Lady Gaga Curated
American Singer, Songwriter and Actress
CURATED BY :
There’s a lot of religious imagery on your album. Who or what do you think God is?
‘I see God in my fans. I worship my fans. I don’t believe we know what God looks like, but you have faith in what He, or She, or It looks like. I have no scores to settle with Christ. That’s not at all what this is about .‘It’s more about my relationship to being taught something pretty vigilantly for years – being taught that God looked a certain way and did certain things and should either be loved or feared.’
You got two tattoos in Japan. What’s the one on your inner arm that you got in Osaka?
That one commemorates my favorite writer, Rainer Maria Rilke, a poet and romantic philosopher. In German he writes, “Confess to yourself in the deepest hour of the night whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. Dig deep into your heart, where the answer spreads its roots in your being, and ask yourself solemnly, Must I write?”
Lady Gaga fans are some of the most obsessive out there right now. How do you relate to them?
I love my little monsters. Now I live and create only for them.
Did you ever have any resolution with your father after he cut you off during your wild days?
It’s just recently that I’ve been healed in a way, because my father had this heart surgery that he was supposed to have since I was a kid. The fear of losing the man of my dreams, such as my dad — there’s fucking Freud for you — was terrifying. So the biggest fear of my life passed.
Do you ever feel like you’re fulfilling your dad’s unrealized rock-star ambitions?
Yeah, sure I do. I love my daddy. My daddy’s everything. I hope I can find a man that will treat me as good as my dad.
Its been said that most workaholics are that way because it’s an addiction and a way to avoid other things. What do you have to say about this?
In so many ways, my music also heals me. So is it heroin, and I need the fix to feel better? Or is it that music is healing? I guess that’s the big question. When you work as hard as I do, or you resign your life to something like music or art or writing, you have to commit yourself to this struggle and commit yourself to the pain. And I commit myself to my heartbreak wholeheartedly. It’s something that I will never let go. But that heartbreak, in a way, is my feature. It’s a representation of the process of my work. As artists, we are eternally heartbroken.
Is there anyone you’re able to open up with and show your vulnerabilities to?
Well, there are very few people I can do that with. I do it with my fans. I mean, last night onstage I told them about my grandpa being sick. But there’s some things I keep sacred for myself. As someone who has written two albums about it, I have the right to choose whether or not I want to be a celebrity, and I don’t want to be one. And I feel that I’m relatively clever enough to control that people pay attention more to my music and to my clothing than they do to my personal life. Trust me, I’d much rather people write about what I wear and what I’m singing and what I do in my videos than about who I’m fucking. I mean, that, for me, is the kiss of death.
Do you feel like you’re sacrificing certain parts of yourself and your life for your art and career?
It’s kind of good for me, though, isn’t it? Because what if we want to date? We’re not gonna tell anybody. And we’re gonna lie profusely that we’re not together. And if you’re like, “Why don’t you want people to know?” then I know you’re with me for the wrong reasons, so I’m like, “Get lost.”
Are you finding that the songs you’re writing for your new album all have a certain theme?
Yeah, that’s how I work. I always have these concept records. I just sort of spiritually harness onto something, and then everything grows out of this one seed. But I don’t want to say too much, because, in truth, it’s not going to come out until the top of next year, and I’m going to announce the title of the album at midnight on New Year’s.
Your fans seem to really like what you stand for, because some people need to be reminded that it’s OK to be different. Tell us about this.
I love what they stand for. I love who they are. They inspire me to be more confident every day. When I wake up in the morning, I feel just like any other insecure 24-year-old girl. But I say, “Bitch, you’re Lady Gaga, you better fucking get up and walk the walk today,” because they need that from me. And they inspire me to keep going.
Is it frustrating to have a new album ready yet still be touring playing the old one?
I love writing on the road, because I go out there every night, and while I’m onstage performing the old songs, I literally imagine them singing the lyrics to my new songs. If I can’t imagine them singing the lyrics in the audience, why even write the song? What? To fulfill some fucking therapy in my soul?
Do you feel there’s a side of you that forces you to stay strong for the fans, to be an example of having no fears?
Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I break down and cry onstage. I totally wear my heart on my sleeve.
When you talk really brazenly sexually or when you dress showing a lot of skin, there’s sort of a form of social control. It’s like saying, “I’m kind of uncomfortable socially, and I’ll make you more uncomfortable, and that way I’ll feel more comfortable.
I wish I could say yes, because that’s an interesting analysis, but I just feel really comfortable in those moments. I’m quite a schizophrenic person. Let’s call a spade a spade, right? But I’m OK with that, and I recognize that. It’s really interesting to me, because I put out music videos, and I do performances, and I am 79 percent of the time shocked by how people respond, because I don’t really think it’s particularly groundbreaking or shocking. I think it’s just me and who I am, and I’m a feminist.
How do you think you developed the resources to be able to handle fame and grow along with it?
I think it’s my family. I think it’s the friendships that I’ve built that are really strong and wonderful. My best girlfriend from high school — and my friends that I made downtown in New York when they really welcomed me into this society of freakish kids that band together. I was actually talking to [performance artist and collaborator] Lady Starlight today, and I just said, “Without you guys, I wouldn’t be where I am today, for sure.” They gave me a sense of belonging somewhere. It’ll make me cry just talking about it, because when you feel so much like you don’t fit in anywhere, you’d do anything just to make a fucking friend. And when I met the right people, they really supported me. I’ll never forget when she turned to me one day and she said, ‘You’re a performance artist.” I was like, “You think so?” When people believe in you, that’s what makes you grow.
Do you think that getting addicted to work replaced drugs in your life?
You just learn to put your energy into something creative and wonderful. I work with Deepak Chopra, and I called him and told him some wacky dream I had about . . . I don’t want to say. It’s too morbid.
You seem to have become more religious or spiritual than earlier. Tell us about this.
I’ve had a few different experiences. I’m really connected to my Aunt Joanne, and she’s not with us anymore. And then there was my father’s surgery. And also, my life has changed so much. It’s hard not to believe that God hasn’t been watching out for me when I’ve had such obstacles with drugs and rejection and people not believing in me. It’s been a long and continuous road, but it’s hard to just chalk it all up to myself. I have to believe there’s something greater than myself.
There are all these videos of you on YouTube playing alternative and classic rock. Do you ever want to go back to that and do a Billy Joel kind of thing?
I totally wrote one for this new album. It’s so good. And it’s very personal. The song is about my sadness in the most real and honest kind of way, and the song is about how whenever I become so unbearably lonely, my father has always been my friend. He would take my calls, and he’d listen to me crying and poetically talk about my sorrow, and he would say, “You know, Loop, you’re gonna be OK if your songs are on the radio.”
What did you find out about yourself in writing songs like your ‘anti-bully song’ ?
‘That being bullied stays with you your whole life, and no matter how many people are screaming your name or how many Number One hits you have, you can still wake up and feel like a loser.’
What are the changes you observed after becoming famous?
When you become famous or you become a star, there’s all these other things that begin to happen, and you have to work the system – especially in the music industry today, which is so different. You’re dealing with this streaming war and it’s an absolute nightmare to witness as an artist because it’s not about music and it’s all about business – and that’s just not who I am at all. At the end of the day, who I really and truly am is a little girl who loved to play the piano. So once you start putting that little girl into the system, she starts to get kind of… well, why am I doing this? What I want for my fans and for the world, for anyone who feels pain, is to lean into that pain and embrace it as much as they can and begin the healing process. So that’s what she did.
How different is your character in the movie ‘ A Star Is Born’ from your character in real life?
How much is the story of the movie ‘A Star Is Born’ your story?
Have you ever been challenged to a situation where you realised that you have stop being honest to your career and your music and you are not giving your full?
What turned you into a pop star?
You inspire such fearlessness in everyone who listens to you. Is there anything that scares you?
When did you stop letting what other people think of you define you?
What is the hardest part about your work?
Is it difficult with the pressure to continue to outdo or express yourself ?
You have achieved an extraordinary amount of fame and you are under extraordinary amount of scrutiny. There must have been alot of downsides to it. How do you feel about this?
