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UNABRIDGED LYDIA LUNCH INTERVIEW by Rick Trembles from September 21, 2009
click image below for 1988 comic about Lydia Lunch
Back in the mid-eighties I was already ruffling the politically correct feathers of my editors at The Montreal Mirror by reviewing slasher flicks they would've rather pretended didn't exist, but the last straw came when I handed in my review of a LYDIA LUNCH spoken word show I attended where I had the pleasure of rollicking backstage with the militantly feminist underground musician, comix writer, & star/screenwriter of XXX DIY experimental horror films FINGERED & RIGHT SIDE OF MY BRAIN.
A long-time taboo-obliterating prodder of social mores herself, she explained to me her ultimate special-effects film fantasy, & her wish was my command, but much to The Mirror's apparent dismay I chose the more sensibly-budgeted avenue of publishable cartoon ink on paper over film. Anticipating opposition from them by now, I adorned the borders of said strip with book-burning semi-nude women, nipples imposed upon with censorship banners & brandishing "CENSORED BY THE MIRROR" rubber stamps at the ready, & "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" monkeys egging them on. Surprise, surprise; not only did they refuse to print it but they permanently relieved me of my duties. It got published in local music paper Reargarde instead, & then later in my own comix zine Sugar Diet #3.
A decade later & with a change in editorship, I was rehired by The Mirror & I've been reviewing controversial films for them ever since with complete unrestricted freedom of expression. So it was a kick to complete the "crabwalk" cycle (see interview below) with Lydia Lunch & revisit some of the same territory when she was in Montreal with Teenage Jesus & The Jerks recently. I asked her if she'd like to try to get me fired again with more taboo imagery but she preferred we "hold the lynch mob off" until she was safely back in Europe. I also wanted to rerun excerpts from the decades-old original strip in the new article to give readers some Montreal Mirror history but she declined for the same reason. Irony of ironies. Restitution foiled again, this time by self-censorship. But now that she's back home safe & sound I've been given permission to share it with you here.
Her connection & collaborations with underground filmmakers & cartoonists fired my imagination to no end & so in a satirical biographical manner I tried to depict her as an underground cartoon character blurring the distinctions between fantasy & reality.
I've been trying to blur myself likewise ever since. Half the same strip was a review of a show I'd done the previous night in the same venue with my own band where I describe how I prepared for it by making a plaster cast mold of my own erect penis so I could make a latex rubber duplicate of it to wear on my forehead onstage. When the next night Lydia Lunch actually kissed this fake wiener for a laugh after introducing ourselves, it gave me the cue to segue the two topics into each other, cross-pollinating into one strip.
Click HERE or on the image above to see the whole comic. It wasn't originally printed in colour by the way; this is just an enlarged tattered version that had been originally hand-coloured for a gallery exhibition. I like to think I draw better nowadays.
The following interview was conducted over the phone September 21, 2009. I had to whittle it down from 6075 words to 750 (!) for the Montreal Mirror. Here it is unabridged in full.
Lydia Lunch: Hello?
Rick Trembles: Hello, Lydia Lunch please?
Lydia Lunch: Speaking.
Rick Trembles: This is Rick Trembles from the Montreal Mirror.
Lydia Lunch: I remember you.
Rick Trembles: You do?
Lydia Lunch: Of course.
Rick Trembles: Ok.
Lydia Lunch: And I looked up your website. Great, crazy stuff, still.
Rick Trembles: Oh good.
Lydia Lunch: How you doing?
Rick Trembles: Pretty good, you?
Lydia Lunch: I'm fucken perfect.
Rick Trembles: Oh yeah? So uh. So yeah, I'm still up to the exact same thing more or less.
Lydia Lunch: Well you know there's some of us that just have endless stamina.
Rick Trembles: Heh, heh.
Lydia Lunch: (Laughs). Or we're just too fucken stubborn to stop.
Rick Trembles: Endless masochism.
Lydia Lunch: So true.
Rick Trembles: Um, so yeah I have a buncha questions I jotted down.
Lydia Lunch: All right.
Rick Trembles: I'll toss 'em out to you, let's see how this goes.
Lydia Lunch: All right.
