Lydia Lunch (born Lydia Anne Koch, June 2, 1959, Rochester, New York) is an American singer, poet, writer, actress and self-empowerment speaker whose career was spawned by the New York No Wave scene. The Boston Phoenix named Lunch "one of the 10 most influential performers of the 1990s."
Lunch moved to New York City from Rochester at the age of 16 in 1976 with what she described having nothing but "a small red suitcase, a winter coat, and a big fucking attitude." Lunch moved into a communal household of artists and musicians in NYC. Soon Willy DeVille gave her the name "Lunch" because she often stole lunches from The Dead Boys.
In the mid-1980s, she formed her own recording and publishing company called "Widowspeak Productions" (also known as just "Widowspeak"), on which she continues to release her own material, from music to spoken word. Two albums published by Lunch's label were released in 2013: Collision Course & Trust The Witch, by Big Sexy Noise (released on Cherry Red), and Retrovirus (released on Interbang Records); both albums are by Lunch's musical projects.
Lunch released her studio album Smoke in the Shadows in November 2004, through Atavistic Records and Breakin Beats, after a six-year break from music.Nels Cline, the lead guitarist of alternative rock band Wilco, was featured on the album.Smoke in the Shadows was met with positive reviews by Allmusic,PopMatters, and Tiny Mix Tapes. In 2009 Lunch formed the band Big Sexy Noise. The group features Lunch on vocals, James Johnston (guitars), Terry Edwards (organ, saxophone), and Ian White (drums). Johnston, White and Edwards being members of the British band Gallon Drunk. A six-track eponymous EP was released on June 1, 2009 through Sartorial Records, and included a cover of Lou Reed's song "Kill Your Sons," as well as "The Gospel Singer", a song co-written with Kim Gordon. The debut, self-titled album Big Sexy Noise was released in 2010, followed by Trust The Witch in 2011. For both albums, Lunch and her band completed tours throughout Europe.
In 2010, The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project launched We Are Only Riders, the first of a series of four albums featuring Pierce's previously-unreleased works-in-progress. The album features interpretations of Pierce's work by friends, collaborators, and admirers, including Lunch. Lunch also contributed to the second album from the project (The Journey is Long, released in April 2012) and will appear on the project's third and final album, The Task Has Overwhelmed Us (due for release in late 2012).
Lunch released the album Retrovirus (also the name of the band Lunch plays with) in 2013 on Interbang Records and ugEXPLODE (the vast majority of the album tracks are published by Widowspeak). Together with band members Weasel Walter, Algis Kizys, and Bob Bert, Lunch performed a show following the album's release at the Bowery Electric venue in New York City, US in May 2013.
She appeared in two films by directors Scott B and Beth B. In the Black Box (1978) she played a dominatrix, and in Vortex (1983) she played a private detective named Angel Powers. During this time, she also appeared in a number of films by Vivienne Dick, including She Had Her Gun All Ready (1978) and Beauty Becomes The Beast (1979), co-starring with Pat Place. In 2011, Lunch appeared in Mutantes: punk, porn, feminism, a film directed by Virginie Despentes, also featuring Annie Sprinkle and Catherine Breillat She also wrote, directed and acted in underground films, sometimes collaborating with underground filmmaker and photographer Richard Kern.
In 1997, Lunch released Paradoxia, a loose autobiography, in which she documented her early life, sexual history, substance abuse and mental health problems.Time Out New York gave it a favorable review, while Bookslut ambiguously concluded "It's to the reader to determine whether Lunch's study goes deeper than that, or if instead, it's a kind of literary and philosophical repetition compulsion, a reprisal of greatest hits from male nihilists, sexual adventurers and chroniclers of deviance."PopMatters called it a "brutal but boring and predictable circus, about which Lunch shows no emotions. Only fatigue seems to have given her pause." Other reviewers praised Lunch's candor while expressing reservations about her prose.
Additionally, Lunch has authored both traditional books and comix (with award-winning graphic novel artist Ted McKeever).
In 2007, Lunch appeared on a viral video that was recorded backstage after a Joe Rogan comedy show, in which she confronts Rogan for making jokes about "dumb women" in his comedy act. The interaction becomes inflamed when Rogan takes exception to Lunch's confrontational approach, whereby she asks the comedian to make eye contact and comments: "I was going to put my cigarette up his nose, but that's okay." Lunch then withdraws from her initial approach, claiming that her cigarette comment was not serious.
In 2013 Lunch ran self-empowerment workshops in locations such as Ojai, California, US and Rennes, France. In regard to the Rennes workshop, her inaugural self-empowerment event, Lunch recalled: "Every day people would come in that would have to get a hug. I felt like mother India."
In 2004, she left the United States for Barcelona, her residence as of December 2013.