Tell us how do you feel about your big screen debut film ‘A star is born’ ?
How would you describe the intense role you played in your big screen debut?
Did you relate your real life experience to your character in your debut film, ‘A Star Is Born’?
How much of the music in the film, ‘A Star Is Born’ did you write?
Tell us who Lady Gaga is.
How were you as a child? Were your parents supportive during your teenage days?
How important is fashion to you?
You are a fan of Bowie and Madonna. Do they influence you in your career?
Tell us about your meeting with Red One and Akon.
Dont you think, the gay community has a very positive connect with you and your music?
Describe the New York dance scene.
When did you make the transition from the underground scene and the club scene to becoming an artist?
What does being an Italian New Yorker mean to you?
Where were you in your early teens musically?
Tell us about your fashion influences.
Tell us where the name Gaga comes from.
When you first performed, what were you wearing and what was your father’s reaction? Tell us something about your mindset during those days.
Your outfits have been part of a lot of headlines. Do you spend a lot of time thinking or do they just come to your mind?
You have set the tone for the musicians everywhere and you set the bar kind of really high. Tell us something about this?
Is it important for you to go back to your roots with music? If yes, why?
When you get into the mindset to write a song, what is your process like?
Don’t you consider your success a massive ‘piss off!’ to the bullies?
Well, in order for me to be successful… In order to be a great artist – musician, actor, painter, whatever – you must be able to be private in public at all times. That is what we do.’
Tell us something about your self designed new warm pink-beige Viva Glam lip shade.
I wanted it to be more of a taupe colour — not so much a nude. Something that was warmer because I myself am Italian and have a darker complexion naturally. I always struggle wearing nude lipsticks because they’re really white and only white girls can wear them. A woman of any colour could wear this ... or a man, for that matter.
How different are you in real life from your character Ally in reel life?
“I heard the word ‘No’ a lot earlier in my career, but I never gave up”. “That’s the biggest difference between me and Ally. Ally has completely given up and she does not believe in herself. She does not believe she’s beautiful and she does not believe she has what it takes. Once I had a record executive suggest that I get a nose job before my first single came out and before we shot the video. But I said no. They also wanted to give my songs to other girls or girl groups. They didn’t want it to be me; I just had to hold onto my music for dear life.”
A star is born is your debut at big screen. What were your feelings when you got to know about this?
I was nervous, especially at the beginning, and of course you feel the pressure of living up to expectations when the stakes are pretty high, not just for yourself but for everyone involved”. “This was the first time I had to play in a film from beginning to end and I was scared. When an artist is moving into a new medium, if they have been studying and gestating like a petri dish for so long, it’s like an explosion when they finally come out.
What is the thing you learnt from Bradley Cooper, your co-star during the filming procedure?
“At one point, Bradley said something off-script to me, and I kept repeating that same line over and over again because I didn’t know what to do. And he said, ‘Are you okay? Do you feel like you need to cry?’ I cried for a second, and then I just threw the lines out the window. I still had them with me, but I was able to be in a more present conversation with him. It really taught me something about being an actor: you have to know the story that you’re going to tell, and you have to know the lines. But at the end of the day, you have to be as honest as possible in the moment.”
Being an artist, tell us something about fame.
“Fame is a very unnatural thing”. “If you’re an artist, you have this intense relationship with your work and that’s what underlies everything. Then if you reach a certain point, everything changes around you and it’s not you who is changing but the people around you. I think artists need help adjusting to that because that’s often the biggest struggle you face, especially when you’re trying to keep evolving, not just in terms of your work but as an individual.”
Do you find there’s a difference between your fans in different countries or is there a sort of similarity: is there a kind of Gaga fan who has a commonality?
Yes, there is. The little monsters are a community and it’s kind of nice that everywhere I go they create a little home for me.
Stefani Germanotta and Gaga are congruent. That’s different. Don’t you put on the armour of Gaga?
No. But I do see myself to be in an endless transformative state in the way that those performers you’ve mentioned were. I just am committed wholeheartedly to theatre with no intermission.
Tell us something about your sufferings behind fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses.
