In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Larry King Live this week, Lady Gaga appeared on the program for a little back and forth with the famed television personality. Currently on in the United Kingdom on her worldwide Monster Ball tour, Gaga will soon debut a music video for her latest single, “Alejandro”. In addition to energetic nights onstage, she is also working like a madwoman every day in her traveling studio on tracks for an upcoming album (don’t strain yourself; the release date is not set). Needless to say, it appears that Gaga considers nearly every waking moment an opportunity – Mama Monster to her little monsters – to give her fans her absolute best.
Gaga states that she’s pretty much felt a love for performing since birth. “[Since I was i]n my mother’s warm womb. I guess you could say it’s always my destiny to be a performer. … It’s been a really very exciting transition now that I get to do this for a living, and I just refuse to stop. I should probably take a break and go on vacation, but I’d rather die onstage, not under a palm tree.”
Naturally, this would explain her having recorded and completed an album, all while living and performing on the road. Even then, in her experience, it’s not so bad being in city after city, night after night around the world. “It’s a wonderful pressure, it’s the most amazing pressure. It’s not like any other kind of pressure. It’s not under pressure, it’s not water pressure. It’s not pressure-cooker. It’s just wonderful. It’s miraculous.” But even she can’t believe the love she receives from around the world. “I’m so blessed I look out into the audience and I scream and cry, and we sing and we cheer and we dance. And I can’t believe that there’s 17,000 people singing my lyrics or who even know my name. I’m so grateful. I can’t say enough about my little monsters.”
As a result, Gaga is considered an icon, whether in the realm of fashion, music, or overall style and personality. Whether channeling the work of Salvador Dali or featuring bondage-inspired video interludes during concerts, she exhibits qualities that indisputably make an icon – or do they? Does Lady Gaga consider herself an icon? “No, I do not. I hope when I’m dead I’ll be considered an icon, though.” And that seems to be that on the subject. However, she’s in no shortage of those who she looks up to as icons. “Who do I look up to? My mother. My grandmother. I love Princess Diana so much. … When she died – I’ll never forget my mother was crying sitting on the couch watching the news and I was very young. It was this very powerful moment in my childhood, watching my mother so connected to someone. So I guess you could say she’s one of my biggest icons, as well as David Bowie… wonderful.”
Further on the topic of icons, Gaga addressed her professional relationship and personal admiration of Michael Jackson. “I was asked to open for Michael on his [This Is It] tour, at the 02 [in London] and we were working on making it happen. I believe there was some talk about lots of the openers doing duets with Michael onstage. But Michael’s death was devastating to me, regardless of whether or not I was supposed to go on tour with him. He’s such an inspiration and a remarkable human being.” The song “Paparazzi” from The Fame comes to mind as Gaga muses, “I guess some of my fascination with death and the demise of the celebrity goes along with me watching these hugely iconic and amazing people that I have heralded and admired my whole life become destroyed, whether self-destroyed or destroyed by the media.”
Fear, death, and mortality are common themes presented onstage and in Gaga’s lyrics. “It is something I dream about a lot. I guess I could lie to you and not tell you the truth. The anglerfish in the show actually was my childhood monster. My big fear was of the anglerfish so it was kind of comical to use it in the show. I battle my childhood fear every night before the finale.” Being that anxiety and worry can disintegrate the one thinking if kept internalized, the stage proves to be the perfect in which to lay out all of Gaga’s fears. “I am good friends with Deepak Chopra, who I speak with a lot about my dreams. He seems to think it’s not something to worry about. He says that I’m very creative and that I should learn to embrace my insanity and not worry so much. … ‘Put it onstage.'”
Gaga’s health has come into question for a number of reasons, not only recently but at other times during her extensive Monster Ball tour. Whether it’s fluctuating weight, collapsing onstage, or delaying show times due to exhaustion, all eyes are on her – more recently with speculations of lupus. “My mother told me the other day that my fans were quite worried about me because I did talk about the fact that I was tested for Lupus,” Gaga stated. “And the truth is I don’t show any signs, any symptoms of Lupus. But I have tested borderline positive for the disease. So, as of right now I do not have it, but I have to take good care of myself.”
Her fans come from everywhere, as seen on YouTube, where anyone with a camera can be a star. The most recent video of US soldiers in Afghanistan dancing to the widely popular “Telephone” was a topic of political conversation, as Gaga states that she was afraid that her posting it on her Twitter account would get them in trouble. “I wasn’t sure how it would be received by the other soldiers or the other members of the army or administration.” She continues, “It made me sad that I thought [the troops’ video] was so great and I was so excited that over in Afghanistan they’re fighting every day for us and they’re protecting us and doing so much and they were just having a bit of downtime and I had to think twice before I posted because I didn’t want anything bad to happen.” Interestingly enough, the upcoming “Alejandro” video approaches some themes of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell variety. “There is sort of this homoerotic military in the video, and it kind of makes perfect sense doesn’t it? It all kind of comes together culturally and politically.” But in the end, her opinion on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – especially considering the potential vote for repeal – is concrete: “I don’t think anyone should hide who they are, let alone be discriminated against to serve this country; we should all fight equally.”
The 18-second sneak peak of “Alejandro” is a black-and-white stylized march/dance with half-naked men and, of course, a rough sex sequence that will hopefully retain relevance when shown it its entirety in a few days’ time.
In the end though, Gaga is for her fans one hundred percent. She has said before that because touring currently leaves her without a permanent residence, her monsters are in a sense her roommates. Her show is theirs. “The show is a celebration of shame; the show is a rejection insecurity. The Monster Ball is in essence an exorcism for my fans and for myself where we sort of put everything out on the table and reject it. There’s so much in the show about insecurity and struggle and so many of my fans are really, really, really troubled, and I was really troubled, and I still am fairly troubled.” Gaga continues,”I guess you could say I relate to my fans in that way and I choose not to hide from it. I’m not interested in being a perfect, placid pop singer that looks great in bikinis and is on the cover of every magazine. I’m more interested in helping my fans to love who they are and helping them to reject prejudice and reject those things that they’re taught from society to not like themselves, to feel like freaks, like they’re not wanted.”
Call it what you want, but Gaga’s music and corresponding artistic display is an extension of herself that bonds her to her fans the world over. To her, it is her life. Were it not for show business, she says, “I would be dead. I am show business. So much of what I do is hinged on show business. I believe so much in it.”