What to Say About What She’s Got:
She’s got one thigh-high white vinyl stiletto boot in my dreams. If I were a stronger man, I’d let her all the way in. Or maybe a weaker man, I can’t decide. Just half a glimpse of her snarling lip, her sweetheart teeth, her nineteen year old complexion, puts me into pornographic mode. I’m not talking about her crotch in my face. I’m talking about this whole darkness-enhanced panorama of Euro-American pop culture.
I’m a freak bitch baby, she tells me, and whoa, I gotta step back. I mean maybe ever since I made it through the valley of puberty I wanted somebody to say such a thing to me, but now that the words are out here--not shyly whispered, but enunciated with exuberance and conviction--I think I’m unprepared for the message. I mean if she’s a freak bitch, then who am I? What are we? And what’s next for us?
The dancers climb up out of their white coffins like insects from another planet. They got that white vinyl all over them, hoods over their faces, except for their mouths, headdresses like some kind of poisonous flying things that want to crawl on us and watch us die slowly.
And the mobster with the golden jaw brace? What the hell are we supposed to do with that guy and his weird device?
There’s a narrative here, but I’m not sure it matters. A melody’s here, too, and mostly it doesn’t matter either. Fashion, choreography, setting, lighting, percussion, blocking, theater, cinematography, tone, special effects, even the history of romantic love that hovers around the edges--all that stuff matters at least as much as story or song, but it’s the amalgamation of it all that makes it what it is: Vision--and I mean vision in the burning bush sense of the word. This is five minutes and eight seconds of hallucination and prophecy, constructed for the 21st century with cutting-edge technical achievement, hyper-pure esthetic taste, and choreography ramped up to the level of WMD. We’ve got a gathering of at least thirty-five brilliantly creative minds behind the project. Even the movements of the dancers’ fingertips have been disciplined into suggestiveness sufficient to give you the willies. The lady’s finger gestures--that creepy way she wriggles her hand and even her little pearl-nailed pinkies--insinuate her back-from-hell eagerness to commit acts of perversity.
This thing is so mean and ruthless, I think it might be Republican--but then it’s so forgiving and thoughtful, I’m sure it’s Democratic. God let us evolve to this utterly fucked-up state of getting off on bringing pain to each other. But then God says go ahead, harm and kill, it’s all right, I love you anyway. The object here, the made thing, is alive, and it is obscenely lavish--I don’t know how much it cost to fabricate these minutes of revelation, but definitely millions. I sort of want it to be a billion--just for the way the word satisfies my tongue. So it’s a corporate-made thing--which, if you think like I do, always means something lacking soul and ravenous to make a profit. The corporate thing means I have to ask myself how much of this is the lady herself responsible for and how much of it is her handlers’ doing? How much of it came down from the suits that bought her?
Lord, I say from the beginning she was always so eagerly and profoundly ready to sell herself that if a soulless monolith bought her, it was her doing--she’s the one who proposed and closed the deal. Lord, I say no matter how many over-smart, greed-soaked, ivy-league educated sons of bitches have purchased her, the lady still owns herself. I say it because that’s what her semi-emaciated body asserts as it exacts and writhes in its dance. Got my heroin-thin arms, got my bony back, got my jack-hammer knees and thighs, baby--get outta my way and let me move!
Consider the videos she made before this one--their topic was how to be a spineless slut in a meaningless world. Enjoy yourself because WTF--in the cosmic sense. This one is about owning your life no matter if it’s a fricking train wreck. This one is about not just owning but taking possession of a life that would make your mother commit suicide on the set if she were there to witness you in your element. And most especially if she understood what she was seeing.
Begat of Elvis and Doris Day, Madonna and Prince, God, the Devil, Michael Jackson, and Courtney Love--here’s what I admire about this lady stomping the digital do-do out of my laptop’s little motherboard--she’s got it all out there. By all, I mean the sick stuff, the sex-slave, submission-domination, addictive, objectifying inclination of love gone utterly nasty. Love gone warped and mean but wrapped up like romance. I want your horror / I want your design. Choreography executed with such anal precision as to be high-end aesthetic masochism. Next step from here is a snuff-flick so gorgeous and appealing to the senses as to be irresistible.
When Springsteen counseled No retreat, no surrender, he was talking like a middle-schooler under the influence of a crush on somebody he saw at lunch in the cafeteria. When Andres Seranno hung a crucified Christ in a glass case of his own urine, he was only upping that ridiculous ante of Duchamp’s commode. When David Byrne proclaimed, This ain’t no fooling around, he was just fooling around. But this spectacle, my friends--trashy, adolescent, repugnant in its sexual politics, and commercially suspect as it may be--this, I say, is an upheaval of an art thing that insists on our reckoning with it.
Talk about insidious. Her eyes have been expanded for the occasion, whether by drugs, make-up, surgery, or Photoshop, I don’t know. You can see the knots on her spine, but I think they’ve been just painted on. No big deal. She’s got great underwear, too--can’t talk about this thing without congratulating whoever did the lingerie consult. Also some tears--I’m not a big fan of tears, but these are probably called for. I want your drama--Yeah, I think some kind of image had to sound a little swatch of the sadness motif.
Rumor has it she has a penis. I’m generally put off by the idea of women with penises, but for her I make an exception. If she has it, more power to her. If she doesn’t, well then, nobody ought to have to have a penis hanging off her torso if it’s non-essential. This lady’s got balls--she don’t need no penis.
At rock-bottom I’m this country hick just sitting here gawking. I’d swear she’s birthed out of the hottest darkest pit of urban-techno decadence. Zapped right here into my lap straight out of nouveau hell, Satan’s witty reply to Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” she’s western culture’s most advanced form of art--artificialized almost beyond imagining but so persuasively alive and mutantly human that you and I can’t dismiss her as having just been “made up.” Or invented out of some perverted twenty-first century consciousness. We collude by watching. Every second we don’t close the window, switch the program, shut that bitch off, she is us.
I worry that her ideal audience--who she really speaks to--is fourteen-year old girls. Even so, I want to throw about thirty-thousand syllables at her in the hope of jujuing up just one slight milliliter of the energy she brings into my computer’s innards with her song and dance. I want to excavate Ginger Rogers up out of her grave to interview her and ask, Ahem, well, Ms Rogers, what do you think of Lady Gaga? Have you seen Bad Romance? Do you think it’s appropriate for this woman to claim your movies with Fred Astaire as an antecedent for her performance? How did we get from you to her, and what does it mean?
The freak who brings out the freak in me, she validates my latent ogre-self--my reptile me that knows to keep out of sight. She grabs hers and gives a mighty groan, so I think it’s okay for me to hold my crotch while I watch this. I ain’t asking you--I don't wanna be friends. Soon enough I’ll get to be the victim of her flame-throwing bra. I’m gonna get torched in our wedding bed. Better get a good grasp on the old basket of privates before she sizzles them and all the other flesh right off my bones. Better get a good grip, even exhilarated as I am by the privilege of viewing this thing. I want your ugly / I want your disease. At the end I’m cringing, sniveling and groveling under the cigarette smoke snarl of her power. May I please just have your crotch in my face one more time? I whimper.