Monday, April 20, 2009

More Lady Gaga Photos!

Caroline Gault's Behind-the-Scenes Date with Lady GaGa


Words by Caroline Gault

Now that the latest issue of Parlour Magazine is making its way throughout the world, I can safely unleash the more detailed, personal story of interviewing the fabulous and divine Lady Gaga. If only our little Parisian magazine had more space, I would have divulged behind-the-scenes details long ago—and believe me, I've been bursting at the seams with every brilliant music video she’s released, every eccentric Transmission-Gaga-Vision webisode she’s posted, and every electrifying Gaga remix that’s blared from DJ booths across the city. Gaga has the art of creation down to a science—if art can be logical or commonsensical—which is to blur boundaries whenever possible, to welcome any flash of inspiration, and to embrace the odd, the bizarre and the futuristic. I've learned all this from the four short hours I spent hanging out with Gaga late last November, which was, quite literally, an experience of a lifetime.

In the weeks leading up to our interview, I listened to—and fell in love with—Gaga’s debut album, The Fame. I couldn’t get “Just Dance,” “Paparazzi,” “Poker Face,” or “Brown Eyes” out of my head. And although I’d read her biography online, and watched all the Gaga-Vision webisodes on youtube, nothing could prepare me for her outlandish stories and emanating self-confidence.

With a twelve-person Parlour entourage, I entered Edmonton's Rexall Place through the back doors, past the New Kids On The Block tour buses and the thirty-year-old fans who had glued themselves against the wire fencing with NKOTB love-posters. We were met by one of Gaga's agents, a man who was shocked that our Editor-in-Chief, Shelly Solarz, had brought so many people along to interview the opening act. She shrugged off their questioning eyes and said, "We're doing a photo shoot; we need all of these people!"

Indeed, our large team included Shelly, three designers, one makeup artist, two hair-stylists, two photographers, two interns, and me—the writer. It may have been excessive, but why skimp on an opportunity for Edmonton’s best to interact with one of the fastest rising pop stars of the next generation? As stressed as her managerial staff seemed to be about all the eager Parlour faces, Gaga handled the situation like a pro.

She strutted assertively around the corner in tight black leggings, dark sunglasses, an off-the-shoulder t-shirt and black ankle boots. She stretched out her hand immediately to take mine, and said, "Hi, I'm Gaga." I quickly said "hi" back, forgetting to introduce myself because my star struck stupor had kicked in ("groove, slam, work it back, filter that baby bump that track") and I would stay mute for the next twenty minutes.

After she returned from the “little Gaga room,” (Stars: they’re just like us!), I emerged from my catatonic shell while Gaga mused about her European face (she’s Italian) and explained why she’d moved from New York to LA. Although the gorgeous Gaga had no makeup on yet, and her white-blonde weave was tousled, she was completely at ease with her physicality, simply informing us, “I’m really cute with make-up on.” While this kind of relaxed demeanor gave the impression she’d been famous for decades, it also hit me that she was just a 22 year-old woman like me. [Photo credit above: Annaliza Toledo of]

When our Editor-in-Chief handed her the Fall 2008 issue of Parlour, Gaga was genuinely interested in our little indie magazine, and stoked for the afternoon ahead; when she heard we'd brought some local designer clothing for the photo shoot (like the cover’s graffiti corset from Sweet Carousel Corsetry), she couldn't wait to see what we’d packed into the tickle-trunk; and when our makeup artist briefly mentioned her son, Gaga chatted animatedly about her favourite baby names—like Jacque Pierre: "that's a sexy name," she said.

One of Gaga’s more shocking stories was about stripping down in Amsterdam’s Red Light District to interview a beautiful prostitute. Here’s an excerpt from our transcript:

Lady Gaga: “When I went to the Red Light District, I tried first sewing my camera into my sleeve, but it didn’t really work. So then I went in with Space Cowboy and D. Dark, and noticed that this one prostitute was looking at me, and I didn’t know if she thought I was hot. So I go in and I’m like, ‘Listen, I don’t want to fuck you and I don’t want to do anything like have sex, but I want to talk to you and I want to film it.’
And I had to go to like ten different women’s windows before I didn’t get shut down. But she was the only one I found that didn’t have like, a pimp, you know?
So I told her that I would take off my clothes too, so that she wouldn’t be worried that I would use the footage. So in the video it’s like me and her in our bra and underwear talking about dick, like two chicks in a bar.
So I’m like, ‘how many guys in a night?’
And she’s like, [in accent] ‘Sometimes four, sometimes five, you know.’
And I said, ‘Do you like it?’
And she’s like ‘Yeah. You don’t like this job? Maybe you try, you like?’
And I told her, ‘I’m so intimidated by you.’ Like, as someone that considers themselves a strong sexual woman, I don’t even understand how these women do it. They fuck every guy that walks by, and they fight over it—you can tell.’

This encounter was all in the name of art, she declared. Gaga’s self-awareness and blatant yearning for knowledge—sometimes sourced from the most unusual places—implies that this evolving performer plans to stick around for a while, and she’ll get whatever bizarre material she needs to make it happen. She’s tactful about her alter-ego and knows what it takes to sculpt an image that will achieve longevity in an industry plagued with Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame.

