Close this search box.

for love notes, affirmations, launch announcements etc.

Fill in the boxes that represent your information love languages.

By signing up, you acknowledge that you are over 16.* 

Like love notes?

We don’t do spam, just tips on how to get sexier.

    By signing up, you acknowledge that you are over 16.*

    18 MIN READ

    Lydia Lunch: This is Madness


    Built with the ability to slice heads off with just a sentence, Lydia Lunch has taken up words against the systems that attack humanity since age 14. Now 64 and ripened with what she describes as a sophisticate’s approach to revolution, Lunch prepares to bring her sharp-tongued, transformational prose to Australian shores alongside provocateur Joseph Keckler. Lighting up a cigarette as the web camera’s lens adjusts, her soot black hair cuts through digital noise with an exactitude echoed by her fullness of self. The no-wave icon calls her nomadic determinations completely economical, assuming an honestly comical commandeering of a masterclass in authenticity. Precisely crass and at times perverted, Lunch’s brand of language has an ability to relieve the listener from oppression and falsity: a power she does not take lightly.

    Lydia Lunch and Joseph Keckler posing together.
    Lydia Lunch & Joseph Keckler

    Where are you in the world right now?
    I am in Brooklyn where I live.

    Which part of Brooklyn?
    Windsor Terrace, do you know it?

    I was actually living in Greenpoint a year or so ago.
    Ah Greenpoint, I lived there when I was a nomad.

    How has Brooklyn changed? You would have seen so many different sides of the city.
    Look, I’ve been out of New York more than I’ve been in it. I was in New York for 76 to 79 and then I came back in 84 for a few years and then I lived in New Orleans, Los Angeles twice, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, London, Barcelona for eight years and then I just came back a few years ago here. So I’ve been more absent from New York than present in it. It just seems as if I’m very New York.

    You’ve never needed to find one sense of fixed home?
    Every other week I’m thinking where should I go next, should I have left by now? I mean when I came back from living in Barcelona for eight years – and there were reasons to live there. I mean mainly America was going to Fascism, Barcelona was out of it at that moment. I do most of my performances in Europe, so it was closer and when I came back to the States then I was a nomad for four years. I’m not talking in my twenties, I mean in my fifties. And I knew about three other female artists my age who say the same about feeling part of the Beat Generation in their 50s. I guess we’re nomads because I didn’t really want to settle.

    I mean when I’m not on tour, I like to stay in my house wherever that may be. Trust me, being a nomad is a part-time job. Who’s cat? What about a dog? Who’s got a bird who’s going out of town? Where should I go? So after Barcelona I came back and settled for now or then in New York to do my group Retrovirus, which I’ve now exhausted. So there’s no telling where I’ll end up. I am a nomad by nature and I feel very comfortable.

    I’ve moved in the past for a variety of reasons. Economy could be one. I like living in an expensive city for a few years, then I move to a cheaper one.
    What project am I doing? And am I moving for a collaborator? Am I moving because I don’t know anybody?

    I’ve moved a few times not knowing anybody in the city which was grand. And then it just becomes an idea of economy because people will come to visit me wherever I am. And especially if you’re living somewhere- for instance Pittsburgh, which nobody knows is so beautiful and so weird – people would come and visit because, why not?

    I don’t go to a bar to drink by the way. Not that I don’t drink, but I only walk into a bar if I’m paid to. It’s just the Lydia thing. When I am in my home, wherever it is,

    I’m kind of a homebody. I lived in New Orleans for a couple years. I loved it. I do like some ideas about the south. Of course there are dreadful reasons as well, and I like wherever I am at the moment that I’m there. Henceforth I can’t wait to come to Australia again.

    Is there anything that you take with you like totems or trinkets that establish a space as home for you?
    I mean, look at the display behind me. I can’t even believe as a nomad I have had the ability to gather all of these trinkets or whatever. I like a little this or a little that but I mean, also with the idea of possible mobility I try to keep my collecting things as small as possible. But I mean almost every time I move I just sell everything. I just save a few boxes. Whatever I bring, I bring from the freedom of being able to do what I do in various places to various individuals, who for some reason on that night seem to need to hear what I’m saying or doing, which I’m very thankful for.

    So it’s more like I’m always leaving something. I didn’t need to take your applause. That’s what I love about spoken word. There’s no time for applause. Just sit down and listen. I am there to hopefully impregnate you with some relief of concepts that are maybe free floating but are yet to be articulated by your very own mouth. Let me be your tongue. It sounds vulgar and maybe it is.

