Mistress Gen - Genitorturers
Maritime Hall - San Francisco, CA - 1999
Mistress Gen is a conundrum. She is incredibly beautiful and desirable and yet, is able to use that very desire base to show people just what power they can have on their own. Her message is to trust in yourself and to have control over yourself instead of letting others control you. She brings this message out through her music and through her use of "genitorturing"; involving body manipulation - piercing, tattooing, scarring; bondage and domination; sadism and masochism; and more. The idea is that that was touched on in the film Hellraiser, in an off-manner, that pleasure and pain are interchangeable since they utilize the same nerve endings. The idea of whether you enjoy something or not is decided on whether you had control of the situation. Thus, one who controls themselves ultimately controls all that goes on around them.
When Mistress Gen and the Florida-based band stopped in to the Maritime Theater in San Francisco, we took a few minutes to discuss the philosophies and ideas of the Genitorturers as well as the direction that band was moving in.

K2K: How long have you been doing this band?
G: Well, I started the Genitorturers in 1986 in college and basically did it for a hobby while I was involved in medical school and then decided to do it full time when we got the deal with IRS and just kept going from there.
K2K: How much have you changed since you first started it?
G: Hugely.
K2K (Joe): Isn't it true that IRS Records actually set up their own sub-label for you?
G: Yes. They signed us and started a special label for us called Shock Therapy. At that time they had the Bangles and the Go-Go's. This is around 1992.
K2K: What were you [day job] before the band hit?
G: Transplant coordinator.
K2K: Interesting. I've read everything from pathologist to coroner and other things.
G: No, I was a transplant coordinator. I was retrieving organs and tissues for transplant.
K2K: Was it your medical background that got you interested in what you do now?
G: Well, it kind of all evolved together because I was studying a lot about the body and I was minoring in religion and philosophy. So I think it all kind of came together with melding music with art and the body.
K2K: Would you say that you do this more for performance art or for musical value?
G: I would have to say that these days it's leaning more and more to the music in the sense of that the music is really dictating the performance now, whereas before the performance was more random and not as focused. Right now the music dictates the story. What happens is that we write music and then we develop the concept around the music. Then that dictates what the show is going to be. What we're really trying to do is present more of, like, a rock opera in the sense of creating a story. In the new record that's going to be very imminent.
K2K: Are you going to re-release the latest CD [Sin City]?
G: We have an EP coming out in October that's going to have remixes of Sin City and new songs. Then we also have another record that's coming out as well.
K2K: You're whole show now almost seems like a "circus of pain", with a ringmaster and all.
G: "Theater of the DeSade". Yeah, I'm the ringmaster and I'm taking you through Sin City and the different elements of Sin City. Kind of the next step is, after I've created Sin City and brought you in, what happens to Sin City.
K2K: Does that almost follow the Marilyn Manson thought of "evolution" through his music? The evil side followed by the good side.
G: No, absolutely not. No. Very different concept. It's only similar in the sense that it's a continuation of a theme. It's expounding on an evolution of the band, of the music, and of the performance. Sure.
K2K: How much of your show is an act and how much is what you are really into?
G: Well, it's all an act because it's all performance and that's theater and it's all real because it's what I've conceived and it's where my passion lies and it's who I am. So, it's both. That's the point. What we do is not just theater and an act in the sense of what you think when going to see a play. I'm only an actor because I'm presenting different elements of actually who I am.
K2K: So, embellishing your own thoughts.
G: And my own personalities. Sure.
K2K: In recalling past articles in different magazines [such as Rave], in comparison to what has been shown of your shows before, you seem to have toned down quite a bit.
G: This was an all-ages show. Although we had a couple of crotchless panties up there. Let's put it this way, our shows are really tailor-made for the age group and the audience. Since we are in San Francisco, so our show was a little more R-rated tonight and at the same time it was a theater show. When you come see us in a club, an adult club, an all-ages show, we've got so many different types of shows that if you come see us next week at a different club and it's a different show. I change it all the time.
K2K: Do you preach what you do, such as piercings, for others to do?
G: It's something that I was doing quite a number of years ago. I was doing professional piercing for about 13 years. There's only a few people around who have been doing it that long. The people who started the Gauntlet. Some people like Fakir and people of that nature have been doing it longer. It's something that I started doing and it's part of who I am but it's not the entire element of the what the Genitorturers are. There's way more depth and meaning to this than that. You have to scratch the surface and take time to dig deep with this organization. We have a lot going on and some people just look at the surface and think, "Oh cool. Tits." or "Oh cool. That or this.", but really there's a lot of philosophy going on behind it in terms of the symbology that's used on stage and how it's presented onstage. If you know anything about religion and history then you can kind of tune in to some elements of what we're trying to present.
K2K: Do you work out a lot? Your movements onstage and your physical tone come across strong.
G: Not outrageously or anything. I'm just very passionate about what I do and I feel it 100% when I'm up there. That's why we say that, as an act, I get into it 100%. I totally go into a different realm when I'm onstage. I go into a trance state. I couldn't even tell you what happened onstage tonight. It's like I become, it's like I always black out, like I really transcend into another realm and I'm on autopilot. It's weird. I'm not thinking consciously about what I'm doing, I'm just feeling it.