Gaga's approach to her musical career is based on both intellect and instinct, and she's no ditzy blonde. Perhaps one of the most intriguing experiences of the day was watching the pop princess turn on the well-crafted Gaga-glow during media appearances. She intrinsically, effortlessly balanced her managers and the Parlour shoot with five minute, interruptive interviews on 91.7 The Bounce, Global and CityTV.

Lady Gaga never gave the impression she was bored, or that working with an independent, Edmonton-based publication was any less important than posing for Vogue. In fact, we were the ones getting all antsy in our pantsy when she took long, 20 minute outfit changes so as to find the perfect ensemble for each shoot. As the camera flashed and our photographer—Ashley Champagne—clicked away, Gaga moved provocatively and deliberately, resulting in photos that were both feminine and androgynous. When Gaga and Ashley hovered together to scroll through the photos, Gaga exclaimed, “I love that shit—it’s so fucking weird!” (see the latest Parlour issue for one of Gaga’s favourite photos in her gold-studded jacket [additional photo pictured left]).

One particularly unique shot showed Gaga dressed in a colourful bodysuit, positioned upside-down on a leopard-print chair, gazing at the camera over square sunglasses. As her legs spread apart, she slid her hand in between her legs—and we all stopped breathing. Yes, Gaga’s openly bisexual, and she continually sings about sex (think “disco-stick!”) in her music, but this girl walks the walk. Her self-promotion as a sexual being is not just performed, it’s who she is.

As our afternoon came to a close, Gaga hugged each of us goodbye, took a few of our designer clothes along with her, and the entire Parlour crew left Rexall Place with beaming smiles and a sense of purpose. We planned to regroup at Empire Ballroom that night, as Gaga put Parlour on the list for her second show of the evening. I, personally, felt high as a kite, but had to force myself to run home and type away at my laptop to give my thoughts some permanence before the show. (And for all of you NKOTB fans out there, no, we didn’t get to see the boy-band from the 90’s. But two of our interns—one of them pregnant—munched away on the band’s catered lunch before they even got to it.)

Lady Gaga’s performance was off the wall—hands down, the best live show I have ever seen—and I'm not just saying that because I had the opportunity to hang out with her beforehand. Unlike some pop stars that have recently graced Edmonton with their presence (uh, Brit), Gaga vigorously belted out her lyrics, connected with the audience, and danced her heart out with aggressive, robotic movements. Her vocals played quietly in the background as backup, allowing her the chance to toss her microphone aside, and unexpectedly leap into the packed dance floor to crowd surf like the true pop sensation she is (see the videos at the bottom of the page to witness the magic!).
Although Gaga's Parlour Magazine encounter is just one of many photo shoots and interviews she'll do throughout her career, the experience has been of immeasurable value to me. Taking the time to acknowledge and work with the little guys shows that Lady Gaga's got an understanding for what real art and creativity means, and that it’s not always attained through a big corporation.

Gaga may not remember me, and she’ll go on to do great things at an international level, but by appearing in Parlour, she's given herself the opportunity to reach an indie-audience that would have otherwise avoided mainstream pop culture. Through her interactions with Parlour Magazine, the brilliant, avante-garde Lady Gaga has given our city a taste of The Fame.


*See the videos I've uploaded below for Lady Gaga's performance of "Just Dance" at Empire Ballroom. I apologize that the footage is so shakey; I just had to... dance.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Parlour Magazine Issue 1 Volume 2

New Issue

Yes, the magazine has gone though a transformation. I too have gone though a transformation. Last week I woke up at 4am and decided to cut all of my hair off, the outside just wasn’t matching the inside. Over this year I’ve grown and found my voice; it was time to shed my old look. The fact is I have no background in publishing and every issue of this magazine has been a progression into “What is Parlour”. I see my role as giving Parlour a voice and keeping its integrity. Parlour mirror’s my life – and we are taking huge leaps and coming into our own.

During this transformation I had the opportunity to fly to Vancouver and interview Lykke Li, one of my all time girl-crushes. She was as enchanting as I had imagined she would be, and instead of an interview we had a conversation – two girls talking about finding their beauty and their selves through their voices. Lykke Li talked about how her voice has changed though the process of following her heart. And when you hear her sing it’s obvious – her voice is full of soul and beauty.

Another marvel took place one morning when I received a message inquiring if Parlour was interested in doing an interview and photo shoot with Lady Gaga, someone who I had heard once on Much Music. Within weeks of receiving the message, I began to see Lady Gaga everywhere, in passing I mentioned to a friend that Parlour was asked if we wanted to do an interview, and the response was a look of “are you crazy to even be thinking about this”. With this smack to the head I turned and ran back into my office in hopes that we still had a chance for the interview. In the upcoming months everyone was talking about this outrageous performer. We were able to spend four hours with the pop princess, and in our time together my admiration grew – she has a dream and is doing it, she works hard and doesn’t care what people think. But with all this, she is still a girl with real girl problems, she commented that she’s good at a lot of things but sucks at love, all I could think of is - “I’m with you on that”.

But we stay on track and those highs we experience from following our dreams are like being on that mountain on a clear sunny day ready to take on the world with no doubt in sight.

Shelly Solarz
Publisher / Editor-In-Chief