Geneva Jacuzzi at Strange Matter
Toilet paper streamers. The castration of a blow up doll representing Adam. A metaphorical representation of Eve bound to the Tree of Knowledge by a laundry hose-snake. I had no idea what to expect when going to see Geneva Jacuzzi at Strange Matter this past weekend, but was witness to all of the above.
Geneva delivers a solid mix of music and performance art in her live shows, each with their own unique handcrafted appeal. Her music draws from eighties icons like Siouxsie Sioux and Bauhaus, among others, but her stage persona is more like watching Lady Gaga come off of a four day meth binge. It’s the kind of gig where you can dance comfortably in place and enjoy your beer while being intensely bemused.
She doesn’t think there were any underlying messages in the night’s castration of the blow up doll. It was done purely out necessity. It’s probably yet another casualty in a growing lineup of stage assistants. In fact, audience members eventually finds their way onstage at one point during her show, shimmying their way around the “toilet-tree.” Several times Geneva broke out into the audience and onto the tables, then down the length of the bar for a few jumping jacks.
Having recently finished a set of shows in Virginia, her descent on RVA was a flurry of homemade set installations and costumes that probably came together in some last-minute alcohol-fueled bender. But then again, that’s the beauty of Geneva Jacuzzi: she just doesn’t give a fuck. She’s managed to sell her place in Los Angeles, inflate her portfolio with hours of VHS-style music videos, tour through Europe and America, begin production on her next album, and consistently hit the stage partying again every single night. She says she plans to continue touring until basically she can’t afford to anymore.
It’s almost as if she’s living every art school dropout’s fantasy, only she’s found a way to make it work.“In a perfect world, people would just assume that everyone was lying all of the time,” says Jacuzzi as she changes out of her costume. I’ve caught up with her over a few drinks in the Strange Matter bathroom to discuss matters of music and life.
Her smudged raccoon eyes recall a familiar image. “I look like Ozzy Osborne, Jesus! Thank God there’s no mirrors on stage.” As she changes she recalls making music on her first instrument, a small electronic keyboard “that I got from Kmart or something. I used to pretend to write classical songs, but it’s just – they weren’t good. They had a lot of reverb on them.” Her music has this strange duality both in composition and lyrics, a certain sound that teeters on the outskirts of some obscure electronica-pop derivative that you’ve probably never heard of, yet there’s something familiar about it that seemingly haunts you for days afterward.
“I have a new record I’m working on. I’m looking forward to just getting it out. Like, it’s turning eighteen.” She’s adamant about wanting to release her new work, though she’s not without her reservations about dealing with a record label. “It’s demoralizing to me. I hate it.” Yet she’s carved this niche spot for herself in local bars and pubs across the world, and maybe more importantly, with her presence on the world wide web. Videos like “Gray Wave City” and “Do I Sad” make use of this lo-fi video effect that’s popular with the kids, though she admits “Love Caboose” was the most fun to make. ”I want to work with Devo still, even though they’re on to their families and studio jobs,” she tells me.
It’s clear that whatever it is she decides to do next, she’s got massive support from her fans across the world. And let’s be honest, they all just want to get up on stage and party with her too.
Jerid Prater is a contributing writer and filmmaker studying at VCU. He’s written and directed films both in central Virginia and for Screen Academy Scotland in Edinburgh. He loves John Waters and eggs benedict.
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