The Teaches of Peaches - OZY | A Modern Media Company
BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 31: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Canadian electronic musician and performance artist Peaches (Merrill Beth Nisker) speaks to a visitor while sitting in the 'live exhibit' portion of the exhibition 'The Whole Truth - Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Jews...' on its second to last day after a run of over five months at the Juedisches Museum (Jewish Museum Berlin) on August 31, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. The temporary exhibition, which challenges cliches about Jews, featured a different volunteer 'real live Jew' on site for two hours every day to answer visitors' spontaneous questions about their religion. Critics compared the exhibit to 19th-century European freak show attractions under the name Hottentot Venus, but supporters saw the live section as being educational for visitors. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
SourceAdam Berry/Getty

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Because M.I.A. and Tina Fey have paid their respects, and her new film, Peaches Does Herself, shows she’s as great as ever.

By Eugene S. Robinson

Toronto-born Merrill Beth Nisker is something else. On paper, she’s a former Hebrew school student who became a Hebrew school music and drama teacher in Toronto. In reality, after bumping around in folk trios, Nisker became Peaches.

Sexy, sexual and confrontational, the 46-year-old Peaches – a name lifted from the Nina Simone song “Four Women” – was every inch aggressive id when her breakthrough single, the delicately titled “Fuck the Pain Away,” was released in September 2000 in a back-to-school gesture to end all back-to-school gestures. No one was surprised that the dramatic confronter was dramatically confrontational.

The song hit so big that Q magazine said (and it was not alone) that it was one of the best songs ever

The surprise came later, when the song hit so big that Q magazine said (and it was not alone) that it was one of the best songs ever. And Peaches, in grand shitstirring fashion, refused to do a video for it, calling instead on all of her fans to make their own videos for it.

This was early creative crowdsourcing to stupendous effect: frat boys went heavy drag and lip sync’d shirtless along to it, old folks did mashups, and famous folks did remixes. It appeared in six movies – including Lost in Translation, Jackass #2 – and was even Liz Lemon’s ringtone on 30 Rock.

And here it is in a random sampling of some of the cooler fan-directed videos, in all their electroclash glory (and in case the song title didn’t give it away, you should expect some adult themes coming at you, loud and clear):


And her majesty in the flesh.

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