"I get so irritated with people who don't believe fibromyalgia is real. For me, and I think for many others, it's really a cyclone of anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma, and panic disorder, all of which sends the nervous system into overdrive, and then you have nerve pain as a result," she said. "People need to be more compassionate. Chronic pain is no joke. And it's every day waking up not knowing how you're going to feel."
How would you describe your PTSD symptoms?
"I feel stunned. Or stunted. You know that feeling when you're on a roller coaster and you're just about to go down the really steep slope? That fear and the drop in your stomach? My diaphragm seizes up. Then I have a hard time breathing, and my whole body goes into a spasm. And I begin to cry. That's what it feels like for trauma victims every day, and it's...miserable". "I always say that trauma has a brain. And it works its way into everything that you do."
When the show goes out for those two hours of primetime, will everything be prerecorded or is there any live component happening in the moment?
It’s going to be all prerecorded live, but we are going to record some of it that day, because we want to make sure that it covers the beats of what’s happening in real time. Because, you know, 12 hours is a long time right now, and we need to make sure that we have the best data on how to fight COVID.
Part of the charm of the live-streams artists have been doing for Global Citizen has been how low-tech everything is. Obviously it’s not practical to get crews to wherever artists are shooting themselves, but is there anything you can do to make Saturday night’s performances more — quote-unquote — professional?
To be really honest, we don’t want to make that more professional. We think it’s right to keep the tone as it should be, which is not about the production. I think right now everyone is understanding that people are (singing) from their homes. We are lucky in that we have just an extraordinary group of people that are coming together to be part of it, and that alone with that many broadcasters will itself be historic. But we’re not planning to dial up the production, because we want the money to go toward the cause. Because we really believe that’s what matters most.
When this was announced April 6 with the hosts and top artists and almost every network we could think of on board, it looked like something that had had months of work go into getting to that point, but we know that’s possible. How long was this in the planning stages?
Well, quite amazingly, it’s not been in the works as long as you would anticipate. In fact, when we last spoke to you (March 24), we hadn’t at all given it the green light to happen. Soon after that, we got another phone call from the United Nations’ deputy secretary general, Amina Mohammed, and also from Dr. Tedros of the WHO (World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus). Dr. Tedros had also spoken to Lady Gaga, because Lady Gaga’s mum Cynthia is a WHO official goodwill ambassador. Everyone was seeing the immense momentum of what Chris Martin and John Legend built (in starting Global Citizen’s daily music live-streams), and Lady Gaga said that she was willing to step up and help build this platform. So we all got together and we said, how can we have the biggest impact?
It’s not a fundraising telethon, right?
We don’t want to ask people for their money, because people have lost jobs, and that’s not the right thing to do right now. And so we said, okay, let’s see if corporate America — plus philanthropists, plus world leaders — will step up at this time to play a bigger role to help support the WHO’s urgent needs. And let’s also see if we can also get them to support local charities here in the U.S. that are supporting the most vulnerable people who are on the front lines with food, shelter, health care, etc. So we convened a phone call with Lady Gaga and the CEOs of many companies, and the response was instant. All of a sudden, Procter & Gamble, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, Cisco, IBM, Pepsi — they all literally in the next few days all agreed to be part of it, which was phenomenal. And then NBC had signed on already, and Doug Vaughan reached out to his colleague Jack Sussman at CBS, and then they reached out to Bob Iger at ABC, and all of a sudden all the networks were on board. And then Michele Anthony from Universal and Julie Greenwald from Atlantic started reaching out to some of the big global distributors, like Tencent and Alibaba. And then Apple, Amazon, Facebook, YouTube… Having worked on these sorts of things for a long time, I’ve never seen people rally at a rate like this to achieve a common goal. It’s been so inspiring.
When you announced the show April 6, you said that $35 million had already been raised in conjunction with the show before the general public had heard a word about it, with Gaga’s help. How did that unfold?
