Lisa Crystal Carver’s memoir, Drugs are Nice, is a beautifully designed (truly “post-punk” in its beige and pink) whirlwind of shock value, cut ‘n’ paste and an adolescent-yet-ageless internal dialogue. Though sometimes it seems like it’s exclusively written for Carver’s pre-existing fans, I sort of like the feeling that I’m reading the debriefing notes of a party I wasn’t invited to.
Between the beginning of the book-where we meet Carver’s murderer father-to the end of the book-where her own child’s (famous Nazi) father turns violent-it’s not surprising to find the birth of more than one “in your face” sub-cultural phenomenon. Carver is praised (and put down) for being one of the first people, and definitely one of the first women, to create and tour the bloody, blunt, body fluid-filled experimental performance art scene that she was a part of in the ’80s. Because of Rollerderby she is also credited as being a pioneer of the ’90s zine movement (a notoriety that she credits to Pagan Kennedy). She tells a story early on involving strips of waxed leg-hair and a tracing of GG Allin’s penis, that becomes the start of her wailing, banging, theatric-heavy, never-the-same-show-twice anti-band, Suckdog-one of the projects Carver will become most known for. And the name dropping and the general bizarre spiraling of nonsense into art and back again do not end there.
Reading Drugs are Nice was like watching two teenage girls be best friends, fight, hate, make up and so on-I didn’t always follow, but I appreciated it. Still, in the end, I had questions: I wanted details, aesthetic descriptors, more. I’m tempted to hunt down old copies of Rollerderby to see if I can uncover the answers I’m looking for. (Tara-Michelle Ziniuk)
by Lisa Crystal Carver, $18.95, 250 pgs, Soft Skull Press, 55 Washington St., Suite 804, Brooklyn, NY, 11201, U.S.A., softskull.com