It would be nice to tell you everything about Peaches, but even her discography is too unseemly to be printed in the newspaper.
Perhaps that’s as it should be for the controversial singer and performance artist who will appear tonight in the Mainroom of First Avenue.
Frequently explicit, always challenging notions of how we identify gender, and with a career that has taken her from teaching drama and music at Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto in her native Canada to elaborate stage shows inspired by, amongst many others, Brian De Palma and John Waters, Merrill Beth Nisker arrived on the scene in the ’90s, but found global fame as her rechristened artistic self, known as Peaches.
Comparisons are always inevitable, but Peaches is hard to classify (and, one suspects, she wouldn’t have it any other way). Think Hedwig and the Angry Inch meets Phantom of the Paradise, with a healthy dose of Mink Stole thrown in, and you’re somewhat on the right track.
But, then, Peaches will always throw you a curve. She’ll don a beard and play her electronic music one minute, and then the next she’ll stage her own semi-autobiographical life concert, and then before you know it she’ll end up in a short film directed by none other than John Malkovich.
She’s not for the faint of heart, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a big heart herself. You’ll be challenged (some might even find her prurient content offensive), but if you’re willing to “go there” you most assuredly won’t be bored.
She’s now an author, and after a six-year hiatus returns to her recording career. Hers is a deeply personal art, where she becomes everything from her own curator to an emblem of tenacity in the face of utter indifference.
And, listen, you’ve got to hand it to an artist who can conceive and stage a one-woman version of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” rename it “Peaches Christ Superstar,” and open it in Berlin.
That’s just not on many singers’ resumes.