Lady GaGa is staking her claim to be the next diva on the Mount Rushmore of Pop, alongside such heavyweights as Cher and Madonna. As this generation’s answer to the creative void left by the lack of a talented female artist who provoked the mainstream as well as she climbed the charts, Lady GaGa’s rise has come hard and fast — just like the “pretty tremendous dick” she grabs at during a set on her Monster Ball Tour stop. Her words, not mine.
No one does a television special quite like HBO, so it’s only natural that she teamed up with them to bring you along on her takeover of the still sacred Madison Square Garden. This isn’t a review of Lady GaGa or her music. This isn’t a review of her live performance. This is one #@$%er’s commentary on the hard-work, the motivation, and the theatrics that have made Lady GaGa one of music’s most popular spectacles around today — as captured by HBO. As any fan will tell you, musicians come and go but real artists last lifetimes. Lady GaGa wants to be an artist.
Starting out with a quick stop at a NY Deli for some cheap coffee and a stick of gum, we’re quickly introduced to the outrageousness that Lady GaGa has embraced since she burst onto the scene in 2008. A barely covered derriere, obnoxiously styled cut-off gloves, and platform boots destined to cause an ankle dislocation have come to symbolize Lady GaGa’s now customary look. At first glance you’d think it as nothing more than just another lame attempt at shock and awe, but strip back the layers of leather and you’ll find what has made Lady GaGa so endearing to her most loyal fans is the loser underneath it all. An insecure girl, unsure of her place in this world, who stands up in the face of rejection and beckons the world to listen and watch as she collects Grammys like they were the scalps of all the naysayers she’s met along the way.
As a pseudo-homage to the Wizard of Oz, Lady GaGa’s Madison Square Garden performance is a trip down the Glitter and Grease Road. It makes sense given her background in theater, which she waxes on when shouting out audience members Liza Minelli and Marisa Tomei. Her entire show seems to have been drawn from that small moment in her history, one that has no doubt been mythologized as truth, where rejection becomes the catalyst to following your dreams. It’s all very feel good. Disney routinely kills for moments like these.
Words can’t really do justice when judging Lady GaGa’s performances. There are just too many senses that she’s trying to violate that, if tickets weren’t so expensive, the only way to experience it would to be right there. Whether she’s bellowing out a chorus, grabbing her tits as she lets out guttural commands, or playing the black and white keys like a concert pianist, she’s got a stage presence like no other. The sparks shooting out of the cannons on her chest and the subtle rubbing of her leather-clad crotch also help. It brings a sexualized energy on stage that’s just begging to end in an orgy of sensory overload. Interestingly, The Monster Ball was originally conceived as a joint venture with another theatrical performer, Kanye West, but due to an ungodly interruption and an emotional breakdown, that tour was canceled. All for the better as Lady GaGa must have felt liberated knowing the big stage was going to be all hers. There’s a reason why Lady GaGa found her way onto the stage of MSG — she’s got a shit ton of talent. And in case you weren’t sure of it, she’ll sing acappella for you ensuring that you’re not wasting your money “watching some bitch lipsynch”. Respect.
By the end, if you’re not rooting for this girl from New York, you probably never will. But there’s no denying that she’s got a fiercely loyal fanbase that respects the shit out of her. Cher is a gay icon, Madonna is a gay icon, and Lady GaGa loves her gays just as much. She has embraced the gay community like no other present-day artist on the big stage, and there’s so many allusions to them in her music that it’s almost too much. She’ll always be criticized for doing too much or doing too little, but at least she’s got you thinking about a population that has had to keep their true identities hidden for so long. I’m no gay hugger, but if taking it up the butt is your thing, own it. Just make sure you leave the rubbers at home. Unless you’ve got AIDS.
Lady GaGa is distinctly New York. You can’t escape it. It’s her first love. The one who broke her heart countless times. The one who was good to her when she was down. The one who taught her things she needed to learn. The one who #@$%ed her until she came. It will always be a part of her identity and like Dorothy, there’s no place quite like home. Knowing that she’s come back to the concrete jungle on the shoulders of an army of “monsters”, has got to be better than any high imaginable. It’s that sort of love, for her city and for her fans, that makes the moment backstage where she cries over her insecurities the most dramatic.