BORN THIS WAY
Lady Gaga on being the reigning queen of pop
“No questions about boyfriends or Madonna, no political questions please and…” the whispered brief is not the best of omens. But enter the dimly lit room and Gaga sets down her dainty teacup, with a surprisingly perky “How are you?” The New York bred pop czarina made a Delhi pit stop for a performance at the mother of all shindigs, the after-party of the first Indian Grand Prix and the Capital’s party regulars, Bollywood wives plus blonde tourists in glittery saris, all thronged the hotel’s corridors for a glimpse of the mother monster.
Her plunging black kaftan shows off a thin frame and sets of the platinum blonde hair with eyebrows and eyelashes dyed to match. She does not look much like the “Indian hippie” she claimed to be during the packed press conference which saw her hair coifed in the colours of the Indian national flag.“india has given me such amazing memories. So much love and jewellery, I should add, to take back,” the 25-yearold fondly points to the blingy ring on her hand. Yes the “pop culture phenomena” is nothing if not a spectacular spectacle.
Ever since she first appeared on the scene three years ago, Gaga has been out and about wearing a horde of green Muppets, some strategically placed bubbles, a dress made entirely out of meat and who can forget the facial horns which she said were natural? Throw in a male alter ego called Joe Calderone and it is one schizophrenic mix. So will the real Lady Gaga ever stand up? “But it’s all me. I am still the same girl I was before all this happened. I have not changed as a person. But yes as a musician and a performer I evolve and become a new entity every day,” she says. Being forever in character is a craft she honed during years spent performing in the bars of downtown New York, home to perhaps the world’s largest gathering of wannabe actors and amateur rockstars.
Before the passion took over, Gaga was Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, a Catholic school girl from a well established Italian American family of the Big Apple. Then at 20 she dropped out of the prestigious Tisch School of Art to start on her road to Gagadom. “I still pinch myself when sometimes I sit down and think about it,” says Gaga, who if you believe Forbes magazine, is the most influentialcelebrity on planet earth. “When I started out I was so naïve, and so delusional. And then I went through so much. And actually the video of my next single Marry The Night is a flash- back of those years. Because I want my fans everywhere, India, Japan, Germany to
see what I went through.” She got her big break after three years of studio rounds and burlesque jobs with the blockbuster album Fame, which released in late 2008. She was 23 then and within weeks, at least a dozen people came up claiming credit for discovering her or threatening to sue her for copying their style. The copycat accusations continue to fly. The biggest one happened when she released her much awaited comeback single Born This
Way which was ripped by critics for sounding too much like Express
Yourself, an 80’ s hit of that other Italian American icon, Queen of Pop, Madonna. Despite the unexpected backlash, it went onto number one spot on the charts and stayed there for six weeks. The song is part of her outspoken crusade for the cause of the LGBT community around the world, an affinity which has gained her a faithful following as well as plenty of detractors. “I write every single word in each of my songs, I compose them and the imagery that you see in my videos is all me. I believe in equality in everything, for everybody, I consider it a human right. And that is what being an artiste means to me, to be able to talk about things that matter to me. Because I do not create music for money or fame.”
She is in her element here speaking about her fans or little monsters as she calls them. She chose that side years ago. Yes all stars dedicate trophies to those who buy their records but they are not one of them. Despite the crazy couture and the ever changing hair, Gaga is.“you would have noticed that when I first broke into the scene, my music was not what it is today. It was just dance music. I was a new name and my fans did not know who I was as a person, what were my beliefs. But once they trusted me I opened up. I have worked my entire life to get to this place where I can speak freely to them. I do not pretend to be perfect because I am not. I fight my fears not just for myself but for all my babies,” says Gaga. Later she tweets a picture to her 15 million followers. It is a smiling, barefaced, tousle haired Gaga in bed and within an hour some 2,000 comments about the beautiful “mother” are up on the social networking website.
But the word just does not fit and she explains its context, “It’s wonderful isn’t it? When I came out with the
Bad Romance video, we had this dance routine in there where I did this claw thing with my hand. And during concerts I saw that all the fans were doing it and to me they looked like little monsters with their hands up like that. And then my babies started to call me Mother Monster. And I love that because one of my biggest inspirations is Yoko Ono and John Lennon used to call her mother. It’s maternal and reflects feminine spirituality and power. It’s me.”