Rick Trembles: Ok. You once said "it's easy to perfect a concept like Teenage Jesus & make the point so quickly that it obliterates itself instantly; there's the execution & then it's over." 30 years later, is the obliteration feeling as instantaneous?
Lydia Lunch: It was interesting, you know it was Thurston Moore sitting on my couch, cuz from long distance it wouldn't have had the same effect, brought up the thought of a Teenage Jesus reunion to back up that fantastic no-wave book he put out last year. And I said well, other that Sclavunos they're all dead, so are you gonna play bass? Thinking only that I would train him as I trained the other members with a wire coat hanger (laughs). And he said he would do it. So, uh, we did it. For the opening presentation of his book. It's always great to work with Sclavunos also, I mean he's somebody that has such a great sense of humour & is so unfazed by the world in general & by everything he's gone through & whatever. Um, I don't think I've ever had a more raging induced (laughs) time onstage or elsewhere other than those 2 shows at The Knitting Factory a year ago in June, I was kinda shocked myself. It's one thing back in the day, I was full of more than just rage, um, but it just made me so… maybe it was that there was… you know I'd look at the faces in the audience, it's like don't smile at me, don't sing along, fuck you, um, what are you dong here? There was more people in one night than there was in the entire career of Teenage Jesus. And that was one thing that made me kinda say oooh, well… (razzes). So we did 4 shows, 2 in New York, 2 at All Tomorrow's Parties. Then at the Pop Montreal symposium, which I had a great time at last year, I was asked about Teenage Jesus, you know, & I'm like, look, you know, ok, these are the final nails in the coffin of this, as a bookend to that, but also kind of as a fucking stab in the eye about so much of the music that I can't stand, that so overproduced boring post pop punk porno bullshit.
Rick Trembles: Uh huh.
Lydia Lunch: Um. It just seems like it's right to do it. If I could get 5 more stabs in the eye of the public, maybe just to get that infantile tantrumizing cunt back to the foreground. Women: don't be afraid to be ugly (laughs). In a nutshell. In a nutshell.
Rick Trembles: Well your current audiences come with the built-in sophistication of having been privy to 30 years of Lydia Lunch. Has the extra baggage of decades-worth of their preconceived notions compelled you to differentiate your methods of provocation or do you have to transport yourself to a more innocent, perhaps more private time in the past to re-enact your first band?
Lydia Lunch: No, I mean what was so strange, I guess because you know, I began at such a hysterical & intense level of creation, I mean at the path of my career, in 30 years, has been without losing intensity, intent, concept, passion, to find a way to finesse, uh, sophisticate, change, um, I call it crab-walking sideways through my so-called career. When you start at that kinda level of manic, & mania, you can only go sideways in a circle in a different direction. Coming back full circle around, I mean, I'm so schizophrenic, & my creativity is so schizophrenic that it's almost impossible, I was just shocked, it was such a propulsive experience for myself, & the audience, who knows who the fucken audience is, you never know who the audience is. Sure there's people my age or older, but there's also 20-year-olds. Because, I mean, it's interesting how as all cycles, & as culture often does, I mean, you know groups like Sightings who were playing in Brooklyn or the group in Barcelona called Qaa, um, you know, post noise, when noise now is becoming more, not sophisticated, but, there's just something different about people that are working within a noise dissident & I hate to insult them by calling them no-wave. But I dunno who the fucken audience is. You know, I live in Europe because I have one. In the States I dunno what's going on there.
Rick Trembles: Oh yeah?
Lydia Lunch: I moved to Barcelona, you know, when Bush was stealing the last election because I wasn't gonna be, I just couldn't take it, to live in America anymore, & also, I haven't been able, I don't support myself in America, I haven't for decades. I support myself in Europe where they understand that, you know, every time they invite me to do something it's basically gonna be something different. They understand spoken word, they understand illustrated word, they understand multi-media performances, they understand this is a one-time-only presentation. Um, there's many reasons I live here. And who comes why, when, where, is a mystery to me. I only think of myself & what gets me outta the house to see anything. You know, it's um, & I'm happy to be an example because I still think there's far too few, & maybe fewer now than then, there's few too many women that make hideously aggressive, ugly, non-audience pleasing noise.
