32 Years Ago: LYDIA LUNCH live at the Detroit Institute of Arts (Oral Fixation)

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32 Years Ago: LYDIA LUNCH live at the Detroit Institute of Arts (Oral Fixation)

I don't know why I have to slit my guts and hope somebody will stick their filthy, stupid head inside and take one small breath and grasp what the fuck it's like to exist in someone else's shoes.

Lydia Lunch interview, Sounds, 1986

LYDIA LUNCH delivered a 38 minute spoken-word piece, Oral Fixation, on this day in 1988 in a lecture room in the basement of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

I don't think a so-called artist sets out to either cross a line that's already been drawn, or, one word that I always hate that gets dumped on a lot of people, is shock. 'Do-you-want-to-must-you-do-you-have-to-be-are-you-do you-consider yourself shocking? No fuckin' artist considers themselves shocking. They're trying to express what they feel, not trying to make something out of nothing or to exaggerate. I mean, the real artists, the people I respect.

Lydia Lunch interview, Boston Rock, 1989

Oral Fixation was originally released on LP and cassette. Reissues have coupled it with Uncensored, an October 1984 spoken word recording.

On 'Oral Fixation' itself, Lunch moves away from the intensely personal to a wider, political frame, with a coruscating, impressionistic view of the battle of the sexes. She takes on the voice of masculinity, exaggerates and parodies, singling out in particular the Outlaw/Rebel--very familiar to her through associations with the likes of Nick Cave and Clint Ruin. The neo-Nazi with his 'nightstick dick', the Clint Eastwood-style gunslinger/vigilante, cult leaders Jim Jones and Charles Manson, the Dionysian rebel Jim Morrison, serial killers like Ted Bundy, mass assassins--all occupy different positions on the same spectrum of death-worshipping masculinism. Her diatribe recalls Gore Vidal's notion of M3, the Miller-Mailer-Manson Man: the American frontier spirit frustrated and perverted into a 'death-machine' drive to the End of the Night. As her derision gets ever more acrid, she parodies the excuses spouted by the sociopath, who pleads exemption because he can't control himself. Where Lunch's 'lack of control' takes the form of verbal diarrhoea, the inability to stop speaking her hurt and humiliation, with the Macho Man it's an inability to deny his 'nature', to stop hurting and humiliating others. The implacable onrush of her monologue parallels the uncontrollable necro-logue of the lowly male specimens she examines under her microscope.

Rip it Up and Start Again, Footnotes, Page 72