As a close observer/fellow traveler—I was never myself a member or direct participant, I’ve never been much of a joiner—of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth in the 1980s, I was pleased to hear that a feature length documentary was being planned on Genesis P-Orridge’s fanclub/cult and really impressed by their excellent trailer. The truly inside story of a cult is seldom an easy one to tell, but when it’s done right—like Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos 2012 “cult classic” The Source—it can be the very most fascinating sort of documentary. Sure, films about crazed loners are good too, I’ll grant you that, but there’s something about a group of outcasts deciding to do something oddball or unorthodox together that’s just too interesting, cinematically speaking, in my opinion. The groupthink, the leaders, philosophies, the motivations, jealousies, schisms, etc, etc., are so richly dramatic in a situation like that.
Adding harassment by the authorities—often the case for outlaw communities—only tends to heighten that drama.
Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth has been convened in order to act as a catalyst and focus for the Individual development of all those who wish to reach inwards and strike out. Maybe you are already one of these, already feeling different, dissatisfied, separate from the mass around you, instinctive and alert? You are already one of us. The fact that you have this message is a start in itself.
Conceived in the aftermath of the punk and industrial countercultures, Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth (TOPY) was an “anti-cult” that drew on the tenets of provocation, transgression, and the DIY ethos to form an internationally reaching network bound together by an esoteric sensibility.
With experimental pop group Psychic TV serving as the public’s access to Temple doctrine (shattering a Guinness World Record for musical output in the process), the decade long spiritual, intellectual, and sexual revolution that TOPY would instigate, for tens of thousands of members worldwide, represented an unprecedented model for radical communion.
TOPY strove to transcend the normative constructs of culture, sexuality, order, and reason, examine and undermine systems of power, and reach ecstatic states of being. In doing so its members often hurdled past the outer limits of propriety, arousing the moral wrath of “Satanic Panic” era British authorities and causing the subsequent Scotland Yard raid and political exile of the group’s central figurehead, artist and provocateur Genesis P-Orridge.
A Message from the Temple is the first authorized documentary about Thee Temple Of Psychick Youth (years 1981-1991), tracing its influences and inception to its dramatic downfall and enduring legacy.
Told with unprecedented access through the eyes of its members, collaborators, and persecutors via contemporary interviews, personal archives, and historical accounts from the mainstream media, A Message from the Temple will provide an intimate portrait of the artists, occultists, and rock stars that surrounded Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth.
It is our belief as filmmakers that stories such as this must be told if human history is to survive, progress, or have any meaning whatsoever.
This weekend in Brooklyn, the film’s producer’s Unclean Pictures will mount a benefit for the documentary. “Ritual Cuttings” is a symposium of Temple related videos and a discussion with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and other participants in TOPY. Tickets available here.
Watch the excellent trailer for ‘A Message from the Temple’ after the jump…