Rick Trembles: I wanted to ask you about that, what do you think it is that's prohibiting them from emerging?
Lydia Lunch: I mean I look at other strong women like Carla Bozulich, I love what she does, & I love the fact that she's worked with a lot of musicians in Montreal, I love Evangelista. She's intense, I mean that's a powerful woman doing something very different, um, you know, which is just to me absolutely fantastic. Jarboe does really incredible, powerful & passionate stuff, there are women that are doing really intense music, but that ugly, brutal, um, violent (laughs), delicious agro, I mean, I don't know. I dunno where they are. So in a sense I have kind of a duty because I occupy that realm. That's part of what I do, part of who I am, it's not fully what I create of course, I mean, I just finished what I call a Sunday Cunt-Tree Gothic record which is kinda blues-based, I mean I do so many different kinds of things but, you know, there's a lot of men making noise out there. I don't know, maybe because women do architecture, become doctors, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know. So I have kind of a duty, the same way I feel that with spoken word I still have a duty. I still do a lot of word-based performance & multi-media in Europe. I still talk about the war, as I have ever since Reagan took over, they are just some paths, like the tradition of an oracle or town crier that were, not set out for me, but that are very natural for me, & making ugly noise is one of them, doing spoken word & being the town crier is another, um, you know, there's a few paths that come back in that crab-walk because I feel it's some kind of extreme feminine archetype that just can't be lost in all this overproduced, over-packaged ideal perfection of sexually pleasing to the male eye beauty bullshit.
Rick Trembles: Uh huh.
Lydia Lunch: So fucking boring. Girls, get ugly. Get noisy. And go. (Laughs). And laugh. And let's laugh. You know how to fucken laugh. No matter how miserable you are, Rick, you know how to laugh.
Rick Trembles: Absolutely, well, I mean, yeah, a sense of humour is, is, is a really tricky thing in what you're doing. You know.
Lydia Lunch: Yeah cuz I'm always, you know, sometimes I piss myself on stage laughing so hard.
Rick Trembles: Do you let on?
Lydia Lunch: Well I mean if you're standing close enough you might see it. I can't promise anything, c'mon now. I've been known to laugh so hard on stage I've pissed myself. Because I mean again, if it wasn't absurd, no-wave & Teenage Jesus especially, there's something that is beatifically absurd, preposterous, outrageous, Dada, in spite of the anger & aggressiveness that's where the kick comes in, it's not just a hammer over the head, there's… I dunno, it's a mystery. You know, mystery & humour, if you don't have that you're sunk, you're a one-trick pony.
Rick Trembles: Mm-hmm, absolutely (laughs). Have you written new songs for this incarnation?
Lydia Lunch: Oh fuck no, I mean we're doing 20 minutes, twice as long as the original set I might add, I think the longest set we ever did back in the day was 13 minutes, the shortest 6. but we're doing as long as we can stand & as short as we can get away with (laughs). But I mean there's only 20 minutes & that's it. There's no encore. Don't even think about it. It's 20 fucking minutes. The whole point of what this music is anyway is like the shower scene in Psycho. It's the musical equivalent of that. How long can that go on? You can only stab somebody I guess approximately 76 times at the most. And it's done.
Rick Trembles: And then you gotta get rid of the evidence.
Lydia Lunch: Exactly. And you gotta flee the scene of the fucken crime (laughs).
Rick Trembles: Do you sense a perceptible difference in audience reactions, or even their temperament in general, between now & the 70's?
Lydia Lunch: Well let's go back to the 70's. There's an audience now.
Rick Trembles: But when you were prodding an audience back then, they didn't know who you were. And you were a kid.
Lydia Lunch: All ten or twenty of the audience?
Rick Trembles: Right.
Lydia Lunch: Um, it's funny because a friend of mine has translated the new David Byrne book in Spanish, & I'm like, you know, David Byrne used to run away from me. I was 17. He would run. He would see me & he would run. "Psycho Killer" my ass.
Rick Trembles: Really.
