Lady Gaga is one of the biggest superstars in the world. During a brief and rare interview, she evaded her larger-than-life image with affable charm, self-deprecating humor and a down-to-earth demeanor. She’s sweet, perverted, articulate and talkative. And she can’t stop gushing about how much her fans mean to her.
She certainly doesn’t sound like someone who just scored the best first-week sales of the year with “Born This Way.”
PGN: Don’t take this the wrong way, but as a fashion icon I have to ask: What are you wearing? LG: I’m actually in a black bra and underwear. That’s it. The top one is lace and the bottom one is just plain and silky. This is my daywear. I’m walking around my hotel room and I’m going to yoga soon, and I probably won’t change. [Laughs.]
PGN: How did you spend your last day off? LG: I watched “So You Think You Can Dance,” and I’ve been planning my performances for the next few months for television and getting ready for the new tour.
PGN: That’s work. That’s not time off. LG: [Laughs.] I know, I know. I always do that. I’m sorry. I don’t really take time off. I try, but I think I find comfort in my creativity. It’s like a warm blanket for me.
PGN: How do you feel about your role as a gay icon and a leader in the LGBT-rights movement? LG: That’s a really, really tall order and quite a description. I never set out to be a gay icon or become one or be revered as one, and I’m just really grateful to all the people that have believed in me and my music and my work. The most special thing of all has been that my sort of assimilation as a public figure has very organically stemmed out of who my natural friends were in high school.
I had a lot of gay friends growing up, not even realizing they were gay. We didn’t really talk about it and I went to theater school and I did a lot of shows, so I guess it never really mattered to me if they were gay or straight — and we never really talked about it. We just loved talking about music and art and theater and fashion. So now it’s less about being a leader and more just about being a part of my generation and being part of the fight for equality that I feel is part of who I am and part of my childhood, and part of where I’m going.
PGN: The message you stand for as a public figure — about being yourself no matter who you are — is also a big part of “Born This Way.” LG: The album was inspired by the spirit of the fans, the spirit of the show and the spirit of people all over the world every night talking to me about social justice and sharing their stories with me, and me realizing that my mission with music was driven in a very specific way at this point. So social justice has to be the most paramount issue that I address on the album.
PGN: Which album gave you a sense of belonging and allowed you to be yourself when you were a kid? LG: I always talk about Green Day, because “Dookie” was the first album that I went to buy on my own. I think because I got bullied in school there was something I really appreciated about punk culture. It allowed me to feel unified with something that was separate from my community at school. Even though I didn’t have a lot of punk friends or I didn’t go to punk shows — because when I was 13, my mother would never have allowed me to leave the house and go downtown to see a punk show — just having the album in my hands and reading the lyrics and listening to the music made me feel like I was a punk, feel like a Green Day fan, feel like I was part of a union that was separate from my situation. That’s really carried through into my music and my dream and my message. But what’s been so great is social media. Unlike when I was a kid, my fans now have a way to get to know each other and be connected through social media so that the culture can grow.
PGN: And you’re using social networking a lot as a political platform, urging fans to step up in the fight for equality. LG: Oh, yeah. I just got on Twitter and I was firing away like I was on the Senate floor. I couldn’t stop because I think to myself, almost instantly, there are 11-million people who are receiving this message from me and they have to know what’s going on. Even if I just get five people to call in New York, I can make that small bit of difference.
PGN: What’s been the most rewarding moment of your career so far? LG: So many different things. It was a very, very huge shock for me when I heard the album sales for “Born This Way.” I just cried for, like, a week straight. [Laughs.] It was seven full days of rainwater tears. I think I could’ve filled an entire ocean of gratitude. I just worked so hard on the music and I cared so much that the fans loved it, and all that mattered to me was they loved it. The feedback of the music and of the videos has been so wonderful.
I sat down with the label and I talked to my team and we talked about the new album cycle and I said to them, “I don’t want for the goal of this to be that we gain new fans. If we gain new fans, that’s wonderful. But the goal for me is to strengthen my artistic evolution and strengthen the bond between the fans.” That was the single most important thing to me.
PGN: Two of your songs are named after human features: “Hair” and “Teeth.” What’s the next body part you’ll write about? LG: Who knows. I didn’t even think of it that way. Where should I go next? I don’t know. I’ve already been thinking about the next album, though. Don’t shoot me.
PGN: Can you give us a glimpse into that one? LG: No, no. Stay on this one. We’re not done yet. [Laughs.] I am planning on making the “You and I” video, though, and I’m really excited about that.
PGN: Everyone talks about overexposure when you’re as big of a star as you are. Does that worry you at all? LG: No. You’re just a right or left click away from the other direction.
PGN: Have you thought about the legacy you want to leave and what that might be? LG: Yes, I have. And it changes and grows. I would say that my wish is to be remembered as a cultural force, as someone who was fearless and unpredictable, who didn’t care what anyone thought about what I have created but only cared that they thought about it.