For the 30th anniversary gala of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art on 14 November, Francesco Vezzoli’s Ballets Russes Italian Style (The Shortest Musical You Will Never See Again) featured a performance by Lady Gaga that defied parody. Wearing a hat designed by Frank Gehry and a mask designed by Baz Luhrmann, Gaga played on a rotating Pepto-Bismol-pink Steinway grand piano decorated with blue butterflies painted by Damien Hirst while Prada-clad dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet pliéd around her. In other words, an average Saturday night.
Everyone’s a little Gaga these days. Alexander McQueen premiered her latest hit, ‘Bad Romance’, during the finale of his Spring 2010 show in Paris. Hedi Slimane shot the cover for her new album, The Fame Monster. She’s Twitter friends with Yoko Ono – ‘Dear @ladygaga Thank you for singing IMAGINE. Hearing that made me choke up. You are so beautiful! In Sisterhood and love, yoko’ – and snagged Swedish hottie Alexander Skarsgård to play her boyfriend in a video. Christopher Walken and Jude Law have each given a dramatic recitation of her hit ‘Poker Face’; not to be outdone, Kanye West, Kid Cudi and Common got together for a dirty little hip-hop ditty called ‘I Poke Her Face’. Gaga’s largely responsible for the trouserlessness in women’s fashion that has now spread even to Carine Roitfeld of French Vogue. Beyoncé invited her to team up for her new song ‘Video Phone’. Marc Jacobs asked her to perform at the after-party for his fashion week show in New York – although depending on your source, she was either 45 minutes or two hours late because she was having sex in her dressing-room.
All of this would be unbearable were it not for the fact that Gaga writes classic pop songs overlaid with insanely catchy electro-synth riffs. Her music videos are both ridiculous and wildly entertaining: in her latest, for ‘Bad Romance’, she emerges from an industrial sleeping pod in a white latex sensory-deprivation body suit, dresses up in a polar-bear peignoir, seduces a Scandinavian giant (she certainly has a type) wearing a gold chin-piece, and spontaneously combusts.
And underneath the posturing and couture, she’s still recognisable as the girl who watched Cabaret one too many times and had crushes on her gay friends. She went to NYU, where she dabbled in a little Warhol, Dada and Hitchcock (she has a particular fondness for Vertigo). She perfected her make-up technique while doing ‘bags and bags’ of cocaine and listening to the Cure. She’s a natural brunette who dyed her hair blonde to avoid being confused for Amy Winehouse (understandable). She craves drama and fantasises about high art, but more than anything she wants to have a good time: ‘Let’s have some fun, this beat is sick/I wanna take a ride on your disco stick.’