Lydia Lunch: Yes! They would run away from me. I mean again, it was great playing All Tomorrow's Parties because that audience in that situation is so great anyway, I mean it's like, I didn't have the same wrath I had up in New York because I mean everyone that saves their money to go to an All Tomorrow's Parties festival event is just such a true, almost like the audience are insiders, you know, to this, because they really have to be dedicated not only to come up with the fucking cash but it's just a different attitude. Who comes to any show? I really don't know. I don't know. They come for the spectacle. It's a car crash. You know.
Rick Trembles: Uh, can you elaborate on the viral aspect of your "No Wave Retro-Virus" concept?
Lydia Lunch: (Laughs) Exactly, I mean that's why I call it the retro-virus. Because, I mean, you know, & I guess it started… I've lived in so many cities, I've worked with so many incredible collaborators, I've done so many different kinds of things & here we are back at the beginning. Um, uh, & I guess it started with Scott Crary who did this documentary about, I dunno, 6 or 7 years ago called Kill Your Idols. He'd been asking me for months, could I please be part of this, & I just like, I don't wanna talk about, you know it's done for me, I don't even remember, you know, my memory is shot out, my memory banks have been flooded. There's nothing there but filth, it's gone. And um, finally he made his point with how he was so disappointed with the music that was going on at that point in New York that he just, I had to come in & be his mouthpiece. And like, you know, all right, there again is my duty. My duty to be the aggravator. To be the instigator. And um, I don't even know what your question was, oh god (laughs). The retro-virus! So that's when I started terming it the retro-virus. It's like, you know it just started to pick up momentum, I mean this movement that at the time was so immediate & so short-lived & had such a small audience. But I think part of the attraction to that period, the no-wave period in New York is the sense of community that really, you can't plan that, there was a real sense of community, even if there were different… you know I always felt outside of every community anyway, I always felt no matter who I'm collaborating with or what city I'm living in, I'm still somehow, maybe because I occupy my own universe, I still feel outside of everything, um, & just a small part of whatever's going on no matter how much of a cattle-prodder or an instigator, uh, that you wanna blame me for being, um, but I think that sense of community, & also the sense that it wasn't just musicians, there were a lot of painters, there were a lot of filmmakers, there were graffiti artists, there were poets. To me, if anything should be the song sung to that period is that it was such a collective of different, differing types of creative people brought to this asshole of the universe, New York, bankrupt, brutal, ugly, dirty, all forged to create or go insane. And I think that the most important aspect of it was not necessarily the music that came out but that, um, so many different kinds of creativity were hatched at that point. I think with the domination of music which, or the segregation in America especially, you know like, here's music, here's photography, you know in Europe it's different, they just consider whatever you do creatively is all part of this cultural respected field & in America everything is so separated. And at that period it wasn't. I think that's the most important part of what came out of that at that time.
Rick Trembles: You're considered more of an evolving artist in Europe rather than an icon in the States.
Lydia Lunch: Yeah exactly, there's none of that nonsense.
Rick Trembles: Or icon as more marketable.
Lydia Lunch: Yeah well, half of my shows in Europe are done at museums with video backdrops, sometimes another woman translating like a backup singer, music I made with other musicians, & that's half of my performances done under that auspice. And no one is gawking, they're just viewing you as a multimedia artist who's doing this one performance that will not be repeated, you know other than the one time it's done in however many cities you're doing it. And there's just no way to create in that way in America & support yourself as an artist as far as I've been able to figure out (laughs).
Rick Trembles: Yeah, well me neither.
Lydia Lunch: Exactly.
Rick Trembles: Um, considering how much mainstream material is geared to shock now, albeit on a more superficial level, what would you consider subversive nowadays?
Lydia Lunch: Telling the truth. Instead of jabbering at gossip. I mean to me what's so shocking is just, you know the politics, the gossiping, the pettiness.
Rick Trembles: Smokescreen.
