Lydia Lunch turned 60 this year, but age has done little to dim this counterculture icon’s lust for life. Decades after her start as the nihilist 16-year-old frontwoman of 1970s no-wave band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, the New York-born “apocalyptician” is a revered veteran of the US underground: a writer, spoken-word performer, musician, actor and artist. Lunch’s style is raw and incendiary, all sex and death and taboo-busting feminist rage. And in 2019, the sexagenarian is as unapologetic and active as ever – still writing, touring, collaborating and performing.Lunch is in Colchester when we speak, luxuriating in a “fabulous cottage-type hotel” conveniently situated near the cultural centre where she’s set to play that night with her band, Big Sexy Noise. On the stage and the page, she’s a formidable presence – seducing, goading and tongue-lashing her audience. In conversation, via Skype, she’s surprisingly jovial: affable, accommodating, disarmingly witty, a potty-mouthed doyenne dealing out double-entendres. Is she misunderstood? “Oh, chronically! But I get off on it. I’m not a miserable person, I just deal in miserable subjects.”The last time the Guardian spoke with Lunch, in 2015, she was scouting around for a home for her archive, an honour that’s since gone to New York University. “They’re opening a new exhibition space next year and I think they’re gonna launch it with my archives, which is great.” It’s a fitting location: although she left for good in 1990, and doesn’t consider it home (“even when I lived there”), New York informed much of who Lunch became, and the art she’s made since. Facebook Twitter Pinterest ‘I didn’t think I’d live this long’ … Lunch performing in Barcelona in 2011. Photograph: Jordi Vidal/RedfernsLunch’s work is defiant, thrilling and unflinching. Her latest release, So Real It Hurts, is just so: an anthology of new and established writings that include everything from violent feminist revenge fantasies to diatribes on pollution and politics (and yes, Trump) in the Anthropocene epoch. They detail deviant delights, heroes sung (Hubert Selby Jr) and unsung (Herbert Huncke) alike. They offer alternative historical testimony documented in killer style: pre-gentrification New York, (the “devil’s litterbox”); the no-wave scene (“a collective bowel-cleansing caterwaul … a mad collective of death-defiant miscreants”); and the start of the race riots of 1967, witnessed first-hand by an eight-year-old Lydia when her hometown – which became the centre of the chaos – erupted into violence, with a baseball-bat carrying hoard “stampeding directly in front of my house”.The anthology, she tells me, “was rejected by 26 American publishers – and I’m quite happy to say that. I wanted that stamped on the front cover, actually.” She eventually found a publisher, Seven Stories, that appreciates her calling as a “stubborn, independent town-crier”. “I asked them, ‘Why do you want to publish this book?’ And one of them said, ‘Because I laughed at every chapter.’ Finally! Someone gets it. Yes! I mean, this [life] shit is deadly serious, so lets have a party and celebrate the fact that we’re still alive in spite of this nightmare. That’s what my whole career has been about.” Let's have a party and celebrate the fact we're still alive in spite of this nightmareOpening the anthology is an introduction by the late celebrity chef and travel writer Anthony Bourdain. Were they friends? “We knew of each other. He’d read something I’d written for a photobook of [Bourdain’s partner] Asia Argento. And we’d met when he did his Lower East Side special. One of the questions I asked him was, ‘How did you do it?’ How did he go from being a heroin addict scumbag cook to [a sober and successful celebrity]? He said, ‘It was a total fluke.’ I just think that’s great. Because some people are born ambitious and they plan for success; other people just do what they do, and wherever it goes is where they get.”Like Bourdain, Lunch found community through food as a young runaway. As legend tells it, the young hellion earned her nom de plume after gaining renown as both an expert food thief and an on-the-fly chef, transforming produce she’d filched into nourishing lunches for fellow punks such as Dead Boys. In 2012 she released a cookbook, The Need to Feed, telling Vice: “Cooking is one of the most intimate things this side of sex – cooking leads to good sex. You are touching something that someone else is digesting. Your DNA is on the food they eat. It’s a form of impregnation – which is basically what my entire artistic motive is, anyway.”Does she still enjoy cooking? “I do. It’s very witchy. But you’ve gotta be careful about where your food comes from – especially in the UK and the States – because we end up consuming so much poison.” Facebook Twitter Pinterest ‘I think we comprehended more than we knew’ … Lunch rocks Los Angeles in 1981. Photograph: Ray Stevenson/Rex/ShutterstockLunch knows a thing or two about toxins. Before she was old enough to pick her own poisons, Lunch grew up on one of America’s Superfund sites: land contaminated by life-endangering hazardous waste. At last count, says Lunch, there are 39,000 hazardous sites spread across America. So Real It Hurts points the finger at big conglomerates and the US Department of Justice. But this isn’t a new theme for Lunch; she’s been speaking out about environmental justice since her early20s.