Interview: Lady Gaga
In May 2010, Pop phenomenon, fashion icon and award-winning recording artist, Lady Gaga became the tenth participant in our In Camera live interview series, exclusively answering questions submitted by friends, celebrities and fans worldwide.
View the on-demand footage of this exclusive broadcast alongside the real-time transcript edit created during the course of the interview process.
In May 2010, Pop phenomenon, fashion icon and award-winning recording artist, Lady Gaga became the tenth participant in our In Camera live interview series, exclusively answering questions submitted by friends, celebrities and fans worldwide.
55 Q&A Posts
Q. SHOWstudio.com is a fashion website, first and foremost - Lady Gaga, we have asked you to be the tenth participant in our series of In Camera interviews because, more than any other contemporary musician, your work feels inextricably connected to fashion. What function does fashion serve for you? Do you use it to underline your musical themes, or is it another outlet for a different type of creative expression? Alexander Fury, Fashion Director, SHOWstudio, London
It's all of the above, but I think more importantly on a cultural level I think music and fashion have always mirrored each other as part of a creative context. They cannot be separate. I need fashion for my music, and I need music for my fashion.
Q. You are such an inspiration, from what you wear to how you sing. But where do you get your inspiration from? Ricky White, New York
From capital HIM. I think there are two different kinds of artists. People who need to be plugged into a cultural movement, in music, fashion or the latest fishing techniques. But I think for some of us - and I would perhaps say the same about my friend Nick Knight - it's a much more innate gift. A much more spiritual experience. We don't have to be plugged into a particular movement to be part of it. It's transcendent, it's an inspiration that we're born with. To be perfectly honest, right now my biggest inspirations are my fans. I feel they subconsciously submit their freedom and love and joy into me. It's almost like we have our own little spiritual connection separate from anything else.
Q. Did Rainer Maria Rilke's theory that artists should not accept criticism help you stay determined when you were starting out? Meadhbh Nic Nuadhait, Ireland
Yes. I love Rilke, it's no secret that I live my life in almost utter submission to him. I think it's important to be objective about your own work, and it's important what I've learned from Warhol to use the people around you to feed your creativity. If you have an incessant need for validation from an outside place, that's when criticism can be detrimental and even life-changing. You don't want the world to dictate your work, you want to be a funnel. In short, I don't give a fuck what anyone thinks.
Q. Do you find it difficult to deal with negative criticism in the media? Heather Hunter, Virginia
No. It can always be personal, because my work is personal. But you have to believe in yourself and what you're doing, and almost refuse criticism and negativity. It's like the wrong organ was given to you in an operation. You've got to reject it.
Q. Your little monsters know that when you began your career in New York City, the music you were making and playing was sonically very different from the music you make now. What was the shift for you? Why did you decide to start making dance music? Perez Hilton, Los Angeles
I started out when I was very young, playing classical music when I was four. When I turned eleven that's when I started to write pop music, and I wrote jazz, and I got into ragtime. Then I got into sort of folky jam music, Bob Dylan, and then I got into Queen and Bowie. And then disco. It was my intellectual evolution, and my love of music started to change and form. When I was living downtown alone I was able to look into myself and ask myself if I must create music. And I must! And if I must, why? I resigned myself to make the kind of music I wanted to listen to, what I thought was great - what I thought would be groundbreaking where I was living. Indie music was the norm in New York, and pop music was seen to be corporate. And in true Gaga fashion, I decided to make pop music in a town where there was none.
Q. Your fans do so much for you, from rallying together to vote you to the top of the charts to holding mass requesting sessions on radio stations. Why do you think so many little monsters care and support you the way that they do? Farrah Marie, Santa Barbara
I don't know. I feel so blessed, it's so unexplainable the love that I feel for my fans and how they treat me. The videos, the notes, the artworks - the other day I spent hours reading through all this and raving about how talented and lovely my fans are. Love is a symbiotic thing, especially when it's real. Perhaps it's just very real - I put love into my fans, and they give love to me, and we continue to give love back and forth forever.
