Long before Toronto’s Merrill Nisker stumbled into a career as the electro art provocateur Peaches, she had every intention of becoming a theatre director, at least until reality set in.
“I quickly figured out that I didn’t want to work with actors or all of these factors I thought would give me a heart attack by the time I was 30,” she tells Spinner.
Still, when Hebbel Hau Theater in her adopted home of Berlin asked her to do a production, Peaches was thrilled to have a chance to go back to her artistic roots. Assembling over 20 songs from her four albums, the foul-mouthed and sharp-tongued singer crafted a retrospective “anti-jukebox” musical loosely based on her life called Peaches Does Herself. She also filmed the show, which ran at the Hebel in October of last year, because she wanted to document it in some way.
Ten performances’ worth of footage, 1,500 edits and just under a year later, the film version of Peaches Does Herself is making its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The movie, as described on Peaches’ official site (we’d try to paraphrase, but there’s no sense in messing with perfection) “tells the story of a young woman who, inspired by a 65-year-old stripper, begins to make sexually forthright music. Her popularity grows and she becomes what her fans expect her to be: transsexual. She falls in love with a beautiful she-male, but gets her heart broken and then ventures on a path of self-discovery.”
The elaborate dix and tit-shaking spectacle is written and directed by Peaches, who also stars in the film as herself. Her supporting cast includes Naked Cowgirl Sandy Kane as the 65-year- old stripper in question, transgendered porn star Danni Daniels, electronica artist Mignon and a dance troupe known as The Fatherfucker Dancers. The flick’s set designs and props feature, among other things, various labia representations, laser harps and a gruesome exploded phallus that’s becoming notorious for its ability to make audiences squirm.
“It should be uncomfortable, like ‘Is this a joke?’ This has actually turned really gory, but it’s actually really weird-looking,” says Peaches. “It was actually done by Babes in Horny, a company that makes dildos and they made me two exploding penises.”
There’s also a pair of exploding breasts in the film, but Peaches is less impressed with how they come across.
“I must say the dick was much better than the boobs.”
A replacement pair of blasting boobs was eventually crafted for the stage, but logistics prevented them from getting their big movie break.
“One unfortunate thing is that we did have new boobs — new exploding boobs that were way better — but we had to use the shots of the old ones and actually we had to reshoot one scene where I had to put on the old costume for the closeups and stuff.”
The new, improved and more Cronenergian boobs are now in storage in Berlin, thwarting any temptation she might have had to wear them on the red carpet for the film’s premiere.
If things go well with Peaches Does Herself the artist says that she’d be interested in revisiting it as a theatrical production, but it would have to have the right funds behind it.
“I’m waiting for a mega-producer to give me money, and then I’m there. Let’s see… who should give me the money? Maybe if we say someone’s name, they’ll set us up,” she says with a mischievous grin. “I want money from… I want money from Snoop Dogg.”
“Snoop Lion,” a member of the documentary crew that’s currently following Peaches around corrects her. It’s one of the many projects she currently has on the go, including a new single (“BURST!”, which comes out next month), DJ gigs and her continuing efforts to support Pussy Riot.
“Snoop Lion? He’s not Snoop Dogg anymore?” she asks.
“He’s a reggae artist,” it’s explained.
Peaches shakes her head, unimpressed.
“Then I don’t want him. Forget it,” she says dismissively. “But really, in a real world, it should be Tina Fey.”
In the meantime, the singer is doing things the low budget way, trying to wrangle the cast of Peaches Does Herself for a Friday night performance piece at Toronto’s Drake Hotel called, appropriately enough, Peaches Does The Drake, and attempting to find family and friends who will let everyone crash with them during TIFF to save on hotel costs.
After that, it looks like PDH is primed to take on the film circuit. On the strength of the first press screening alone, Peaches has already received offers from other festivals. Beyond that, she’s hoping that the picture reaches the kind of cult status the live show was starting to cultivate in Berlin.
“I started to see people who came the second time start to dress up. If it went on longer, maybe it would have started to have that Rocky Horror kind of feel of yelling things and stuff. I think someone even threw something one night.”
In other words, does that mean that she’s hoping that her film will someday have its own callbacks and midnight screenings?
“Hell yeah!” she says smiling.
This feature originally appeared September 14, 2012 on AOL Spinner.