Lydia Lunch: Yeah, exactly. A smokescreen. You know, to divert from what the real issues are & I think, you know as George Orwell said, one of my favourite quotes of all time, you know, in revolutionary times, you know, in deceitful times telling the truth is a revolutionary act. I mean it's part of still why I will & forever, I mean it's my kind of ace in the hole because the fact that, look, I have a hard rock band now because I was sick of talking about fucking politics, I've just done like a country record, but I cannot ever & I will not ever shut up about the global patriarchal corporate capitalist-based injustice & bullshit. It's always gonna come outta my fucken mouth in essays, in writing, somewhere, somehow. And that will always keep me in the place which I'm really thankful for that I occupy outside of mainstream culture. Because the truth is still fucking subversive. Because you don't hear it anywhere. They don't tell it to you anywhere. You know, Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein; she tells the fucking truth. I'm not saying there aren't truth tellers out there, there are, you know, but entertainment, distraction, gossip, bullshit, fear, panic, you know, anything to divert from the individual shutting their fucking mouth for 10 minutes & thinking about exactly where everybody's going & exactly where every hour of the time is going. And you know, if you get back to that, if you can get back to that. To the disconnect, unplugged, shut up, shut off… maybe even not think, I don't even wanna say think, but maybe even not think.
Rick Trembles: Not over-think.
Lydia Lunch: Exactly.
Rick Trembles: You have to whittle it down.
Lydia Lunch: Yeah, & let it fall away. And I think that, you know, for some reason especially in Spain it's a culture that, because there's so little agro here, you know, it's only 30 years after fascism, America's in fascism, the quality of everyday life is very different, you know, & people, they have the highest unemployment in Europe, you wouldn't notice it, people just, the attitude of day-to-day life is so much more grateful, so much more relaxed. You see gangs of teenagers, they're kissing each other, it's shocking. You know, you see a gang of teenagers anywhere else, you fear them. You run. Run from the teenagers. Britain, run from the teenagers, the US, run from the teenagers. Um, & one of the reasons I have to live in a place like this, I chose this country over any of the others is because, you know, if I'm still gonna go back to the fucking Katrinas, to Iraq, Afghanistan, this constant American imperialistic hyper vigilant police state violence endless military industrial complex fucking war, it's gonna hang over my head because it's imbedded somehow in my American DNA to pollute & give me cancer for the rest of my fucking life because no matter how many ventricles I vomit out, how much it disturbs me, or what I see or how I think it is, um, I can't… Mars isn't far enough away. I'm gonna be contaminated by it. So on a day-to-day level I have to live in a place that at least on a cellular day-to-day level is not giving me cancer. You know, I felt like I almost gave myself an aneurism when Katrina happened, I'd lived in New Orleans for 2 years after I left New York & you just know the depth of the manmade disaster that was. I'm not even gonna… I started calling myself the liver of America I made myself so sick from it. And it's like, what is my fucking problem, maybe it's just like uh, I have a sickness that takes the… it's not even the guilt, it's the collective asshole-ism of the overlording enemies & somehow I can't remove myself completely from it. It's always gonna find a way, it has to come out, & I have to do it, & fortunately I don't feel like I'm alone in that, there's still some people that have to be subversive & tell the fucking truth.
Rick Trembles: Was your milieu there wiped out? In New Orleans?
Lydia Lunch: (Laughs). No.
Rick Trembles: Ok. Um, during your stint with the Cinema of Transgression you were a proponent for making more porn for women.
Lydia Lunch: Yeah.
Rick Trembles: Were your own experiments with hardcore attempts at this?
Lydia Lunch: No, I don't think the films with Richard Kern were pornography because to me pornography has basically 2 goals & that's… I think the original philosophical goal, besides making money of course is one, but I think the goal of most pornography is titillation to relief. Titillate until relief. And that was not the goal of making the films with Kern, I mean they were public psychotherapy dealing with issues that I thought affected a lot of men & women & nobody was talking about them, I mean I didn't, you know the first time I saw Fingered I said to Kern it's not fucking hard enough. I was really disappointed. I mean hard meaning what? I don't mean sexually hard, I meant I guess if you're living psychosis because you're a adrenal junkie, no cinematic experience in 20 minutes is gonna do it for you. Um, but I wasn't trying to make films that were sexually, I didn't consider it pornography, I just thought sex was involved because it was part of my reality, my identity, my obsession, my sickness. The same way I'm very inspired by Repulsion by Roman Polanski, I mean Right Side of My Brain to me is an homage to Repulsion.
Rick Trembles: What would differentiate female-targeted porn from male-targeted porn in your opinion?
Lydia Lunch: What do you mean by target porn? Porn that's targeting that audience?
