Lady Gaga: The one-on-one interview
So I’m from your old neighborhood in New York. My mother teaches musical theater there.
Have you seen my show? Because I was a theater kid. I was always perceived as a theater nerd and that is very much a part of all the bullying I talk about during the show. It stemmed from that.
Theater geeks are taking over the world now, culturally.
Yeah. And a lot of theater lovers are super music librarians and super fashion librarians and know everything about composers, designers and directors. They’ve so much to be in love with.
Let’s start with the new album, “Born This Way.” Is there a theme to it? Are we wrong to expect a statement from dance music?
No, in fact, thank goodness everyone expects something from me at this point. “Born This Way” is my answer to many questions over the years: Who are you? What are you about?… The most paramount theme on the record is me struggling to understand how I can exist as myself as someone who lives halfway between fantasy and reality all the time.
What’s it like to live between two people?
It’s not two people. It’s two worlds. Two aesthetics. For example, the religious themes I explore on the album are not necessarily religious in an institutional way but are about being fascinated with characters. I was taught my whole life about Judas and Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene fascinates me because she was, in my belief, both wholly human and wholly divine. So how can I be fully magical and fully human?
You’re going to get a lot of autobiographical questions because you’re selling your personality on “Born This Way.”
Isn’t that interesting, that you have to sell your personality? That in itself is kind of what “Born This Way” is all about. I don’t want to sell my personality. My personality is mine and yours is yours.
But the difference is, you’re asking me to pay for yours. Are you a real person or part of a marketing machine?
It’s kind of like saying, ‘Are you honest? Do you have integrity? Are you full of shit?’ But listen, my social involvement for equality and gay rights, as well as my music, is completely genuine. But I don’t think I ever want everyone to ever know fully who or what I am. Part of what I’m doing is asking you to look inside yourself, to ask yourself questions. Have you been in therapy?No therapy yet. I probably should be. [Laughs] I have a close relationship with my family. I’m very close with my fans and I’m in tune with what they want. And I’m in tune with myself, too. At the end of the day, I have to look myself in the mirror and I’m proud of everything I stand for. I have no reason to do or say anything unless it comes from my soul. I work very hard. I don’t party very much. You don’t see me falling out of nightclubs and buying Range Rovers. Social justice and music are the two most paramount things in my life and I can’t put it more plainly.
Where does sexuality fit in to that? Do you use it consciously?
Because I’m sexy? [Laughs] Well, I’m a woman. Now, what specifically do you find sexy? I think this is funny. For the first two-and-a-half years of my career, I was considered to be the weird girl who dressed very crazy. I don’t think I’m perceived as sexy.
You never felt sexy, even when first performing?
I felt like any other 15-year-old girl who’s trying to figure it all out. I’m just like any other chick really. Did I view myself as a sexual being? I was very insecure for a very long time; I didn’t know that I would be very comfortable with it and it wasn’t until very recently that I actually enjoyed sex. I was talking with my sister about how it’s not until you really love yourself that you can give love to others.
Are you addicted to your fans?
Yeah, well, it’s… it’s very strange because there’s really no line anymore between where I begin and my fans begin. We are all one. I feel like I would die from a lack of inspiration if I didn’t have them. I never want them to feel like I abandoned their culture. It’s not about the money for me. I’d give all the money away if I had to choose between it and them.
That’s a strange answer from a multi-millionaire.
Look, people who make music and get famous and then start to slow down and get lazy – they weren’t in it for the music. I can’t put it out my music fast enough. I wanted to put this record out seven months ago. I’m not wallowing in some romanticized idea of what it means to be an “artiste.” I’m a musician but also a visionary who cares about social and human rights because it affects my fans and that’s my overarching life work now.
So, about human rights: You wanted to ask Metro readers why they were “Born This Way”…
Yes, I wanted to find the most connected monsters and ask them the question: ‘Why were you born this way?’ I laughed because before a foreign journalist sat down and asked me, “How queer are you?”
Was that a case of lost in translation?
I said, first of all, we don’t really use that word here. But what he was really asking me was ‘How gay are you?’ I’m off-the-charts gay! [Laughs] But that’s not quite the way to put it. As if you are or you’re not. It’s not mathematical. It’s this fucking completely subjective overarching aesthetic called life and you have this huge palate to paint from and you’re asking me ‘How queer are you?’ That’s just one palate. It’s like I say so many things in that song [“Born This Way”]. But the first thing everyone comes back with is, gaygaygaygaygaygaygay. Are you gay? Is the song gay? And you’re missing what life is offering you because you’re hinged on one word. Look into yourself. Are you born to be brave? To rebuke all of these labels?
Well, you’re expecting the world to be where you are.
It’s generational. And it’s me reminding myself, as an artist, “Dear Lady Gaga, you are not a trend.”
Wait — do you address yourself as Lady Gaga when you talk to yourself in your head?
I do. Not as Stefani. It’s Gaga. Stefani is who I am, too, but I’m Gaga all the time. [Pauses] Wait, I lost my train of thought talking about the four different people that I am.
You were talking about not being a trend.
Yeah, it’s scary when you go into the recording studio and you know the world has a perception of what you create. I have to write myself a freaking letter: “Dear You, nobody can tell you who you are. You are who you decide to be.” And then I can create music.
Notes from the interviewer
When you tell people you’ve sat down with Lady Gaga for an interview, their first question is, “What was she wearing?” — as if she might have appeared in a meat dress, carried in an egg. In fact, when we met at the Beverly Hills Hotel, alone in a banquet hall, she was wearing a sheer black top with black pasties underneath. It was almost elegant.
Their second question is, “What was she like?” After reading this story, you’d probably agree: She’s intelligent. Earnest. Aware of her power.
Refreshingly, Gaga is also mindful of the fact that she’s only recently become a star. Her experiment with fame paid off. Now 25, she aims to share herself via the album (“This who who the fuck I am,” she says), challenge her fans musically (with “big huge beats”) and, oh, one more thing: change the world. The fun part will be seeing what she wears while trying.