Berlin's reigning queen of the clubs has been around the proverbial block. Since 1978 she has been releasing noisy, confounding disco and rock in both German and English, as well as playing with everyone from Lene Lovich to Giorgio Moroder to the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart. Lately, the 46-year-old Hagen has been touring Europe, doing the occasional acting gig (on the Sci-Fi Channel no less), and working on her autobiography (That's Why the Lady's a Punk, due out in October).
The last time I saw Hagen, she enthralled the mixed crowd at New York's now-defunct Life club with cabaretlike renditions of Nirvana and Frank Sinatra songs. Of course, Hagen's own eccentric numbers are the stuff of underground legend -- including her biggest U.S. hits, "Universal Radio" and "New York, New York." The latter tune remains one of the best disco/punk hybrids of all time, with Hagen's playful, awe-inspiring voice going from a dirty, sensuous growl to a fascinatingly discordant operatic falsetto in seconds flat. Quite simply, without Nina Hagen there would be no Diamanda Galás, no PJ Harvey -- hell, no Björk! Hagen is doing only eight U.S. dates, and chances are she won't be back this way for some time, so don't miss out.