Rick Trembles: Well yeah, I mean, you know 99 per cent of porn is targeted towards males.
Lydia Lunch: Yeah, although especially in America, I mean it think it's like 60 or 65 per cent of the people that are renting porn are women at this point.
Rick Trembles: Oh yeah?
Lydia Lunch: I think that's the latest statistic. Um, you know I can't speak for other people, I mean I can't speak for any target audience about sex or pornography because I'm so fucking weird to begin with. When I go through bouts where suddenly I'm like porn obsessed, you know, like OK, I wanna see some pornography, at least I go through these phases where I don't wanna see any fucking porn, forget it, get it outta my face, I don't care what it is, & then I wanna see everything. And sometimes what I wanna see is the most unattractive, un-aesthetic, horrible, grisly trash. Why at that moment? Who knows? You know, I can't dissect desires, I can only say that everyone should be allowed to have their fucken desires & have films that somehow satisfy these desires. I think the problem with pornography is the imbalance of who's making the money by distributing it & who's marketing it. and there's a lot of shit, & just like in music there's a lot of shit & 99 per cent of music I don't wanna hear, & 99.9 per cent of porn I don't wanna see. I'm really not that up on what's out there now, I'm kind of in one of my not interested moments (laughs). You know, I mean I know that a lot of alt porn has come up & I don't really know if that's really truly… I mean to me I'd still like to see more pornography that was just more psychologically twisted as opposed to just physically devastating & always with the smile on one person's face & the grimace on the other.
Rick Trembles: Uh huh.
Lydia Lunch: You know I would like to see mainstream, the aesthetic some mainstream films have, be applied, outside of a Michael Ninn type aesthetic, to pornography. But you know there are people like Maria Beatty who's doing incredibly beautiful erotic films that are really sexy & also raunchy, I mean there's people out there. I just think it's such a massive subject that it's just impossible to tackle, its such a hot-button item, but I think you just have to admit that people… we don't know what drives our fucken crotches into overdrive & sometimes it's our lowest base repulsive instincts. And so be it.
Rick Trembles: I remember in the late-eighties you were working on a 3-million-dollar movie with underground cartoonist Robert Williams called "Psychomenstrum…"
Lydia Lunch: You know I really thought about maybe revitalizing that script because it was a title that Robert Williams gave me & at the time we went into some meetings but I mean the script wasn't up to snuff, & you know, it wasn't really the time & whatever. But you know, to do a Cronenberg type story… it was about a story of a woman who was dissatisfied with the lack of research into feminine cancers but also "the monthly monster," you know; Psychomenstrum. And she was experimenting on herself & then eventually other girlfriends with estrogen, progesterone, steroids, hormones, & having disastrous results. Kind of a Jekyll & sister Hyde. And I thought, maybe now, you know I love medical horror so much, I've been kind of thinking about Psychomenstrum recently. Kind of in a Dead Ringers kind of way. That's still one of the most classic medical horror films. It holds up beautifully. I mean there's still these operating theatre monochromatic scenes, some of the most, I mean I watched Coma recently & that was pretty devastating. Medical horror, it's just… so sexy.
Rick Trembles: Did the digital revolution figure in your evolving vision? In the screenwriting process? Considering it went through, you were writing it through the period where that happened. Special effects-wise & everything.
Lydia Lunch: This is why it makes sense to maybe pull it back out & look at it again.
Rick Trembles: Things are more doable now.
Lydia Lunch: Exactly, more doable right now, yeah. Exactly.
Rick Trembles: Does that allow the floodgates of your imagination to open wider?
Lydia Lunch: (Laughs) yeah, I mean it's a project that… I mean the concept is there but I'd have to basically start from scratch. You know, the problem for me with… I think it's gotta be the most difficult thing in the world to make a fantastic feature-length film that says something, means something, is outrageous. Meaning outrageous that it's exciting to you, you know because there's so many elements involved & so much trust that you have to have & it's victim to so many possible moments of sabotage. You know when you're creating music with one or five other people you know what the result is gonna be. It's not about having total control, it's about a controllable amount of collaborators to create with unified vision. I can make music with many different people; I'm always really thrilled & excited with the outcome.
