Monday, December 20, 2010

Gaga Rides In Cars With Boys

Gaga rides in cars with boys. (L to R: Ian, Gaga, Cassidy)

The thing I absolutely love about Gaga’s performances is they’re juicy little narratives that always tell a sexy story.

“Boys, Boys, Boys” is the performance with the sexiest action. Lady Gaga is joined by six male dancers who perform burlesque. They’re her “gay boys”, two black boys, a black-white combo, two white boys and a Latino boy. Gaga calls them her gay boys, but one is straight.

The cast of gay boys includes Asiel Hardison (black boy), Ian McKenzie (black boy), Mike Silas (black-white combo), Cassidy Noblett (white boy), Graham Breitenstein (white boy) and Victor Rojas (Latino boy). Asiel is tall, slender and dark-skinned while Ian is more compact, but with the same dark skin. Mike is olive-skinned and slender, but compact with lots of tattoos. Cassidy is strapping and muscular with dark hair and fair skin. Graham is simply tall and skinny and pale, while Victor is short and tan with a Mohawk.

The juicy personal details that you can use as a context for this performance go as follows: Asiel and Mike are boyfriends, Ian is presumably gay, Cassidy is gay, Graham has a wife and a son, and Victor is presumably gay, but I know for one thing, he’s fierce!

Then there’s a story that the performance tells. The dancers are dressed partially in white Ace bandages like wounded hospital patients who fled the hospital to dance burlesque. Gaga wears a see-through latex dress that allows you to see her bra and panties and pieces of tape “X” out her nipples. This outfit makes Gaga look like a psycho nurse who wants to help her patients medically and sexually. But thankfully for all you gay boys out there, Gaga doesn’t even touch her shirtless dancers. Her shirtless male dancers only touch each other.

During the second verse, Cassidy feels up Mike and spanks Ian. Eventually, Cassidy and Ian put their arms around each other’s waists like buddies and then lovers as they reach the catwalk part of the stage. Cassidy gropes Ian’s “big dick” codpiece and he feels up Ian’s ass and then spanks it. During the dance breakdown, Cassidy caresses Ian’s neck and then bends him over miming doggy-style sex and then spanks Ian again. It’s interesting that Cassidy and Ian are the only ones who do anything raunchy, while the two boyfriends Mike and Asiel hardly even look at each other, let alone touch each other. I guess they didn’t want to exploit their romance. Good for them. I know for one thing, Cassidy and Ian make for a good chocolate and vanilla Popsicle.

It seems appropriate to say that according to Gaga’s old friend Brendan Sullivan, “Boys, Boys, Boys” is about when Gaga went to go see the Killers perform at Madison Square Garden in 2007 with her boyfriend Luc Carl (a glam-metalhead). On the date, Luc got the worst seats in the bleachers, and he hated pop music, which means he wasn’t happy to be at a Killers concert. That said, when Gaga wrote “Boys,” she left out the part about a buzzkill boyfriend and instead re-imagined him as a fun, glitzy sexy gay guy that liked making out with her. In the end, “Boys, Boys, Boys” is how Gaga wanted her date to go. It’s a fantasy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Michael Silas: A Warhol Superstar or Just a Lady Gaga Dancer?

Joe Dallesandro

Michael Silas

Michael Silas is one of Lady Gaga’s most adored dancers for two reasons: his rugged sexiness and how it contrasts with Lady Gaga’s flamboyant Monster Ball Tour. It’s this contrast that makes Michael such an anomaly in the Haus of Gaga, just like actor Joe Dallesandro was in Andy Warhol’s Factory crew of artistic types. Surprisingly, Michael and Joe share a lot more than having an eccentric boss.

The 27-year-old Texas-bred dancer may wear makeup and earrings (sometimes) when performing on Gaga’s electro-opera The Monster Ball, but his calm toughness still shows through. On The Monster Ball, Michael has two shining moments for every tour stop: the famous Jesus Loves Everybody duet with Gaga (read about this duet here, and the kiss between him and his boyfriend Asiel Hardison (another Gaga dancer). During his Gaga duet, Michael is a bloody vampire twisting his body sexually to roaring guitar riffs and Gaga’s vocal ad-libs, while during his kiss with his boyfriend, Michael is dressed as a Roman gladiator in a feathered headdress. Despite occasional voguing, Michael maintains his macho demeanor.

