Peaches on Trump, Touring, and Turning 50

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Photo: A. Cenno

In an election year that’s devolved into a freak-show battle of the genders, watching Peaches literally walk on an adoring New York City audience is a greatly needed palate cleanser. The electro-pop star, née Merrill Beth Nisker, has spent decades bringing Maude Lebowski’s strongly vaginal art to the dance floor, and her newest album, Rub, includes songs about everything from a gender-bending orgy (“Can’t talk right now / This chick’s dick is in my mouth”) to visibility (“I Mean Something”) and vaginoplasty. Her live show is something to behold; she’s known for dance anthems like “Fuck the Pain Away,” so it’s easy to forget that she can belt out songs while changing from giant hairy costumes by Charlie Le Mindu to little more than a jock strap outfitted with an oversize clitoris.

Peaches hopped on the phone with the Cut during a stop in Buenos Aires to talk about everything from Trumpisms to how she keeps cool on the road.

Let’s just jump right in with the election, since it’s on everyone’s minds. Why do you think that, after all the horrible racist and xenophobic things Trump has said over the years, it’s the graphicness of the idea of grabbing a pussy that’s finally tipping the scales?
This one is just so ridiculous. It’s obvious that it’s detrimental to women, but the wording of it, “grabbing pussy,” makes for a fun thing, which is a little dangerous. The other things are just horrific, you know? It’s just so comical in the way that he says it that it’s given people great fuel for political [commentary], but who knows if it’s the last straw, really, because this election is so ridiculous. You can still see people spinning out, trying to like make it okay, like women who support Trump trying to make it okay. It doesn’t make any sense. None of it ever made any sense.

But this was just such a ridiculous way of saying it. It’s just such a blatant rape comment … It’s just despicable. He’s always been a despicable, disgusting person, you know? He’s still in the race, isn’t he?

What I thought was amazing was, after the second debate, how the Muslim community had such a fierce, incredible tweet-off. When he said, “Muslims need to, you know — if they see something, say something, or else we’re going to see them as terrorists!” I loved everything that was tweeted, from “Help! Creepy orange man standing behind powerful woman!” to “I’ve done my laundry and now it’s wet and I have to dry it!” Like, mundane things. Like, we have to tell you everything we’re doing. And other Muslim tweets were like, “We’re either a detriment to the community or we’re a detriment to the community for not noticing terrorists.”

I’m almost 40, and sometimes I feel weird about my body, but seeing you onstage just totally being yourself was awesome. Life happens. We’re all aging, and you’re still out there half-naked and kicking ass.
I’m going to be 50 this year.

Was your song “I Mean Something” inspired by a certain experience, or was it generally just about aging?
It was mostly inspired by my sister because she has multiple sclerosis, and she’s been confined to a wheelchair for the past, like, 18 years — not just confined to a wheelchair, but her motor skills are quite limited. And through all of it she’s just so positive and such a cool person. I feel like I don’t want her to get lost, so it was kind of for her.

Is it easier or harder to keep revealing yourself onstage and wearing these costumes that are basically just a jock strap?
The whole point is there’s such a ridiculousness to how we view our bodies. Like you said, you don’t feel comfortable. I just want people to feel comfortable in their bodies and realize that’s what you have: yourself and your body and your mind, and you have to love that. Some organized religions and political views, they don’t want you to use your body. They want to control it. They seriously do. It’s still [a] patriarchal society, so it’s a struggle. So I bring a ridiculousness, sort of over the top, obviously — but I’m very serious about all this, you know?

What do you think makes a perfect life, ideally?
There’s no such thing as a perfect life, first of all, because you always have to keep a struggle — not a struggle, but you can’t just sit there, you know? You have to work for it. What makes a perfect life? Just being able to have enough money to live and work and be yourself. Humble things, really.

What would that look like for you?
For me, my life is great. I feel very loved by my friends and my relationship and my parents, who are still alive. I meet incredible people and travel the world. I mean, it’s pretty great, and pretty involved, and pretty exhausting, but also really special.

How do you take care of yourself? What are your personal health habits to keep you going on the road?
It’s just about not doing too much, not staying up too late. I love smoking pot, but I can’t on tour because it just wears me down. I know people say [to] vape, but even that — everything just exhausts me, so I’ve had to give up pot on tour. I try not to drink too much. I try and stick to more red wine and, like, sipping tequila or sipping Scotch. There’s no exercise involved. Just try and get up in the morning, take a big walk. It’s really just simple things. Just try not to do too much. Try not to overeat, try not to overstimulate myself, try to maintain calm. It’s a lot.

This interview has been edited and condensed for publication.