Lydia Lunch
By: Lynn Peril | Categories: HiLo Heroes

lunch

The photo in New York Rocker remains seared in my consciousness some thirty years later: A young woman, with dark hair somewhere between a bob and a bowl cut, eyes outlined with kohl, and a necklace made of tiny skulls, levels a confrontational gaze at the camera. This was my introduction to LYDIA LUNCH (Lydia Koch, born 1959). She was still a teenager, only a couple years older than me, and her look projected everything I wanted mine to — namely, for everyone to leave me the fuck alone (though I would never have been able to articulate this at that moment in time). With that attitude, of course, she was in a band, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. The name was somehow at once more subtle and more shocking than that other group calculating outrage on the west coast, The Dead Kennedys, maybe because it was a girl who proclaimed herself Teenage Jesus. I made a mental note to pick up their single the next time I visited Jack’s Record Rack. It didn’t disappoint. The A-side, “Orphans,” opened with a throbbing bass line, joined by a pounding tom-tom, and a skronking guitar. Then Lydia sang, in a high-pitched, nasal squawk: “Little orphans running through the bloody snow, little orphans running through the bloody snow, through the blood, through the blood, through the blood.” It was a dark, noisy nursery rhyme, a fairy tale of frozen punk-rock match girls. I was mesmerized.

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PUNK, POST-PUNK & ALTERNATIVE on HILOBROW: Joey Ramone | Dez Cadena | Jello Biafra | HR | Mike Watt | Vivienne Westwood | Iggy Pop | D. Boon | John Lydon | Henry Rollins | Palmolive | Plastic Bertrand | Kira Roessler | Lisa Carver | Frank Black | Ari Up | Gary Panter | Paul Simonon | Darby Crash | Penelope Houston | Exene Cervenka | Sid Vicious | Andrew Eldritch | Kate Pierson | Paul Westerberg | Lux Interior | Ian Dury | Stiv Bators | Tom Verlaine | Colin Newman | Johnny Thunders | Poison Ivy | Green Gartside | Lydia Lunch | Mark E. Smith | David Byrne | Debbie Harry | Captain Sensible | Mark Mothersbaugh | Kim Gordon | ALSO: The Original Generation X (1954–63) and the birth of DIY | The Original Stooge | Origin of the Pogo | Shocking Blocking: Rock’n’Roll High School | Punk fanzines from the 1970s | Post-Punk and New Wave on HiLobrow

On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Dez Cadena, Keith Allen.

READ MORE about members of the Original Generation X (1954–63).

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Lynn Peril is the author of Swimming in the Steno Pool: A Retro Guide to Making It in the Office. She lives in Oakland, California.