Why you need to see Lady GaGa's new documentary on Netflix
I watched a documentary today. I'm watching it for the second time. Tonight.
GaGa : 5 foot 2
All flaunt, gloss, costumed-up-decadence and sheer odacity just because she can. Her Stylists reference the meat dress like it was a fine art piece that made its debut splash on the pages of ARTFORUM and nothing had been the same since. They were right.
Lady GaGa. My first knowledge of her came in 2010 from my seasoned Drag Queen friend's mouth when we lived in New Mexico, in my memory this is what she told me about GaGa, she's doing what us Queens have been fighting to do for decades, her theatrics and glamour and ever-present creative costumes and living larger than thyself is drag, she is drag...she is a NYC drag queen but she just happens to be a chick. Except she doesn't lip sync...she can sing.
And sing she CAN.
Then I realized she was a woman of sheer badassery. Her first song that I really, really loved was "Born this Way." Her Monster tribe embraced her quick vixen tendencies and rapid fire creative blows with excess that only a mother's monsters could understand, they grew by the hundreds-of-thousands then by the millions. When she cried, they wept. When she screamed, they howled. When she proclaimed equality be accepted, that "I'm beautiful in my way, 'Cause God makes no mistakes" they declared their GaGa, self-embracing allegiance.
GaGa : 5 foot 2 is a documentary by filmmaker Chris Moukarbel and premiered a few weeks ago on Netflix, it follows GaGa around during the creation of her newest & most intimate album, Joanne, an ode to her paternal 19-year old auntie who tragically died from Lupus in 1974.
It's a real take on a real girl. GaGa plays that piano like an equestrian riding her ferocious horse through the enchanted garden of GaGa with walls of vines and mist and fellow women who run with the wolves, it's littered with beautiful, ambient, thick smelling roses but there are thorns, decayed corpses of love and tormented self-exile. 5 foot 2 is a documentation of this artist's life. She stares when she doesn't understand people. She falls in love with those around her with whom she can feel safe, Mark Ronson in particular. She breaks down when life moves forward and she must say goodbye. She is pained by her life long best friend's battle with cancer (who, devastatingly lost her fight earlier this year). She is working towards her goals, realizes life-changing moments as they happen and reminds her people to be aware it's happening, and she gives gratitude in the moment. She cries afterwards as a release.... My God, this woman is a serious artist with her fans in her soul, her song in her heart and her heart on her sleeve. So approachable, so authentic, so brilliant. Really, incredibly brilliant. From what I gather she wrote then Mark Ronson produced Million Reasons in one night with a following morning jam session.
Give her a broken heart, she'll give you the best song of the decade.
A cinematic montage of GaGa uniforms parades half-way through the documentary, people falling at her feet and so many different accents all calling "GaGa! GaGa! GaGa!" it's a dizzying portrayal of fame that enlightens, frightens and stabs you in your metaphorical beating heart. Then the car door is closed and the movie goes silent, "silence" GaGa utters, it is the only word after that interlude. Later she falls apart. This woman falls apart often, in a really beautiful, intelligent, deep and penetrating way.
She's an empath, anytime she begins talking about Joanne she takes on the pain that was her Auntie's fatality; GaGa's whole body shuts down and she crumbles into the abyss of debilitating agony, helpers, doctors, Vitamin B shots, endless body workers & some prescription pills. "If I get depressed, my body can go into a full body spasm." I wonder, though, where is her spiritual advisor? Her Shaman? Her person of the earth that cleanses her energy? Someone besides herself because that's a whole lotta cleansing. She needs one.
Pained, bruised, pricked, massaged and worshipped. Raw and real, the only costumes she wanted on her upcoming Joanne tour was versions of tee shirts and jeans. Throw in a pink cowboy hat a maybe a pink suit. "Hi, Dr. C..... this is Stefani" she says to her doctor on the phone, leaving off her Queen Lady GaGa title. She loves her parents, they're still together. She's Italian Catholic. Loyal. She is fair, she is giving. You know what Haus of GaGa is? Her friends, her ex-classmates, her besties that she brought along the way just to make sure they were close to her at all times and to ensure her success would be their success. GaGa walks into Walmart and professes she "thought she was in trouble" for filming. She's so Californian driving around in her endless vintage rides, "they probably don't even know who I am, they probably think I'm a crazy old lady who lives down the street."
She breaks your heart when she tells Brandon she's around people all day long but all those people disappear at night, ultimately she's alone in bed trying to fall asleep. Alone. Alone. Alone in the pool, post photo-shoot, submerged in cleansing water. Her parents worry for her but they're ever present, flying out when they know she needs them.
I couldn't stop staring at her back rib tattoo, a hand holding the rosary, long nailed and creepy crawly, it's one of the most beautiful and haunting tattoos I've seen. Then again, this woman is all artist. I must admit, I'm a bit sad I've only now truly now realized the fullness that is GaGa from this documentary. In all shapes and forms and reinventions and mountains to climb, she is ultimately and ever-so painstakingly a girl-turned-woman who talks of being a mother, is a daughter, niece, friend, artist; she leaves herself behind as she moves forward, devastatingly vulnerable and absolutely awe-inspiring. Don't let this talent pass you by. She's my new MAMA anthem, on repeat.
VEGASMAMAS loves you, Stefani. I hope you like this review and the illustration I did from your Joanne poster, notice your S initial in your mane? xxx, desirée
* Happily on a Netflix kick, what should I watch next?