Born This Way ... Lady Gaga puts her world view on record.
Caveat: This column is about outfits worn by the crowd at the final Lady Gaga concert in Sydney. If you don’t like her, her music, her message or if you’re homophobic then this is as far as you need read. Also maybe stop if you’re the mother of a teenage daughter - no good will come from knowing what she was actually wearing under the clothes she left the house in on Sunday night.
Lady Gaga has fans who are prepared to rage against the machine - one loony outfit at a time.
I’m a popular culture groupie so I was truly excited about witnessing the Gaga phenomenon live in concert this week. A marketing genius, I admire her Madonna-like quest for perfection, fame and controversy. I was expecting an elaborate, grand scale production that included the following:
a) Thinly veiled religious references.
They weren’t so much veiled as painted in neon pink texta. The ‘Born This Way Ball’ had many rosaries, nuns habits made out of latex and an African American Jesus. I’m sorry but anybody that says she doesn’t reference Madonna – just does not know their Madonna.
b) Overt sexual moments.
She attached herself to a giant vagina and simulated fellatio within the first five minutes of the show.
c) Fabulously, crazy costumes.
Gaga did not disappoint with over 22 outfit changes designed by everyone from Giorgio Armani to Versace.
What I was not expecting was that her fans would steal the show. This is no easy task when you’re competing with a life-sized Gothic castle and a suspended cubic space ship containing the hologram of the super star. I actually stopped looking at the stage and watched the Little Monsters (that’s what she calls her fans but you knew that right…) instead.
Gaga does an impressive job of turning the crowd into stars. They’re the cliché: your local barista, the nutty neighbours, your son's music teacher, an old boyfriend who’s finally out of the closet… everyday people and they’re fabulous.
Little Monster(s) 1: Sitting directly in front of me was a gang of best friends who were dressed like pole dancers. From Thailand. They spent the night in various states of nudeness, screaming with happiness and taking pictures of each other. Not Gaga. Themselves.
Little Monster 2: A young Lady Boy in full drag with Coca-Cola cans in his hair wearing a mirrored leotard which he may or may not have whipped up on the Singer at home. He looked exactly like Cameron from Modern Family (yep, leotard) and spent the night ‘signing autographs’ for his ‘adoring’ fans.
Little Monster(s) 3: Mum and daughter. I’m going to put them at 43 and 15. From the bottom they were wearing: white patent leather knee high boots, black fishnets, black short shorts, black bra and faux fur jacket. At any other time I would have been judgmental but there was something very inclusive about their shared costume that made me feel perhaps Gaga had helped build a bridge?
Lady G’s message is self-acceptance via self-expression. She’s the champion of the misunderstood and the marginalised. Little Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta has used the story of her own triumph over adversity to sell millions of records and amass an army of fans with the same dream. She encourages them to interpret not copy her. This is a big distinction to other music acts in her genre - go to a Nicki Minaj gig and you’re coming home covered in pink hair. There was nobody at the concert that looked like a cookie cutter. They were Dahli-esque in their homage with every race, every sex, every persuasion proudly showing they were bornTHIS way.
Even if you don’t appreciate, or like Lady Gaga, there’s much to admire in the way she makes young people feel about themselves and the reassurance she provides. In a world where children are routinely bullied, where gay marriage still isn’t legal and where multiculturalism has failed dismally as an antidote to racism - young people really need a voice that promotes options and opportunities.
Lady Gaga might just be this voice? She certainly has fans that are prepared to rage against the machine - one loony outfit at a time.