Since I spoke to you last, that’s a great guy by the name of Declan Kelly from Teneo, who’s one of our partners. He helped convene a teleconference call with Lady Gaga, myself and the leaders of many corporations and philanthropists. It was like just a Zoom call like you and I are on all the time every day. I think Cisco teed it up with their WebEx and everyone dialed in and we just had a conversation and we said, “Listen, we want to try to pull this off, but we know we need everyone to step up if it’s going to be possible.” And you know how hard these things are to pull off so quickly. It usually takes forever. But all of a sudden they were each chipping in, and each were willing to put in major seven and sometimes eight-figure contributions towards the mission. So that’s why we’ve been able to raise close to $5 million a day since we started. And Lady Gaga has really played a leading role there. She and her manager, Bobby (Campbell), and her colleagues have literally set up a little war room. You would have seen her talk about it on Fallon. You know, I think you and I would agree that everyone wants to know what to do in this situation, but people don’t often know how to respond. And I think this has given people a rallying point, a focal opportunity to respond both globally and locally.
Is it easy to say in a nutshell what those tens of millions of dollars already raised will go toward?
It’s going to go towards providing protective personal equipment to frontline community health workers. Already the WHO has given over 2 million PPE supplies to over 120 countries, including 1.5 million diagnostic kits, and has also trained over 1 million community health workers on how to prevent Covid-19. And then also we’ve got a list of accredited charities — charities like Covenant House, like Feeding America and others, and we’re encouraging the corporations and the philanthropists to also give some of their money locally as well. Having worked on this all my life, I can say the one silver lining in such a tragic situation is that people have been so generous.
Will these contributions be celebrated on the show itself, like, “Hey, this is why we’re not asking you to give, because we’ve already taken care of this”?
Yeah, exactly. We want to tell the stories during the show of how that actually impacts real people’s lives… how that leads to protective gowns or gloves ending up in the hands of frontline community health workers. We also want to educate people about the heroic acts of bravery that people are displaying it this time. And we also want to educate people about the World Health Organization. When we spoke last, we talked about three objectives, and those tremain the same. Firstly, how do you actually end Covid? Which is all about social distancing, testing, and therapeutics and a vaccine. The second thing we’re going to focus on: What can you as an individual do locally and globally? We’ll still be encouraging people to take action, just not through their money. In the Global Citizen model that I think you’re familiar with, if you go to globalcitizen.org/Coronavirus, you can see where we still want people to take action, which is what Global Citizen does. That’s in our DNA. And then the third thing is we want to use this as an opportunity to really encourage governments to invest more in health systems, so that this doesn’t happen again. That’s all going to be highlighted through the special.
Some of the TV specials that have already been done during this crisis have gotten mixed reactions for having a mixed tone, trying to find the right balance between solemnity and sheer entertainment. Where do you see this one landing? Can people just have fun with their performances, or is this not the right occasion for that?
I think the tonality is we wanted it to be supportive of the community health workers. That’s been our guiding light. We wanted it to highlight acts of kindness. You know, it is a hard time. There are record deaths a day in the United States, and they say that there’s a real potential that in the days before the special, that’ll be when peak deaths occur in the United States, which is obviously devastating. So we’re very mindful that anything like that has to keep the focus on the mission, and has to keep the focus on the real heroes, which are the community health workers. And I think you can see that already in the way that Lady Gaga talked about it with Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel (the three late-night personalities who will be co-hosting the special).
The word “curating” was used in reference to Gaga in the initial announcement. Is she helping with the music lineup, or is the fundraising really more her thing?
Oh, no, she’s been helping with everything. She’s been helping with the curation of the lineup, helping with the music, and with the artist engagementYeah, she’s very much involved creatively. So, too, is Chris Martin. Chris, as you know, came up with the (initial live-stream) idea, very organically, and also John Legend has been involved, and Priyanka Chopra, and great industry leaders like Michele Anthony and Julie Greenwald. It’s no exaggeration that this is like one hell of a team effort. The amount of Zoom calls and WebEx calls… it goes all night.
With all the superstars you have on the show, is there anybody you’re particularly happy to have included?
That’s a good question. I’m thrilled that Burna Boy from West Africa is part of it, because I wanted to make sure that Afrobeat and the continent that’s going to be so profoundly effected by coronavirus at the moment was able to be represented. So I’m really thrilled that Burna Boy is part of it, because I wanted to make sure it was truly global.
