I've heard Genesis and Lady Jaye approached you at the start of the pandrogyne project, because they knew they'd want to document it-how well did you know them, and their histories in the music/art/fetish world going in? How was the project presented to you, and how did your sense of it evolve over the course of the film?
I knew nothing about Genesis and Lady Jaye, their music, art or history. I first saw Genesis perform seven years ago, at the Knitting Factory. I went to see Alan Vega but the third part was Thee Majesty with Genesis, Lady Jaye and Bryin Dall. Watching Genesis perform was pure enchantment. His words from the stage hovered somewhere between song and speech, deeply poetic, primitive, at times frightful. It completely hypnotized me.
In a typically miraculous New York City coincidence, I met Genesis the next day at a gallery opening in Soho, in one of those sardine-can spaces where you can barely walk and hardly breathe. Being relatively small, I got pressed into a corner where I inadvertently stepped on someone's toes. I turned to apologize and there was Genesis smiling, his gold-capped teeth glittering down over me. We spoke briefly, but in that time I felt something special had passed between us. He asked me about my films and gave me his email. Whether it was fate or pure clumsiness, this marked the beginning of an artistic collaboration that would develop into a close friendship.
Soon after I was invited to his home and sat there in the basement when Lady Jaye appeared with her beautiful self and a giant glass of tea for me... we talked, and very soon, Jaye said to Genesis, "She is the one"—so I smiled wondering what that meant—"the one we have been waiting for to film our life and love and pandrogeny project" Of course I make films and it always happens with sudden encounters, and surprise, so I said yes without knowing a thing about the project. Two weeks later I was on tour with Psychic TV on a bus, my first rock 'n' roll experience and the beginning of many years of friendship, filming, learning and shaping the film.
They never questioned me, or directed me, they let me film what I wanted, and I felt myself, free and clumsy but just able to be there and do it my own manner, with deep respect and love for them both and their life. There was not sense of what the project would be, I first thought it would be a documentary on music... and fast I saw it would be a love story because of their deep relationship that was in front of my camera at all time, such a peculiar love story mixed with art and music... but love above all.
The film portraits I made were all based on encounters and friendships. I never go make a film with an idea that I want to make a film about such and such artist, it would not work.
As for the style, it is the same style for the shorts and the feature, the way I film, the way I edit and shoot alone so without synch sound, make costumes, make a lot of tableau like Melies to set the characters in them... and what is surprising is that Genesis's work and "cut up" project with Lady Jaye, is very close to the manner I myself make films, collaging, using different formats, raw and quick editing... so aesthetically the sensibility was one of the closest to my style.