Lydia Lunch Quotes

Lydia Lunch.

Lydia Lunch quotes. Lunch (1959 - ) is a performance artist, singer, poet, writer and actress, best known for her involvement in no wave music and films.

Lunch's career began when she ran away from home at sixteen. Within a year of running away, her first band, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, began performing shows and appearing on records in New York City. Since then, Lydia has released spoken word, instrumental and iconic musical albums, written several books and appeared in cult films like Mondo New York and Kiss Napoleon Goodbye.

One of the first female performers to get loud, aggressive and confrontational, Lunch predated riot grrrl and Courtney Love. Lunch's aesthetic also prefigured the goth movement.


Although people like to paint me as a "shock artist," what is so shocking is that I'm telling the truth according to the way that I've lived it.

I don't glamorize the nightmare and horror that I witness, I just digest it and spew it back, with venom.

What I have been trying to express for 33 years is rooted in an ancient, universal plea for, if not justice, at least to give voice to the screams of our collective refusal to go quietly into the gaping grave of man’s violence, ignorance, greed and domination.

My duty is to show what everyone else wants to ignore, hide, or consider taboo. My job is to get to the root of obsession.

Think of a label for me, I dare you!

Heal yourself. Find a way to create, create in an alternative method. Don't always look to pick up a stupid guitar to create. As a matter of fact, burn the guitars and drums immediately. Not that everybody should play electronic music, but what about a tuba, saxophones, washboards...Forget everything you've learned or consumed as a cultural consumer and try to create your own genre, whether it's with painting, with photography, with music, with film. That's all I can say.

Body and Beauty

Lydia Lunch in white.

There is so much in the world to hate, why hate yourself?

I'm vain. Why not, most women are, they should be.

I know no man who wants a stick-figured, teenage boy- looking girl, woman-child....I mean, "My size is zero zero?" Does that not just say "I am nothing?"

Beauty is passion and that's why I don't understand how can this spate of anorexic Ausschwitz victims be paraded as the ultimate form of feminine beauty. Men don't really want Kate fucking Moss. They don't. She is almost dead. If she loses two more pounds she would die. It's not men's idea of beauty. That is Madison Avenue's idea of beauty. Calvin Klein's, who is a queer, his idea of fucking beauty...I don't know when this...sickness started.

No one can escape disadvantages, either personal ones or those society imposes on you so that you think you aren't beautiful enough, tall enough, rich enough, intelligent enough, blond enough, sexy enough, or don't live in the right neighborhood.

The playing field is so extreme and competitive, and we're used to it as women, being forced to compete with impossible icons like models or Playmates or movie stars. It's just taken for granted that women have to conquer that false competition that's out there, but only now is the media giving lip-service to the fact that men are suffering similar fates.

Passion is not a commodity [one] can market. So then they market things that have little passion, and that are pleasing and that are pacifistic. Because passion terrorizes the government, Wall Street, the commodity brokers, because they don't know passion. They know greed and greed is no passion...My idea of beauty is passion. In anything, no matter what it is. If you paint the painting, even if it's horrible, if it looks like it's done out of urgency, then it's good. That it's elevated, then it's gonna mean something to someone, even if it doesn't mean anything to me.

I'm not a role model. I want people to say "I am myself, take it or leave it." It's not what you see is what you get––that doesn't even come close to it. What you see is interpreted by your vision of what you're looking at––look a little deeper inside yourself, tell me what’s inside there and don't consider me a reflection or rejection of what you wish I was. It's pretty fucking simple.


MTV is really what spoils people. Everybody thinks they too can be a big success, which is a ridiculous reason to create anything.

My job is to speak to the sexual, intellectual and political minority, not to the majority. I know my message is important, but I refuse to play the games you have to play in order to get the message out to more people.

I'm successful because I can do anything I want, with everyone I want, when I want. I can support myself as an artist because I don’t have a ridiculous lifestyle, and I don’t like expensive things or drugs. Therefore I’m the most successful living artist I know.


Have a great life as the ultimate rebellion.

Pain is the great educator.

Personally, I am very happy. The world is miserable. But that's the world's problem.

I believe happiness is a chemical imbalance––it's a silly thing to strive for. But, satisfaction––if you seek satisfaction you can succeed. Satisfaction is knowing that you're doing the best that you can do, you're living your life to the fullest.

I want to burn with passion, not with regret.

I'm always trying to find a new method to house the insanity that I am afflicted with, which is called modern reality. I'm allergic to this life but I love it.

