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Thread: Lady GaGa in Esquire

  1. #1
    Gold Member jexxica's Avatar
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    Jan 2008

    Default Lady GaGa in Esquire

    Lady Gaga: The Grandmother of Pop
    As her old friend chronicles in this never-before-told tale of her rise, the biggest pop star in the world didn't ask anyone to like her. She told them to. And she has plenty more to say.

    Lady Gaga, you have to understand, is not Dee Dee Ramone. She doesn't wait in her tour bus to be propped up onstage to play the same set every night. Around two in the morning on a recent Monday, in a club on the desolate western edge of Manhattan, a wall of hired muscle cleared a path for her through a tangle of bobbing clubgoers. Gaga strode through the parted sea wearing her twin affectations — sunglasses and a wig the color of Marilyn Monroe's hair in the Warhol prints — and when the DJ started playing her music as a kind of call to action, the crowd revved its sweaty, leggy, beautiful engines and took off. Servers brought a bottle of the good booze for Gaga's crew, and the whole scene — the flashing lights, makeup (on the girls and some of the boys), all the cool kids wearing their sunglasses indoors — could have been a Lady Gaga video. But while everyone was shouting about her and around her, Lady Gaga wasn't talking to anyone. If you got close enough, you could see that behind the glasses her eyelids hung a little low. A few hours earlier, she had walked off the stage at the end of her last of four sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall. Now she looked like the boss who took the team out for drinks after a big project but was preoccupied with tomorrow's presentation.
      Lady Gaga has work to do. She's a manager, and the client she manages is Lady Gaga. She is obsessive, a style she learned from people like her friend the late Alexander McQueen, the fashion designer for whom she was a muse. She spends hours on many days constructing and fine-tuning what designers call mood boards — collages of artwork, fashion inspirations, and drawings meant to direct the stylists and artists (wardrobe, hair, and makeup) who execute her vision of Lady Gaga. A mood board develops into a storyboard, and it all morphs into a live show. The music is just one element of the presentation.

    Within an hour at 1Oak, she stepped down from her elevated booth. The men communicated through earpieces, vehicles were readied, and the bodyguard team cleared another passage. A storm of BlackBerry flashes and digital-camera lightning illuminated her her path to the door. Somehow, a sweaty, skinny kid squeezed through the handlers, weeping, and cried, "I love you for being you, Gaga!" She halted the procession, put her lips close to his ear, and said, very softly, "And I love you just for being you." It made the kid sob even harder, and Lady Gaga disappeared into the cold.

    The most important thing you should know about Lady Gaga is that she has just started. The four number-one singles on her debut album (five if you count the deluxe version with "Bad Romance"), the sold-out world tour last year at age twenty-three — she doesn't see these as her moment. To her, this is the foundation.

    "There is a musical government, who decides what we all get to hear and listen to. And I want to be one of those people." The girl who said that didn't yet have the number-one hits (although she had already written most of them). She was not yet the creative director of the Haus of Gaga, which is what she calls the machine of more than a hundred creative people who work for her. She didn't make that statement in an interview or from the stage. She made it in 2007, when she was a go-go dancer sewing her own outfits and I was her DJ. She wrote it in one of my notebooks.

    In those days Stefani Germanotta was what you would call a struggling artist — a go-go dancer who wanted to take over the music world. On Saturdays we would sit on the floor of her bare Lower East Side apartment, drinking wine from pint glasses. I would read drafts of my novel to her while she lay on the floor, head in my lap. Every once in a while we'd take a Springsteen break. (She loves "Thunder Road.") She would use the drafts as blank pages to write notes, workshopping her career plan.

    One night, after she had gotten some attention from record companies, she put on a CD of a song she was working on, "Boys Boys Boys." It was only the instrumental part; she hadn't recorded the vocals yet. She started singing over the recording, really belting it out, with perfect posture, her voice filling the apartment. (The song is about going on a date to see the Killers at Madison Square Garden, and it includes a line about going to their after-party, which I had DJ'd at at a bar called Motor City. It later ended up on her first record and became a hit.) We went around the corner to some shithole, and after we had a few drinks and her music hit me again, I told her that even though I had been to the bar a hundred times, I suddenly felt as if I were in a Lady Gaga song — it felt different because of her. And it was true. Her music is about doing, and it's about possibility. It's exciting. You can hear her belief that there's much more to come — sex, love, money, fame, exhibitionism, success. She said back then that she would always write songs, but that her early outpouring was just a training ground that would help her become a music producer. Once she told me that she wanted to be the "grandmother of pop music," bringing up new bands, nurturing their talents, watching them grow.

