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Peaches: "The Vagina Is Making A Comeback"

FOTO: Marie Rouge
Wild stage shows, walking condom costumes and butt plug videos – the scandalous singer Peaches is not just the queen of electro music and an exceptional artist, but also the Joan of Arc of gender equality, an ardent and avant-garde feminist.

Recently, the video for the single "Vaginoplasty" appeared, in which Peaches seems to argue that society needs to be more proud of the female sex organ, and which critiqued the practice of women having their vaginas made smaller through surgery.
As the lyrics go:

Pussy’s big and I’m proud of it
You can dig dig dig in and out of it.

We caught up with Peaches at Melt! festival in Germany to talk about what in the world is wrong with a big pussy.

Despite the charged content of the song, the video for "Vaginoplasty" turned out pretty inoffensive... was that a conscious decision?
It’s a nice video, that’s right. When we started to shoot, I had just finished my tour and felt completely worn out. For this reason, the director Briana Gonzalez took over the whole production. In most cases, I’m the director and at the same time the main performer, but at that point I just had no energy for it. Briana is a good friend and knows my taste perfectly. She knew that I am a big fan of the synchronised swimming legend Esther Williams who was a real Hollywood starlet in the 1950s and never went into the water without her makeup. This certain level of elegance has always fascinated me.

So the video became a mix of vaginas swimming in sync...
(Laughs) Something like that. We were shooting in a friend’s garden which has a fancy pool – typical Hollywood. Luckily, my dancers were still in the city and Briana brought an underwater camera and a crane, and I only had to lie on a rock and stretch myself out in a tit costume...

In terms of costumes, you've usually got a lot going on; full body vagina costumes, unicorn-pussy masks, golden curls and tit overalls, there’s everything there.
The costumes come from my live show. My own outfit in the "Vaginoplasty" video mostly consists of sewn-on breasts and comes from New Orleans. One of my dancers wanted to buy me a present for my birthday there. When the shop owner heard that it was for me, she conjured up this gorgeous nipple costume. A wonderful idea.
At present, breasts are seen everywhere – very socially accepted. Why is it different with the vagina, specifically in the arts?
I remember when I saw the dinner plates by the artist Judy Chicago... For her installation The Dinner Party, she had imagined how famous people would look as vaginas, and then represented this in an idealised way in the form of plates. So you were at a dinner party together with very famous people as vaginas. That was cool and has permanently changed my view of the vagina. However, I believe that the vagina is making a comeback and at some point will be even more accepted by society than the male sex organ. Because nobody is particularly eager to say "penis" or "cock", are they?

In general, feminism is a big topic for you. For the shooting of the music video for the single Rub, you travelled to the desert with a production team that consisted solely of women. How was the result received?
Incredibly well. Even the shoot itself was a special experience, as the dynamic on set was totally different from the usual. The film industry is very male-dominated, and to work exclusively with women was a new and liberating feeling. At the end, half of us were running around naked. The release which followed also went very well, although the video was consciously shared only on my Facebook page, without involving partners on any online portals.

Why is that?

I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone and knew that this video would explode anyway as soon as it was circulated on the Internet. Within one week, the video had over one million views on Youtube, though after that it got deleted. It can still be found on the French website Tracks, though. There are some comments there that are really bad.

In what way?
Because some people simply don’t understand what it’s about – but you have to get over that. It got many more positive responses though, especially because of the various body ideals and forms of expression which were shown in the video. Just yesterday, I talked to a girl from Cairo at a festival who told me she had watched the video in Egypt in her car. She was sitting there giggling and at the same time terribly afraid that somebody could see what she was watching.

How do you usually deal with negative comments?

They would never influence how I make music, but of course I can feel what is happening around me. In many cases, the people who gossip about you behind your back are exactly the same as those who come to you and try to sweet-talk. But there is also a lot of honest encouragement. With this video, it was particularly interesting that I received many emails from heterosexual male friends, fathers of families, who congratulated me on the production. Then again, many lesbians were rather shocked!

Why is that?
I don’t know, people are just different.

Do you have the feeling that in terms of tolerance and charity Christianity often fails to practice what it preaches?
Yes, but I think this is true for most religions. I can only feel something good about Buddhism as it’s all about getting rid of your own ego instead of elevating it even more. In our society, the ego seems to be too present, everything revolves around your own person.

As an artist, you bring to life various strong characters, whether on the stage or in the video. To what extent is the ego in the foreground there?

For me, it’s primarily about showing how many personalities there are and how different people can be. It’s very important for me that people can laugh at themselves.

What do you think of the concept of women’s power?
I prefer the word people’s power. Take the US as an example. There, they say: “Yeah, women’s power!” Let’s elect the first female president”, but Hillary Clinton is certainly not the kind of president that everyone wants to have. Of course, Donald Trump is also no alternative, but to elect Hillary Clinton only because she is a woman? People should elect a person, not gender. And Hillary is not a good person. The only real option was Bernie Sanders. It should be about someone who can think in a progressive way and lead the country forward and not just someone who is a woman. The same goes for Theresa May.

As a Canadian, do you have an outsider perspective on what’s currently happening in the US?
Of course I do. Especially the current discussion about police violence. I feel sick just from thinking about it. Just today, I saw another video in which a man is being tasered to the ground by a policeman for no reason. The police force in the US should really think about the criteria according to which it recruits employees. Here as well, much revolves around the ego, the exercise of power by an individual person. To be a policeman means to have a rather extraordinary job. They shouldn’t run around the area and bring people down with electric tasers or beat them up for no reason in front of their children!

These are quite difficult times in which we’re living right now, that’s for sure. That’s exactly the reason why it’s important to enjoy life when you have the opportunity. We should be kind to each other and think in a positive way.