When a huge transvestite in a red dress sat in Barbara Walter's lap I knew I was in the right place: a monster ball. "We are going to get all the freaks in here and lock the doors," screamed the newly minted mega star, clad in Christmas lights, from the stage.
The only excuse for a 45 year-old Boston venture capitalist jumping the shuttle to hit Lady Gaga at Radio City Music Hall last night is the fact my buddy, who suggested the outing, is a few days short of 50. That and the fact that our respective wives were the hottest two women in the joint.
My partner in crime, Todd, is a student of entertainment success in general (he was an early investor in Twitter) and Gaga in particular. He suggested I prepare for the concert by watching videos of Stephanie Germanotta to get a feeling for her raw talent.
I didn't really want to like Lady Gaga. Her overt sexuality seemed offensive ("Do you want to Fuck Me?" she asked the audience in no uncertain terms).
But as I looked around I realized that she had become a uniter like few other artists of any stripe. Gay, straight, bi-sexual, young, old, purple-haired, prom dressed, the concert was a veritable United Nations. And Gaga was capable of going from on-stage masturbation to a prayer for Haiti (all proceeds from the concert on Sunday go to relief) with equal passion and sincerity.
She is an amazing singer (writes all her own songs), dancer and costume creator. I felt like I might very well be at a once-in-a-lifetime event: the homecoming of an artist about to take over the world. She has already gained Madonna star power and she's just getting started.
But the thing I noticed most is under all the costumes and music is a real human being completely unafraid to show it. Her body's not perfect. Her face is not perfect. She is perfectly real looking. And damn proud of it.
By the end of the show she had stripped down to a tiny red bikini (despite the fact that her dad was in the audience). After every song Gaga has a habit of freezing to wait for the crowd to go wild and pretend to be bored before coming clean, ("I love you little monsters, I really do. When you are lonely, I'm lonely too)."
In an age of plastic surgery and fakery imposed on our girls like antibiotics for a sore throat, Gaga's message is that not only are normal imperfections cool but sexy too. I wanted to judge her many over-the-top sexual gestures and references as degrading of culture in general and women in particular.
I found them the opposite. They seemed to me as a profound expression of women's liberation and power all rolled into a visual feast for the eyes.
Barbara Walters, who was sitting just a few seats away, left half way through the concert. Too bad. By the end Lady Gaga was crying sincere tears of awe at the thing she has created.
"Not long ago I was singing for ten people at a bar down on Bleeker Street. I miss those days in a certain way," she admitted. "But I want to thank each of you from the bottom of my heart for coming out to watch our show."
It was not the last time she took off the mask of superstar and showed us the vulnerable 23 year old women.
In her music and especially her dancing, Lady Gaga just seemed to be having a blast. "I have to admit something to you guys," she said sitting at the piano at one point. "I couldn't fucking wait to get here to play for you."
And you know what? Unlike every other performer who has uttered similar if less profane words, she was telling the truth.