    Back in the summer of 2007, there was a night when she popped out of a cake and sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" for my then boss, the owner of Beauty Bar Manhattan. It was fitting, somehow — the Marilyn reference. I'll quote something she said to me one day around that time as directly as I can: "No one in the world knows who I am, but they are going to want to know who I am. My first time ever on TV I want to be on a huge show where I play one song. I'm going to come out onstage in my underwear and show the world that here I am and I don't give a ffffuck what anyone thinks of me."

    Gaga was always famous. Before she ever released a record, you could walk into a club or a party with her and skip the line. We'd be browsing in a bookshop and everyone's eyes would wander above the paperback in their hands. She is barely five feet tall and she speaks in a tiny voice, but she knew how to get attention. That many eyes on you, and the kind of strange pressure it morphed into as more people discovered who she was, can chew starlets into pulp. Soon it was as if people expected a hit record out of her before they ever heard her sing. But anyone who paid attention to her self-creation knows that every idea is hers. The difference between Lady Gaga and every other young singer is that most of the others ask the world, "Do you like the way I sing? Will you buy my record and come to my show?" Gaga tells the world, "I am famous. I was famous before even I had heard of me." She didn't dream of fame. She announced it.

    Lady Gaga is a student of fame, and the fame she studies most is her own — being famous seems to both amuse and fascinate her. Her songs, especially the ones about fame, can be deceptively simple in structure and yet almost three-dimensional lyrically. "Summerboy" could be about a romantic fling or the transience of stardom.. "Paparazzi" seems to be about fame or the promise of it; beneath that is the story of a girl working on her music to impress a boy, knowing that the harder she works, the more the music will tug her away from him. "I was always the star in my own life. [But] when I met him, he became the star," Gaga once wrote to me of a hard-to-impress guy she used to date. "I wrote the songs to impress him, but the songs will ultimately be the thing that pulls me away."

    On Valentine's Day in 2008, she returned to New York from L. A., where she had just finished some recording that would become the song "Just Dance." She and I had a show to do that night, but we pulled over on my Vespa to go costume shopping and drink tea before I dropped her off at her parents' house. She told me how Jimmy Iovine, the head of Interscope Records in Los Angeles, had kept the whole office late to hear the song for the first time as she danced on the boardroom table. We were sitting in an anonymous midtown deli, and right then she got a call from Bert Padell, who had been Madonna's business manager in the nineties. Not only did she, at twenty-one, know exactly who Padell was, but she reminded him of a meeting she'd had with him when she was even younger. ("My mother still has your book of poetry!") He had heard the new demo and wanted to manage her. A month later we were in L. A. to shoot the video for "Just Dance." After I flew home, she called to say, "When I get back to New York, I want to sit down and get dinner with you and just be normal people. Not you being my DJ and me being your singer. I just want to be Brendan and Stefani."

    The dinner never happened, because Stefani has not had a day off from being Lady Gaga since. She's living the future she once predicted over cheap red wine — or at least she's living the beginning of that future. Stage One, as she would say. Right now she's on the Lady Gaga Monster Ball Tour — London, Glasgow, Sydney, Osaka, wherever else. She's in charge of an army of creative people — dancers, backup singers, designers, stylists, makeup artists. Her sunglasses give her just an inch to herself, some space to admire, appreciate, and explore without anyone watching her eyes. But just an inch.

    Suddenly she is a star. That happens to a lot of people, and then suddenly they aren't stars. But flashes in the pan often disappear because they follow what they think are the rules of becoming famous — or what someone else tells them the rules are. Nobody tells Lady Gaga anything. The same bright girl who popped out of cakes and who created her own way of being famous once helped me understand something important. I was stressing out about how to end my novel, and she stopped me. She grabbed the draft, flipped over the final page, pulled the cap off a Sharpie, and wrote, "No story should ever end in resolution."

    The first time Lady Gaga introduced herself to me, in December 2006, I completely forgot her name. She came right up to me: "You're the DJ, right?" I said I was and then I asked her where she worked: "Oh, I don't work anywhere — I'm a singer." I told her we could set up a show sometime. From there, we went gogo dancing at New York bars, shopping for her lingerie outfits, and hung out in random New York City coffee shops as she hustled to become famous. Eventually that call came. And Gaga — the name she gave me — soon became the kind of girl (or, better yet, Lady) one never forgets.

