Glitter, Glitz, & Glam: Lady Gaga rocks the JPJ
Update: Check out the SLIDESHOW from Lady Gaga's Glitterway.
The premise that Lady Gaga is the Madonna for Gen Y –- the sex appeal, the pop, the choreography–- is accurate, but it's lazy at best. Gaga goes deeper than she gets credit for, decades beyond just cone bras in the '80s, taking inspiration from rockers whose fans probably can't stand her–- from Elvis Presley's scandalous hip-wiggles to Bowie's androgynous glam. As a revolutionary, Gaga surpasses them, if only because they laid the groundwork.
"I love Gaga because she's a combination of Madonna's sexuality and Michael Jackson's morbidity that she brings to a new level," said fourth year UVA student and Gaga follower Tasha Nadasdi. "Everyone else plays it safe with standards. She says, 'F*** it.'"
Hordes of sparkly, scantily-clad, slightly intoxicated UVA boys and girls flooded the John Paul Jones Arena last night, along with greying but fabulously energetic middle-aged adults, all of them shouting out Gaga's name and waving their arms around like a buncha maniacs. The extravagant performance that rewarded them September 8 was, in contrast, carefully concocted and planned out, scripted and scored.
The plotline was simple: Gaga and her posse of queers began at a dark, dirty alleyway, their car broken down (possibly because there was a piano under the hood instead of an engine). They're on their way to the Monster Ball ("the greatest party on the planet," she purred)–- but first must journey through the subway (cue "Love Game"), the darkest depths of Central Park ("Monster"), and culminate in an epic battle against the Fame Monster ("Paparazzi").
The entire narrative rang with elements of The Wizard of Oz: Gaga as an over-sexed Dorothy, prancing off on the "Glitterway" (yup, she called it that) to conquer her own scary monsters and learn that, despite all the trappings of fame, there's nothing like being true to yourself. Each scene was carefully constructed, with a subway car, rising platforms, trap doors, and eventually the titular lantern-fishy monster dominating the stage.
And then there were the costumes. Over 17 songs and two hours, we get a dazzling white and silver gown of tulle and lace, complete with fairy wings; an erotic see-through nun's habit; a glittery green one-shouldered dress. You get the idea.
Our first glimpse of her, in fact, was as a robotic silhouette. Behind the screen, it turned out to be a large purple jacket with huge padded shoulders, a purple leopard-printed one piece, and a yellow bobbed wig–- a Gaga Barbie, but with way cooler outfits. And she had an accompanying glazed doll's look in her eyes, perhaps running on the robot's autopilot.
But then she let it all out, and in more ways than just stripping down to a black bikini and fishnets. A fan threw her a grey UVA T-shirt, which she actually donned for "Telephone"–- certainly her most unexpected piece of clothing. Someone else hit her with a binder of fashion sketches, which she actually flipped through for a moment, perhaps mining for new looks. Dedicating "Boys Boys Boys" to Charlottesville's homosexuals got her nice a round of cheers.
"I don't know if you've heard," she said, quite bluntly, "But I have a big, tremendous d*ck," conjuring memories of the early days in her career when everyone knew she was a hermaphrodite. "I hear the
Virginia Cavaliers have some pretty big c*cks, so dance you motherf***ers!" she continued. In Gaga World, everyone has a package.
So, fine, it's fair to say that Gaga is a second-wave Madonna, but that also makes her a fourth-wave Elvis. Older pioneers of rock spread messages of liberation–- from sexual repression, from racism, from gender inequality. Gaga does all that too, and has the advantage of being able to stand on their shoulders.
"I'm like Tinkerbell," she said, breathless after "Monster." "She dies if you don't clap for her. Do you want me to die? Scream for me!"
The 15,000-plus audience begged for more.