Certainly one of the most unforgettable aspects of the MTV Video Music Awards was Lady Gaga -- er, Jo Calderone.
We've seen her -- um, him, in Gaga's You and I video that was released early in August, but where exactly this Mr. Calderone come from?
In a press conference after the VMA show, Jo Calderone himself explained his background. He is a mechanic from New Jersey with roots from Palermo, Sicily. He is not a Guido, not a singer, a model, or an actor. I'm just, ah, a guy. I'm just a guy, you know. And I wanted to show my girl how much I love her, that's all. Apparently, his first appearance was in the Sept. 2010 issue of Vogue Japan, where he graced the cover.
Lady Gaga remained in character throughout the entire night. She wore a black suit jacket, dirty white shirt, and slacks. It was reported that she also wore a prosthetic penis to make everything seem more realistic. Over the years, lots of people have done lots of things, lots of people have worn lots of things, but no one has been that committed, that in character, VMA executive producer, Dave Sirulnick laughed. She's smoking in the building, she was holding court in the crowd, you know, Kanye, Katy, Adele, Tony Bennett, they loved it. They respected her commitment and her level of artistry.
So, perhaps celebrities did not mind Gaga's cross-dressing antic, but what about the LGBT community?
I thought it was great, John Polly, editor of Logo's pop culture blog NewNowNext.com, tells MTV News. Gender issues are often the most challenging for people, so I liked that she dove into it and stuck with it throughout the show.
Gaga is known for being a vocal lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender advocate-perhaps the most active in the pop world. Could her gender bending role be interpreted as a message or statement about sexuality?
I think it complements [her advocacy], Polly continued, but I don't know that it was even a statement on the LGBT community; it's just a character she wanted to play. But since we don't see [drag kings or female-to-male transgender persons] much, we perceive it that way.
There is barely any visibility for FTM [female to male transgender], drag kings and lesbians on television. There is a huge imbalance, Murray Hill, a drag-king comedian said. For Lady Gaga, the biggest pop star in the world, to go on TV with millions of people watching in drag as a man and then to actually say 'lesbian and transgender' live is undeniably powerful and creates change. She ups the visibility big time and gets the language into the mainstream.
Although most in the LGBT community appreciated Gaga's stunt as Jo Calderone and her activism as pro-LGBT, she has experienced backlash in the homosexual community. Since she is not gay herself, there seems to be lack of embrace from the whole body.
Lady Gaga has only spread a positive and accepting message for all kinds of queer people, Hill said. She does this through her work, which is entertainment. There is a lot of homophobic hate spewed in the music industry and in the world. I'm grateful she is using her voice to spread the love.
Polly says that most of the feedback regarding Lady Gaga's performance at the VMA was positive. He described it as a fun challenge, for the singer.
Below is a video of Lady Gaga's acceptance speech for Best Female Video at the 2011 VMA.