I've often wondered what inspires people to get tatted up. Like what is it about whatever it is you want tatted on yourself - a flower, a tree, an album name, whatnot - what is it about these things that makes people want to have them on their bodies for the rest of their lives? As a stupid 23-year-old, I have never really encountered anything I loved, revered or adored enough to affix it on me - in my skin - permanently. Until now.
When I first saw Lady GaGa perform last summer on So You Think You Can Dance?, I was like who (and what) the fuck is this? She looks ridiculous and she can't even sing that well, and her songs are kind of boring when compared to Britney, Bey, Christina, Madonna and the like. And she's wearing these stupid digital glasses that scroll "POP MUSIC WILL NEVER BE DUMBED DOWN" or something like that. Who does this bitch think she is? An artist?! Psssshaaaa.
That was my inner dialogue at the time. GaGa hadn't exploded yet - her album hadn't even been released - so I was highly skeptical and even turned off. But like any good relationship, my skepticism grew into curiosity, which transformed into a friendship when I downloaded The Fame, and then I fell in love for the first time when I saw her sing "Poker Face" acoustically, sitting at her piano with her hair (literally) tied into a bow, belting and singing and wailing from a place deep inside herself.
It was then I knew I loved Lady GaGa. But my love didn't become deep, it didn't take roots, it didn't explode into full-on obsession, until I saw this interview and started reading and watching as many interviews as I could get my hands on. I now know with certainty what it took me more than a year to realize: this woman is an artist. Not only that, but she is probably the only true pop artist - among the ranks of Andy Warhol, David Bowie and Madonna - people my age have seen in our lifetime.
Not only is she an artist, but she represents so many things that form the core of who I am. She is a physical embodiment of youth in New York City, where she grew up and (later) dominated the Lower East Side club scene. She is named after a Queen song, my lifelong favorite band. She loves the gays. She is openly attracted to women. She bends gender rules. She loves fashion. She loves pissing people off. She loves being the center of attention. She loves creating things and making people think. And, of course, she loves music and dance.
Today I watched this interview no YouTube, broken up into three parts. She openly admits that she has tricked the world into thinking she is somebody, when in fact she is nobody. She explains that the whole point of her album is to make people realize that celebrity is an illusion supported by things like wealth, fashion and power, and that celebrity and fame should not be confused. Anyone can be famous, she suggests, because fame is not about how much money you have or how many people know who you are; it's about a feeling inside, a sense of self-confidence, a veil of vanity.
I know exactly what she means because I live it everyday in New York. When I go out dancing with my friends, I am famous. I feel it on the inside, and it's confirmed by the fact that when I dance - usually in cohorts with Z - people watch. People don't just casually watch - they watch. There's something inside me that shows through when I dance and makes people go, Who is she? What is she doing here? And - most importantly - Who the fuck does she *think she is? There's just something about the city that makes me feel like I am somebody, even though I am actually nobody.
I have had this experience in my life for years. I first went to a dance club when I was 18, in Birmingham, Alabama, and I tasted it there. I have experienced it in Oxford, Memphis, Atlanta and DC. But New York. Goddamnit, New York. Knowing I can come to New York, do the same shit I've been doing my whole life, and *still have people watch me with gaping mouths - that is The Fame. That's what GaGa is talking about when she says, "In New York, you have the ability to self-proclaim your own fame. You have the ability to experience and feel a certain amount of self-worth that comes from a very vain place, simply by your choices. You can literally choose to have fame."
If and when I get a tattoo, it will be something GaGa-inspired. She represents something I have always seen in myself, and everything I love about New York, and pretty much everything I love about life. I haven't designed the tat yet, but I'm going to work on it. Also, I literally squealed today at work when I read that this fall she will be re-releasing The Fame with some bonus songs.
My mom is going to kill me.
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