Michael Silas and Joe Dallesandro are beautiful, macho men who provided the masculine element to their respective crews—for Michael, the Haus of Gaga and for Joe, Andy Warhol’s The Factory—and wear their masculinity like bad asses, but there’s tenderness underneath the hard exterior. Both are aware of their sex appeal, but they act like they could care less, as if they wouldn’t mind you looking through their bathroom window seeing them naked after they stepped out of the shower; they might just shrug and acknowledge you silently with a friendly face.

Although Michael and Joe both have sad eyes, square jaws and lean, muscular bodies, they have different backgrounds. Michael is a Black/Latin/German army brat who trained at various dance schools in ballet and hip-hop, while Joe was a troubled Italian-American kid who went through foster care because his father couldn’t take care of him and his mother was incarcerated; Joe stole cars and ran from the police. Although their backgrounds are different, Michael and Joe became Superstars—Michael a Gaga Superstar and Joe a Warhol Superstar—and never looked back. The Warhol Superstars were a group of people gathered by Andy Warhol, Paul Morrissey, and Gerard Malanga to be in Warhol's films and accompany him in his social life, while the Haus of Gaga is a group of people gathered by Lady Gaga to be in her videos, concerts and accompany her in her social life.

Below check out the photos of the Monster Ball mentioned in the article:

Michael as a Roman gladiator.

Michael during Jesus Loves Everybody duet with Gaga.

Michael in Ace Bandages and a lot of eye shadow.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cassidy Noblett's Body Talks in New Interview

Cassidy dances with Gaga at The Monster Ball.

You ever wonder why one of Lady Gaga’s most popular dancers Cassidy Noblett dances so passionately to the point that you can feel the sweat on his body, the warmth of his skin and his pounding heart that’s almost as loud as the bass of the music? Well, Cassidy explains everything in an interview where he answers my questions and talks about the artistry behind his dancing and the stories he wants to tell with his body. Read up.

1. When did you first start dancing?

My mother is a dance teacher so I actually started dancing in the womb. The day I saw those hospital lights, I knew life was my stage and its journey would be my performance.

2. Who were your dance influences growing up and who influences you to this day?

Growing up, my sister was my biggest influence as well as my mother. My sister was/is a talent to the dance industry and she always explored greatness in how she challenged herself and how she created herself. Jacques d’Amboise was one of my teachers, and he taught me that there is no limit to hard work and motivation. It’s endless and that there is no 100% because that is a personal perspective. It can always be better and can always grow. Janet Jackson, Dana Foglia, Victor Rojas, Amanda Balen, Lady Gaga, Bjork, Dalai Lama, any artist who seeks to discover themselves and express that individuality in their own way

3. What was your first professional job?

Club Dancer in Britney Spears/ Madonna music video, “Me Against the Music”

4. How would you describe your dance style?

I think the best answer is that it’s evolving, ever changing, and a feeling more than a set of words to describe it. It is a life form that isn’t perfect, but it finds breath in its uncertainty. (Big modern influence on it from a technical aspect)

5. I read in an interview you did that you want to bring a classical element to commercial dance, so when you say that, do you mean that you apply a classical technique even to non-classical choreography? If so, how do you apply it?

I want to bring a classical vocabulary that is seasoned with an urban understanding, a fellowship of abstract and city sidewalks together. An appreciation that isn’t tampered with by appearance and money, but by concept, art, individual voice, feeling, controversy, and new perspective. On that note, I completely respect what we have in the industry, I just want to find a new lens to view it through and to open the world’s view on it by taking a different approach.

6. I know that you also choreograph, so what is your creative process for creating choreography?

It changes depending on inspiration and task. And it’s a secret that I’m still developing and creating. Sometimes the beauty in art isn’t necessarily knowing how you get there (because that’s the artist’s own craft and happiness and personal journey) but what feeling it can produce once it’s offered. For me, I just want to keep that to myself. One day I will share I’m sure.

7. I’ve noticed that there’s a strong narrative element to your dancing, so how do you figure out the story that you want to tell?

The story I want to tell is a mixture of what vision the choreographer, creator, artist, director, etc. has and who I want to be to fit into that mold. How do I want to portray myself as this character. How can I be my own voice within someone else’s framework. And it comes with trial and error and also comes with being a character and changing your character as time passes. One’s moods can dictate the persona that comes to life. It varies day to day for me.

