Lady Gaga is a frustratingly difficult entertainer for a parent to appreciate. Our eldest girl has been in love with her since she was ten years old, and I didn’t think much of it until she began asking to be Ms. Gaga for Halloween. At this point she did not own any of her albums, but her school friends did and that is how she became familiar with the performer. Of course her videos were all over MTV and youtube. So as my wife planned out her costume, we sat down in front of the laptop and played Paparazzi on youtube.
How to begin; simulated intercourse, sadomasochism, murder and perpetual near nudity - all this is coupled with polished theatricals, tasteful androgynous choreography, intensely creative costumes over exceptional set and stage designs. The powerful union describes the visual menagerie that ultimately delivers the auditory culmination of sounds and vocals that may be described as pulsating, fun, non-offensive, slightly robotic, linear and shallow.
This was my introduction to Lady Gaga, and an insight to what my ten year old girl was idolizing. My initial reaction was strongly negative. But, I am an intelligent and understanding person with a creative background that goes back to the New York City SOHO art scene of the late 20th Century. I had to dig deeper before opening my opinions and negating my girl’s innocent pursuit of expression and entertainment.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta was born to an American-Italian family in New York City on March 28, 1986. She attended High School at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, just a few blocks away from the High School of Art & Design where my wife and I attended a decade earlier. After graduation she enrolled at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts while performing in the New York rock scene at the Lower East Side. Her early career at Interscope showcased her songwriting abilities, ultimately gaining the attention of Akon who signed her at his record label, Kon Live Distributions.
Her music inspirations are highly unique interpretations of classic glam rock like Queen and David Bowie as well as 80’s pop stars like Madonna, Michael Jackson and Grace Jones. Her stage name Lady Gaga was inspired by Queen’s singer Freddy Mercury’s voice during his song “Radio Ga Ga” in which her then music producer came up with the stage name Lady Gaga.
As a participant in the Lower East Side rock scene, she performed neo-burlesque shows featuring her ever expanding interest, influence and talent for fashion, as well as her perpetual near nudity inclinations. At the time, it is reported that she was experimenting with drugs, and though not specifically stated, the drugs of the era and location were MDMA (ecstasy,) cannabis, LSD, Ketamine, cocaine and heroin. Though she’s admitted to being scared of heroin, she’s admitted to using cocaine on a casual basis, while leaving other usage to the imagination of her audience in an attempt to avoid possible inspirational copying from fans.
Lady Gaga entered the consciousness of the public with the introduction of her first album, the Fame, released on August 19, 2008 on Interscope, Streamline, Kon Live and Cherrytree record labels. It was an immediate success spawning two international singles and peaking at number 2 on the United States Billboard 200.
She followed her success with The Fame Monster, celebrating the dark side of fame, released on November 18, 2009 on Interscope, Streamline, Kon Live and Cherrytree record labels. 2011 will see her third musical installment, Born this Way.
Her live performances share the same provocativeness and visual creativity as her videos, and there is a real appreciation for art and fashion in her performance. Her talents are well suited for many audiences, but with our girl, it was a special consideration and call.
On the one hand, her consistent near nudity and sexual openness as well as her occasionally explicit lyrics highlighted the dark side of the influence she would have on our child. And equally as powerful an influence on the other side was a hyper creative music, fashion and visual arena that was too strong and powerful to neglect, and to even successfully hide from a curious and growing independent child with access to global media as near as our laptop, or even her friend’s house.
So conversations about Lady Gaga’s past as a music student, dedicated performer and natural talent laid the foundation for understanding her past drug use, her child-inappropriate sexual exhibitionism and use of explicit language. In the end, we agreed that she could listen to her music as long as she respected the distance of Lady Gaga’s own intimate orientations and the vastly opposing present reality of our girl’s private humanity. And, videos were not allowed, they were just too revealing, but age appropriate magazine articles were okay.
Now at 11 ½, she’s followed the rules and enjoyed the music of Lady Gaga. Though something else is happening; she’s outgrowing her music! Instead, she wants to listen to Taylor Swift’s and Selena Gomez’s new albums and is quietly letting the Fame Monster fade away into the memory of her personal human experience, that is, until the release of Born this Way!!