    "Bring My Disco Ball"
    This is Lady Gaga gogo dancing in New York in 2007, just before we got ready to play her song "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" for the first time. Before the rehearsal, she told her boyfriend, "Bring my lipstick, my self-tanner, and my disco ball with you to work so I can pick them up for the show." He grumbled, then she broke up with him: "If you don’t understand what I do, we are through."

    Sidecar, Please
    Gaga started writing songs for popular pop groups like the Pussy Cat Dolls, and her career in music began to take off. But her personal life started to plummet: She broke up with a boyfriend and said she wanted to move to Los Angeles to get a nose job. In the end, some drinking cured what the surgery couldn't. Here, she ordered a sidecar.

    Her First Autograph
    We used to hang out at this bar in New York all the time called Beauty Bar. For the owner's birthday, I had her pop out of his birthday cake. Then, when Christmas came around, I had her sign this picture for him. It was her first autograph.

    Lady Gaga, Lady Killer
    This was New Year's 2007, right after her label, Interscope, decided Gaga needed to be a blonde to succeed as a pop artist. I had just broken up with my girlfriend, so we listened to records and went out. I walked into the bar with this newly blonde pop star and the first person I saw was my ex-girlfriend. Gaga stepped in between us and said, "You stay away from her, baby."

    [B]Not Quite Famous [b]
    It was Valentine’s Day on 2008, when a messenger came by with flyers for her street team and a giant banner that was inside this box. "Does it have my name on it?" she asked, ripping into the box with her keys. In the end, it was just a list of the night's liquor sponsors. She left the banner on the floor, and it stayed there while the audience heard her hit, "Just Dance," for the first time.

    Pants? Nah
    Before Lady Gaga became known for her crazy designer outfits, we used to go costume shopping on New York's Upper East Side. We mostly spent time in stores like these, where a man could buy his wife a scarf and his girlfriend a new bathing suit. This is how she developed her signature style: No pants. Ever.

    The Phone Call That Mattered
    "That was the best phone call of my life," Gaga said, as we sat drinking tea in a deli across from the swimsuit store. It was Bert Paddell, an entertainment manager, calling to say he heard her record and wanted to take over her business. "Oh my God. Can you imagine if we had a tour?" she asked, before blurting out, "I am going to take over the world."

    The Disco Cake
    Gaga and I had stopped traveling together, because she went back to L.A. and I stayed in New York. I asked if she'd be home for her birthday, in March, and she said no. Turns out that everyone at the label had listened to the record and was scrambling to start booking us at the Winter Music Conference in Miami. After our second show there, we gave her this cake: a disco ball.

    Her First Tweet
    On the cake were the words "Happy Birthday Gaga. Cheers to You and The Fame!" The stooges from the record company had to carry it all over the place because it wasn't technically her birthday yet. When she saw the cake, she screamed, then sent her first tweet to url= her Twitter followers (some 3.5 million people now): "I'm so happy I could cry disco mirrors."

    "Here I Am"
    I'll quote something she said to me as her career was taking off: "No one in the world knows who I am, but they are going to want to know who I am. My first time on TV... I'm going to come onstage in my underwear and show the world that here I am and I don't give a fffuckwhat anyone thinks of me."

    "Let's Do this"
    We were nervous before one of her shows, so she came up to me in this yellow dress and told me her secret to not getting stage fright. "Do your pre-show pee and flush it." I did that. It works. Then we met downstairs. She took off her dress over her head, stood there in her underwear, and smiled, "Let’s do this."

    Ass Vs. Cheek
    This is not the kind of picture that you want your girlfriend to see on your camera. I told my then-girlfriend it was innocent: Gaga was trying to figure out the difference between showing "ass" and showing "cheek."

  2. #2
    Elite Member TheONe's Avatar
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    May 2007


    How can you not think that she's hot??
    "My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable and I'm just ferocious. I want your heart. I want to eat your children. Praise be to Allah." TEAM MILEY!!

  3. #3
    Elite Member PoisonGirl's Avatar
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    In Benedict Cumberbatch's Velvet Tuxedo, USA


    “You never know what's around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you've climbed a mountain.” - Tom Hiddleston

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