Lydia Lunch – biography


Since bursting onto the New York City punk scene in the seventies, Lydia Lunch has become synonym with a fierce commitment to artistic freedom, extreme audacity and a refusal to accept any limits to self-expression. As a musician, an actor, an author and a photographer, Lunch has made her mark on music, cinema, literature and the visual arts. A major figure of the early post-punk movement, she has continuously reinvented herself as an artist over five decades, maintaining a passionate involvement in the cultural life of her era.

Lydia Lunch was born on June 2, 1959 in Rochester, New York. She was first introduced to music by her mother; at age two to Miles Davis and Max Roach’s The Complete Birth Of The Cool album. At 14, she started rebelling against her environment and received a brief period of detention in a juvenile center for running away from home twice. She then moved to New York City’s Lower East Side in 1976, quickly becoming involved in punk rock as guitarist/vocalist for Teenage Jesus and the Jerks which released one EP.

In 1981 Lydia branched out from music performing her one-woman show “The Devil’s Father Land,”a multi-media amalgam of punk poetry and personal testimony, at Santiago de Compostela’s Internation Women’s Theatre Festival in Spain. Over the years she kept developing her own unique blend of sonic and visual arts releasing numerous solo albums as well as collaborating with other musicians such as Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth), Kim Gordon, Nick Cave or Einstürzende Neubauten.

Lydia is also active in film making writing screenplays such as ‘Fingered’ (1986) or ‘What About Me’ (1991) while also contributing to more mainstream films such as ‘Strange Days’ (1995). In 1988 she turned her play ‘Là où le sang mêle les larmes’ into the critically acclaimed documentary ‘The Orgasm Addict’. Her writing output includes numerous books such as ‘Will Work For Drugs’ (2002) or ‘Paradoxia: A Predator’s Diary’ (2007). Since 1998 she resides in Spain where her impact on the local avant-garde music scene continues to be very prominent.

More than four decades after first entering on the musical stage with Teenage Jesus and the Jerks Lydia Lunch is widely recognised as one of most important figures of modern independent art still remaining fiercely active today bringing her innovative work to performers around the world theatre stages and concert halls alike.
Lydia Lunch has been an iconic presence in both the music and art scenes since the late 1970s. The multifaceted artist has released a series of solo albums, founded several bands, collaborated with numerous other artists, acted in films, written books and essays, and even worked as a professional dominatrix. Her penchant for creative exploration and her unrelenting commitment to aesthetics of outrage have kept her at the forefront of artistic endeavors for over four decades.

Lunch was born in Rochester, New York in 1959. Growing up in an unstable home environment – exposed to physical abuse, drug addiction, and homelessness – had an immeasurable influence on her outlook and her values. When she was fourteen years old, she ran away from home, hitchhiking to New York City where she lived homeless on the streets until she was taken in as a foster child by an elderly couple. During this period of her life she became involved in the underground music scene and began writing songs with the help of a fellow musician. It was during this period that Lunch’s affinity for punk rock and its expressions of social protest began to develop.

In 1976, just a few months prior to her 17th birthday, Lunch moved back to the city where she had been living with her parents, forming a band called Teenage Jesus and The Jerks who performed at various clubs around the Lower East Side. It was here that Lunch caught the attention of Brian Eno who signed her – briefly – to his label Obscure Records. Her work during this early period was often abrasive and confrontational – an expression of both her internalized traumas and rage against the world – which continually pushed boundaries both musically and thematically.

Throughout her artistic career, Lunch has continued to explore different forms of creative expression, from spoken word poetry to experimental rock music. She also pursued acting roles (most notably playing cameo roles in director Jim Jarmusch’s Down By Law & Stranger Than Paradise), performed professionally as a dominatrix for many years, published essays about culture & philosophy (most notably 1986’s Judicial Sexology), wrote books about her life (Paradoxia: A Predator’s Diary) and formed numerous bands (Honeymoon Killers). Her most infamous project was Queer Notions – a series of extreme shows that married spoken word poetry with live screams – which reached great critical success but drew some disapproval from activists due to its graphic content.

Today Lydia Lunch has become an icon among alternative musicians, activists and people within New York’s underground scene alike. Her years of hard work have paid off – not just musically or politically but throughout all fields that she has explored – making Lydia Lunch one of today’s leading authorities on punk rock and outspokenness.