Style Icons: Peaches

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BOYS WANNA BE HER

When I first saw Peaches live she was screaming some kind of line like “Fuck the pain away” jumping and bending on her knees and kicking alone on stage in front of I don’t even know how many people during an edition of the free Enzimi festival at the Termini train station in Rome. Yes, she was screaming that not that far away from the Vatican City wearing a vynil bolero jacket, Ray-Ban glasses and spitting fake blood out of her explicit mouth. She jumped on stage right before Cristina Dona’ who is, for the ones of you that don’t know her, a very talented Italian songwriter yet very quiet, polite and somehow politically correct. The way the Enzimi team paired the two always made me smile and it was during that summer show that I fell in love with Canadian born but Berlin resident Peaches. I believe this was at the time of her second album Fatherfucker (a response to the common usage of the word “motherfucker”) on the cover of which she appeared wearing a fake beard. I then learned that as Merrill Beth Nisker she was an elementary school music and drama teacher after seeing her live for the second time in a electro-club in Rome with two tall back dancers that were wearing leather underwear with dangling fake plastic penis. Sex is a tabu topic par excellence in our culture but just like other female and feminist activist bands did (Le Tigre, Chicks on Speed…), in this Roman carnival-like representation, sexuality, gender roles and power issues are so explicit that become as grotesque as almost cathartic and far from being shocking. People loved Fuck the pain away right away because the single had almost the same iconoclastic and nihilistic attitude of old punk classic anthem like Sex Pistols’ No Future. Peaches plays with her gender identity and tries to defeat the idea of what the rock crowd expects from a rockeuse. She’s vulgar, often unshaved, irreverent, fetish and foul-mouthed. Think Iggy Pop in pink. This punk adaptation of Victor Victoria could be staged or maybe not but sure it stands out as a unique culture operation. She gives to the crowd this energy that people usually expect only from a male-rocker, but – hell yeah – cliches are cliches cuz they’re meant to be burnt. ~M

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