Q. Traditionally pop stars engage in one-way communication with their fans, but your relationship with your "little monsters" is more like a digital conversation: is this a conscious or instinctual gesture? Vikram Alexei Kansara, New York
Instinctual. I am the way I want to be with my fans. We have a very special and honest relationship. It's almost comical to talk about. Just the other day, I revealed to my fans that my grandpa was sick, and the next day I went to say hello to my fans on Twitter and saw there were all of these lovely messages from them. That has nothing to do with my music or my clothes, that's just pure friendship. My new album that I'm creating, that is finished pretty much, was written with this new instinctual energy. My fans protect me, it's now my destiny to protect them.
Q. If you were able to travel through time where would you go - backwards or forwards and why? John Galliano, Paris
My first instinct is to say to go to the past, because I would love to experience and see all that has influenced and shaped my vocabulary. However, I will decline the past, I would say if I had to choose I would go to the future. The reason is quite selfish: because Alexander McQueen used to say, you must never look back, you must always be going forwards. I would go to the future - selfishly - to feed my work and make me a better artist, to crate more forward-thinking, innovative, magical and poetic work, like he did.
Q. Your looks are so extreme. Is this a reaction to something? Are you questioning or altering the status quo of women's style? Mario Testino, London
Yes. Yes I am. I am a feminist. I reject wholeheartedly the way we are taught to perceive women. The beauty of women, how a woman should act or behave. Women are strong and fragile. Women are beautiful and ugly. We are soft spoken and loud, all at once. There is something mind-controlling about the way we're taught to view women. My work, both visually and musically, is a rejection of all those things. And most importantly a quest. It's exciting because all avant-garde clothing and music and lyrics that at one time were considered shocking or unacceptable are now trendy. Perhaps we can make women's rights trendy. Strength, feminism, security, the wisdom of the woman. Let's make that trendy.
Q. What is the process by which you and stylist Nicola Formichetti put together an outfit? Jordan, Louisiana
Nicola!! It's really easy. He's one of my best friends, and Nicola knows exactly who I am as a musician, an artist and a girl. And the whole Haus of Gaga works together - Matthew has been creating clothes for me for years We have a cigarette and whiskey and look through racks of clothing and then go. It's organic, there's no pretence or preconception.
Q. What are your favourite and least favourite outfits we created together? Nicola Formichetti, London
My favourite? That's quite a difficult question! One of my favourites was the red McQueen lace archive dress, and the tall red crown for the MTV Video Music Awards. My favourite that we made was the performance outfit that bled on its own - it was such a strong statement about clothing being alive, it lives and breathes. That was incredible. The least favourite... I don't have one! You're amazing Nicola, you always nail it. No regrets. We've done so much together, it's difficult to say my favourite and least favourite. It's like saying I don't like my arm!
Q. Can you describe your style in one word? Paulette Wilson, Baltimore
Q. What do you like about wearing a hat? Philip Treacy, London
It is a nice barrier. The bigger the better. The more interesting and outrageous the better. For me it keeps the devil away. I always like when I have a hat that's big enough to keep people away at pretentious parties. It's protection. It's a sense of home away from home. But what I like about a Philip Treacy hat is that they're like nobody else's.
Q. What do you think hats can do for you that clothes can't? Stephen Jones, London
They protect me in a different way. A social canopy, a hat is a social canopy. I love Stephen Jones too!
Q. Is there one observation you have made about the zeitgeist that has gotten the most powerful reaction from people? Marcus, Sydney
A few. One being the hair-bow, and the second being 'Bad Romance' at the end of the Alexander McQueen show, and then the clothing in the video, and that show becoming what is sadly now known to be his crescendo. I wish it wasn't as powerful as it's become. I wouldn't say it was necessarily a zeitgeist moment, it's more destiny.