Lady Gaga on “in a whirlwind”?
“When I was in the middle of Joanne Tower [il y a deux ans] I was on tour since I was 22 years old. I had my show at half time of the Super Bowl, Coachella, the filming of A star is born. I have really begun to crack. I gave a concertand then I took a plane, I was going to be in another country or state, I went down, was doing a 40-minute drive up to the hotel, I went to bed, I woke up, I was doing another concert… I was in a whirlwind”.
What helped her ?
“It helped me to face, me sitting on a chair, dried my tears and told me “I’m going to take care of your face now,” If I was crying while she was giving me my make-up. I excusais and she said “it is good, I take care of you”.
How make-up helped Lady Gaga?
“When I became a Lady Gaga younger, it was because I discovered the make-up. It means so much to me, viscerally, the power of make-up to change how you feel when you’re at the lowest”.
I first interviewed you almost 10 years ago in 2010 on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and I could see then and feel, energetically, you blossoming into yourself. You were at this moment where you were wide open to your own self-discovery and self-expression. How have you become more of yourself in the past 10 years?
I think as my career has grown and changed and I’ve done different things, I’ve become very mindful of my position in the world and my responsibility to humanity and to those who follow me. And I consider myself to be a kindness punk. I look back at everything I’ve done, and I look at what I’m doing now, and punks, you know, have a sort of reputation for being rebellious, right? So for me, I really view my career, and even what I’m doing now, as a rebellion against all the things in the world that I see to be unkind. Kindness heals the world. Kindness heals people. It’s what brings us together—it’s what keeps us healthy.
When you look back on the past 10 years, at what moment do you feel that you were most able to express that kindness heals all things?
I think it really started with my relationship with my fans. Looking out into the audience and seeing so many people who were like me, people who felt different, who didn’t feel seen or understood. And then also seeing a lot of kids who felt afraid to be open about who they were, it became sort of an existential experience for me, where I thought about what it means to be an individual—I wanted to fight for those individuals. I actually said this the other day on social media. I said, “I didn’t do this for fame, I did it for impact.” And that’s the truth. I recognized very early on that my impact was to help liberate people through kindness. I mean, I think it’s the most powerful thing in the world, particularly in the space of mental illness.
Have you known that since you were at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and dropped out after a year, and then pretended to be your own manager and hauled your keyboard from gig to gig—you knew it then, right?
Well, that was a bit cunning. I don’t know that that was completely kind. But I learned from my mom, Oprah. When I would come home from school, if I was bullied, she would always say, “Kill them with kindness.” And maybe “kill them” is an aggressive way of saying it, but, you know, she meant it in the kindest of ways. What she meant was, “Don’t fight fire with fire; fight fire with water.”
Let’s talk about this. What made you feel ready to become a beauty entrepreneur?
I wanted to do it because (a), I had the time—I wanted to put everything into it, which I do with everything that I do. I don’t just put a company together, hire a staff, and have them do it. I said this the other night at our launch: “My fingerprints are all over this. It’s a crime scene.” And (b), I felt that I had the platform and had built the foundation around what I stand for, so that when this company came out, it would be a rebellion in a kind way against the status quo of beauty as it is today, which is in many ways on social media, a competition. It’s a beauty pageant in a lot of ways. This company exists in an influential space in culture where we say, “Our Haus. Your Rules.” And everyone is welcome—all gender identities.
So that’s the mission of the line, to be inclusive of all gender identities?
All gender identities, all racial identities, everyone, every age. This is for everyone.
Aren’t you constantly amazed at the power beauty has to uplift people? I just remember being in a hospital where women were getting their fistulas mended in Ethiopia and we were handing out lipsticks, and they were literally trying to crawl out of bed to get to them.