Rick Trembles: Right in front of your face pretty instantly.
Lydia Lunch: Exactly & it's an immediate satisfaction. But I think something like a feature length film. To go back with working with Kern, those films were so easy to make because 20 minutes, black & white, we knew exactly what we wanted, we didn't work with anybody else. So maybe I would wanna write the script & just you know, try to sell the offspring because I don't think I have, uh, I certainly have focus, but I don't think I have the time that it takes to commit to a singular project that would occupy so much of your, you know, time & energy.
Rick Trembles: What was Robert's involvement?
Lydia Lunch: He just gave me the title & was coming with me to meetings. He gave me the title Psychomenstrum & I took it from there.
Rick Trembles: Because I remember you mentioned you wanted it to resemble "an x-rated Roger Rabbit," which was something of its time.
Lydia Lunch: Right. The original idea was that she'd be having these hallucinations & these crime sprees based on the chemical imbalance she was creating trying to find the formula for the "monthly monster" as well as feminine cancers. Every act of outrage would be set-designed by a different cartoonist like a Charles Burns, like a Robert Williams.
Rick Trembles: That's incredible.
Lydia Lunch: It could've been. As I like to say, 50 is the new 30, there's plenty of time (laughs).
Rick Trembles: Uh huh. For sure. Let's see, any other collaborations with Richard Kern in the future?
Lydia Lunch: You know, I dunno, I mean he's got his own path & I have my own path, I mean you know, after Fingered we had wanted to make Eugene Robinson of Oxbow... Are you familiar with Oxbow? 6-foot-2 ex-lone shark bouncer, black, sings in a falsetto, takes his clothes off onstage.
Rick Trembles: Ok.
Lydia Lunch: Amazing writer he wrote a book called "Fight: Everything You Wanted To Know About Fighting But Were Afraid To Get Your Ass Kicked For Asking." He was part of the ultimate fighting championship, been in music for years, spoken word artist, & Kern & I wanted to do, after Fingered, a racist version of what Fingered did for violence & dirty sex. Like this film, really there's one & I can't remember the title of it, there was one outrageous, it had many titles, the drive-in films I saw in Pittsburgh 25 years ago…
Rick Trembles: Fight for Your Life?
Lydia Lunch: Yeah exactly. That's the one.
Rick Trembles: Oh boy. That's a good one.
Lydia Lunch: And I wanted to do something that was the equivalent of that where every white hillbilly redneck idiotic stupid motherfucker, every step of the way, was trying to take down the only intelligent person, this gorgeous hunky black man. Oh we were dead set on this but we just, you know, if it… I guess the drug money fell away. (Laughs). It could've been a killer. It could've gotten us killed.
Rick Trembles: Timeless concepts.
Lydia Lunch: It would've been really like a mirror reflection of the opposite of most rap music. So, could've been hardcore. Could've been the real horror-core.
Rick Trembles: I remember reading some old interviews, to prepare for this, um, in one of the first drafts of Fingered, um, the Lung Leg character was to be a black woman & it was gonna take place in LA.
Lydia Lunch: Yeah, because that's what really happened. Because we really did pick up…
Rick Trembles: This is based on a true story?
Lydia Lunch: Well that part of it was, I mean we did fictionalize but we did pick up a young black girl that had just been assaulted, & I mean we didn't do what we did to Lung Leg, but we thought about it. We were so far gone. The combination of Kern & I were very toxic & we had the collective hysterical psychic connection thought, but we, at the last minute, in somehow a moment of conscience that we never shared before or after, decided to rescue her.
Rick Trembles: Uh huh. Well that's what film is for.
Lydia Lunch: Exactly. Take it to the next step. That's why I love Saw so much.
Rick Trembles: You like those Saws?
Lydia Lunch: Oh, I love Saw (2004). Saw is my favourite horror porn, I love it. I love all the Saws.
Rick Trembles: I just wish the camera would stop shaking around.
Lydia Lunch: Yeah I know but I just love all the devices, I love the chase, I love it.
Rick Trembles: Rube Goldberg Contraptions.
Lydia Lunch: Fantastic. Love 'em. I also love Intacto (2001), 28 Days Later (2002), 28 Weeks Later (2007), [Rec] (2007), The Machinist (2004), Cube (1997).
