Point of View

Iconic Lydia Lunch-isms

Images from Lydia Lunch – The War Is Never Over by Beth B

Lydia Lunch is a singer, spoken word artist, writer and actress, who’s been fighting for women’s right to say ‘fuck you’ for decades. Our members get free access to the international premiere of Beth B’s latest documentary Lydia Lunch – The War Is Never Over on IFFR, 29 February. More info here. With an event of this caliber coming up, we would like to paint a bigger picture, fitting the occasion. The No Wave icon has never allowed herself to be silenced and to illustrate, we’re gonna step a little deeper into some acerbic quotes of Lydia herself. As said by herself “my language is not silence”.

“What do you call life? I call it a sexual transmittable incureable disease” 

As wry and as witty as it gets. This aptly depicts the nihilist environment from which Lydia’s art and activism arose. Lower East Side of Manhattan was bankrupted and gradually being emptied. A generation that didn’t only have no future, but didn’t have a present. Lydia turned the prevailing nihilism into movement. A rose that grew from concrete, right through the cracks.

Making sense of her surroundings and simultaneously dealing with her demons through words. Catching those words hurt. But the wit allows you, I guess, to laugh through the pain. So good, you will wish you said it. However, you wouldn’t wish to be brought to the emotional place where it hails from. This is the exact character that makes Lydia’s humor special: juxtaposing a sad and hopeless reality against humor. Poetry, clayed and morphed into the shape of middle finger.

“Why should I have sex? I am sex. I’m walking pornography” 

Lydia understood the power of sex as no other, and owned it. Lydia featured in Richard Kern’s movie The Right Side of My Brain, which basically turned into an auto-biography about herself. The film was about getting over her obsession with the need for more and more. About her ever unsatisfied cycle through series of men, with none of them able to satisfy her unquenchable thirst. 

Lydia displayed this all within her exemplary approach of pushing as far as possible, way beyond normal experience. Not applied for the reason of provocation, but for bringing herself to the brink of something explosive. “If it wasn’t extreme, I couldn’t feel it. I flatlined as a protection mechanism against trauma”. Lydia stated that she had to go beyond what people would normally tolerate, what they would normally want or what would normally excite them, to find her own balance. An intense but advanced sexuality, pointing potently towards female strength. She erased all threat, to become it herself. As Thurston Moore felt: “There was nothing more dangerous than Lydia Lunch”. With a phrase as “a cyclone into the heart of a wet, wet emptiness”, you’ll catch her drift. 

“The war is never over”

Lydia was turning her trauma and abuse into music, art and activism in the late 70s and early 80s, contributing to the genesis of the New York No Wave scene. Today, she’s still fighting. Fresh statements, similar sentiments. Continuing her war via spoken word performances or by having a live record of Teenage Jesus and The Jerks re-issued by Nicolas Jaar on his Other People imprint. By having her pleas float over saxophones and sinewaves of David Lackner, or by being the focus point of a documentary by Beth B. Uttered decades ago, but spit out as fierce as ever: the war is never over. Confrontational and uncompromising, her voice can still be heard as loud as over 40 years down the line.

Subbacultcha members can get free tickets for this screening with their personal ‘discount code’. To obtain your code, please RSVP by sending an email to mailinglist@subbacultcha.nl with ‘Lydia Lunch’ in the subject line & your full name in the body of the mail. We’ll send you your personal discount code asap. Each code is personal, connected to your name and can be only used once.

Tickets often move fast, so we advise you to be quick <3