The key to success is not falling into patterns, which I see nearly every human being falling into.

Anyone that thinks and knows exactly what's going on should be suicidally depressed or homicidally postal. That's how they want us to be and I refuse to do that. I've fought through my work my whole life to try not to be victim to the emotions that were inspired in me by occurrences that were beyond my control.

I don’t care what your age is, you’ve got to be a fucking bull. Embrace the bull...Take the bull by the horns, cut its balls off, sew them on to the fucking base of your spine and get going. It’s that easy. What's so hard?

Think your own thoughts.

I think that pleasure as a rebellion––and I don't just mean sexual pleasure––I need to find pleasure in every way I can. I'm finding it right now in the way the light is filtering in my window through these fucking curtains.


My entire fucking career hasn't cost as much as it takes the Red Hot Chili Peppers to rehearse for one album!

In a sense, traditional rock is a rebellion at this point. So few people are doing raunchy, basic, balls-out cock rock. It's either overproduced, or it's wimpy, or it's too punk rock.

I think it's much harder [to be a woman in rock] than it's ever been, because the commercialization of pop pornography, which pretends to be so "outrageous," is just shocking in its banality.

Unmitigated ambition. A pillaging and plundering of every last cultural icon. Pop Pornography as spectacle. Robotic hypnosis. Immense amounts of money spent to make immense amounts of more money. The most insulting aspect of Gaga, Beyonce, Kylie Minogue, the fraud under the extreme exhibitionism. They’re all selling SEX (showing us everything, telling us NOTHING) but none of them are having much of it. At least Gaga admits she’s celibate. It’s still ridiculous and creepy. Fuck Lady Gaga. I’m coming out as LADY GAZA, Bitch.
––answering the question "why is the culture so drawn to these overblown inhabitants [Gaga, Madonna etc.] of the fashion simulacrum?"

Other People

[Reagan is] the biggest dick I can think of. If he wants to compete, I can be the biggest cunt.

...he'd walk in and it would come with him. That sweet sexy stink of dirty jeans and pointy boots. The stink of an animal skin slowly rotting. The smell of countless cartons of cigarettes smoked non-stop and washed down with endless beer. Throw in a couple of dozen hamburgers, a hang-over for every day of the week, impersonal health and hygiene, the heart of the homewrecker and there he was...The boy of my dreams...
––from "One Dreary Night," a story about young Nick Cave (from Incriminating Evidence: The Collected Writings of Lydia Lunch)

Nick Cave's making a lot of money, which is braindeath. I mean, going on tour with the same band for 20 years and playing the same songs––I don't care how you twist them, or torture the songs, you know? If it takes to be a posturing grandpa Wayne Newton-sounding bad Vegas-balladeer to get rich, I don't give a shit. I think this is lame. You know, he was one of the great poets and rocked like no other, but he's pathetic. How do these goth kids buy this crap? That's his genius; he's convinced goth kids to listen to their grandfathers's music.
––on the same person as above, some years later

I’m not a train wreck crashing into a bank like Amy Winehouse, Courtney Love, Britney Spears or a dozen other celebrities who can't handle their drugs and whose every hideous mishap is vomited across the tabloids by paparazzi bottom feeders who make a killing over documenting other people's self-destruction. Sick, stupid schoolyard bullshit. Sells papers. Count me out.

One look at Sarah Palin and you see the rapture of religious delusions and the self righteous bullshit and hypocrisy which it fosters emanating from her very soul. She is one sick twist.

Great last record mainly due to The Dap Kings. I prefer Sharon Jones, whom they originally played with.
––on Amy Winehouse

All weirdos welcome but I prefer Jill Tracy. Dark poisonous cabaret. Her Diabolical Streak and Bittersweet Constrain are classics.
––on Coco Rosie

Any woman that can get Rocco Siffredi to say no to something must be doing something right.
––on Sasha Grey

––on Regina Spektor

Politics Etc.

The government needs to stay out of our bedrooms, the only exception being when it involves the welfare of children.

Better to cause controversy than to sit at home and go "Everything's fucked and I can't do anything about it."

It's crushing when you see clearly what is happening and you see how powerless the individual truly is. But to be crushed is just to accept our natural state of victimhood, which I have fought my whole life to climb out of.

Sex and porn is not the problem, it's the use of sex to sell everything, then the denial of women’s rights to control their own body coupled with the pornification now of mainstream culture by the propagation of pop porn princesses who are just prostitutes of corporate record companies. I call it the Madonna syndrome––she shows us everything, she tells us nothing.

