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Gaga for the Lady

Gaga for the Lady


Lady Gaga cavorts in couture. She only dons platinum wigs that suggest the presence of radioactivity. And she yells for you to dance, all in tribute to her favorite muse -- fame.

The racy Lady Gaga, nee Stefani Germanotta, entered hard on singles charts (particularly on iTunes) with the Colby O'Donis-aided single "Just Dance" off her recently released debut, The Fame. Now her candor and showmanship have earned her a Billboard Top 20 album, comparisons to Madonna, and frequent championing from that ubiquitous gay force Perez Hilton.

Gaga sees celebrity behavior as ritualized art form, a Noh drama in which limousine arrivals, saucy Maxim interview quotes, and prison mug shots are all equally rehearsed and mastered. Though Gaga looks like a Gwen Stefani take on T. Rex, her intentions, to some degree, are as serious as a textbook. She believes pop music is vital, never lowbrow. And maybe she would know best, having worked with and written tracks for Britney Spears, the Pussycat Dolls, and New Kids on the Block.

The Advocate phoned Lady Gaga to discuss her influences, her raunchy persona, and the salacious lady she calls her "total girl-crush." Oh, and the story behind that highly suggestive "disco stick" she brandishes onstage like a titanium emblem off a homosexual spaceship.

You approach fame like a pop archaeologist, studying its bizarreness and machinations. Now how does it feel to experience fame so suddenly? Oh, it's really overwhelming and very exciting. It's interesting, because you usually think about fame a certain kind of way in your head, but I really didn't have a real moment of it until I saw myself on iTunes at number 1. Because that's your music, you know? So that was a really different moment for me, as someone who analyzes fame and celebrity obsession and media culture and, you know, fame as an art form -- it was kind of a real moment for me to have my first real dose of it.

Your bluntness and defiance are signature attributes. What made you this way? Do you always seek to defy? No, I guess it's just that New York girl in me. I've got a pinch of some punk in my blood. I've always been that way; I was always pretty bad-ass growing up, trying to stay out late. I was always in bands with boys. I just always wanted to be independent, making music, and a free woman. It's just kind of always been in my blood.

You're a fixture on Perez Hilton's site. Do you devoutly follow celeb gossip as part of your interest in glamour? I used to be more in tune with it than I am now. Now I'm a lot more focused on, you know, my project, and more focused on articulating how I'm going to bring all of my ideas about fame into fruition in my work. But, yeah, I'm certainly up to date on pop culture -- I read Perez's site all the time. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a pop culture journalist. I'm for sure up to date. It's funny, I do a lot of research, if anything, on YouTube and the internet a lot. Kind of seeing what other artists are doing, fashion overseas, things like that.

What artists are you watching out for right now? Right now I'm excited that Marilyn Manson's working on his new album. I'm kind of gearing up for that.

The influences you've cited in past interviews are totems of gay culture -- Madonna, David Bowie, Boy George, Sinead O'Connor, Andy Warhol. What draws you to these people? What do you glean from them? They're performance artists. They go much further and much beyond being a singer and musician. It's about being a visionary and a storyteller. I just use these artists as a template as the kind of artist I want to be and the kind of figure that I want to be remembered as.

You must have a favorite Madonna persona. Wow ... hmm. Erotica. I loved her in the latex with the black lips and all that. It's defiant, you know? Most remember sort of remember Madonna most famously for the Like a Virgin bridal gown. That's a bit more traditional in my eyes. There's something about the erotic look that was so inappropriate, so unsuitable for television. Even at, like, 3 a.m.

If you had to role play, would you be more like the "straight" rocker David Bowie or the "gay" David Bowie, flanked by an amorous Mick Jagger? Hello! Gay, gay, gay! Did you even have to ask? Gay, gay, gay, gay, gay! Yes! With Jagger on the side.

How do the spectacles of your show come together? And how did your famous prop "the disco stick" come to be? The disco stick has gone through many a metamorphosis. Originally it was going to be a cane. Then we started to talk about the club shows and the fact that I was going to be moving around, you know, from country to city to city all the time -- and without a tour bus for the first part of my tour. So I started to think about ways that we could have a self-contained show that was still really powerful and felt like you were watching an artist who's been around for 10 years.

So we started playing with ideas about light and fashion and how we could incorporate them into the show. And so the disco stick became a light-up invention. And from that came the glasses, and then I came up with the LCD-screen glasses and iPod glasses. For me, the philosophy was "trash sophisticated." It was "How do I create a show, a traveling show, a circus that still feels like they got in everything?" And then we throw in a microphone plugged into an amp. Something I can travel with, something that's beautiful, something that has strong imagery that doesn't require a staff of 50 and 80 trucks. So, you know, for me, it was just wrapping my head around stuff.

From a fashion perspective it's incorporating technology into the work. It's putting stage design into the clothing.

What's your biggest fashion must? I love my sunglasses. They're just great because no matter what you freaking have on, if your hair's messed up and you've got no makeup on, just pop those puppies on and you're good.

You hop on a girl's lap in the video for "Poker Face." Is sexuality-bending just part of your act? I would say yes. I mean, I think I'm a free-spirited woman, and I intend to continue to push sexual boundaries in my work visually and musically.

Let's say you're only allowed one decadent lesbian fling in your life -- who's it going to be with? And who dominates during the proceedings? I would say ... Dita von Teese. I have a total girl-crush on her. And who's dominating? I think it would have to be an equal love-sharing.

Though your biggest single thus far is "Just Dance," you said in an interview that you don't consider yourself a dance artist. Care to explain? I think that, especially since the word dance is in the title, that sometimes, you know, I've been called a "dance artist" a lot, but I make pop music. And it's got a rock 'n' roll heart and a little R&B flavor in the melodies. The lyrics are super twisted. I mean, it's not a dance record -- if you put it up next to an Ida Corr record or a Bob Sinclair record, it's not dance, it's pop. I want to challenge people to think about pop in a less compartmentalized-genre kind of way and just think of it a song. I think with this album proving itself in the pop world, we can break out of boundaries, think outside of the box, and do something that's a little bit left of center and still get played on radio.

I take it we can only expect your gay following to grow exponentially in the near future? I want to keep making great music, and what I love about the gay community and my gay fans is there's no getting anything past them. It's either great music and a great artist and a great dress or it's not, you know? [Laughs] The gays are never afraid to go, "Honey ... I didn't like that outfit." There's a real honesty and trust with my gay fans. I'm always going to be 150,000% percent loyal.

To me, it doesn't matter if I make it big-time as a pop sensation, Top 40, playing in clubs, and selling out arenas all over the world. The gay community is always with me. Always, always. I'm not moving on or changing. With the gay community, it's always and forever.

The Fame is in stores and on iTunes now.

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