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Drugs are Nice: A Post-Punk Memoir

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  800 ratings  ·  76 reviews
In this eye-opening memoir, Lisa Crystal Carver recalls her extraordinary youth and charts the late-80s, early-90s punk subculture that she helped shape. She recounts how her band Suckdog was born in 1987 and the wild events that followed: leaving small-town New Hampshire to tour Europe at 18, becoming a teen publisher of fanzines, a teen bride, and a teen prostitute. Spin ...more
Paperback, 220 pages
Published September 30th 2005 by Soft Skull Press
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Community Reviews

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I picked this book up at a used book store about 6 months ago because it looked funny and decadent and smart, and figured whenever I'd get around to reading it, it'd make me feel like I was going some kind of interesting small-scale crazy until I finished it, which is a thing I look for from memoirs and certain kinds of fiction. Is your book making me think like you write? Cause I'm a double gemini and that sort of thing is a good time for me. And sometimes it's a bad time for me. I was a little ...more
Sarah Smith
I'm going to suppress my desire to denigrate this as a fluffy memoirish ladytimes summer read, because while that's a tempting angle to take, it's not really fair. Lisa Crystal Carver is one of the proto-zinesters who made amazing and kind of solipsistic small-run self-obsessed photocopied magazines, back even before riot grrrl was really a thing or Sassy started covering the phenomenon. I was mostly into reading this because I treasure my compilation of her zine Rollerderby and I was curious to ...more
Apr 16, 2012 Structure rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
I picked this up at a time when I was convinced that I couldn't make successful art. Reading about her adventures and drive to just do what she had to is still a big inspiration.

Chris Estey
I slighted this book with my original review -- it is much more important than merely showing an early glimpse into GG Allin.
With Drugs Are Nice, Lisa Carver has created the first enduring memoir of her subculture and generation. Called one of Playboy's "favorite cultural observers" and Boston Magazine's "supreme cultural anthropologist," Lisa Carver's has written widely on popular music, art, and her own sex life (as a diarist). In Drugs Are Nice, she charts the birth of the movement she helped create, from the dizzying highs of European performance art tours to the genesis of the zine phenomenon. It's an e ...more
Jacob Wren

Lisa Crystal Carver writes:

At the end of the tour, I tell Jean Louis I can't do these shows any more. I still think they're great; I still believe in a dirty glamour, and that chaos and violence and ambiguous relationships and constant travel can be paths to redemption. It’s just that it’s all wrong for me now because it doesn't embarrass me. Showing my body or its functions to strangers, being laughed at or chased away never embarrassed me. But saying what I really feel - any emotion, no matter
Tina Hernandez
I think that what the publisher info leaves out here is that Lisa Carver is learning to overcome the cycle of abuse, and lives in a whirlwind right up until she has her own kid and has to rethink her whole lifestyle...also, she does a great job of conveying what various (super interesting!) relationships she was in felt like. She didn't waste any space, either - I felt like she could have written a 3 volume set but instead chose to really pare it down and only include the most intense parts of h ...more
I read Lisa Carver's 'zine "Rollerderby" back in the late '80s and actually managed to see one utterly chaotic, over-the-top, vaguely scary, really sexy, and musically incomprehensible Suckdog performance. At one point I did own a stack of Suckdog/Lisa Carver videos... I've followed her from her days as performance artist through 'zine star through Nerve columnist, and always had a major crush on her. So..."Drugs Are Nice" is a welcome memoir. It's funny, sad, disturbing, and told in Lisa's own ...more
Lisa "Suckdog" Carver shares her twisted and dysfunctional motives, feelings, and actions in this raw memoir. She is not afraid of exposing herself and all her passion, recklessness, and cravings for the real, the harsh, the intense.
Although the book starts out with great momentum and a feverish pace, it does bog down a bit towards the end with a heavy and depressing focus on her abusive relationship with Boyd Rice and her handicapped son.
In 1994, I ordered a copy of Rollerderby. I had never seen anything as weird and different in my life. At the time, I kept the zine hidden in my journal. I brought it to the school cafeteria to show my friends. It was [south] Charlotte, North Carolina spring 1994 ninth grade. Everyone was freaked.