K2K (Joe): At this point, on this scene and this market, it's getting a lot of bad press in places like Denver as people are pointing fingers at music as the weapon that is ruling these kids to cause certain unfortunate things to happen.
G: Well, every time something unfortunate or extreme happens in our society, whatever it is, there has to be something that is blamed as the scapegoat, I don't care if it's a bombing or a natural disaster, whatever. People are going to find something to use as a scapegoat. It's a very natural instinct for people to want to lash out and blame something because they feel better when they do that. It's almost like a way, a cathartic ritual, for them. They think that they can focus all their energy on this one thing and then say, "Oh, it's because of this.", and then they can go on with their lives. When something very tragic happens like that, it's almost a way of getting through that tragedy. But now it may as well be a silent witchhunt. Anyone who is gothic or wears black or listens to whatever...
K2K: Or wears trenchcoats.
G: Yeah, well here we go. I've got mine on.
K2K (Joe): Even with that in mind, when you play to larger audiences, do you find that the crowd itself is mature and responsible enough or are there bandwagons jumpers just showing up to see, as you said before, tits or anything like this or that? Do you attract followers who are attracted to that?
G: Sure. At the same time though, maybe those are the people who need their eyes opened the most. The point is, with this group, if they do listen to what we have to say and they do come and then come the second time, then maybe the first time they are excited about the entertainment and whatever, but the next time maybe they will look a little deeper. That's what I see, is an evolution in our family. People will come and be intrigued by something the first time, but because there's a lot more going on than just a T & A show and just random chaos onstage, once they get the album and they listen to it and start understanding why we are doing what we're doing and what the concept is, and maybe what we mean when the next record comes out. That's kind of what I see is more of an educated fan base. There's people at different levels. There are people on the entertainment level, on the music level, because we have all these different ways that we can effect people. I see an evolution of our fan base.
K2K (Joe): It is an eclectic taste of success. The fan base that you have built have stuck with you.
G: Exactly. That's the thing is that we've been doing this for a while and if you look around the room, you're going to see 15 year old kids and 60 year old men. We have one of the most diverse fan bases out there of any band.
K2K: This was the mellowest show that I've been to in a while. No moshing or anything.
G: A lot of times when we're doing our big theater show and we have a lot of visual things going on, people are really wanting to watch. It's funny because you'll see something start but then their eyes are glued to the stage. You'll notice too, when the quiet parts come, they are quiet. People are listening and paying attention. That is different but, at the same time, it's like they don't want to miss something.
K2K: Would you say that you attract a more educated crowd or a crowd that wants to be educated, going back to those who, as you said, need their eyes opened?
G: I kind of think so, in a lot of ways. I think that there's a lot of people that, especially even in the S & M community that really get into that, it's a very cerebral thing, fetish scene is based on a cerebral element and not just "jamming it in there". It's something that you create in your mind. If you're coming to see us in a club show where people are fighting to see or can't see, then you get that mosh pit thing going. If you go to a place like, we only come here [San Francisco] once a year maybe, places like Tampa, Miami, places closer to home where fans get to see us more often and they've seen the new show, then there's huge mosh pit dancing going on. At the same time, they've seen the visuals and now they're there for the music.
K2K: You said that you had a religion minor [in college], what kind of background do you have, what kind of beliefs, not necessarily in the organized-religion sense.
G: I have sort of a pan-religious view of the world in that I believe that there are many paths to enlightenment and I think that there are many very individual ways that religion can affect spirituality, both negative and positive. I think that if you take the best things from many, many sources then you can come up with what's right for you.
K2K: That puts you in a more positive light. The reason that I asked is because there are many people who don't get the whole fetish thing, the fetish lifestyle. To them, the whole idea of piercing and bondage and such is more freedom through suffering - that one has to suffer to be free. Is that how you view it? How would you address that?
G: A lot of different ways. I could go on, I could talk for hours. We use a lot of symbology in our show that involves dealing with Christianity and Catholicism in particular. The elements of control and dominance. How that controls the minds of the masses and how now we are urging when we sing, at the very end where I'm on the cross, "... of one god, of one mind, of one soul, you take control..." It's about the lesser gods. The lesser gods are us because God is within each one of us. People who put something else on a pedestal don't empower themselves to know that they have that potential, that "Godliness", inside of them. We trying to take that away because that's what is important is for people to empower themselves. So they are not controlled.
K2K: We seem to have too much of a "feel-good" ethic going on. Everyone must "feel good" about themselves and not really work at anything anymore too hard. Nothing's given to you.
G: No. There's a lot of things, a lot of decisions now that are based on emotion and not reality and not rationality. Especially in legislation. There is a lot of knee-jerk reaction. We're making legislation based on emotional reaction and we should look at things very rationally. A gun does not kill a person. A person who pulls the trigger kills somebody and someone can kill you with a knife, a car, or whatever. People have also mind-f***ed themselves into thinking that people don't have the [responsibility]. People have really bought into a lot of s*** lately.
K2K: People don't just think, "OK, this happened and that's bad." They have to blame something. It's got to be music, it's got to be race, it's got to be religion, it's got to be something.
G: Because those are issues that people are grappling with every day and they're having a personal problem with. They need to focus that and project it onto other things.
For more information about Genitorturers - http://www.genitorturers.com
Written by Philip Anderson with additional questions by Joe Camareno / Photo © by Philip Anderson

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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