LADY GAGA MONSTER BALL, LOS ANGELES STAPLES CENTER, 8/11/2010
The lights dropped and a mash-up remix of Gaga’s “Dance in the Dark” and Cece Peniston’s 1992 hit “Finally” started pumping. Visions of Gaga billowed on a giant screen that covered the entire stage. “I’m a…I’m a…I’m a free… BITCH….finally it has happened to me…FINALLY”, then a racing film countdown 10,9,…2,1…BOOM. The screen went transparent and there stood Lady Gaga’s statuesque silloutte, illuminated in purple. The Monster Ball had arrived. And the crowd went bonkers.
And it finally happened for her little monsters. There she was, the queen of the misplaced, unloved, and misunderstood was before them singing and dancing her canary yellow wigged hot ass all over that stage. It was infectuous. You couldn’t stop staring. And somehow, even though you were in a giant stadium bursting with adoring fans, you felt like Gaga was giving you your own personal mind-blowing lap dance. And not because she was being overtly sexual, but because you felt so connected to her that she may as well have been straddled across your body. She didn’t just connect, she reached out, grabbed hold of the back of your skull, and virtually french kissed the beaming faces of each and every fan.
“I don’t want you to leave here tonight loving me more, I want you to leave here tonight loving YOU more!” Gaga screamed. She talked about how much she believes in human rights, how deeply she supports the gay community, and how passionate she is about encouraging everyone to achieve their own personal destiny, no matter how freakish others may see it. She said for years she was told she wasn’t pretty enough, wasn’t thin enough, didn’t play the piano well enough, didn’t write songs well enough, and she would “see those beautiful bitches on stage and think ‘I want to be them!'” After graciously thanking and rethanking fans, she thanked her label. “Interscope took a very big chance on a very naked girl with a very filthy mouth.” She said she keeps thinking she’s going to wake up and this had all been a dream.
How anyone could have doubted her piano skills is laughable. She reminded the crowd that she performed “Speechless” on that very same stage during the Grammys with Sir Elton John, and she went on to play that song while wearing only underwear and thigh-high patent leather stilletto boots, standing on the piano bench, her body folded over as she reached for the piano keys. The piano was in flames.
What was possibly the most jaw-dropping moment of the night was when Gaga emerged in an elaborate silver and white gown, with the points and raw edges of an ice sculpture. It looked like it could have been carved out of Superman’s ice lair. She sang “So Happy I Could Die”, and the vision of her in that dress could make many a fan die happy.
Then the show went darker, deeper, and bolder. What had started out as a girly fun dance show had evolved into a dirty, messy, bloody soul massacre. She made her way through a frightening cluster of dark ominous trees as she vigorously sang “Monster”, belting out my favorite Gaga lyric, “We french kissed on a subway train, he tore my clothes right off, he ate my heart and then he ate my brain.” Blood gushed from her heart all over her sparkly white leotard.
And as she was on her back, sprawled out on the stage, dripping with blood, she begged the crowd to cheer for her. She said she sometimes thinks she is like Tinkerbell, and if people don’t clap for her, she will die. “Do you want me to DIE??” The crowd erupted in frantic claps, screams, and spastic arm flailing. For a second I really believed if I didn’t scream, she might just bleed out right there before our horrified eyes as a single light illuminated her lifeless body on the Staples Center stage.
Soon after, following another costume change, Gaga was led onto a pitch black stage by two of her dancers. “We have to find the Monster Ball!” she cried as she tentatively took tiny steps forward. “It’s so dark, please don’t leave me!” she begged her dancer escorts. “I can’t, we’ve gone too far!” one dancer shouted as they abandoned her. She was all alone, as scared as you would be if left in the Wicked Witch of the West’s forest of flying monkeys. The crowd could faintly see a huge 50 foot octopus-like creature looming behind her. She slowly turned around to see its red glowing eyes. It was like watching a campy old Hollywood horror flick come to life on the stage. “It’s the monster! It’s the FAME MONSTER!” And on she went to kill that monster by performing the shit out of “Paparazzi”. By the end of the song, the fame monster was dead. “We did it! We defeated the fame monster!”
She closed with a powerful, gut-wrenching version of “Bad Romance”. She stomped that stage like it might be the last performance she would ever give. She made me dizzy with her furvor and dedication for delivering the biggest and best pop show her fans had ever seen.
The Monster Ball was sparkle, disco, and a leap into a future of tolerance and individuality. A place where drag queens, transvestites, punks, gays, moms, kids, and your everyday girl with a glittery star painted on her face could gather for a dance explosion. Gaga created a pop phenomenon Wizard of Oz journey, and Lady Gaga was Glinda the Good Witch, reminding us that in her presence, we are already home. Then once I was literally home, I kept clicking my heels three times in hopes she would descend from my ceiling in a giant glittery bubble, ready to dance the night away with me.