I admit it-- I read this book beacause of Rollerderby and I love the title. It was a good read.
she reminds me of this girl i went to high school with. distracted by that fact. nothing in this book surprised me. nevertheless, enjoyed this and found that it went down easy.
seriously this was one of the more depressing things i have read in a while, and i friggin loved rollerderby. i guess not all things of my youth need to be revisited.
Matt Jasper
Lisa is an amazing writer, and I'm not just saying that becasue she arranged for a group of women with scissors to cut my clothes off. . . .
Jaina Bee
May 07, 2008 Jaina Bee rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the fearless
LCC successfully transposes her gritty and glittery life story into the Hero's Journey.
Despite my disdain for taking in anything that is influenced by the post-punk/grunge art movement (or anything that Sonic Youth would recommend or be recommended by), I am reading this hoping it's more directly about the process of post-punk rather than looking back and nostalgically regurgitating it.
And it is more about the creative process of an individual within a certain time.
It is because Lisa Carver gets in there and doesn't name drop for the sake of it. She observes. And she expresses th
Larry-bob Roberts
Quite enjoyed this memoir of underground performance. I caught a couple of Lisa's performances - one with Costes and Bill of Smog in Minneapolis, and one with Costes and Dame Darcey in Oakland (though I don't quite see how that one fits in the chronology in this book.) I wrote something about the first performance, which involved a take on the Adam and Eve story, as being like glimpsing paradise through a knothole. I saw museum based performance art around the same time, and I think was Lisa was ...more
Jul 14, 2015 Taylor rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone with balls and the desire to be different, music lovers
I read this so that I could review it in Resonance, and it was absolutely fantastic and riveting. I didn't know much about Lisa Crystal Carver going into it, but as it turns out, she's a minor celebrity, having been involved with (either sexually or art-wise) lots of famous underground musicians. The writing style is exactly as it should be for a memoir - sometimes it feels like she's writing in her diary, because the facts are just so shocking and personal, and other times it feels like you're ...more
Grumpus McGrouchy
No, Lisa. YOU are nice. *blush*
Now quit slutting yourself out with that stupid sex advice bullshit and get back to writing honestly, and hopefully now more maturely, about the worm castings under your bed.
Lisa Carver is clearly more talented as a writer than as a provocateur in the punk rock/avante garde underworld she memorializes. An enjoyable read with more twists and turns than one would at first expect.
Oct 21, 2011 Becca rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
I started volunteering at Richard Hugo House's Zine Archive and Publishing Project (ZAPP) a few weeks ago, and being there has reignited my interest in 80s and 90s punk/DIY/feminist culture. Happily, I came across Lisa Carver's name online a little while after I started at ZAPP, and checked this book out the last time I went to the library. I love volunteering in a zine archive because the point of zines is self-expression and connection, and being around a lot of amateur writing has made me fee ...more
Didn't know much (or anything) about Lisa Carver before I read this. Her life was tragic, appalling, and yet, also inspiring. Makes me want to break through some of my own self-built walls.
"We wanted to change the very foundation of what music was, what it meant to be a girl or a boy, what performance was, what movies were, what writing was for. We were going to break down every barrier—between performer and observer, between bad art and high art, between public and private. We wanted to turn a live show into an hour of Stockholm Syndrome, because when you don't remember who the enemies and heroes are you get to arrange the world from scratch," says Lisa Suckdog, thinking back on ...more
Ivy Jeanne
Wow, Lisa "Suckdog" Carver has been a heroine of mine since I was 16 years old. I snuck into CBGB's where Suckdog was performing, she basically blew my mind and I've never been the same since! I've always loved her ultra wild style, her hilariously excellent zine Roller Derby, and her first book Dancing Queen. What sets this book apart from her previous work is that she isn't just merely telling you about the soundbites of her life, she is really bringing you into her intimate and vulnerable spa ...more
Kirsten Ashley
I remembered reading this book years ago when the subject of Boyd Rice came up from one of his charming little ditties titled "All Feminists Should Be Raped."
I'm not sure about her allegations on Anton Lavey (Church Of Satan) and Boyd Rice are true..but it does seem slightly plausible.
The obsessive DIY/alterna girl in me loved this book. (I love Dame Darcy.) The whole culture of creating and living art is something I strongly attach to.
I read a few of the bad reviews on Amazon. What I don't lik
The moment she described how she defeated a potential rapist due to unorthodox fight training she'd received throughout her life from her father, I knew I'd found a kindred spirit, another woman who had been raised to survive in a somewhat twisted, but entirely useful by her old man rather than taught how hide from the world like so many other young women. Lisa did get involved with a type of release for her hyper-vigilant state that I never found that appealing, but dang, could I relate to her ...more
When I found this on the shelf at a used bookstore it seemed like the perfect vacation read. I had been a zinester back in the day and read Rollerderby and knew a little bit about Lisa Carver so this read was like going back to those crazy zine days (though mine weren't nearly as crazy as hers). While this was a speedy read and definitely entertaining, by the end of the book I didn't feel like I really got some special insight into who Lisa Suckdog Carver really was or is, but she sure went down ...more
Based on the title I thought this was going to be like Please Kill Me which was mostly just punks talking about being on heroin and their friends ODing. This was actually a fantastic memoir that had nothing to do with heroin. very good writing. very insightful and clever. Carver reflects on many of the experiences in her life and describes a lot of emotions that I thought were very interesting to read about. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with a dissenting bone in their body.
Ed Wagemann
Apr 03, 2012 Ed Wagemann marked it as to-read
Shelves: rock
Why Everything You Think You Know About Punk Is Completely Wrong:

