A cherry red mannequin with horns and breasts leans provocatively against the carpeted steps near the back of Quimbys Bookstore in Wicker Park. The heat is turned up a little too hot in here and the crowd is just a tad too quiet. The audience shifts uncomfortably in their metal folding chairs, and the she-devil calmly awaits Lydia Lunch: author, singer, filmmaker, performer. Just as the heat becomes stifling, Lunch and her entourage open the glass doors and let in a cool breeze—she’s here to read from her recently released memoir, “Paradoxia: A Predator’s Diary.”
“I get calm,” Lunch says of her preparation before a reading. Nearing 50 years old, she’s dressed in black and her deep red, almost purple, lipstick matches the streaks in her dark hair. “Paradoxia” was published in the UK in 1997 but is only recently available in the U.S. “It’s only taken ten fucking years,” she starts, her voice resonating through the store. “This is a dirty book about sexual nightmares,” she warns. “Are you comfy?” No one moves.
“I feel his fear, desperation, frustration,” she reads, emphasizing each word with a deep breath. And, as if addressing a young man sitting at her feet, she draws out these words and looks into his eyes: “That’s right.” His face, wrapped partially with a plaid scarf, turns rosy, and he looks down at his folded legs.
After, Lunch signs books and scantily clad photographs of her younger self. “I asked her to sign on her titties and she did,” says the plaid-scarfed man, pulling the signed record cover from his bag. (Laura Castellano)