All That Glitters Is GaGa
By Noah Michelson
For perhaps obvious reasons, a Catholic school upbringing often seems to serve as the catalyst for unleashing the diva buried deep inside those predisposed to being possessed by pop music demons. It was true for Madonna, it was true for Cyndi Lauper, and it's true for Convent of the Sacred Heart alum Lady GaGa. When she wasn't at Mass with classmates Paris and Nicky Hilton, the burgeoning star was storming the clubs of New York City's Lower East Side. There she honed her skills as a singer and shock popster in the making by stripping down on stage to her bikini top and hot pants and lighting cans of hairspray on fire.
Inspired by an unlikely combination of Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Motley Cr'e, and Queen (she lifted her name from Queen's 'Radio GaGa,') the singer-songwriter was signed by her 20th birthday and already beginning to map out her plan for world domination. Unwilling to let career be controlled by anyone but herself, Lady GaGa writes her own lyrics and melodies, plays most of the synth work on her infectious debut album, The Fame, and acts as the creative director for all things GaGa -- no pair of sunglasses is chosen without her input, no shoulder is shimmied without her express approval.
Lady phoned us during a brief moment of downtime on her current gig opening for the New Kids on the Block to discuss what's it's like to be a gay man trapped in a woman's body, influencing Christina Aguilera's new look, and exactly what it takes for a drag queen to do her proud.
Out: You were barely a month old when the New Kids' first album dropped. Have they schooled you while you've been on tour with them?
Lady GaGa: I've learned a lot from them. They're so professional and so talented. Their determination and drive -- they could literally stand on stage in their underwear for two hours and those girls would just scream.
What is it like playing for an audience of 30-something women and their bored boyfriends and husbands? It must be a completely different than playing for a club full of gays.
It's totally different. There's nothing like playing for my gay fans. It's a hard act to follow. But it's still great. Women love the record. It's funny because the New Kids crowd that's coming -- they're not necessarily partiers. They may be only going to that show all year and they're going out to get fucked up to see the New Kids! Everybody is out to party. So I'm sort of the perfect opener because I'm the party starter. But truthfully there's nothing like playing for my gay fans. I was just in Vegas and we played a killer New Kids show and then I went down the hall to the House of Blues and played the White Party for Jeff Sanker and I was just in heaven.
Someone once said you're like a gay man trapped in a woman's body.
[Laughs] There's a lot of truth to that.
Do you like to have sex at the gym? Are you fastidious about grooming your body hair?
Both of those things. [Laughs] Hmm, what makes me a gay man? I think you hit the nail on the head -- the way I think about fashion, the way I think about sex, the way that I think about my individuality and my freedom and my pride as a woman. I'm a product of my environment. I grew up with a lot of gay friends and I was a dancer, I did a lot of acting, I was always in a show. It's just home for me.
One of the things required to gain diva status is a rival. Do you have anyone you'd like to rumble with?
So far I haven't really met another female artist that's been able to invade my space. So when they do, I'll be excited.
You'll be ready to throw down? It seems like you can handle yourself.
I am who I am. People have already tried to create rivalries between me and a few other artists, but I don't even think of it that way. The minute I take my eye off what I'm doing to check out the bitch next to me, I'm going to slow myself down.
But we have to talk about Christina Aguilera. Lately she's been looking an awful lot like a Lady GaGa knockoff. Is that flattering? Or does Xtina need to step off?
I feel even though yes, [Christina's] VMA performance did resemble my style in some ways, I wouldn't say that she is stealing from me. But it's very flattering to be compared to a superstar, and I love and appreciate how protective my fans are of me. You see, it's not a look -- fashion is my life and I have always dressed this way. It's in my blood. I think Christina is great, so was her performance. No enemies here.
You write your own music, you conceptualize your look, you call all the shots. Is it a struggle to prove that pop music is something that can be taken seriously and that can be artistic?
I wouldn't say it's a struggle, I'd say it's a mission. It's a vow. It's funny, when I did the So You Think You Can Dance performance and I put on my TV-shaped glasses [that read] Pop Music Will Never Be Low Brow, that was me taking a vow and saying 'Not on my stage.' I write the shit, I do the fashion, all the choreography is inspired by me and New York City and what I believe in and the show is completely 100,000 percent my vision. That's what makes my heart beat. I wouldn't be fulfilled as an artist if I was just a puppet.
Speaking of puppets, you were on MTV's The Hills a couple of weeks ago. Is it as fake as I keep reading it is?
Honestly it wasn't nearly as fake as I thought it would be. It's very beautifully done. It's shot like a soap opera -- they light the girls but it's not staged.
They didn't repeatedly make you redo your scenes?
Not when I was there. When I was there they just filmed us and the girls were really nice. I predicted they'd be snobby and really L.A. but they helped me out. My fucking cat suit was having a serious meltdown and I was freaking out, and they were yelling at me to go on stage, and the girls hooked me up. I think instead of knocking reality television we should look at it as a new art form. I think The Hills more than any other show is the most artistic reality show.