Whitney Pastorek
December 18, 2009 AT 05:00 AM EST

No. 3 – Quick-change artist

On Jan. 17, 2009, an unknown, pseudonym-clad New Yorker with a fondness for outlandish proclamations about art reached No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 with ”Just Dance.” Five top 10 singles and countless double-take-provoking television performances later, Lady Gaga has given the American pop-music scene a tidy makeover in her own image. Disco sticks, bubble dresses, metal corsets, wig after wig after wig — does it matter that half the time we don’t have the foggiest idea what it all means? ”In truth, there’s nothing to understand about what I do,” says the 23-year-old. ”It’s whatever you think it is. So if it inspires a reckoning about pop culture, music, feminism, gay culture…the point is to make a point.” Amazingly, the biggest point she’s made so far is that her songs — from the p-p-persistence of ”Poker Face” to the Grand Guignol choruses of ”Bad Romance” — are some of the purest pleasures ever aurally dispensed. And while it’s impossible to imagine her keeping up this pace for another year (let alone a whole career), she reassures us she’s not striving for reinvention on a daily basis. ”I’m not a character,” she says. ”I really am all the things that you see. So it will be one continuous thought until I’m laying in a coffin, surrounded by all of my props.” We’ll never underestimate her again.

Gaga on her crazy looks

The fire bra
”These are fashion installation pieces,” she says of the fire bras that showed up on the MuchMusic Awards and in the ”Bad Romance” video. ”I had a vision of blowing up my sexual body parts, and it turned into a commentary on the female body as a weapon.”

The Kermit coat
Gaga says she wore this coat of many Muppets, designed by Jean Charles de Castelbajac, for a German TV interview as a statement about fur. ”It’s also a very lovable and sweet sort of advertisement,” she says. ”Very Warholian. Super pop-art fashion.”

The red-lace coat
The Alexander McQueen dress from the VMAs served double duty: The crown spoke to her ”self-coronation,” and the face mask obscured the blood from her earlier performance. ”I would rather accept that award bloody than not make my vision happen,” Gaga says.

The bones
”I wanted to do something that was about monsters, and a different kind of sexy,” Gaga says of her AMAs getup. ”Something that was horrifying. And a little bit of a commentary on how women are expected to be a certain weight in Hollywood.”

You May Like