There are tons of questions we want to ask Lady Gaga. After all, she’s one of the most fascinating music artists we’ve ever seen. And unlike most people who are given that title, she actually manages to live up to it—she’s a true artist—while still singing ultracatchy pop songs that make it impossible not to dance. She’s kind of a genius… but she’s also kind of bizarre. Who is she, really? We plan to find out.
But as we wait for her to meet us at a chic Las Vegas sushi restaurant, we’re completely preoccupied with the most obvious question of all: What the hell will she be wearing? That translucent bubble dress, a bra that shoots sparks, lingerie that oozes fake blood—Gaga never looks boring. In fact, we’d be shocked if she’s so much as touched a pair of sweat pants in her life.
Sadly, there are no pyrotechnics when we spot her strutting toward us in a pair of black shades, a skimpy bustier, and an impossibly tight vinyl miniskirt. Just as we realize we have no idea what to call her (though we bet “Stefani” will get us slapped), she stretches out a pale, delicate hand in our direction and declares “Gaga.” Of course.
We offer her a cocktail, but she has a soldout concert in a few hours, and she doesn’t want to drink before the show. Instead, she orders riceless sushi and dressingless salad. For Gaga, life is all about being in the spotlight... and why would she do anything to jeopardize that? “My friends joke that I’m dead until I get onstage,” she says. “I’m dead right now as you’re speaking to me.”
She seems pretty lively to us, but it is true that she explodes with a whole new kind of energy while performing later that night. "I'm like Tinker Bell," she tells the adoring crowd as she lies belly-down in the stage with her feet kicked up behind her. "You know how she dies if you don't clap for her?" Gaga then leaps to her rhinestone-boosted feet. "Scream for me!" she roars. "Do you want me to die?!"
The crowd explodes with chants of "Ga-ga! Ga-ga!" It's as though they believe her life truly does depend on it.
Off like a Rocket
At 24, Gaga has become the superstar she always wanted to be. Her debut album, The Fame (along with its bonus-track rerelease The Fame Monster) has sold 8 million copies. In the process she won two Grammys and became the first artist in the history of Billboard's Pop Songs chart to have her first five singles hit number one.
"I believed in her from day one because she wanted it so bad," says Vincent Herbert, the producer who discovered and signed Gaga. And it didn't take long for established pop stars to think the same. Kanye West wanted to tour together, and rumor has it that Michael Jackson was planning a collaboration. Gaga even made an appearance last year on Beyonce's hit "Video Phone." "She was so committed to the song and the video," Beyonce tells us. "The connection she and I had felt effortless."
We doubt Beyonce would have connected with Gaga so effortlessly back in high school, when Stafani Joanne Angelina Germanotta--Gaga's given name--struggled to fit in at an all-girls private school in New York City. "I had a very big nose, very curly brown hair, and I was overweight," recalls gaga, who hasn't confirmed whether or not she's had cosmetic surgery. "I got made fun of."
She also still stings from the years of rejection she racked up while trying to forge a singing career. 'I started writing music when I was 11." says Gaga, an accomplished pianist who first learned to play when she was 4. "But I ate shit for so long, being told I didn't fit the mold and that I was 'too pop' or 'too theater.'"
The me-against-them mind-set she developed back the remains. "I'm an outsider," says the woman who is arguably today's most celebrated pop artist. "I've always been delusionally ambitious to the point where people don't understand me."
Love Can Wait
That list if people who don't understand her includes at least one former love. "I had a boyfriend who told me I'd never succeed, never be nominated for a Grammy, never have a hit song, and that he hoped I'd fail," Gaga says of an unnamed ex. "I said to him, 'Someday, when we're not together, you won't be able to order a cup of coffee at the fucking deli without hearing or seeing me.'"
Lots if women say ridiculous things like that to dickhead exes, and if we'd overheard that conversation back then, we probably would have rolled our eyes. But here's the thing: Gaga actually made it happen. And today, only a fool would doubt her ability to achieve anything--or get any guy--she wants. Fir the time being, however, Gaga has put romance (bad or otherwise) on hold in order to focus on her nonstop touring schedule.
She's also aware that her expanding celebrity will make finding Mr. Gaga a challenge. "Anytime you're a woman devoted to your career, it makes it harder," she says. "Men are usually intimidated by successful women."
Uh, they're also intimidated by bras that shoot fire...but that isn't to say she's been going to beg alone every night since she became famous. "I wanted to sleep with as many rock n' roll as I could, and I've certainly had my fun ," she admits. "But I was also calling old boyfriends or meeting new guys and riding around in lots of cars."
The woman who struts around onstage in underwear, telling fans that she feels "especially slutty" would be a handful for any guy. "I'd tell a new boyfriend to hang on, because it's going to be a bumpy ride," she says. But she then adds that her idea of the perfect Saturday night date would be hanging out in bed, watching old horror flicks, and eating New York-style pizza. So she's also relatively...normal.
For now, Gaga is content enjoying the lusty infatuation phase of her relationship with fans. Every date on her tour is sold out. Every snippet of YouTube footage, every awards-show performance, every appearance on show like Oprah and Ellen ignites instant Internet buzz. And it's no accident; Gaga has willed it to happen.
"Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams," she tells us shortly before heading to her show. "If you're wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn't love you anymore
Name: Lady Gaga
When the spotlight isn't on me, I secretly: wish it was.
Controversy is something I:
b. Laugh at.
c. Use to my advantage.
d. Think is an unavoidable part of fame.
e. Other: believe comes normally to me.
If you want to have style, you need to have:
d. Bubble, antlers, plastic wrap, and LED lights.
e. Other: soul
The last time I cried was last night because my fans already know all the words to my new album.
In relationships, I tend to:
a. Wear the pants (figuratively).
b. Be a little bit of a pushover.
c. Need my own space more than the other person.
d. Overanalyze everything.
e. Other: put my career + passion first.
I couldn't date someone who didn't love my: Wigs, Make-Up, High Heels, My Music.
The best thing about leotards is:
a. You save a fortune on pants and underwear.
b. They make your legs look a mile long.
c. They take up zero room in your closet.
d. They make it supereasy to do splits.
e. Other: You can pretend you're Jane Fonda.
In 20 years, I hope people will say, 'Lady Gaga: changed my life and her music gave me an identity when I didn't belong.'
Something most people have wrong about me is: that I am a character. Gaga is who I am.
I'm only called by my birthname, Stefani, when I'm:
a. With my family.
b. With close friends.
c. With the person I'm dating.
d. In court.
If I could tell me 19-year-old self one thing, it would be: "Don't give up bitch, you've got a long way to go."