    I only walk into a bar if I'm paid to.

    Lydia Lunch the War is Never Over

    You exude this kind of intimacy with power, and intimacy with the shadow side of it as well. And I wonder at this very moment in your life, how do you access your own personal power? What is that relationship now?
    I just can’t seem to get rid of it. It doesn’t diminish. I do feel like I kind of have a duty that I’m called to do this, that I have to be the voice for a specific minority of people that are of an intellectual, philosophical, sexual and artistic minority that welcome this kind of articulation. So it’s not like I have to look for it, it’s just there. It’s like I am hooked into some kind of universal power source. Which for the most part when we think about a power source, especially now globally, it’s dominated by homicidal, genocidal, corporate, klepto creeps. So on the side of that I will come in with my little generator and try to balance that bullshit. From a different perspective, it’s fucking womandatory.

    I love that.
    Basically, I’m an apocalyptitian. I’m coming with tales of lust and madness. So I’m dealing more with the hilarity of disastrous relationships and psycho-sexual insanity and a bit of revenge. But hence The War is Never Over since Ronald Reagan. People ask, is it better now, is it worse now? Well, how about the middle ages, the 1950s, the 1920s and 30s and 40’s? In a sense it’s the same as it ever was, and with that in mind I kind of… (laughs)

    I’m not laughing in the face of the apocalypse. I kind of am because it’s ridiculous that we’ve come this far technically and technologically and civilly we’re still in the fricken cave. And in a sense it’s I told you so. I’ve been telling you so before there was an internet, before I even knew what I was talking about. I was just proselytizing this obvious continuum of man made disaster, of man made homicidal, genocidal, Earth killing, individual killing, refugee making warmongering. Especially America. That’s right. We export so much war. Freedom and liberty bull-fucking-shit.

    How did you come to accept the ferocity of not only being seen so boldly, but being seen boldly taking up such an intimidating stance against the forces of the world?
    I came to New York thinking to do spoken word and I had to actually carve out a path and curate shows. The same way that had to happen in LA as well with other people like Jello Biafra and Henry Rollins because at that time it was under Ronald Reagan so we all felt this need to articulate. But it was pretty brutal because basically 10 minutes was all anybody can take, especially with me because I was so harsh and articulate.

    And there was occasional violence. I’d eventually work violence into my shows to prevent it from happening. I’d say once in 43 years as a woman, now it’s maybe 47, has another woman ever tried to interrupt me. Any other time it’s been drunk men who felt antagonized when I’m not pressing on them. When I’m talking about the powers that be, why do you feel bullied? You must have a problem. I’m just here speaking for the rest of us that aren’t in the positions of power that are being bullied by the greedy, kleptocratic hypocrisy of dictators.

    I had to get up and start talking about my personal shit and I had to get up and start talking about political shit. And that’s just the way it was. I didn’t care and I still don’t. You like it. You loathe it. You love it. You come down to see me perform. What are you gonna do?

    All right, I gotta do it. I’m gonna do it.

    And it’s grand being able to come with somebody like Joseph Keckler who’s so much different than I am, who brings a different flavor and also inspires a different flavor for my performances in a sense. He might bring out a bit more of the humor in what I do.

    I always think I’m fucking funny, it’s just hard for other people to see the humor. I’m always laughing at the brink of the apocalypse, there’s not enough tears to fucking cry.

    I do feel like I kind of have a duty that I'm called to do this, that I have to be the voice for a specific minority of people that are of an intellectual, philosophical, sexual and artistic minority that welcome this kind of articulation.

    Why do you think people find it easier to stomach an angry or irate man as opposed to an angry woman?
    Because there’s not enough females. I mean now in comedy I guess, there’s more examples. I do stand up tragedy not stand up comedy. Although some of its funny, but I think it’s just because that’s what they’re used to.

    Do you think if we did see a higher representation of females in media that this would change?
    I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I guess it has changed to some degree. What’s good is right now at least in Hollywood, more women are being acknowledged for directing and writing films, Promising Young Woman and Saltburn being a great example of something really out there and incredible. So, I mean, I have nothing to do with that angle of or that aspect of creativity, but that’s at least good that it’s starting at the top down.

    Who knows what becomes popular, why it becomes popular. Who gets the recognition? I don’t really care. I do what I do for a specific minority. I’m amazed I can still do it. If I was on a mountain top alone with a bullhorn I’d still be saying the same things. There are people like you that we just met and you’re laughing so I’m doing good.

