This coming weekend, Houston will be engulfed by the Lady Gaga phenomenon. Taking equal parts Madonna, Marilyn Manson, Klaus Nomi and a dash of new-school decadence, the New York-bred star has set a whole new course for pop music and even pop culture in general.
Among other things, Gaga is reinventing music videos. The days of the eight-minute epics are back, with her clips for "Telephone" and "Alejandro" both feeling like mini-movies in terms of scope and budget.
For most people she's disposable pap that will be gone by next summer, but to the more adventurous and artistic she's been an inspiration for those so inclined to design artwork and clothing based on her videos and photo shoots.
Recently, Rocks Off spoke with two Houston women who have dissected Gaga's art and back-engineered her designs to create them for themselves. Local artist Elizabeth Fowler and clothing designer Ginger Martinez take us through a brief tutorial over some of Gaga's easiest looks to pull off ahead of this weekend's two sold-out shows, and also their thoughts on the Gaga revolution as a whole.
Rocks Off: What Gaga costume is your favorite and why?
Ginger Martinez: The orbital rings I love, because it's symbolic of how the music and pop culture world revolve around her right now.
Elizabeth Fowler: I'm a big fan of the headpiece she's wearing in "Alejandro" with the lace goggles and of course, the Alexander McQueen shoes. Actually, I love the entire phase she's in right now. Lacy couture with a slightly gothic feel.
RO: What's the easiest Gaga costume to pull off for someone without a lot of materials or money? The hardest?
GM: I prefer to mix the looks together and make them my own. I think it's important to get creative even when trying to recreate her outfits since she's all about innovation and personal style. Somarta body suits are a great foundation to add on to for the more recent looks if you have the funds.
EF: I have yet to see the bubble outfit she wore on her first cover of Rolling Stone done well. Most people use clear plastic Christmas ornaments in various sizes or balloons.
The best I've seen is the one Ginger made for a costume contest we entered. She used the Christmas balls, and they kept falling off all night and were quite noisy. I'd proceed with caution when trying this look unless you have plenty of time and money.
Easier and less expensive looks could include the studded bra-and-panty set from the "Telephone" video and a couple of Diet Coke cans rolled up in your hair. If you're not feeling quite that daring you can throw on an old leather jacket.
And there's always everyone's favorite, my Halloween costume from last year (seen here), with the American Apparel unitard, circle scarf in either red or black, over-sized boxy sunglasses, heels and a blonde wig.
RO: Does she have any make-up techniques that are harder to master?
GM: Gaga has only recently been putting much effort into her makeup choices. The Fame era was all about tan skin and a pale pink lip, with the exception of "Paparazzi" where she drew in black kewpie-doll lips. Most of her face was hidden away by oversized shades.
Fame Monster has a more dramatic but still relatively conventional look. She's focusing on a strong, architectural brow and bold, overdrawn lips.
There's also a bit of a controversy right now over the makeup in the bathtub scene in "Bad Romance." There's a craze in Japan of kids wearing contacts that make your iris appear larger, creating the Photoshopped anime eye look from that scene. They're supposedly bad for your eyes and are getting attention from local media. There's a YouTube makeup tutorial for it too.
RO: Elizabeth, I know you saw her live in New Orleans. What was the show like for folks that are getting ready for this weekend?
EF: Lots and lots of dry-humping. My favorite parts were actually the costume changes. She'd go backstage and there would be beautiful and somewhat disturbing moving images that seemed to reference Matthew Barney's Cremaster films. I don't really know how else to describe them, honestly.
RO: Is there like a local Houston Gaga community? I see a lot of stuff online in other cities devoted to her.
GM: I've heard of Gaga cosplay in other countries but nothing local. Let us know if you find out!
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RO: It also seems that Gaga has awakened a lot more people to levels of art they didn't know existed. Now kids want to be fashion designers and graphic-arts majors because of her. But then some are still against her and the music, seeing it as pop trash.
EF: I want the art community to open their minds and realize that not all pop music is worthless and bland. I get criticism constantly from my peers for liking Gaga.
A few of the fashion and culture blogs I go to like hautemacabre and twistedlamb will occasionally post pictures or videos from Gaga but always feel the need to remark on how ashamed they are for liking it for fear of losing spooky points.
There should be no such thing as a guilty pleasure. You like what you like, and don't take yourself too seriously.