The Teaches of Peaches
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.