But as bizarre as they may be—at least the way they're presented in Carver's new memoir, Drugs Are Nice—not one of them is more fascinating than Carver herself. This is, after all, the woman who brought us the zine Rollerderby, the noise-art group Suckdog and the sweet pop jingle "Mayonnaise Fistfucker."
This Saturday, Carver will be in town reading from her new memoir and lecturing on post-punk—how it started, what it meant, how and why it died. While Carver probably doesn't pee into kitty litter on stage these days, it's a fair bet that some amount of insanity will go down. Here's a set of CliffsNotes on Carver history WW has culled from Drugs Are Nice to help you get prepared—for anything.
THE FORMATIVE YEARS
Born in New Hampshire in 1968 to a sickly mother and a criminal dad, Lisa might've turned out normal except for one thing: At age 15 she spent almost a year in the emotional boot camp that was her father's place back east. Apparently using the lyrics from Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue" as a parenting manual, he toughened her up and made her loathe normalcy. It may have been the best thing that ever happened to her.
SUCKDOG AS A PUP
Lisa and fellow high-school renegade Rachel Johnson recorded 23 unsuccessful attempts to cover "Wild Thing," mostly giggles and cussing, and sent the tape to gross-out rocker GG Allin. (Lisa had met him at a bus station and developed a crush.) He agreed to do a show with them. Suddenly, Carver recalls, "I am under the impression that everything in the world is easy, and most people simply don't understand that, and that is why they don't do much—because they mistakenly believe things are hard." Suckdog's first show was in 1987 at the Dover Veterans Hall; Allin was AWOL, so Lisa and Rachel took the stage, blasting a cassette tape through too-loud speakers, screaming, stripping, leaping into the audience and hitting people. Easy!
SUCKDOG GOES EURO
At age 19, Lisa met and married Jean-Louis Costes and moved to Paris. Suckdog morphed into a show featuring the two of them plus a rotating cast of extra freaks. Their live shows were famously insane, full of piss and shit and screaming and strap-ons and violence and FUN. They performed noise "operas" that were deeply symbolic but goofy, inevitably degenerating—or evolving—into naked audience-participation mud-orgies. One night, after accidentally blowing up a stage backdrop during a performance, Carver realized: "That's really what we're doing in our lives. We try to explode everything for people; we try to do something spectacular that will inspire awe and confusion and, ultimately, redemption. But in the end all we do is blow up a little bomb in our own faces."
I HEART A SATANIST
"People seem able to let huge chunks of themselves die," Carver writes. "Talk about foreshadowing. Carver, constantly striving to think the opposite of everyone else, fell in love with industrial music maven Boyd Rice, infamous for doing magazine photoshoots in full Nazi regalia and bragging about being a Satanist. To no one's surprise (except maybe Lisa's), Rice turned out to be a total asshole. When Boyd finally turned violent, Lisa left him and, metaphorically, her brutal father behind.
These days Carver writes as a sex diarist for Nerve.com, a gig that has spawned recent columns like "I was a teenage prostitute" and an essay about the frustration of being with a man who wouldn't have sex with her while she was pregnant. She has also written for Hustler, Index, Icon, Feed, Newsday, Playboy and others and been featured on media outlets from NPR to MTV. She now lives in small-town New Hampshire with her son, Wolfgang, and her younger daughter, Mercedes.