Q. If you could be anyone else for a day who would you trade places with and what you do in their place? Jefferson Hack, London
I would be Iman! She's my friend, I can say that. I'd do whatever Iman does in a day. That's probably the most selfish answer I could give! What a fabulous woman.
Q. Kurt Vonnegut once said that humans have been telling fantastic stories from the beginning of the time, and that the drama found in such stories is something we constantly try to emulate in our own lives. With your music and aesthetic, are you another fantastic story-teller, or are you showing us what real life can be? Nabil Azadi, Auckland
Both. I'm telling you a lie in a vicious effort that you will repeat my lie over and over until it becomes true.
Q. What would you call the movie about your life? Jonas Ã…Kerlund, Sweden
Born This Way.
Q. Warhol is such a big influence in your work, and Madonna is as well. How is it having a personal relationship with her now? After all she did know Warhol, and I think we can state he's your biggest influence. Meeting you for 1 minute was so surreal (you gave me an autograph after a concert.) I can't even imagine having a personal relationship with someone I adore so much. How do you feel when someone not only so iconic, but also such a big personal influence, is suddenly an accessible person? Laurent James, Antwerp
Madonna is a wonderful wonderful person. She is so full of the most wonderful freedom and spirit, and is so kind. Working with her has always been very exciting and very fun. We have shared some wonderful honest moments together. She comes to my shows, I've asked her questions, she give me advice. It's been my experience in the industry that I've connected on a much deeper level with the more iconic and legendary people that I have admired, and not with any of my contemporaries. The one things the legends all; have in common are that they are the nicest human beings I have ever met. As a segway from knowing, and meeting and loving Madonna it has allowed me to meet amazing, wonderful iconic people. By meeting these people, I have discovered myself. My freedom. My security. Myself.
Q. Who creates limits? Marina Abramovic, New York
We do. We create our own limits. I am a huge fan of Marina Abramovic. She is a limitless human being! She is so incredible! I went to see her exhibit at MOMA and she is limitless. I look at her, and she is so free. It's when you are around someone like Marina when you realise she is so boundless. I think we are the ones who create our limits.
Q. Name one song when it comes on the radio you sing along to, but you are embarrassed that you like it, so nobody knows? Quentin Tarantino, Los Angeles
That Taylor Swift song - 'You Belong To Me' - I sing it so loud, and I'm so embarrassed! Because I sing it so loud. But it's a great song!
Q. What do you think is the biggest misconception about you? Ethan, Fort Worth
That I'm a character. Or that Gaga is separate from Stefani. We are one and the same, there is no difference. I am exactly who I say I am, and I am exactly who you say I am.
Q. Let's talk about the discrepancy between your private and public lives. Where is the line? When is the precise second when it switches? Do you feel the need to take a deep breath and do the thing, or does it always feel like you're on stage? Hedi Slimane, Paris
There's two parts to that question. The first part, the discrepancy between private and public life: I believe as an artist, being private in public is at the core of the aesthetic, the message. However, I profusely lie about my personal relationships in an effort to protect that aesthetic and that message. Today people are distracted by unimportant things - like what my diet is, or who I'm fucking. The second part of the question said when is the precise moment when it switches: I would like to be able to say when there's a dick inside me it switches. But it doesn't always. I do sometimes feel that I'm on a stage all the time, and I do feel that life is a stage for my art. When I'm dancing, singing, making breakfast. But there is a moment of freedom, when the stage disappears: when I cry. On stage, off stage, alone or with someone. There's something very honest about that. It has nothing to do with taking off a wig or smearing my lipstick. It doesn't even have anything to do about whether I have an orgasm. It's much deeper than that.
Q. What did you wear to your prom? Surabhi / LovestruckCow, India
I wore a black carwash dress. It was made out of chiffon, wrapped around like a black tube dress. It was very very shot and had black strips at the bottom, like a carwash. Then it faded into grey. It was great. I think it was $300, it was so expensive.
