Peaches rocks around the cock

In Arts & Life /

By Kevin Ritchie

Peaches kind of looks German. As her song Dittle My Skittle blasts the packed crowd at the El Mocambo, she moves her arms robotically to the music, her head inches away from the disco ball. Her over-sized sunglasses and curly mullet give her an air of authority. There’s something distinctly German about it. From the neck up, she could be an Uberpolicewoman.

From the neck down is another story. In a torn pink glam-punk thingy, she thanks the audience for singing along and rewards them by unzipping the side of her pants and rubbing the mic seductively along her thigh. “There’s only one peach with the hole in the middle,” she chants.

Peaches (real name: Merril Nisker) lived in Toronto for over 30 years before she moved to Berlin last year and returned to play a homecoming gig at the El Mocambo on Oct. 18. Her previous gigs at the Elmo attracted 20 to 50 people. For this show, she got paid in advance (a first for an Elmo show) and packed the house.

So what happened? She moved to Berlin to be near like-minded bands like Chicks On Speed, Ec8or and Puppet Masters, who don’t need guitars to rock the cocks of music fans across the world.

Her formula: she makes beats from a single Roland 505 machine and sings raunchy lyrics in songs like Fuck the Pain Awayay and Hot Rod, (both tracks from her album, The Teaches of Peaches) so most Toronto clubs were hesitant to book her. Her aggressive sexual lyricizing and hot pink getups are probably intimidating to some.

But not for Germans. She’s wildly popular there and they even play her videos on TV.

But Germany doesn’t have it all. She misses her old friends and the good food in Toronto. “[In Germany] the food sucks and they don’t know the meaning of the phrase, ‘The customer’s always right,'” she says as a server at the Red Room plunks down a big plate of sausage, toast and eggs.

It’s the day after her energetic set at the Elmo, which was full of sensational moments of dildo wagging and fake blood-spitting that confused the hell out of some green Peaches audience members.

“I’d look out and see faces of people that I hadn’t seen in years,” she says.

The highlight of her triumphant return was seeing her old friends. Toronto is where most of her memories lie. In fact, she took a trip down memory lane especially for this article, retuning to a time in 1985 when she studied theatre directing at York University.

“It was boring,” she recalls. “My first year, they were like ‘Stand in front of a mirror naked and see who you really are.'” The program focused on taking yourself apart to explore and discover in some sort of pretentious transformation process.

Peaches felt theatre missed the point. She preferred to take herself apart on her own terms.

“I dropped acid one night – and I’d only done acid once – and I was like, ‘What am I doing? I gotta get out.'”

She escaped to a career in music, opening for comedian friends at the Cabana Room (now the backpackers hostel at King St. and Spadina Ave.) where she performed each Wednesday. She later created a group called The Shit that featured her musical partner Gonzales (also from Toronto and now living in Berlin).

“When I discovered music, I realized I could be the director, actor, writer, performer,” she says. Her work ethic was influenced by her days teaching music to toddlers. The kids experienced a creative free for all that threw traditional storytelling out the window in favour of using eggshakers as instruments. “I told them the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and there were 10 Jacks,” she says. “Why not? It’s creativity.”

Peaches plans to tour with Le Tigre and Chicks On Speed in the near future. For more Peaches fun, visit www.theeyeopener.com.

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