June 21, 1994

Freedom in our skins?

This article was written by Geri Corvus. Ignore any other bylines!

For over 20 years, Genesis P. Orridge has been living out his highly original form of art. Starting out with public exhibits of used tampons, condoms and nappies and continuing with a range of 'performance art' including experimental music, films and mixed-media shows, he has never gone for the safe option of commerciality. He has explored magic, shamanism and psychedelics. His life is his work and his work lies (he considers) in extending all possible boundaries.

On 15th February 1992, his Brighton home was raided by the Obscene Publications Squad, who seized 2 tons of videos, photographs and films.

It was Orridge's entire 20-year collection, much of it valuable archive material such as unpublished work by William Burroughs. Most conveniently for the Squad, Orridge was in Nepal at the time meeting Tibetan mystics and helping out at a refugees' soup kitchen along with partner Alaura and their two young daughters.

The next day, the Observer newspaper ran a front-page story stating that a genuine satanic abuse video had been unearthed and would be screened by Channel 4 that week as undeniable evidence of bloody Satanic sacrifice. Sex and blood rituals are taking place beneath a picture of Aleister Crowley. The trappings of black magic are obvious.

The programme appeared the next Wednesday and its makers ought to be prosecuted under the Trades Descriptions Act. Far from providing irrefutable proof of ritual abuse, it consisted, for the most part, of the usual mix of self-appointed occult experts' rewriting the 'history' of Satanism, along with shadowed 'survivors' rehashing their usual sex 'n' blood fantasies.

The actual video excerpts showed a lot of hazy, distorted, fast-moving images with a scratch-electronic soundtrack. People were only intermittently visible, and it was hard to see what they were doing. But according to a 'survivor' named Jennifer, it showed Satanic rites and the enforced abortion of a fœtus—she had been present at the filming!

The video was made by Psychic TV, an art and music group founded by Orridge. He had little to do with its making beyond furnishing some props, stills and bits of film. However, 'Jennifer' had alleged to Andrew Boyd—the programme's researcher—that it had been filmed in the cellar of a Brighton house which had been a centre for devil-worship and human sacrifice for years. This was the excuse for the police raid on Orridge's house. But it was only an excuse—they had no real reason to believe that murder and torture had ever taken place there.

Within days of the broadcast, 'Jennifer's' testimony was revealed as bogus. The 'Satanic' video had been made nine years before, when she was still a child, and had been shown in public many times. Moreover, it had been commissioned and paid for by Channel 4, to illustrate 'the power of the televised image'!

The Police would have known this fact (it was certainly known to Andrew Boyd) so it would seem that they, or their masters, had been simply waiting for the opportunity.

In 1990, in the 'Operation Spanner' case, 15 gay men were found guilty of assaulting each other while engaging in private and mutually consenting sado-masochistic acts. Their appeal was heard in February 1992 (the same month as the raid on Orridge's house) and rejected. the judge, Lord Lane, ruled that assault was still assault even when the assaultee had requested and consented to it (Editor's update: the case was taken before the Law Lords in March 1993. They voted three to two to uphold the ruling. Three of the five men involved are now going to the European Court of Human Rights and the other two are seriously considering it (The Pink Paper, issue 269, 21 March 1993)). The same Lord Lane had presided in an earlier trial (in 1991) in which a tattooist and body piercer, Mr Sebastian, was found guilty on 13 counts of GBH. GBH is one charge below manslaughter and carries a possible penalty of seven years imprisonment. Mr Sebastian got off comparatively lightly—2 years suspended, plus costs and a large fine. He is a gay man, runs a licensed tattooing and piercing studio, and the 13 people he is supposed to have so grievously harmed all had various body piercings from him. None of them had ever complained—their names were taken at random from Mr Sebastian's files after police had raided his studio.

In his summing up, Lord Lane set a legal precedent by declaring that any form of injury or piercing to the body was illegal if it was done in the course or for the furtherance of sexual pleasure—that it constituted "unnatural sex" (his words).

That judgement, together with his judgement on the 'Operation Spanner' case means it is now illegal for anybody at all, gay or straight, to inflict so much as a love bite on each other during the course of erotic play!

By a most curious coincidence, Mr Sebastian had performed what narration there was on the so-called 'Satanic' video and had provided some of the pictures (of pierced bodies). The connections in all this gives cause for wonder—the same judge setting out legal precedents in two very similar cases; the Obscene Publications boyos raiding both Genesis P. Orridge and a man he has working connections with (both Genesis and Alaura have pierced genitals from Mr. Sebastian); a transparently bogus, biased and defamatory TV 'exposé' broadcast by a normally liberal, trustworthy and responsible company.

Orridge certainly believes some sort of high-level conspiracy was at work. How could they even begin to pretend they had a 12-month investigation and none of these supposedly professional detectives bothered to find out that people were inventing stories and that our house didn't even have a cellar! We were public figures in Britain, whose front door was always open—not the kind of situation where you could hide several years of killings!

He sees his situation as part of the suppression of 'alternative' and 'deviant' lifestyles.

For several hundred years and even longer, murder and intrigue have been the basic means for people in control, for the highest authority in the land, for the government, the church and the crown. the way we became rich was (by) committing genocide and destroying other peoples' minds on the pretext that 'those' people were an ethnic minority, therefore deviant, primitive, uncivilised or literally inhuman... now with the Empire gone they are basically doing the same thing. they will isolate a certain group. label them as uncivilised, and therefore justify their need to attack and destroy. Now they rip themselves apart because they are so frustrated with their loss of power and their basic loss of a potent sexual identity which is turned into economic and military might. That is why they are so twisted about sexuality, about erotic exploration, about people becoming self-empowered... It's the totalitarian government attacking its dissidents.

It's hard to dismiss his conclusions. After all, what harm can be caused by someone having rings through their genitals, or getting their fun from being whipped? But of course, such practices do harm -- they harm the State which tries hard to control the minds and bodies of all its citizens. 'Operation Spanner' and Mr Sebastian's prosecution were, it seems, meant to bang home the message that it is the State, and not we, who control our own bodies.

The raid on the home of a man dedicated to the abolition of all barriers of thought, feeling and experience along with his public defamation as a mass murderer and child abuser is to convey the message that exploration beyond the State's own social boundaries is dangerous -- that we don't even own our minds.

The Orridges are now in self-imposed exile in the States, working with the 60's psychedelic guru Timothy Leary and setting up 'mind-blowing' multi-media shows. It is unlikely they will be coming back to Britain.

The solicitor handling their legal action against Channel 4 is working entirely without pay. If you want to send a donation, or find out more info on Genesis P. Orridge, write to: Freedom From the Press Fund, c/o Paul Spraggon, Hills Searle, 322 King Street, London W6 0RR.

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This page contains a single entry by Feòrag published on June 21, 1994 10:08 PM.

Humour: The Congregants' Charter was the previous entry in this blog.

Let Sleeping Myths Lie is the next entry in this blog.

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