Adele Bertei Twist: An American Girl

Ze Books
27th May 2023

Format Info

Event Ticket Only
Virtual ticket only. Your name will be on the event list. Please note this event is taking place in The Glad Cafe.
Signed Hardback + Event Ticket
Signed Hardback Book + Event Ticket. Virtual Ticket only. Your name will be on the event list. Please note this event is taking place in The Glad Cafe.
Signed Hardback
Signed Hardback Book.


Adele Bertei Presents Twist. In conversation with David Keenan.  Shopping DJs (Andrew Milk and Ray Aggs), playing a no-wave and ZE Records set).

Saturday 27 May, 8pm, The Glad Cafe.


Told through the eyes of Bertei’s alter ego Maddie Twist, Twist is a gut wrenchingly frank yet humorous coming-of-age memoir by Bertei mapping out her stormy adolescence growing up queer in the 1960s before becoming an influential figure in New York’s no wave scene as part of The Contortions and founding the first openly gay all-girl punk band The Bloods loved by John Peel amongst others. Adele was one of the most coveted voices and creators in 1980s New York as a collaborator and friend to Nan Goldin whose recent documentary All The Beauty and The Bloodshed she also appears in. Adele is also doing an event around the memoir with Goldin in New York in March.

Twist tells the tale of Bertei’s tumultuous life with her schizophrenic mother and abusive father and eventually being placed inside the exploitative US foster system. The autodidactic singer-songwriter, author and director threads together the tapestry of an extraordinary, but troubled childhood where music and art provides a cathartic anchor and escape from her trauma. By her middle school years, Maddie Twist has moved through several foster homes and reformatories. With each new posting, she discovers sanctuary amongst her peers, outcast girls, while gaining belief in her identity, and unwavering trust in her own voice. In frank prose without an ounce of self-pity, Twist is an episodic survival of the fittest, navigating the crooked rivers of poverty, race, sexuality, and gender. It is a world of little girl gangsters, drag queen solidarity, wild roller-skating, and magical thinking. With Twist, Bertei gives us a story of violence and madness, of heartbreak and perseverance, and, ultimately, redemption that resonates with the present day with its harrowing relevance to the continuous fight for LGBTQIA representation and women’s rights globally.

Bertei has written two books before Twist, including Peter and the Wolves about her friendship with musician Peter Laughner and their journey through the 1970’s underground punk scene. Bertei’s second book, Why Labelle Matters, is about the cultural and musical progress achieved by Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles in the 1960’s. Her singing and songwriting career includes recording, performing live, and writing for such diverse acts as Thomas Dolby, Tears for Fears, Culture Club, Whitney Houston, Scritti Politti, Sheena Easton, Jellybean Benitez, Lydia Lunch, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, the Pointer Sisters, and John Lurie.

Adele Bertei was lead singer of the first out, queer, all-women rock band, the Bloods, and was the voice on hit songs like “Hyperactive!” by Thomas Dolby.  Bertei played a lead role in Lizzie Borden’s seminal feminist sci-fi film Born in Flames. She is the author of two previous books: Peter and the Wolves, and Why Labelle Matters, a finalist for the 2022 Lambda Literary Awards. Twist is her original story.