“I think those of us doing spoken word when I got started, under Reagan and Thatcher – John Cooper Clarke, Exene Cervenka, Henry Rollins, Jello Biafra – I think we comprehended more than we knew. I go back to some of the speeches I wrote in 84, and I’m like, yup, I could do that one tonight.”She’s cheered by today’s climate activists, citing Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion (“big fan”), but is also incredulous at current political inaction. “I mean it’s just ridiculous that we’re still having this conversation. There were 379 tornados in 13 days in America last month. In India? Drought. China? Flooding. I was in Mexico City a month ago; they have the worst air pollution in decades. You can’t get away from it. There’ll be more plastic in the ocean than fish soon. I mean, wake the fuck up.” Facebook Twitter Pinterest Lydia Lunch with photographer Nan Goldin at the Kitchen NYC last year. Photograph: Taylor Hill/Getty ImagesI tell her that a recent investigation has revealed that British people are ingesting a credit-card-sized amount of plastic every week thanks to microplastics in our air, food and water supplies. “If only we could shit those credit cards out and use ’em at the ATM, eh?”Lunch’s sense of humour is dark, delightful and revelatory. In the chapter Motherhood: It’s Not Compulsory, we meet Lunch the baby whisperer, an intentionally childless hellraiser with an almost supernatural ability to soothe other people’s fractious children. In Assume the Position, she divulges her “decades-long” kink for cops, detailing her various illicit and comic encounters with the long arm of the law. And in Detox, we find Lunch in self-help guru mode, encouraging us to indulge in regular masturbation and ditch toxic household cleaning products for DIY vinegar concoctions: “With all the money you save from not making multinationals richer, you could get a massage once a month for the rest of your life! Or, start saving for your own funeral. It might come sooner than you think.”Many of us – Lunch included – are surprised she’s still around given her propensity for extreme living. In the chapter Drunk on Fuck, she writes of reaching a point where her libido and the need “…to possess, to consume…” had reached danger point, prompting a long bout of celibacy. Is she dating again now? Does she still enjoy lovers? “Is that an invitation?” she parries mischievously. Facebook Twitter Pinterest ‘Keep going kid’ … Lunch and Richard Hell play the Limelight in New York in 1986. Photograph: MediaPunch Inc/Alamy StockLunch has described herself in previous years as a self-confessed adrenaline junkie, obsessed by “death’s black magnetism”. She’s survi天津时时彩早上几点开始运行 ved childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence, dated various unhinged lovers (from a suspected psychopath to an ex-alcoholic who went on to murder his wife), escaped deranged stalkers and haunted the same streets as such serial killers as Richard Ramirez. “I didn’t think I’d live this long either, it wasn’t my goal actually, but I’m not gonna resist it [life] either. I’m having too much fun. I’m too stubborn to die, too much to do still.” Would she change anything, if she could go back? “God, no. Not a lick of it. And if she could go back and talk to her 16-year-old self? “I’d say, ‘Keep going, kid; you’re on the right track.’”She remains a cult figure, despite collaborations with the likes of Sonic Youth and Nick Cave. But a critical reappraisal of Lunch’s work is overdue; her “varied and hairied” career is the subject of an upcoming documentary by long-time friend and collaborator, Beth B. Besides, says Lunch, looking for evidence of her legacy in “the usual, convenient places, like music” may well be folly in 2019. “Maybe today’s counterculture exists elsewhere, in architecture, science, medicine.”What makes Lunch happy these days? “Laughing after I’ve cried. I think my rebellion – as I’ve said for years – has always been and will always be pleasure. It’s in talking, in sharing conversation with others; it’s in laughter; it’s in stretching both middle fingers up into the air and saying, ‘Still here, motherfucker’. Yeah.”? So Real It Hurts is out now, published by Seven Stories. This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. 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