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Carver is an amazing writer. It's like reading Anais Nin and Henry Miller simultaneously. Carver might very well know a little bit more about life than either of them. Plus she's dishing on stuff that happened in recent memory, like zines and the whole tape trading thing. She's a kind of true life Van Helsing type, facing off with such (often comically) sinister figures as GG Allin and Anton LaVay. Folks like Dame Darcy make cameos too.
Lisa Carver is an extraordinary human being. She's always been someone who totally mystified me, like she couldn't possibly be real or serious. But this memoir was ultra-illuminating of what a passionate, complicated person she is, and how her infinitely complicated psyche developed from a very early age. Parts of this book made me cry. She reminds me of every amazing, outrageous, genuine, good-hearted woman I've ever known.
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Lisa Crystal Carver (born 1968[1]), also known as Lisa Suckdog, is an American writer known for her writing in Rollerderby.[2] Through her interviews, she introduced the work of Vaginal Davis, Dame Darcy, Cindy Dall, Boyd Rice, Costes (her ex-husband with whom she performed Suckdog), Nick Zedd, GG Allin, Kate Landau, Queen Itchie & Liz Armstrong to many. A collection of notable articles from t ...more
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“Anything well done has the feeling of death to me, of being finished. I don't want to "master" anything. I want to spy, and sneak, and capture things just as they are . . . record all that comes before and after the song—jokes and fights and private moments.

Having an unfillable hole inside is a great catalyst. You're always trying new things to fill it. People with holes look good! Look ready for action. But then sometimes you're home alone, and there's nothing new to try, and the hole's still there. "Hey," it growls, poking you from inside, "I'm hungry." I get tired of it!

We are like two living cells inside a just-dead body—doomed, terrified.

She argues herself out of anything she's working on, halfway through. As I stand there in the downpour and pull the mailbox open and drop my letter down the hole, I think about how Cindy is more beautiful, intelligent, and intricate than me, but still I have the winning point: whatever I do, even when I'm wrong, I go all the way.

It's dark humor, but it's rooted in something real. What you present to the world is light humor. You keep it fun and fast-paced. No one can relate to that long-term. Struggle is what makes life rich—not success.”
“We try to get out of these cocoons and make our way down to where our bodies are. We try shoplifting and racist/sexist/ageist humor (trying to offend our way out); we get naked on stage. We try sleep deprivation and razors on our skin. We date creepy, scary sleazes who we half-hope, half-fear might do the cutting for us. But we’re so used to living inside a dream, even cutting feels dreamy. We can’t get out. We can’t wake up.” 3 likes
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