‘World’s sexiest rock band’ to perform in Cleveland

Ally Melling

“Mr. Mantis” Joey Letz lets it all out on the drums. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GENITORTURES

Credit: Jason Hall

Whips, chains, skin-tight polyvinyl and ass-kicking alternative rock.

More than a decade of performing has earned Genitorturers the unofficial title of “world’s sexiest rock band.” As artists, their sound has evolved through the course of four albums, and their risqu‚ live shows have become famous for sexual theatrics that both attract and repulse the norm.

Starting in southern Florida alongside acts such as Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids (later shortened to Marilyn Manson), Genitorturers began while its lead-singer, known as Gen, was earning her bachelor’s degree in forensic pathology.

“My morbid curiosity with the human body drew me to it,” Gen said. “I was also a piercer before it became mainstream. And I grew up listening to anything from Alice Cooper to Black Flag to the Plasmatics. Genitorturers came about when I tried to combine these two things and explore that aspect. We wanted to see how far we could go.”

Gen teamed up with bassist and now husband, David Vincent, bassist for Morbid Angel. Since then, Genitorturers has toured all over the world, played before thousands with notable acts such as Ministry and been the only hard rock band to be featured in a multi-page spread in Hustler magazine.

Genitorturers had a long road ahead, though. In the early ’90s, the ” underground fetish scene” was nearly non-existent.

“When we first started, the S and M (sadism and masochism) scene was either gay or hetero-swingers,” Gen recalled. “After our shows, metal kids used to wonder if it made them gay, that they enjoyed themselves. We were opening people up more, making things less serious. We’re about pushing limits, expanding minds to different things. I think we make people willing to experience how they view others.”

As for their sound, Genitorturers have been given the label of everything from “goth” to “heavy metal.” Their first album, 120 Days of Genitorture, gained wide praise with its harsh riffs but was outshined by the second release, Sin City. In this more “industrial” album, Genitorturers discovered their identity in sound, style and raw sexuality. Hard, throbbing songs such as “One Who Feeds” and “Asphyxiate” appeared as precursors to more recent singles such as “Flesh is the Law” and a cover of Divinyls’s ’80s hit “I Touch Myself.”

“We utilize a lot of themes and genres,” Gen said of the band’s sound. “We can’t be pigeonholed as being one thing; we’re hard to describe. Different elements of our music appeal to different people.”

Visually, Genitorturers are renowned as a sultry, sadomasochistic Cirque du Soleil. At special shows usually held in larger cities such as Las Vegas, crowds gather to watch willing volunteers submit to Gen’s imaginative inflictions. Both men and women subject to acts such as mouths being sewn shut and private areas being nailed, sewn and punctured.

At normal, less-extreme tour-performances, Gen can be seen punishing both hired stage performers and willing crowd-members with objects varying from lollipops to gas masks, her voice growling lyrics about self-discovery and human pleasure to the fast-paced pangs of the bass. The stage performers don fake blood and costumes ranging from doctors’ scrubs to nothing other than electrical tape, enacting scenes with Gen, who titles herself as “Ringleader” and “Instigator of Official Debauchery.”

“A lot of the performance deals with social taboo, exploring the role of women in society, for example,” Gen said. “It’s okay for men to do certain things, but for women there are more stigmas attached. We like to address that, women being portrayed as the downfall of society. Obviously women still have a limited role. Everything they do has to fit within a neat little box. As a female artist in music, I think there’s a lot of room for growth in terms of how women are perceived.”

On Sunday, Genitorturers will perform at Peabody’s Down Under in Cleveland as part of their “Tortured Souls” 2006 Tour. Gen promises that new material from their latest album will be featured, as well as the usual array of visual goodies.

“Our shows know no boundaries in what people take away,” Gen said. “Some like the music, some the performance element. It’s very diverse. There’s something for everyone.”

Even if it sounds unusual, audiences may be surprised to find their eyes and ears enjoying a Genitorturers show. Whether from the adrenaline of the mixed crowd, the pumping of the music or the touch of Gen’s welcoming hand as it reaches out to its congregation, they will find it only hurts for a minute.

After that, they’ll be hooked.

Contact ALL reporter Ally Melling at [email protected].


Where? Peabody’s Downunder

When? Sept. 17, 7 p.m.

How much? $12