You know her better as Lady Gaga. And in case you missed it, 60 Minutes and Anderson Cooper did a fascinating profile on her last Sunday night. (After you’ve watched this, be sure to watch the three, short bonus clips.)
I have to admit, I have always written her off as a flamboyant, outrageous attention seeker and while that’s probably a characterization she would agree with, it turns out that there is substance behind all the masks.
She is a classically trained pianist who started taking piano and dance lessons at four. She writes or co-writes all of her own songs. And as Cooper says, “Her voice packs a powerful punch.” She attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, but later dropped out to pursue her career.
I began watching the profile out of truly idle curiosity, but that turned to rapt attention when she began speaking about mastery and transformation.
They began with a clip from one of her performances which exemplified her message of transformation, self-empowerment and self-acceptance:
“Tonight I want you to let go of all of your insecurities. I want you to reject anyone or anything that’s made you feel like you don’t belong. Free yourself of these things tonight!! Yeaaaaaaa!”
And I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if golfers could play from that place?” A lot of her sentiment came from her experiences at an all-girl Catholic school where she never felt accepted or that she belonged. So for her this was more about rejection where for golfers, it’s more about acceptance. And for Tour pros–really, any golfer who has attained self-realization–more about knowing that you belong, the step beyond acceptance.
She spoke about being a student of fashion, music and being a master of the art of fame:
“I’m a true academic when it comes to music, and when it comes to my style, my fashion. There’s nothing I’ve ever put on my body that I didn’t understand where it came from; the reference of it, who inspired it. There’s always some sort of story or concept that I’m telling.”
While she may have studied the artistry of others, there’s no one else like her. She’s a performance artist, a living work of art, and the clothes and wigs are all part of the production. And they are not just attention-getting, they’re also attention-directing, a way to keep the public focused on her work as opposed to her personal life.
“As part of my mastering of the art of fame, part of it is getting people to pay attention to what you want them to pay attention to and not pay attention to what you don’t want them to pay attention to.”
She spent a lot of time studying the fame or other people: how they got it, and how they kept it and how they lost it:
“The sociology of fame and how to maintain a certain privacy without feeling like you’re withholding anything from your fans. My philosophy is that if I am open with them about everything and yet I art-direct every moment of my life, I can maintain a sort of privacy, in a way. I maintain a certain soulfulness that I have yet to give.”
Her name, Lady Gaga, came from a Queen song, “Radio Ga Ga,” and the new name and persona freed her to become the superstar she was meant to be.
“I was able to leave such a massive amount of insecurities behind me by getting rid of [my] name in a way. And I am still very insecure in so many ways, but I wish I could give that gift to all my fans, that you have the freedom to pull that superstar out of yourself that you were born to be. We are all born superstars.”
And so, this is all about how the ego dominates the spirit. What she is trying to do is show people that they can liberate themselves from the constraints of the ego. She is pointing her efforts at fame, so hiding behind the masks and costumes isn’t true liberation, but it empowers her to do what she does.
And I noticed that in this interview she was much more herself than the character that Barbara Walters interviewed (I think before the Oscars) last year. In that interview she seemed silly and shallow. In this one she seems a substantive, serious person who is only too happy to unfold all the thoughtfulness and methodology that she’s put into this.
Here too, is a 7-minute, YouTube video of her performing two songs at what appears to be some sort of talent show from her days at NYU. I’ll give you the option of deciding whether you’d like to watch the “before” (which 4 million people have viewed) or the “after” first:
As a golfer finally coming to realize just how much the ego affected my game, I once thought about wearing unmatched shoes. I figured if I could just give that ole ego a poke in the eye, I could finally step over it. But watching Lady Gaga, years later I realize that that “trick” is just another kind of costume.
The best way I’ve found to deal with the ego so far is just to realize that it’s there, that it’s trying to run your life and just laugh at it with that kind of awareness.
The real you is the spirit that underlies all that mess and that’s where your true power comes from.