In the age of VH1s Behind the Music, tabloid culture, and reality television, musicians are aware that they should show themselves to journalists in as much mundane detail as they can muster. But Lady Gaga is my name, she said, amazed that I would have thought otherwise. If you know me, and you call me Stefani, you dont really know me at all. Gaga eased into a brown leather couch with as much grace as possible given her outfit, a stiff white jumpsuit with a jacket cut from a Martin Margiela pattern, the enormous shoulder pads stuffed underneath the fabric extending toward her ears.
At five-two and 100 pounds, with her hair styled into a mod blonde bob, she looked flush from a strict diet of starvation: Pop stars should not eat, she pronounced. She was young, skinny, and blonde, but she had a prominent Italian nose, the kind of nose that rarely survives on a starlet. (This was during Gagas hair-bow phase”that would be pre-hair-hat and pre-hair-telephone”and when I asked about the bows whereabouts, she rested her head on a pillow of her hands and said, Shes sleeping. )
In the hallway near her table, families of tourists took pictures of one another with cameras, unaware of her presence, and she recoiled dramatically at every flash. Oh, cameras, she said, shielding her eyes. I cannot bear the cameras. As we began the conversation, Gaga spoke carefully in a very odd accent”some combination of Madonna as Madge and a robot, an affect enhanced by the fact that she refused to remove her lightly tinted sunglasses over the course of two hours.
What Ive discovered, said robo-Gaga, with a photo-ready tilt of her head, is that in art, as in music, theres a lot of truth”and then theres a lie. The artist is essentially creating his work to make this lie a truth, but he slides it in amongst all the others. The tiny little lie is the moment I live for, my moment. Its the moment that the audience falls in love. Gaga was very taken with her new bubble dress at this point, and we talked about its unreality, the beauty of the imaginary.
Everyone wanted that dress, but it wasnt a dress at all”it was a bunch of plastic balls. On my tour, she declared, Im going to be in my bubble dress on a piano made of bubbles, singing about love and art and the future. I should like to make one person believe in that moment, and it would be worth every salt of a No. 1 record. She dropped the accent for a moment now”the real girl, unartificed, was right underneath”and leaned in. I can have hit records all day, but who fucking cares? she explained. A year from now, I could go away, and people might say, Gosh, what ever happened to that girl who never wore pants? But how wonderfully memorable 30 years from now, when they say, Do you remember Gaga and her bubbles? Because, for a minute, everybody in that room will forget every sad, painful thing in their lives, and theyll just live in my bubble world.