Peaches is frazzled. It’s the night before her new movie, Peaches Does Herself, hits selects theaters. She sits in her publicist’s midtown office nursing a holy trifecta of green juice, water, and iced coffee. Unlike in the film, a gender-bending concert documentary that examines the myth of the Toronto-born singer, there aren’t any silicone dildos strapped to her petite frame or elaborate outfits and freakshow makeup. The movie is outrageous and confronting. It features a fully nude performance from hermaphrodite pornstar Dannii Daniels, and culminates in electronic music’s unapologetic unicorn receiving a symbolic sex change. We spoke to Peaches, who now calls Berlin home, about self-discovery, influencing other musicians, and “all the dick and pussy shit.”
Most of Peaches Does Herself is obviously not autobiographical, but how much of the story really is about yourself?
I guess the more autobiographical point of it is part of my experience of how people see me and what they think of me and how I see myself, and what I wish for in an ideal world–the ideals of beauty and age.
Was there really a 65-year-old stripper that gave you sage advice?
Nope! [in a childlike voice] I did it all by myself! It was a different situation, but of course you want to put it out there differently. There was also no pussy spaceship that came down into my bedroom.
That was actually the part of the story that sounded the most realistic.
There are really only seven storylines in the whole world. Ever. So to me, I was trying to go along a classic narrative line, but infuse this sort of other world where I answer the questions. But also, put more questions in the questions when I watch those certain ‘50s musicals where it’s the beautiful woman and the funny guy, and they fall in love. But it’s like, “Why is he doing that?” and “Why is she doing that?” To me, what encompasses it the most is the “I Feel Cream” scene, where the violins are going, and then you know it goes from “Shake Your Dicks,” so you think it’s going to be this orgy like, “This is gonna be the Peaches moment!” Then it’s like… “Violins? What? A bench? A guy in the park doing balloon art?” And there’s me in this archetypal male role singing “Pretty Boy” to this gorgeous transsexual who is like seven feet tall, who is like the Cyd Charisse with the legs forever. I’m kind of like the Woody Allen character because I’m kind of clowny. Things like that.
There’s a line in the press release where it describes the moment in the film that you receive your male parts, and it says “She soon becomes what her fans expect her to be: Transsexual.” What does that mean?
A lot of times people would be like, “Aw, Peaches should be a hermaphrodite. She should have a big dick and big tits! I’ve read that a lot from fans and stuff. So that’s why I did that whole “That’s what she really should be!” When they meet me they’re like, “Oh. You’re like a half okay looking little girl.” It’s like they want me to be Dannii Daniels basically. So that’s where the misconception happens and all of that. For me, that was a good part for the storyline of a girl in her bedroom and the idea that like there is a spark when you know you’re gonna make it. And then the fans who are like the seedlings come out of the pussy of course. They are there as the experimental version of my fans because they decide to become or look like me and they envelope me and change me. Then of course it’s ridiculous looking, but it’s so great because the real thing comes [Dannii Daniels]. I’m just really happy with the level of the story in there.
How did you link up with Dannii Daniels?
Dannii I met at a show in London I did for Perez Hilton. Dannii was just there, didn’t know I was playing, and was like, “I lost my virginity in the back of a truck when I was 14 in Florida to your music. Now I can shake my dick and my tits.” I was like, “Whoa!” It was really cool because I knew I was going to be making this play, but I didn’t even think of that kind of character. I knew about Sandy [Kane] and I had her open for some of my shows in New York. Sandy was very like “Who are you? Why do you want me to open your show?” It was a big deal for her to come to Berlin and do this when she never left the States. It’s like, “Where am I?” Everything kind of happened organically. I didn’t even ask to make this production. It was a theater that approached me. They said, “We’d love you to do a production.” I said, “Okay, I want to do Peaches as a one-woman show, and I just want a piano player and I’ll sing the whole thing.” They were like, “Great! Seems easy enough. What else do you want to do?” I was like, “Oh! Okay…” I didn’t really know. I thought maybe I’d do something burlesque or the history of Berlin because I should know more about that or maybe I’ll finally learn German. Then I was like, “Ya know? Fuck that shit! I’ve just worked my ass off for the last ten years, not for any other reason but because I loved it.” I’ve built a whole new set of performance art for me and a whole set of future burlesque and a whole new set of rules or non-rules or breaking rules and just let it all out, including what people think bad or good. I’m gonna put all the dick and pussy shit in there.
Do you remember when you first became hyper-aware of gender and then realizing that the limitations were bullshit?
I’m just starting to tell this story now, but when I was seven, I had spent all my summers with one other girl. [My family] had a cottage and we were the only two girls there. She always thought of herself as a little boy. We’d always go to things and they’d be like, “Oh the little girl and the little boy.” We were the exact same age, only a month apart. We had the same kind of body structure, but she was very, like, manly. She used to tell me, “I think I’m a guy.” Years later she was a lesbian, and then she realized, “No. I’m a guy.” I remember that day she came over when she was like 19 and pulled up her shirt and said, “I’m becoming a guy!” I’m very familiar with this personal experience of a person going through this, so I’m sure that’s had a big impact on me. Then I would just question things. I was a bratty kid, but I was always really spaced out like, “Why does this have to be like that?” and “Why does that have to be like that?”
Are you proud of the other female artists who have taken your message and applied it to their music? I know you’re really cool with M.I.A.
Holy shit, yes! M.I.A. has taken this idea of music as a message and look how incredible it’s been. And Nicki Minaj! I don’t know if she took from me; I’m sure she’s just taking from rap in general, but she blew it out of the fuckin’ water. The shit she gets to say on tracks now is so great. “Did It On ‘Em” is just… The dirty shit is just incredible.
Well maybe she doesn’t have your direct DNA, but there’s Peaches somewhere in her sound, like most of these female artists.
That’s an incredible compliment. I hope so. I’m just glad it’s out there. It’s great. Maybe it’s just a natural progression too.
Will you be taking Peaches Does Herself off Broadway? Like traveling with it as a show?
Um…no. [laughs] If somebody wants to fund it, maybe? Right now it’s just exciting that it’s a movie because otherwise nobody would’ve gotten to see it. It would’ve just been something that happened in Berlin. I’m really excited we decided to document it and realized it could’ve become a film.