Q. How did your old classmates and teachers react to the fact that you're now one of the most popular people in the world? Korin, Israel
My classmates, I don't really speak to all of them. My closest girlfriends are wonderful and haven't changed a bit. As for the school... that has been a bit more of a sad experience. The teachers have been wonderful - the nuns are lovely, and the English teachers and the head of the school were wild feminists and instilled wonderful values in us. The teachers are the best, and the most wonderful, brilliant teachers. They are truly magical. I have nothing bad to say about the school, but I will say I've been really sad about some of the things that have happened with my high school, because my sister goes there and my family worked so hard. My parents were not rich, they spent every dollar they had for my sister and I to go to the most wonderful, expensive private school they could afford, to have opportunities they didn't have. I suppose in an attempt to also say something about religion, as a Catholic school I have been put off by the very un-Catholic way they have responded to my success. It's not even disappointing, it's sad. My family gave up many things, so my sister and I could have a wonderful education. There is such a diluted sense of religion and what is right - perhaps the school's just not what it used to be. It makes me very very sad.
Q. You always knew you wanted to be famous. What is the most unexpected part of that - the thing you never accounted for or imagined? Ari Emanuel, Los Angeles, California
The love I feel for my fans, the love that they have given to me. It's so precious, you can't even imagine it.
Q. How has your fame affected your relationships with your friends and family, if at all? Jennifer, New York
It's hard on people. At one point I was slightly insensitive about it, as I am very unaware of my fame. I had arguments with my parents - it was hard for everyone. I don't want my parents of my friends to be incessantly asked about me. It's difficult but we made it through. Part of that as that I started to grow up a little bit and understand how my career has affected the people I love, and be quite objective about it. I'm still very much just an Italian girl from New York who is trying to follow the spotlight. We made it through, it's good now! Your real friends, the real people that you love are still there.
Q. Do you ever wish that you weren't famous? Star, Pittsburgh
I've always been famous - just nobody knew about it. Fame is on the inside. I guess you can say 'The Fame' is something I've always felt and want my fans to feel. Do I wish I wasn't famous today? No. I do wish sometimes I had more privacy, but there are sacrifices that you make. The trade off is that if I wasn't famous I wouldn't have my little monsters and I would never give that up for anything.
Q. You are seen as super-ballistic space-age modern but what do you feel about the dress of past centuries as a basis for your costumes? Colin McDowell, London
The MTV performance outfit was futuristic but quite romantic. A knowledge of what has been done before is very important. it's important to know the past - but it's important to be original. I'm still working on it - if you get one really good original moment in your whole career, you're solid.
Q. What is the craziest outfit you've seen worn by one of your monsters at The Monster Ball? Jordan Holloway, West Virginia
They're all so great! They get all dressed up and sometimes it's so distracting! One of my favourites - which was quite committed - this boy came dressed as Kermit the Frog. I guess he wanted me to think my boyfriend was in the audience, as that's when I was dating Kermit. He was so committed - it was so hot! There have been so many, they're all amazing - I couldn't possibly choose one, they're all so wonderful! But he really suffered for his moment.
Q. What is the one thing that you hope your fans take away from you as a person, and your music? Kristin Fritz, Minnesota
I want them to love themselves. If I could for a moment just inspire you to love yourself, that would be worth everything.
Q. What is the most obnoxious thing a male fan has ever done or said to you? Edison Chen, China
Never obnoxious! I quite enjoy when fans are waiting for a very long time, and then say 'I have been waiting for ages and I need you to sign seven CD's and have a photo' - like 'I'm a good fan!' I've never really had an obnoxious fan.
Q. Is there ever a time you feel scared of your monsters? Brenda Jam, London
Not often. I would say 99.9 infinity percent, I am not afraid. But every once in a while, there is a very extra-troubled fan that really wants to see or speak to me. I've actually before contacted parents and told them I thought their little monster needed some help, and attention, and love. So no, I'm not afraid.
