Genesis P-Orridge has always been on the cutting edge. His bands COUM Transmissions (1969-1976), Throbbing Gristle (1975-1981), and Psychic TV (1981 to the present) were innovators in  the use of musical “cut-ups,” influential  in everything from the punk scene to industrial music. This film isn’t about music though. The documentary The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye is love story,  but unlike any love story you’ve ever heard of. This love story is on the cutting edge “” literally.

Genesis met the love of his life, Lady Jaye (née Jacqueline Breyer), in the early 1990s. They were soon married and in 2000 started a project called “Creating the Pandrogyne.” The project involved both of them  embarking on  a series of plastic surgeries to create an androgynous “third person” they called Breyer P-Orridge. They began dressing the same, talking the same, and underwent surgeries  for matching breast implants and facial reconstructions. It was both an art project  and a way of creating their own child. Tragically Lady Jaye died unexpectedly in 2007 of heart failure, which puts Genesis in the more bizarre situation of continuing the project of merging two people when only one remains.

Director Marie Losier had the advantage of both the full support of Genesis and access to the many personal films that he made with Lady Jaye, so we get a very intimate, unfiltered story  told right  to the audience. There are a few audio clips from Lady Jaye, but Genesis narrates the majority of the film. It serves as both tribute to Lady Jaye and an attempt to explain  artistic and lifestyle choices that have baffled people for years.

At first glance, the concept is hard to get your head around, but that’s exactly  what Genesis P-Orridge has always been about;  pushing boundaries and exploring new areas. Genesis has always had elements of cross-dressing and gender-bending in his look. Even when he and Lady Jaye were married, Genesis wore the wedding dress and Jaye wore the tux. As a compassionate life partner, Lady Jaye encouraged him to bring  out this side of himself.

From an artistic point of view it is important  to an artist like  Genesis to stay ahead of the curve. How groundbreaking his band Throbbing Gristle was in the early days of industrial music cannot be overstated. Without them,  you wouldn’t have had bands like Skinny Puppy, Ministry  or Nine Inch Nails. When he started  out in  music, he was one-of-a-kind, but by the mid-1990s there were whole sections in record stores dedicated to the very techniques he helped to develop. The Pandrogyne project once again put Genesis ahead of the curve; much like his innovative “cut-ups” in music, he continues to innovate by  literally cutting himself up.

The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye opens today at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Check tiff.net for showtimes and tickets.