Rick Trembles: Um. Let's see, in 1988 I asked you what your ultimate special effects film fantasy would be & you answered "a six-year old boy gobbling your cunt spurting maggot-inducing splinters."
Lydia Lunch: Oh Christ! Let's not repeat that again. Keep that to yourself.
Rick Trembles: Aw shucks. Cuz I tried to illustrate that in this very paper that I'm working at now, resulting in my getting fired.
Lydia Lunch: Well, exactly. Let's hold the lynch mob off until I'm safely back in Europe.
Rick Trembles: Cuz I was rehired after a change in editorship ten years later…
Lydia Lunch: Oh! Ok, well I'll get outta prison in ten years. Come back to me & we'll do the follow up interview.
Rick Trembles: Ok. Yeah cuz of changing sexual mores I'm figuring, you know? Things flip-flopped, right?
Lydia Lunch: Yeah well, I guess things flip-flop.
Rick Trembles: And I was just wondering if there was anything comparable you can suggest to me that could get me fired again
Lydia Lunch: (Laughs).
Rick Trembles: You know, go against the grain of today's supposedly more tolerant climate?
Lydia Lunch: Oh, you devilish little bastard. Some things I'm gonna leave to your overactive imagination for the moment. Just because I have another interview to do in ten minutes. Don't get me started. With our collective horror fantasies.
Rick Trembles: Well I'm still at it.
Lydia Lunch: Yeah, I see, "God's Cocksucker." Great title.
Rick Trembles: Yeah, well it's a movie. I made it into a movie too.
Lydia Lunch: Oh fantastic. I mean I just checked your website for a few minutes because I'm like, what has he been up to? I have to get in there & start rooting around a bit more.
Rick Trembles: Yeah I mean all that stuff, you know, that's why I bring up Psychomenstrum, it really fired the imagination even though I've never seen anything from it, it was just a seed of an idea, & you know, I'm telling you that stuff was formative & I'm still trying to do likeminded kinda work, you know, to this day. It's tough.
Lydia Lunch: It's tough.
Rick Trembles: But uh, you know, if you can just uh, pretend you're insane.
Lydia Lunch: Exactly.
Rick Trembles: Aw man, just live in your cubby-hole & work away at it, you know?
Lydia Lunch: That's exactly it.
Rick Trembles: Yeah. Have you seen Lars von Trier's Antichrist?
Lydia Lunch: I haven't seen it but I want to. I'm dying to see it, is it good?
Rick Trembles: Aw, it's incredible.
Lydia Lunch: Yeah, I'm dying to see it. I'll probably see it when I'm in the States because I just haven't had the time, it just opened here 2 weeks ago & I haven't had the time, too busy preparing for… I'm going to the States but I have another 3 week tour after that so I'll probably see it when I'm in Los Angeles.
Rick Trembles: Yeah, pray to Satan that it's uncut. I saw an uncut version & it's just unbelievable.
Lydia Lunch: Yeah.
Rick Trembles: So, well thanks a lot. I guess I got enough…
Lydia Lunch: You got too much.
Rick Trembles: I know! It's gonna be for a tiny-ish article, it's for a weekly.
Lydia Lunch: Cut it to the sound-bytes.
Rick Trembles: Yeah, I'll do my best.
Lydia Lunch: (Laughs). Really great talking to you.
Rick Trembles: You too.
Lydia Lunch: I'll only be blowing into Montreal for the gig. Are you in Montreal or are you in Toronto?
Rick Trembles: No, I'm in Montreal.
Lydia Lunch: Ok. Well come & get a taste of the retro-virus.
Rick Trembles: I want to.
Lydia Lunch: Ugh, please do.
Rick Trembles: Ok, well thanks very much.
Lydia Lunch: Great talking to you Rick, keep up the insanity, I love it.
Rick Trembles: Ok, bye-bye.
Bonus trivia picture! Here's Lydia Lunch's set list from when I saw her playing with her band 8-Eyed Spy in NYC in the late seventies. I grabbed it off the floor after their show from where she was standing. Dig the hieroglyphics. Click HERE or on the image below for the whole page of her songs/doodles.