It’s very powerful, and I felt so just not beautiful when I was young, and when I left college, my parents were not very pleased with me at the time. I said I wanted to be a musician. I worked three jobs, paid my own rent, and went to the drugstore to buy makeup. I experimented with color, and I looked at myself in the mirror, and I literally made myself. I invented Lady Gaga. And it made me feel strong, it made me feel powerful. I’ve suffered from depression since I was a little girl, but oh my goodness, the superhero that flew out of me, it was like Clark Kent and Superman—it gave me wings to fly. And that’s also why I refused to change. As my career progressed, even before I was famous, when people would say, “Oh, the makeup, there’s too much makeup. It’s over the top, blah, blah, blah,” I would be like, “This is my life force. This is what helps me fly.”
I’m wondering, Do you still feel pressure to constantly outdo yourself? Is it a shackle on you in any way?
Not anymore. I used to, though. Oprah, I’ve got to level with you 100 percent: I used to try to wrap my brain as heavy as I could around what I could do to.... Instead of being shocking (I used to say “shock art” or “performance art”), I would use the word “bemuse,” which is basically putting the audience in a state of confusion where they can’t look away. I used to just go, “What am I going to do next to get people’s attention?”
After the meat dress, did you feel that way: “Where do I go from here?”
Well, the meat dress, quite frankly, I didn’t think it was going to be as shocking to everyone as it was. But that’s just me. I have a sort of eccentric brain, so for me, I was like, Of course this makes sense. I’m showing up to make a statement about “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” I went to the event with soldiers who were discharged from the army because they were out, or they were found out, and to me, if you’re willing to give up your life for your country, does it matter what your sexual orientation is or what your gender identity is? For me, it was like, “Flesh is flesh,” so that was the intention of the meat dress. For me, that wasn’t shocking; it was shocking to the world. And I have to say, it was quite recently—after doing A Star Is Born, and working with Bradley Cooper, and my experience even with winning an Oscar—I sort of just went to myself, “You have a much greater mission on this earth than to freak the hell out of people. Your mission is to give people a form of love through your art that lifts them up.”
I have to ask you one question about Bradley. I was sitting in Bradley’s kitchen the other day, and he was taking care of his daughter, and we ordered takeout, and it was just wonderful to see him lean into the dad thing.
He’s a beautiful father.
Isn’t he a beautiful father? He’s all the way in. We were talking about all the rumors about you guys last year. He said if they had been true, he never would have been able to look you in the eye sitting at that piano.
He said his Catholic guilt would have never let him be able to look you in the eye at that piano. How did you feel about all of that at the time? You handled it so well.
Quite frankly, I think the press is very silly. I mean, we made a love story. For me, as a performer and as an actress, of course we wanted people to believe that we were in love. And we wanted people to feel that love at the Oscars. We wanted it to go right through the lens of that camera and to every television that it was being watched on. And we worked hard on it, we worked for days. We mapped the whole thing out—it was orchestrated as a performance.
You were orchestrating it as a performance to evoke exactly what it did.
It did. In truth, when we talked about it, we went, “Well, I guess we did a good job!”
So well received. You put so much energy into that film, and then it became one of the biggest movies of the year. What was it like when it was all over? How did you say goodbye to the character of Ally and the whole experience?
Well, actually, the character of Ally stayed with me for a long time. I had to relive a lot of my career doing that role. I don’t know how you feel when you’ve acted, but for me, I don’t view it as filming a movie. I film it as living the character, and it’s a moment in my life, so I relived it all again, and it took a long time for it to go away. When I won the Oscar for “Shallow,” I looked at it, and a reporter asked me, “When you look at that Oscar, what do you see?” And I said, “I see a lot of pain.” And I wasn’t lying in that moment. I was raped when I was 19 years-old, repeatedly. I have been traumatized in a variety of ways by my career over the years from many different things, but I survived, and I’ve kept going. And when I looked at that Oscar, I saw pain. I don’t know that anyone understood it when I said it in the room, but I understood it.
The pain that you had taken to get there. Because when you’re raped, particularly repeatedly and at that age, you would have PTSD for years about that.
I have PTSD. I have chronic pain. Neuropathic pain trauma response is a weekly part of my life. I’m on medication; I have several doctors. This is how I survive. But you know what, Oprah? I kept going, and that kid out there or even that adult out there who’s been through so much, I want them to know that they can keep going, and they can survive, and they can win their Oscar. I would also beckon to anyone to try, when they feel ready, to ask for help. And I would beckon to others that if they see someone suffering, to approach them and say, “Hey, I see you. I see that you’re suffering, and I’m here. Tell me your story.”
