The Teaches of Peaches - OZY | A Modern Media Company

The Teaches of Peaches

The Teaches of Peaches

By Eugene S. Robinson

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


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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