8. For inspiration, do you watch the videos of the artists you’re dancing for?

In order to offer my spirit and artistry to the fullest, it’s very important to be educated with all elements of the project you are involved with. The videos are a wonderful place to find inspiration especially when you need to revamp your approach. Because in the video, generally speaking, the vibe, the image, the content of what the song and vision is about is laid out for you through the layers of its footage.

9. What’s the next step in your career? For instance, do you plan to work primarily as a choreographer similar to Laurie Ann Gibson or is there acting in your future?

I would love to be an actor. That is a road that I hope to venture on throughout the rest of my life. It only makes you a better dancer and unlocks a whole new area of art that I know my life is interested in. As far as dancing, I am very happy to be where I am. The future plans will just have to be a surprise ;-)

10. Other than Gaga, do you have any other projects in the works for 2010 and 2011?

No idea yet ;-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lovers' Revenge

I want your love and all your lovers' revenge.

Don't forget my lipstick, I left it in your ashtray.

That Bad Girl Power I got, I'll abuse it tonight.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Alan 'Cumshot" Cumming...ahhh

Julianna Margulies really has transformed herself. She goes from working as a homely Chicago nurse who dated George Clooney in the 90s’ to a stylish Chicago lawyer who’s married to Mr. Big (yup, from Sex in the City). As a lawyer, Julianna is the good wife who stands by her cheating politician husband Mr. Big, and she can hardly trust anyone, not even her sneaky kids. God sent down a gift to Julianna’s untrustworthy world and it was the sexy Alan Cumming. Alan left behind his gender-bending days starring on Broadway in Cabaret for a career as Mr. Big’s shrewd, campy campaign manager. With one swoop of Alan’s silky, gray hair and a cumshot smile, I’ve simply died and gone to a better place. Never has Alan been sexier than as an American political campaign manager who somehow turns every scene into a sexual scene.

Monday, October 18, 2010

‘Glee’ Star Has Fantasies on T-Pain Remix

Kevin McHale Fantasizes at the beach.

By Christopher Cole

T-Pain + boy band + Glee = The “Can’t Believe It” Remix : Boy Band Edition.

“Glee’ star Kevin McHale and Perez Hilton-endorsed singer Travis Garland recorded their own version of T-Pain’s hit “Can’t Believe It” back in 2008, and on their version they continued T-Pain’s concept of fantasy. On this remix, Kevin and Travis recount their own visions of how they will win the affections of a female. Wow, it sounds like a fantasy musical scene

The “Can’t Believe It” Remix by Kevin and Travis featuring a no-name singer named RAS functions like a rap cipher where everyone spits some bars and flow to the beat, except these guys sing. The three singers sing to a female, painting scenes of what life would be like for her if she was their girlfriend. RAS offers the least imaginative scenario by trying to bribe the female with fancy things like “I can take you to Nevada/head to toe in Prada.”

The guys from the boy band NLT (at the time of the recording) offer more colorful scenes and show that they are very aware of their teenybopper audience. They don’t try to act older than their age. Kevin, who now plays the wheelchair-bound Artie on the hit TV show “Glee,” offers a fantasy that’s more down-to-earth than RAS’. In fact, Kevin’s fantasy could easily be Artie’s fantasy because both have an underdog perspective. Both are guys are cooler than they look, and they have to work harder to prove themselves. The following lyrics sum this up perfectly: “And I know you want a man that’s over five-seven/but you ain’t never met Kevin.”Travis offers a more self-assured fantasy where he’s a Texas boy looking for a “Spice Girl.” This refers to the best line of the song, in my opinion: “Girl, I’ll be your David Beckham cuz you know that I’m looking for a Spice Girl.”

It’s refreshing that Kevin and Travis keep the song youthful and clean instead of misogynistic and dirty. It was fun revisiting a song that I hadn’t heard in years, and relating it to the present where Kevin McHale is television star. Past + Present = Potential fulfilled.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Nicole Scherzinger Creates A Rhythm Nation with Her Single ‘Poison’

Listen to "Poison" on YouTube:

On her newly premiered single “Poison,” Nicole Scherzinger definitely doesn’t stray far from her old songs with the Pussycat Dolls. Of course Nicole gives the song a spunky “girl power” message, but the track itself is a lot darker than its lyrics.