    There is actually a line that you said in The War is Never Over that has stuck with me. You said: “Why should I have sex, I’m walking pornography.”
    That was supposedly an insult someone put upon me which I thought was the highest compliment. You’re walking pornography. Thankyou. No wonder I love myself so much. If only more people love themselves more.

    I mean, that’s one of the things I hope that people take away is to fill the void where only the self will suffice. That’s for women and men.

    Look, I’m not on social media. I have somebody do my Instagram. I’ve never seen anybody’s Facebook or Instagram. I don’t listen to what goes down in social media because I don’t fucking care. I want a conversation with a person first of all.

    But then I think is a real issue that so many women especially young ones are being horrified, antagonized, put up like they’re on the fucking auction block against images that are unrealistic– that are not to be admired when it’s surgically enhanced– and henceforth committing suicide, and just being miserable. And I think that’s a really sad part of where we are now in society. And also this I find very perverse is that they’ve trained the new puritanism and then the Cardi B-ism and we have Wet Ass Pussy and he looked at me that’s an assault. I mean, this is mania on both ends.

    I’m not trying to find my position within that because I have some very controversial opinions. Some of them are opinions and some of them are philosophies and some of them are poetics and some of them are just sarcastic throwaways. So think for your motherfucking self. But at the basic bottom line of all of it is no matter what has happened to you, no matter where you are now, strive to thrive, to be more of who you are. And love your fucking self because if you’re not your biggest fan, excuse me?
    When people shout out, “I love you”- get in line.

    You’re all you have and whenever we have somebody else that makes us feel good, it’s like they’re just a vehicle for our emotions. So oh I love you, and we’re in love and that will last a certain amount of time because it’s a chemical imbalance. And that’s beautiful, which is why we should be in love every few years with somebody else. But basically once you have that stimulation being an adrenal junkie, you better be able to stimulate it in yourself, because ah hello, that’s why they make sex toys, right?

    These ideas of mass collective mania and sanity versus insanity, where is the line for you? How do you distinguish where one starts and one ends?
    Exactly. This is the conundrum. This is the endless search for mankind: where is that divide?
    I was somebody that grew up on the philosophy (not the repetitive sexual escapades that he retold) but the philosophy of the Marquis De Sade. The philosophy was basically that the bourgeoisie, the rich, will kill and fuck whatever they want. He was before Jeffrey Epstein. He wasn’t bragging about it, he was warning us about it. And also talking so much about the nature of evil and man. What is nature versus what is a philosophical aberration? So reading that very early on it’s like, am I straddling this divide?

    There’s always insanity. Think about the Middle Ages, the brutality, the horror, the living conditions, the 1920s, 30s, 40s, World War I and II. It’s always madness. And I will quote my favorite group The Last Poet’s: this is madness.

    I’m just a small woman with a big mouth. I gotta get it in there somehow. I don’t know what the difference is, but somebody has got to articulate something in a different way, than what is being expressed out there at the moment. That’s my job. But I take it seriously. Yeah stand-up tragedy.

    And I’m so glad you’re laughing because anybody that talks to me for five minutes will get a better understanding. People like to paint their fear on my face, which is bullshit. I’m never mad at any individual, I never get pissed off. My anger is so immense that there’s no room for minor petty foibles. I don’t get mad at people. I’m very non-judgmental. I am very patient because I know the end is near. I will quote Kafka: there is hope, but not for us.

    So I mean, during the day I have to focus on statistics. I have to focus on the maniacs that are ruining running and contaminating this planet. The night falls and hello, I’m gonna have a good time, by myself or with others wherever I am. It’s one of my mantras. The first thing they steal from us, especially as women, is pleasure.

    We’re bombarded every fucking day with the horrors of reality, which is again the same as it ever was, a lot of fucking horrors. But now we have more access to it on a daily basis through the news feed. I love statistics because usually they’re a man’s game and you can’t trust them anyway, but there’s 196 countries and right now 174 are engaged in conflict. This is fucking madness. Bullshit.

    So when the night falls, you better have a good time. And sometimes that might be crying, but you gotta have a good time.

    What is your go-to pleasure or self-connection practice?
    I love being alone. I love being with my friends. I love forensics. I love silence, beautiful. I love squirrels. Any number of things.

    Another problem with people, especially now it’s become more obvious: people cannot stand to be alone. They can’t stand to be quiet. They can’t stand to shut everything off.

