Return of the Hardcore Downtown

If you missed the incredible Lydia Lunch’s first installation of her “Underground Salon” on July 11th at The Django, fear not, you have one more chance to enter the artist’s underground lair on July 26. Performing for a packed house, Lunch hosted an evening of spoken word by herself and her venerable guests, harkening the downtown days of the 1970s and 80s when New York was a gritty warzone- rife with creativity.

The first installation of the artist’s unofficial residency brought out the Real New Yorkers, who hung on Lunch’s iconic wanton poetry, whispered, and screamed in between sets from “Jazz Brutarians” Weasel Walter, Tim Dalk and Chris Pitsiokos. Lunch, along with her guests, reveal intimate details as if ripped from pages of their diaries, of sex, excessive drug use, and a New York that was dangerously exciting.

Lunch acts as hostess before settling in as the main act, commanding the attention of the audience with her iconic spoken word, a mesh of breathy salacious narratives purred into the microphone, interrupted with her own roars that paint a picture of mixed emotion, power, ecstasy and sex. To describe Lunch as edgy would be an understatement; the artist has stayed true to her No Wave roots, confronting the audience with her provocative poetry and performance that completely hushed the full house.

East Village icon Zoe Hansen, a hot former Punk from London who is married to Dick Manitoba of the 70s punk band The Dictators, read lecherous tales of her teen years spent selling her body to pay for her heroin habit, her buxom looks and British humor holding the audience completely captive. Warhol Super Star (and Beck’s mom) Bibbe Hansen shared tales from her unpublished memoirs of a rough and tumble East Village in the 1960s,  and famed novelist and screenwriter Jerry Stahl, held the audience with bated breath, with stories from his memoir of addiction, Permanent Midnight.

We spoke to Lunch about recent projects and her series at The Roxy. She returns for another highly anticipated evening of the Underground Salon on July 26th, be sure to reserve your table now.

What do you have planned for your residency at the Roxy?

Sexy true life stories about New York’s seedy underbelly from the 60’s-the 80’s before it became Disneyland with special guests every week. It will be a saucy, sassy and fun evening.

How does performing now differ from in the past?

Since I’ve been on stage since 1977…you can only imagine the changes I’ve seen. What remains the same is I perform more frequently  in Europe than I do in America. About 60 to 80 shows a year sometime. I’m lucky to book 10 shows a year in America. The conditions just aren’t that conducive here to do the types of shows I like to do.

What do you think of performing at The Django?

I’m glad to have the opportunity to curate a series likes this again in America.

What other projects are you currently working on (or have upcoming)?

I’m producing an LP for Pissed Jeans on SubPop next week, releasing a book of poetry in Sept in Switzerland, touring with my 3 piece female improv group Medusa’s Bed in Sept in Europe- followed by a 20 date tour called Brutal Measures with Weasel Walter with just drums & vocals in October in Europe and recording an LP of that this week. I’m also editing Zoe Hansen’s book Going Down in Gotham which she will be reading from at The Roxy and trying to place the massive collection of my archives which took me 3 years to finally compile. Oh, and I’m looking for a producer for my screenplay about NYC in the summer of 1977. You know…just the usual stuff.

I’ll be continuing to tour Europe with my supergroup RETROVIRUS with Weasel Walter, Tim Dahl & Bob Bert in December.

Words by Lori Zizmmer.