Producer RedOne (Lady Gaga, Enrique Iglesias) produced “Poison” and his “track” is industrial. It makes me picture the insides of a dark factory and Nicole dressed like Janet Jackson “Rhythm Nation style, in all black clothes with a military state of mind. Now sonically, “Poison” is militant, but lyrically it’s the same femme fatale routine Nicole has always done (“Got venom dripping from my lips/know who you’re ‘bout to kiss/think that you can handle it/boy it’s on”). Although “Poison” doesn’t contain a socially-conscious message like “Rhythm Nation” had, the song’s aggressive production keeps the song alive.

RedOne works his magic again, and should be commended for such a great track, but it’s clear that he saves his best stuff for Lady Gaga. As good as “Poison” is, it’s more along the lines of Enrique Iglesias’ RedOne-produced hit “I Like It," which uses RedOne’s reliable recipe for chart success. “Poison” has all the ingredients of an epic RedOne hit: verses filled with sinister synths, a pregaming b-section that takes shots before the big fist-pumping chorus and hook. And of course Nicole still packs the same huge Taylor Dayne vocals she showcased with the Pussycat Dolls.

I don’t know what the “Poison” music video will look like (hopefully not a video set in a club, ugh!), but I would love to see Nicole pay homage to Janet’s Rhythm Nation days, and add a militant visual to match RedOne’s militant track. If she does this, the femme fatale lyrics will sound ironic. Then again, with lyrics like “that bad girl power I got, I’ll abuse it tonight,” maybe “Poison” is more socially-conscious then I initially thought.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lady Gaga’s 'Boys' Song Goes Gaga For Halloween and Elvis

Elvis in all his "hairspray and denim" glory in the film Jailhouse Rock.

By Christopher Cole

Lady Gaga sure does have a thing for Americana. In fact, all of her music incorporates American pop culture in some way. So for the very first song she recorded with her musical partner RedOne, “Boys, Boys, Boys,” Gaga treats the macho man as an American icon, but of course Gaga being Gaga, she establishes the status quo and then inverts it.

There’s logic to Gaga’s Monster Ball tour where Gaga follows “Love Game” with “Boys, Boys, Boys,” because the two songs are linked by one thing: glorification of the classic American male by way of cheeky signifiers. Gaga even used some of the trumpets from the “Boys” chorus and mashed them with “LoveGame” when she performed “LoveGame” on Saturday Night Live in 2009.

RedOne’s track is a two-toned rumble of 80’s slasher-film strings, jubilant trumpets and lots of bass. Gaga adds the lyrics and “top line” of the song (the melody driving the lyrics) in the style of AC/DC’s hard rock music. Think of AC/DC’s 1980 hit “Shook Me All Night Long” and you’ll get the picture. Writer Ann Powers explains the rock sentiment of “Boys” in her feature article “Frank Talk with Lady Gaga” on the Los Angeles Times website: “She notes that “Boys, Boys, Boys (…) is a club track that borrows its “gang chorus” from the hard rock of AC/DC . ‘I told him I want to make pop music that my heavy metal friends will listen to,’ she [Gaga] explained (Powers). The “gang chorus” is like a shout-out refrain that has some punk sensibilities underlying it.

It’s in this gang chorus that Gaga pays homage to American male icons like Elvis Priestly. Gaga sings the lyrics in full voice “We like boys in cars/boys, boys, boys/buy us drinks in bars/boys, boys, boy/with hairspray and denim/and boys, boys, boys.” The lyric “hairspray and denim” brings to mind Elvis in the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock, where he wore denim jeans and a hairspray-assisted pompadour hairstyle.

Still, it’s in the way Gaga brings those vivid lyrics to life through visuals that she’s most known for, and that comes when she performs. On her Monster Ball arena tour, Gaga has begun wearing a skeletal glove on hand complete with spindly fingers, looking like something she picked up from the costume shop for Halloween. When I saw the glove, I instantly linked it with the monster concept of The Fame Monster album, although “Boys” is from The Fame album. But the skeleton glove is related to the synthesized strings on “Boys” that play during the verses, and the strings sound like they came from a John Carpenter horror movie from the 80’s. I get the sense that the skeleton glove is related to the usually male villain of those 80’s horror movies, like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, who also qualify as male American icons. The dark, ominous backing track on the verse parts is a stark contrast to the euphoric chorus; the chorus is the light to the verses’ dark.

