Love and Rockets

"Tough Love II"

Most of us fail to appreciate anger. Passively going about our lives, avoiding confrontation and change at all cost, we stifle this primal source of power because it makes us uncomfortable, because our mommies taught us to be nice boys and girls, and because it feels icky. We forget that rage can foster creativity. Seriously — take a moment to speculate. When are you more creative: When you're blissfully in love or when you're all alone on a weekend evening, sadistically mining the dark, dank recesses of your mind for ways to annihilate your ex? If you agree that anger sparks inventiveness but would like a more productive way to spend your Sunday evening, don't miss “Tough Love II: An Evening of Abrasive Prose Guaranteed to Sandpaper the Smile Off Your Lover's Face,” where words will be the most lethal weapons at your disposal. Be forewarned: This isn't your latte-sipping, cigarette-puffing, hipster reading at Modern Times, nor the throw-your-hands-up-in-the-air-cuz-we're-all-one poetry slam you'll find at the Justice League. Billed as a “spoken-word gorefest,” “Tough Love” seeks to, um, “surgically excise your heart and hand it to you, still beating, on a silver platter,” according to the press release.

Such a goal is none too surprising whenever poet, vocalist, and performance artist Lydia Lunch is onstage. Unleashing her confrontational brand of nihilistic spoken word — which explores controversial issues such as war, patriarchy, and pornography — Lunch has defined the underground music and art scene for over 30 years. Predictable only in her unpredictability, she has exploited every creative outlet at her disposal, from film to books, photography to poetry. Lunch successfully completes one project — such as her cabaret-style solo debut in 1980, Queen of Siam, or her 1997 autobiographical book of sexual depravity, Paradoxia: A Predator's Diary — and immediately moves on to the next, leaving in her volcanic wake an oeuvre of brutally raw, disturbing, and sexually explicit work.

At an age when most of us were fretting over the prom, Lunch was on her own. A fundamental figure in the New York no wave scene of the late '70s, she was the guitar-wielding vocalist for the seminal group Teenage Jesus and for the Jerks. Today she holds nothing back, baring her emotional battle scars and mercilessly milking her bleak past for inspiration. (A prime example is the bone-chilling poem “Daddy Dearest,” an account of the paternal sexual abuse she suffered, which Lunch performs using various vocal inflections, at turns wailing and whimpering.) Lunch stands as a staunch spokeswoman against censorship and passivity, saved by her frank, violent art — work far more impassioned and genuine than that of copycats like Courtney Love. Thankfully, unlike Love, Lydia Lunch will never clean up her act.

If your wicked wrath is still not sated — or if you're just a glutton for punishment — Jerry Stahl, the author of the drug-addiction memoir Permanent Midnight (made into a popular film starring a serious Ben Stiller), will be reading from his first novel, Perv: A Love Story. And proving that fear and loathing exist in our fair city, locals Cara Bruce, the editor of Viscera, and Thomas S. Roche, the editor of the Noirotica series, will share their tales of desire and despair.

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