PUBLISHED IN THE TORONTO STAR'S What's On section on February 9, 1995

 

LYDIA & EXENE, THE TAG-TEAM POETS

Post-Punk pairing a spoken-word affair

 

By NICK KREWEN

Words will speak louder than actions at The Opera House tomorrow (Friday) night when LYDIA LUNCH and EXENE CERVENKA unite for a spoken word performance.

"Exene is on stage with me, and we're sort of a tag-team," says the thirty-something Lunch over the phone from Vermont, where she and Cervenka have just landed after battling their way through a blizzard that walloped the Eastern U.S. and forced cancellation of a performance in Boston this past weekend.

"We'll be covering everything from O.J. SIMPSON to welfare recipients to the destruction of the planet in as many words as we can fit our mouths around in 77 minutes."

Lunch, who has been described as everything "one part spontaneous genius and one part raving bitch" to "a malignant tumor on America's psyche" by often fawning press, has been an acerbic lynchpin of New York counterculture since the mid-70s when she helped launch the American punk movement as lead screamer with TEENAGE JESUS AND THE JERKS.

Since then , Lunch has branched into a myriad of films, books, video and plays, turning to spoken word in 1982. In 1984, she recorded her first album of scathing rants entitled The Uncensored Lydia Lunch, and has since engaged in over a dozen CD and video projects, with the video Malicious Intent and the triple CD Crimes Against Nature her most recent verbal forays.

In the late '70s, California poet Exene Cervenka met fellow bard JOHN DOE and formed X, the Los-Angeles based forerunner of the West Coast hardcore movement. The band, which releases its ninth album, Unclogged, independently next month, was later praised by Rolling Stone for making "harsh yet vivid music that gave shape and drama to punk anomie".

A veteran of literary readings, Cervenka recorded a collection of poetry with WANDA COLEMAN in '85 entitled Twin Sisters and has an album of her own called Service To Serpents that will be out in April on HENRY ROLLINS' new spoken word label.

This 30-stop tour is the first collaboration -- save for the odd appearance in San Francisco -- between Lunch and Cervenka since the 1982 book Adulterer's Anonymous, and the first where the duo has equal time on stage.

Yet despite poetry's recent rise in profile (to be enhanced locally by the February 28 release on Virgin of Word Up!, a collection of 36 poets produced by Toronto's JILL BATTSON) and Rollins' successful spoken word forays, Lunch disagrees that a verbal resurgence in popularity is forthcoming.

"It should be more popular than it is," states Lunch. "Nobody's saying anything in friggin' music, that's for sure. Spoken word is something more relevant and more direct."

Known for scathing, humorless attacks on what she views as society's decay, Lunch says she ventured into spoken word artistry 14 years ago to escape mundane music.

"There were stories I wanted to tell that didn't need musical accompaniment," explains Lunch, "Why try to corrupt an angry, violent message with friggin' music?"

The 40-ish Cervenka, who describes her style as "dry humor, sarcasm, understated, caustic in its own way," sees herself as a writer more than a poet.

Her ideal audience is one that listens intently and silently, although she did observe an earlier reaction a week ago on this tour.

"When Lydia would talk, there would be hoots and hollers," recalls Cervenka. "When I recited a piece, it would be deathly silent. Everything would come to a standstill. I don't know what it means, other than we're two completely different people."

-30-

LYDIA LUNCH DISCOGRAPHY

1979 -- Teenage Jesus And The Jerks EP

1980 -- Queen Of Siam

1981 -- 8 Eyed Spy

1981 -- Live (as 8 Eyed Spy)

1982 -- 13.13

1982 -- The Agony Is The Ecstasy EP (with The Birthday Party)

1982 -- Thirsty Animal  EP (with Einsturzende Neubauten and Rowland S.             Howard)

1984 -- In Limbo EP

1984 -- Hard Rock (with Michael Gira)

1985 -- The Uncensored Lydia Lunch

1985 -- The Drowning Of Lucy Hamilton EP (with Lucy Hamilton)

1986 -- Hysterie

1987 -- Honeymoon In Red

1988 -- The Crumb EP (with Thurston Moore)

1988 -- Stinkfist EP (with Clint Ruin)

1989 -- Drowning In Limbo

1989 -- Oral Fixation

1989 -- Naked In Garden Hills ( billed under Harry Crews)

1990 -- Conspiracy Of Women

1990 -- Our Fathers Who Aren't In Heaven (with Henry Rollins, Hubert Selby             Jr., and Don Bajema)

1991 -- Don't Fear The Reaper EP (with Clint Ruin)

1991 -- Shotgun Wedding (with Rowland S. Howard)

1993 -- Crimes Against Nature

1995 -- Universal Infiltrators

1995 -- Rude Heiroglyphics (with Exene Cervenka)

1996 -- Transmutation/ Shotgun Wedding

1997 -- Metrikamantra

1999 -- Widowspeak

 

COLLABORATIONS

1978 -- No New York

1998 -- Various Artists, Songs Of The Witchblade

1999 -- Various Artists, The Blair Witch Project -- Josh's Blair Witch Mix

AUTHOR

Adulterer's Anonymous

Incriminating Evidence

As.fix.e.8

Blood Sucker

 

EXENE CERVENKA DISCOGRAPHY

WITH X

1980 -- Los Angeles

1981 -- Wild Gift

1982 -- Under The Big Black Sun

1983 -- More Fun In The New World

1985 -- Ain't Love Grand

1985 -- Poor Little Critter On The Road (as The Knitters with Dave Alvin)

1985 -- Twin Sisters (Exene with Wanda Coleman)

1987 -- See How We Are

1988 -- Live At The Whiskey-A-Go-Go On The Fabulous Sunset Strip

1989 -- Old Wives' Tales (solo)

1990 -- Running Scared (solo)

1993 -- Hey Zeus! (X reunited)

1994 -- Rage EP7

1995 -- Excerpts From The Unabomber Manifesto Volume One (as Exene Cervenkova)

 

COLLABORATIONS

1991 -- Various Artists, MTV's 120 Minutes -- Never Mind The Mainstream  (with X)

1993 -- Various Artists, Kalifornia (with X)

1994 -- Various Artists, Beat The Retreat -- Songs By Richard Thompson (with X)

1994 -- Various Artists, Rare On Air Vol. 1 (with X)

1998 -- Various Artists, X-Files: The Album (with X)

FAST FACTS

THANKS: Mitch Potter

©1995, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink

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