In the past eight years, i’ve been Lady Gaga at over fifty wedding receptions. I’ve met some amazing couples and families along the way. But the most memorable wedding i’ve performed at to date, was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
When Lady Gaga was a still a new pop sensation, requests started pouring in for me to perform at receptions. At first, I was really surprised by the requests. I always imagined that couples (and especially bridezillas) wanted the spotlight on them the entire reception. Usually these emails came from couples trying to come up with a unique and memorable surprise for their guests that no one could top. One or both were often “Little Monsters” and wanted to fool guests into thinking they actually had the connections or cash to get Lady Gaga to perform. Sometimes the requests came in from family members of the couples. They wanted me to show up and start performing as a surprise gift from them. Those type of bookings were and are the scariest. They are the ultimate wedding crash. Thankfully, i’ve never had a bride or groom be anything other than gracious and good natured about the random Gaga surprise.
So one Saturday evening, I hopped into a Zipcar and made the two hour drive to the wedding hall where I was booked. The wedding planner quickly led me to the bridal suite where I was to be hidden while getting into costume. During my national tour of bridal suites and event halls, I’ve realized that they are more like factories. Created to give the illusion of being unique when in fact they are all the same. Built to pump out as many special days as they can handle in a week.
Once I settled into bridal suite #15 and unpacked, it took me around eighty minutes to get into full Lady Gaga mode. This included drawing on and pressing on her many tattoos, and body makeup to cover my many freckles. Usually I was the only one to notice the details, but strove to make my look as authentic as possible. Putting on the many pieces that completed my Lady Gaga look felt like a magical coat of armor which transformed and protected me. Under the wig and Gaga glasses I was shy, not confident and scared to sing in front of anyone. But when I was Lady Gaga I was untouchable, brave and fearless.
When the planner came back to fetch me for my performance, her jaw dropped. She was shocked by the transformation and said “ I knew you were going to look like her, but not this much. This is incredible! I need some selfies with you before you go out!” As she led me through the kitchen back entrance to the party room, it was clear that all of the staff felt the same. I took selfies with every chef, bus boy and waiter in the place, as steam from the food cooking around us fogging up my sunglasses.
The DJ popped in the back to hand me a microphone, but was followed by three bridesmaids holding shots, who pushed their way past him squealing “We want to see her!!!!”…. “OH MY GOD LADY GAGA, DO A SHOT WITH US!” they yelled, as a shot of whiskey was thrust toward me spilling a bit on my costume. We did a shot, and they ran back to the dance floor to watch my set. When DJ popped his head back in, sweat had accumulated on his brow. He said “Just a heads up, this crowd is hella drunk and busting at the seams to let loose. Be prepared.” Performing at the type of event where I had no sound check and hadn’t seen the room until stepping out felt as exhilarating as getting shot out of a cannon.
When my intro finally started and I made my way into the room singing “Bad Romance”, the crowd of 250 drunk people went wild. As my set progressed, I had them in the palm of my hand, dancing and singing along to every word. Next came the most vital part of any wedding reception performance-getting the bride and groom on the floor with me to make sure the focus of the party stayed on them. Sometimes they would have me tell a personal story or inside joke that we had pre arranged about how they knew “Lady Gaga”. I paused for a moment as they made their way to the center of the floor to join me. Was this George and Sarah, Kim and Mike, Jen and Andrew, or Alex and Rachel? After doing so many events sometimes the names blend together. “EVERYONE GIVE IT UP FOR KIM AND MIKE!!” I breathed a sigh of relief as the cheap and easy applause confirmed I hadn’t gotten the names wrong.
As I began my closing song and Born This Way monologue, the bride’s drunk Uncle screamed “I WAS BORN THIS WAY!!” and got some serious side eye from his wife.
After my set ended, it was my job to walk the room and dance floor for a “mix and mingle” so that everyone could get photos and selfies with me. After a few minutes I was pulled back onto the dance floor where the groom was dancing with all of his groomsmen. He got a little closer and yelled “My paws are up Lady Gaga, you are so hot!!” His breath smelled like he had had a bottle of Vodka already. A circle of pastel covered Bridesmaids quickly joined us and were grinding all over me.
After a few minutes of surviving the mosh pit dancing, I felt someone come up behind me to grind. Then I felt a few pokes, which were unmistakably from a boner. When I turned around I was shocked to see the person who had poked me with a boner was the groom. If ever there was a moment I needed my Poker Face, this was it.
I did my best to pretend I hadn’t noticed, and not get close to the hammered groom and his boner for the rest of my gig. As I changed back into myself in the bridal suite, I felt incredibly grossed out and slightly violated.
As I exited the hall back to my zip car, I noticed the bride had pulled the groom into an empty hallway and was drunkly scolding him for grinding too close to one of her Bridesmaids. I guessed that I probably wasn’t the only boner victim that night.
As I began the long drive home, I couldn’t help but wonder if i’d be getting repeat wedding business from one of them in the next few years.