Q. What is your favourite monster (literally 'monster', not referring to her fans), favourite animal in folklore or mythology, and favourite scary story? Takashi Murakami, Japan
I guess one of my favourite monsters is the Angler Fish - a real monster from my childhood. My favourite from mythology is the unicorn. I love the unicorn. My favourite scary story is the one that I'm going to dream about tomorrow night.
Q. Do you believe in God? Tatin, Hong Kong
Yes. And the Devil.
Q. My favourite tattoo of yours is "Tokyo Love". What will your next tattoo be and where on your body will it be? Matthew Williams, London
I don't know. I want to get one that says 'Born This Way' and one that says 'Free Bitch', I think. But I'm not quite sure.
Q. How did you feel playing face-to-face with Elton John at the 2010 Grammies? Raquel Zimmermann, New York
I felt so happy, and so joyful, and so grateful! You can really see it on my face in that performance that I was just so happy. It was a transition at that point, where I was beginning to build friendships with these people I admire so much. It was like the Berlin Wall falling. I felt a lot freer after that. I felt very free.
Q. Who would you love to duet with dead or alive? Naomi Campbell, London
With you Naomi! I would have loved to do a duet with Judy Garland. I would have loved to have known her. John Lennon. David Bowie! And Nick Knight, but we do lots of duets together!
Q. Is there a song you would not sing? Nick Knight, London
Yes. I wouldn't sing anything hateful, or violent in a hate-producing kind of way. I'm fascinated by war and violence, but I would not sing a hateful song.
Q. What thing(s) do you feel you have left to achieve? You worked hard to become this sensation and your face, name, music and performances - right down to the make-up - are iconic and mimicked by other singers. How do you perceive your celebrity presentation and how will you evolve? Where will you be in 5 years? Stevie Wilson, Los Angeles
I have zero perception of my celebrity presentation. I hope to not be a celebrity, I hope I am perceived as separate from the idea of celebrity. I hope I am perceived as important, and loving, and peaceful, and enigmatic. I hope - even more - that I am perceived as good to my fans. I have so much to achieve, I have achieved my fans but I have artistically so much to say and so much to do. Musically, I'm a garden and not a desert. I am so impossibly not finished. I always want to exist in a separate space - a Gaga space, a Monster space - that is impervious to anything else. A cell wall that cannot be penetrated. A safe haven. I want to be relevant and irrelevant, all at once.
Q. Do you agree with the following statement: Women are crazy vaginas? Bret Easton Ellis, Los Angeles
No. That's too general. And every vagina feels different.
Q. What's the nerdiest thing you've ever done? Spencer, Nampa
I am very nerdy every day. I don't know if I can even find a way to separate one out. Right now the Haus of Gaga and I are in the middle of trying to extract the effect the smell of blood have on people. We really want to know.
Q. If you decided to have children what would you call them? Kate Moss, London
I like Annabelle, I like Lennon, for a girl, I also like Joey, after my father. And Joanne. And Sophia, after Sophia Loren.
Q. Who is the most interesting person you have ever met? Aline Macebo, Brazil
Probably my grandmothers. I suppose you don't really meet your grandmothers, but both my grandmothers are so strong, have been through so much, they are the strongest and most irreplaceable women. And so deeply loved by their husbands as well. And my mother as well. So I would say the trinity of women in my life. My grandmother Angelina, my grandmother Veronica and my mother Cynthia.
Q. Did you miss having a 'Lady Gaga' in the 90s, while you were a teenager, to be a fan of and to identify with? Raãssa Venticinque, California
No. I suppose I didn't know what a 'Lady Gaga' was. I always knew it was my destiny to be an entertainer, but I was ready to be the new thing. I admired the women I grew up watching, the pop stars - Britney, Christina, Madonna, Blondie and Patti Smith, and Linda Perry and 4 Non Blondes. I could go on and on. When I was around 13 I started to listen to older music, like Zepplin, Queen, Pink Floyd. I was much more obsessed with male rock stars - Bowie in particular.