    I’m very comfortable in this cave of myself in silence exuding, letting out and letting in an atmospheric Other as opposed to the contamination we are bombarded with via news feeds, via the Internet and via reality. Sometimes you just gotta take a deep breath for a long time, let it out. Let it in and remember who the fuck you are and why you’re here.

    So who the fuck are you? I know who I am. I’m just saying.

    Who’s coming to my shows? It ain’t a mob scene, honey.

    Is the way that you would describe yourself now any different from how you would have described yourself when you were first getting off the Greyhound in New York?
    I’ve sophisticated myself down because I had to. I was a wild rapscallion and I was very aggressive because I had to be as a protection device. I wouldn’t say I’ve mellowed but I have more patience. I can be gentler at times. And also I had to learn that with my sarcasm and my humor, my tongue can cut people’s heads off with one sentence.

    I’ve never in my life felt insulted. You don’t think people have thrown insults at me? I’ve never felt humiliated. I have never felt shame. I must be a fembot. And those are the cancer causing emotions that prevent a lot of people from becoming what they truly are. And these are things that are placed upon you by others. I guess just from a very early age I’m like: I don’t think so, delete, delete, delete, delete. This is not who you are. Those are concepts put upon you by other people’s rigid morality or their abusive behavior.

    And I think that’s one of my greatest attributes, value over all the fucking virtue.

    And not taking the opinions of others to heart who may not know exactly, who may not see, who may not understand, and who may be rigid in their own thought patterns. And I think this is the problem with social media right now is people are looking or desperate for attention, desperate to be liked, desperate to be this ideal, desperate to be famous for fucking nothing.

    I’m notorious. I’m not famous. I’m infamous and I just do this because I’m stubborn and I’m unrelenting. So here I am.

    However, it has got nothing to do with any of that crap and it’s such a false desire because of the vacancy they feel probably from the lack of personal experiences. That’s really dangerous. And that’s what breeds incels and that’s what breeds teenage girls committing suicide because they don’t look like this false Hollywood figure who’s been surgically enhanced with bullshit. That’s why I do what I do. That’s why you do what you do. That’s why you’re talking to me.

    Is there anything that you would tell your younger self if you had the opportunity?
    You’re so right. Keep doing it. Yeah, fight the good fight.

    Because really I didn’t have a role model for what I was doing. Whatever inspired me, especially in literature or music I was just so determined to break away from that tradition. I just didn’t really have a role model. Maybe the Beats even though I wasn’t that affected or influenced by the Beat writers, but I was influenced by and very respected their lifestyle being nomads, going to other countries, writing truthfully. So they inspired me in that sense. And then eventually, of course, I became very much like them by becoming a fucking wanderer.

    I couldn’t have started any younger. My first performance was at 14 at an acid party. I ran away at 16, it had to be done. I would not do anything different in my life. And not that everything’s been so right, but it was right at the time.

    Because I trust my gut, and trust the Witch.

    What would you say to the younger generation?
    We need more architects. We need more chemists. We need better drugs that are not addictive to get rid of pain, and also maybe a 20 or 30 minute high that is not addictive. That’d be great.

    We need more women that are architects and chemists and social planners. And if you want to do music or art, it could be a very losing battle. For some it’s heartbreaking. Always keep it in the garage, and it’s not that you shouldn’t do it. But there are things that are more important that we really need, especially women to jump in the field of. Especially at this time. When there’s such an overpopulation, we need more women who understand Environmental Protection, who are into agriculture, who understand the need that we are all probably going to be eating insects in a not very long time. Which by the way, they’re kind of delicious, crickets with guacamole.

    I would just say don’t believe the freaking hype. Learn to love yourself. Because that’s what you are. And if there’s something you don’t like about yourself, the surgical enhancement is not gonna solve it. You can be and do whatever you want. But don’t try to compare it to anybody else. Try to be as unique as what you should be.

    I am an eternal Outsider. Even though I have traversed between different genres of music, periods of time with different people and different cities, I always felt somehow outside it and took great comfort in that because Me Myself and I are already not alone.

    You have to learn who you are, what you want and how to get it from your own methods, not waiting for somebody else. And you really have to analyze. Now I’m being a little bit more sexually abstract but no matter what your desires are, they’re valid if you understand why they’re there. As women we have a lot of frustration. That’s why every woman should have a vibrator. So start there, satisfy yourself sexually and a lot more will fall in line, truly. Once you realize what a good lover you are and how good you look with that mirror at the end of the bed baby, come get it on.

    Sisters are doing it for themselves, conspiracy of women. COW. Let’s go.

    I love the ladies, the ladies need to love themselves.