I was disappointed with Riot Grrrl––not as a communal affront, revolution community, but by the fact that I didn't see very much diversified formatting––which, if I would've had any imprint on culture, it would be women completely diversifying and not... playing bad punk rock music to try to get the politics across. Drop the music.


Screenshot from the Wild World of Lydia Lunch, a film by Nick Zedd

Sex is not dirty. It's normal. Even when it's dirty.

When I deal with sexuality, speaking for a sexual minority, I'm speaking to and for people who have no choice but to deal with the darker side of their personality, their darker desires. We really need voices that speak to us about this in an intelligent and a poetic way.

The most difficult part of sexual honesty is finding someone that you can tell the truth to and accept it and understand it and deal with it and satisfy it.

Pornography is not an insulting category to me. Fingered certainly is pornographic, it’s not erotica it’s meant to be very ugly, which I think it is, and funny. It shows how a woman under the strain of abuse is gonna turn that around, but at the same time be trapped by the intensity, the emotions the fervency of it all. It’s hard not to be addicted to adrenaline, which I think most people in abusive situations are.

To me, the Catholic church has the most pornographic iconographic image: the nude and bloody man tortured and bleeding to death. Now that’s pornography. To me, pornography is war, it's poverty, it's homelessness. That's pornography in the true sense, not X-rated films showing people having sex like we all do. Or want to do, more often than we ever do.

The Sexes

Women should not be afraid to make ugly, brutarian art.

I've never had a personal beef with men, and especially not the individual man. It's men in positions of power.

If more male politicians could embrace what is classically cited as feminine traits--if they could embrace their nurturing, if they could embrace their compassion, if they could embrace their life-giving feelings, and if women, on the other hand, could embrace the more ambitious and aggressive and powerful elements within themselves, if we could integrate as human beings, the world would be a lot better place to live in.

A man that cannot feel guilt is not a man at all.


My pain may fade, but new victims are created every second, often due to forces much larger than them, universal in fact, which I feel I need to give articulation to.

Religion used to be the opium of the masses, now it's the crack cocaine of assassins.

We need to teach school children from a very early age to recognize when they are being abused in the home and to report it immediately. We need to deal with this issue in a child's early development by empowering them to feel strong and safe enough to have a place to not only report what's going on in the home, but then have agencies step in and remove the offending party. And offer therapy and anger management to the whole family. Abuse is so often trans-generational, so society must find a way to deal with in the home in an effort to stop the cycle from continuing.

You know what? You're allowed to fuckin' kill yourself, but I don't want to see you murdered. I don't want to see you incarcerated, but if you wanted to kill yourself, that's your fuckin' right. It's not somebody else's right to decide you're gonna die.

I’m so sick of Hollywood’s glorification of senseless violence without ever depicting the psychological buildup or the repercussions of this kind of violence.

I asked [someone] why we could still have two to 200 people being massacred in a film and it's out there for general release, yet dare show a mutually consensual, even lightly erotic lovemaking scene in a film, and it's going to have a completely different rating.

Violence is of an elemental nature. Nature herself is extremely violent. Violence can act as a magnetism. I believe in the charisma of both positive and negative forces. Yes it can be 'random,' but more often than not it is extremely predictable, once you learn to recognize the warning signs you can decide whether or not to play into its hands.

Until the Vietnam War, men were not allowed to talk about war; they came home with the burden of war and nightmare of war, which we can't comprehend because we've never faced it. The horror of battle––and they didn't talk about it. They told their sons, when they fell down and scraped their knees or got hit in the head with a baseball or got beaten up in the schoolyard, "Be tough and act like a fuckin' man." It's only because they've swallowed so much the horror of war.
The Vietnam War ended that dynamic. People started complaining––not only did we complain about the war and the bullshit patriotism was, but Vietnam vets that came back were abused, were rejected, and also were complaining, because they knew intellectually they had come to a point where the horror cannot go on.

War is never ending, it's never over so I have to find beauty wherever I can, pleasure anywhere I can...I need to find peace in their war, I need to find life in their death, I need to find relief in their insanity––as the ultimate fucking radical rebel that I am and fuck you––and not with my dick! That’s where I'm at.

Related Reading:

Books by Lydia Lunch

No Wave Style and Fashion

Kathleen Hanna Quotes

No Wave by Thurston Moore and Brian Coley

Style and Sex

Manic Panic Hair Dye

Style and Evolution

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