“New York City was the devil’s dirty litter box.” – Lydia Lunch
Spitting vitriol to a room of fans in Detroit while taking about New York City’s corporate takeover, numbed out consumers, and the withered artistic community, Lydia extracts the viewer from their couch and into a pair of dirty Converse waiting for the man on Ludlow and Rivington Streets. Her rent was $75 a month on the Lower East Side in 1976 and all she had to do was collect a few dollars for a fake charity hustling on the streets to eat.
“It was a drug fueled, blood soaked, pornucopia of art terrorists documenting their personal descent into the bowels of an inferno in a city which felt like the lunatics had fuckin’ taken over the asylum.” -Lydia Lunch on 70’s NYC
“The Lower East Side, (like Detroit now) played crash pad, shooting gallery, and bordello to dozens of art school dropouts, avant noise musicians, radical poets, no budget filmmakers, and fly on the wall photographers who all lived in glorious squalor in cheap tenement flats spitting distance from each other’s front windows.” – Lydia Lunch on 70’s NYC
Musician James Chance was the most sour person Lydia knew (besides herself) so she ended up moving in with him. After Lenny Kaye was the only person who would tolerate her spoken word poetry anymore, Lydia decided to start Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. The band never played to more than thirty people, but she took the project to Europe anyway and isn’t too proud to admit that obtaining the trip involved fellatio. Because making art was the only defense she had against the sharp toothed fangs of the city.
Brian Eno produced the album No New York in 1978 which features songs from No Wave bands DNA, Mars, James Chance and the Contortions and Lydia’s own Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. Lunch takes jabs at Eno every chance she gets even commenting on his hospital visit from a sex accident, “Yes, a man that ugly can fuck enough to end up in the emergency room because his dick explodes.” Always controversial, Lydia brings up the outrageous time she called Patti Smith, “A dirty, old hippy.” People weren’t very happy with her at the time but she backs up that statement to this day.
I devoured her debaucherous writings of filthy lust and psychological power plays when I was a teen. To me she was a breath of fresh air compared to the L. Ron Hubbard worshipping sheep of the Los Angeles suburbs I was surrounded by. An honest broad that thinks like a man and isn’t afraid to let everyone know it.
(All Lydia Lunch quotes taken from the video of her spoken word in Detroit)
Listen to No Wave bands DNA and Theoretical Girls, as well as the Brian Eno produced, No New York.