Q. At the Met, Oprah Winfrey called you some kind of spiritual and cultural leader. How do you feel about that, and what do you do to "uphold" that, as in, do you think of yourself as a role model to younger people and kids? Stephen Gan, New York
Yes I do. I appreciate so much that Oprah said that, Oprah is so wonderful, and such an inspiration as well. Things change - I didn't have that much perception of how people viewed me until a point, but then things change. In my next album, I'm much more self-aware of my spiritual and leadership qualities, in the way that any artist is a leader. I don't think that sex and drugs and talking about things openly are wrong or bad, but I think the most terrible thing you can do is be prejudiced. In my career I am most emphatically against prejudice. I guess I would say that it how I lead my fans through my music in that way. I am okay with that responsibility.
Q. What's one thing even your best friends don't know about you, until now? Javier Peres, Los Angeles
Probably how much I really miss you, and - I hope you know this - that I would not be where I am today without all of my most wonderful and closest friends.
Q. What is your attitude towards collaboration with peers in the pop music scene? Is it an idea which scares, excites, or even interests you? Graham Conway, Toronto
At this moment, I don't want to do any collaborations, especially contemporary ones. I want to stand on my own two feet. This new album is my chance to create what in 20 years will be seen as my iconic moment - that's what you should always aim for. Today, collaborations are about appealing to a wider market and gaining radio plays and album sales, above artistic integrity. I collaborated with Beyonce because I love her. She is my favourite contemporary pop musician.
Q. 2pac vs Biggie? Joe '3H' Weinberger, Los Angeles
Can I choose both?
Q. What question do you want to be asked? What question has no interviewer ever asked you, but you would like to answer? Jerre, The Netherlands
How are you? I rarely get asked that!
Q. Gaga, I see all these pictures of you getting off a plane in an outfit, a full on head to toe - I want to know how you do it. I cant really picture you in a Virgin sleep suit, but I'm assuming the plane is one place where you can catch up on your sleep - so what happens between the plane and the arrivals lounge? Gareth Pugh, London
I sleep in all my glamorous glory!
Q. I'm wondering to what extent your style has been influenced by Isabella Blow and Daphne Guinness? I detect not merely more high fashion in your look, but more English flamboyance. Cathy Horyn, New York
Isabella and Daphne are two genius human beings. Women, icons, but so much more than that. They are for me a way to look into myself and examine their lives and who they are in an effort to understand myself better. Isabella is an enormous inspiration and so is Daphne, and I cherish their lives. I cherish them both, as if we were cut from he same cloth.
Q. For two days worth of world peace, would you eat a hamburger made of human flesh? Harmony Korine, New York
Yes. Yes. Yes. Without a second thought. Anything is worth two days of world peace. Anything is worth one day of world peace. Except, I wouldn't kill anyone, obviously. But I suppose you'd have to kill someone to make the burger. To clarify, I would not be killing the human being that I would be eating. And it would have to be a cadaver of someone that had already passed. So it would have to be an old lady burger. I'm just being honest! Well Nick Knight made me eat a bovine heart. Remember Nick? He's so conveniently in the back room. He wanted me to confront my fears about my father's heart surgery so he gave me a bovine heart to do a performance art piece that he and Ruth filmed. And I took a big bite out of that for you, and I didn't get world peace. I just did it for art. Suffering for a performance art piece. I couldn't eat meat for fucking two weeks. Ruth was standing on the side like, ugh! My fans watch it every night!
Q. You are amazing. Instead of being asked a specific question, is there any specific thing that you would like to say to your fans right now? Celeste, Pennsylvania
I would like to say to all my little monsters, who I love so much, that I cannot imagine my life without you, nor can I imagine my future without you. And I sometimes even question how I survived without you, before you. I will forever passionately only serve you. I love you.
Q. What's your view of fatherhood? Terry Jones, i-D, London
My view of fatherhood? What do you mean? I am very happy and proud to be a father and I enjoy it very much.