Which is the greatest gift I think we can give each other. I mean, that’s why I think Avatar and James Cameron is one of the wizards of our generation: because of that message, “I see you.” There is nothing more powerful than that.
There really isn’t. I’ve actually not opened up very much about this, but I think it’s an important thing for people to know and hear: I was a cutter for a long time, and the only way that I was able to stop cutting and self-harming myself was to realize that what I was doing was trying to show people that I was in pain instead of telling them and asking for help. When I realized that telling someone, “Hey, I am having an urge to hurt myself,” that defused it. I then had someone next to me saying, “You don’t have to show me. Just tell me: What are you feeling right now?” And then I could just tell my story. I say that with a lot of humility and strength; I’m very grateful that I don’t do it anymore, and I wish to not glamorize it. One thing that I would suggest to people who struggle with trauma response or self-harm issues or suicidal ideation is actually ice. If you put your hands in a bowl of ice-cold water, it shocks the nervous system, and it brings you back to reality.
Have you also used DBT therapy?
I actually have a teacher; I take dialectical behavioral therapy. I think that DBT is a wonderful, wonderful way to deal with mental health issues.
I ask because I’ve had so many girls at my school [the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa] struggle with this.
It’s a really strong way of learning how to live, and it’s a guide to understanding your emotions.
It needs to be a much bigger conversation. I want to know, What did you once believe was insurmountable, and in the end, you realized, the solution was so easy?
I once believed that there was no way back from my trauma. I really did. I was in physical, mental, and emotional pain. And medicine works, but you need medicine with the therapy for it to really work, because there’s a part that you have to do yourself.
Is this suffering from your fibromyalgia?
It is. Although there are many different theories about fibromyalgia—for me, my fibromyalgia and my trauma response kind of go hand in hand. The fibro for me is a lighter pain; the trauma response is much heavier and actually feels the way I felt after I was dropped on a street corner after I’d been raped repeatedly for months. It’s a recurring feeling. So I had a psychotic break at one point, and it was one of the worst things that’s ever happened to me. I was brought to the ER to urgent care and they brought in the doctor, a psychiatrist. So I’m just screaming, and I said, “Could somebody bring me a real doctor?” And I didn’t understand what was going on, because my whole body went numb; I fully dissociated. I was screaming, and then he calmed me down and gave me medication for when that happens—olanzapine.
I’m familiar with it. I have hundreds of girls, so there’s nothing you can tell me I haven’t been through or experienced.
Yeah, so I take methocarbamol, and olanzapine, which is probably the most important—it helped me that day, and that man and all my friends, they saved my life.
What do you believe life is asking of us?
I believe life is asking of us to accept the challenge. Accept the challenge of kindness. It’s hard in a world the way that we are; we have a very, very grave history. We’re in trouble, and we have been before. But I think life asks us amid these challenges, this hatred, this tragedy, this famine, this war, this cruelty: Can you be kind and can you survive?
What is Lady Gaga's tthoughts about her new album 'Chromatica"?
“smoked the whole way through making this record” but “when we were done, I stopped”,
What is her expectation from her new project?
“It was the most bizarre, beautiful thing that could have happened, that this music actually healed me,” she said.
What is Gaga's version of quitting nicotine sticks?
“You don’t understand how I feel, what I’ve been through. And I was in this endless state of I’m being attacked.” Gaga has now quit the nicotine sticks.
Has she considered sobriety?
“I’m not there yet, but I flirted with it throughout the album. It’s something that came up as a result of me trying to work through the pain that I was feeling,” she said. “But part of my healing process was going, ‘Well, I can either lash the hell out of myself every day for continuing to drink, or I can just be happy that I’m still alive and keep going,’ and feel good enough. I am good enough. It’s not perfect, but wabi-sabi”.
What is Gaga's perception about being perfect?
“I’m perfectly imperfect.”