Thursday, September 16, 2010

So Happy I Could Die

In October 2008, I went to the New Kids on the Block Reunion concert at Madison Square Garden. Listed as the opening acts were Natasha Beddingfield, of into theme to "The Hills" fame, and someone calling herself "Lady Gaga". When she hit the stage in an all white ensemble and long platinum blond wig with half naked men writhing around to house music, literally everyone in the 20,000 seat venue went "Who's this bitch?" I thought maybe she was some kind of Euro-pop star that was just starting to get big over here in the U.S. so I Googled her on my Blackberry. Turns out she was just some broad from Yonkers. The last song she played sounded familiar - it was "Just Dance" and Z-100 had just started playing it recently. I went, "Hey, I know this song. I like this song." Of course, my Main Gay already was all over the Lady Gaga thing, raving about how great she was, so I downloaded her album. It was fun, quirky dance music. I remember listening it to as I walked from the train to my job the next week on a brisk, November morning and instantly, I was on Team Gaga.  Before she had 6 million followers on Twitter, I remember clicking on that button to follow her when she had roughly 150,000 followers - and imagine my surprise when a few days later, I received an email telling me that Lady Gaga was following ME on Twitter now too!

"Just Dance" soon took over the radio and the rest of her pop anthems slowly crept over the rest of society, with "Poker Face" became musical crack-cocaine, the stuttering and catchy lyrics getting stuck in everyone's heads. By Spring 2009, Gaga-Fever had swept the nation; Gaga's crazy outfits and antics were getting the attention of everyone from Toledo to Tokyo. She graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in an outfit made entirely of bubbles. Her video for "Paparazzi" (with the oh-so-yummy Alexander Skarsgaard from 'True Blood') garnered so much attention that when she performed it live at the VMAs, in a show where Kanye West snatched a mic from Taylor Swift, Gaga doubled up and "hung" herself from the ceiling of Radio City Music Hall, dripping in fake blood, it was one of the most EPIC performances ever to grace the stage. (Unfortunately, because of Kanye's antics, the proposed tour with him and Lady Gaga was canceled. It would have been one of the best tours ever I believe.) I even dressed up as Lady Gaga for Halloween in a lavender bodysuit, blond wig complete with hairbow and hula hoops around my body ala the promotional pictures for her upcoming tour, "The Monster Ball" and I came in 2nd place in a Karaoke contest for singing "Poker Face".

And so, with the release of her 2nd album, The Fame Monster, Gaga-mania was in full effect. She was everywhere. She was Marching for Gay Rights, she was collaborating with Beyonce, she was meeting the Queen of England, she was opening the Grammys with Elton John in another EPIC performance that brought tears to my eyes and she was touring non-stop all over the globe, selling out every show in every city, bringing much joy to the masses and much money into the pockets of scalpers who could get away with charging whatever they wanted in the midst of Gaga-fever.

As the Monster Ball made its way around the globe, I tried from January to July, desperately trying to get tickets for her shows in NYC - both mine and Lady Gaga's hometowns... Turns out, she wasn't from Yonkers after all. She was from NYC, born and raised, and dispelled the myth of her birth as the "worst rumor she had ever heard about herself" on Jay Leno's show. Even when I was in Japan in the spring and Gaga was doing 4 shows in Kobe and Yokohama, I still couldn't get tickets.... Until this week that is.

Lady Gaga was doing a 2 night stint here in Philadelphia. I looked on Stubhub, Ebay and Craigslist, desperately trying to find a decent price for a single ticket. People wanted $150-$200 for obscured view, club box and even nosebleed tickets. I wasn't willing to settle. I kept looking. And to my luck, there was one posting that read "1 Lady Gaga Ticket 9/15 - $95" and I checked it out. A girl was selling her FLOOR ticket at almost half the price as people wanted for seats! I quickly emailed her asking if it was still available, and it was. I told her I'd meet her the next day, cash in hand. At 12:35 the next afternoon, I had procured my ticket and had the biggest smile on my face for the rest of the day.

I rushed home and amended my Halloween costume from last year, included a leather jacket and some ankle boots and using a LOT of Aquanet and bobby pins, rolled my hair up in some soda cans like in the "Telephone" video. I set out for the venue and proudly strutted my way to the entrance to the floor, got a beer, and found my spot for the show. When the lights dimmed and the music started pumping, my heart started beating and with those opening notes to "Dance in the Dark", the crowd went wild and I was transported on the 2 hour journey that was the Monster Ball. I cheered and put my paws up. I laughed at her jokes. I screamed when she said scream and jumped when she said jump. I cried when she emerged from the stage wearing a movable piece of art and fashion she calls "The Living Dress" and performed my favorite song, "So Happy I could Die" - a platform elevating her high above the crowd and I looked up as tears streamed down my face, ruining my mascara. At that moment, I was truly so happy I could have died. And when she came out for her final encore, those unmistakable notes of "Bad Romance", the crowd went wild and moved in unison as one giant Little Monster.

That night, I came to see what all the fuss about her live shows has been about: Her vision is truly remarkable and can be seen in every detail in her show from the sets to the lighting to the costumes to the interludes. She is beautiful, intelligent, talented and has an amazing voice. She speaks her mind. She loves one and all unconditionally and holds no judgment. Everything she does is for her fans and completely selfless. She tells her fans to love themselves and be who they are and to not be afraid, because she will be there for them. She has given me hope and strength in myself through her music and her persona, making me feel empowered and beautiful.

I grew up hating my big Italian nose, but thanks to Lady Gaga, who is also a beautiful, big nosed Italian girl, I just now at 26 years old have grown to love how I look and embrace it as part of who I am.Your flaws are not flaws at all; they are what makes you who you are, they make you beautiful and you were BORN THAT WAY.

Lady Gaga is loved, hated, revered, abhorred, idolized, feared and celebrated the world over. She is only 24 years old and already a force to be reckoned with. I can't wait to see what is next to come from this amazing woman in the years to come, but I can't even begin to imagine how she will top herself next.

1 comment:

  1. Incredible! Nothing makes you feel more alive than being obsessed with a musician. I enjoyed reading this :)