s got it. She’s more Lil’ Kim than Julie Ruin–a deep-throated bitch, half Rottweiler, half poodle, with a proclivity toward solipsism and an aversion to subtlety.
But while Lil’ Kim brags about her criminal libido–her foreplay involves fistfights and urine–Peaches remarks that “there’s only one Peach with the hole in the middle.” Lil’ Kim raps over Pat Benatar and…what is that, Billy Ocean? Peaches name checks Blondie and Chrissie Hynde and makes allusions to Gang of Four and Pussy Galore. Lil’ Kim graphically credits the naysayers who’ve made her infamous; Peaches nonchalantly notes that “Some people think / I keep my self-respect in my cervix.” Lil’ Kim’s production is hyperactive; Peaches leans toward monochromatic minimalism. Lil’ Kim’s entourage could fill a fleet of SUVs–her latest CD, Notorious K.I.M., seems like a gratuitous compilation of who’s who in rap music, featuring Sean “Puffy” Combs, Cee-Lo, Redman, and even her prepubescent cousin Lil’ Shanice, who sings about dolls and machine guns in the same breath. Peaches keeps her posse small and legal.
Before Peaches left Toronto for Berlin a few months ago (because “no one takes a Canadian seriously until they have made it somewhere else”), her sidekick was Shary Boyle, an accomplished painter and filmmaker, who dressed in a kiddie skeleton costume and boxing gloves and danced alongside Peaches like she was punching out personal demons on Soul Train. Before Boyle, Bitch LapLap, who plays in a folk-rock band called Feist and stars in one of Peaches’s short films, just got onstage and shouted. Daddy, her unofficial hype man in Toronto, extolled her musical and physical succulence to anyone who’d listen. But now there’s only longtime friend and labelmate Gonzales, who moved with her to Berlin. On their maxi single for Kitty Yo, “Red Leather,” they’re giddy and jackassed, like the front line of the B-52’s, singing “Are you lickin’ it / Or are you chicken shit?” over snake-charmer melodies and brainless dance beats.
Workin’ it is working: Peaches is, like she says, “the kind of bitch / That you wanna get with.” Over the last five months, she’s gone from bowling over knob twiddlers at 6Odum to seducing arty libertines in higher places. She’s back in Chicago this week, with Gonzales in tow, opening for Elastica at the Park West.