Lady Gaga performs "Boys" wearing skeleton glove.

Another way Gaga brings the songs to life visually is through the choreography that the renowned Laurie Ann Gibson creates for Gaga. The choreography that Gibson created for “Boys” connects to the main theme of man as icon. So that’s explains all the muscle-flexing. There’s also simulation of driving a car (“we like boys in cars”), guzzling beer (“buy us drinks in bars”), and washing a car (“we hairspray and denim,” which is a signifier of not only Elvis, but the 50’s in general). The gyrating of shirtless bodies and codpieces signify the sexual element of the “Boys” performance. Unsurprisingly, Gaga performs “Boys” with only male dancers, and she doesn’t interact with them at all during the performance. She doesn’t even take one look at them. Gaga does this deliberately for the purpose of letting her male dancers exist as fantasies for the many gay and bisexual men in the audience, so she doesn’t want to interfere with the fantasies of her audience. In relation, when Gaga intros the “Boys” performance with “Sing about your gay pride, you just kicked Prop 8’s ass,” the song’s gay context is clear, and this context links back to the horror strings of the verses and the skeleton glove, which seems to ask the question: what do you consider scary? Many people view homosexuality as scary, and Gaga points to this in a creative way.

Eventually, Lady Gaga leaves the stage halfway into the song, leaving her male dancers to show off their cheeky dance moves; Gaga leaves the stage because she wants the audience to soak in the gayness without compromise, without heterosexual sugarcoating. Gaga is giving her gay and bisexual male fans a moment dedicated to them.

Link to performance of "Boys, Boys, Boys":

Works Cited:

Powers, Ann. “Frank Talk With Lady Gaga.” Los Angeles Times. 13 December 2009. Web.

Alun Davies Indexes His Past With Bright Light Bright Light's 'Love Part II' Video

         Bright Light Bright Light searches for self-actualization in his "Love Part II" video.
By Christopher Cole
Alun Davies uses elements from his old work and combines them in the music video for Bright Light Bright Light’s “Love Part II.” Davies uses the broken glass/mirror from a photo shoot with Bright Light Bright Light and the geometric building blocks he used for the “Color Theory” magazine spread, as well as the doubling motif he used for the “The Intimacy of Fashion” magazine spread. Also, Davies uses different forms of light to signify enlightenment, like he did for the “Color Theory” fashion spread, as well as the veiling of the face he used before. He uses the veiling to show that Bright Light Bright Light’s self is not actualized yet, not fully-formed. Davies uses all the elements mentioned to show one man’s journey to self-actualization. The concept of self-actualization finally comes when Bright Light Bright Light is reborn as a liberated person. In the end, it’s a rebirth where the two people behind Bright Light Bright Light combine with him to make one person. The divided personality is now one and he is born again.  

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cassidy Noblett Embodies the Movement of Pop Culture

                                 Cassidy performs during Beyonce's "I Am" Tour.

By Christopher Cole

Somehow the strapping dancer known as Cassidy Noblett always finds himself around superstar divas. His track record is impressive considering he’s toured with Janet Jackson, Beyonce and Lady Gaga. Since Cassidy is a dancer, I’m sure one of the best things about dancing for these superstars is that he gets to perform the iconic choreography that goes with their hit songs. It’s choreography that is forever part of pop culture, and when he performs it in front of thousands of people, he’s embodying the movement of pop culture.

There’s a group of performances that stick out, that feature some of the most epic pop choreography in the past two decades. First there’s Janet Jackson’s “If” choreography, which is known for its dripping sex appeal. You remember that criss-crossy dance Janet and her dancers do to those criss-crossy orchestral strings. When Cassidy performed this “If” choreography on Janet Jackson’s Rock Witchu Tour in 2008, he was presenting history to a new and old audience. The social context of the choreography was new because when the “If” music video debuted in 1993 on MTV, the musical climate was grunge and house, a time when MTV actually played videos. In 2008, there was the ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan war, and the United States got its first black president. In this sense, people went to Janet’s “Rock Witchu” tour to escape, and for a certain age group reminisce on good times.

Not long after touring with Ms. Jackson, Cassidy moved on to another black icon that like her idol Janet narrowed the racial divide, and became a true global pop star. This icon’s name is Beyonce. While Janet had a larger number of dancers on her Rock Witchu Tour, Beyonce only had three male dancers and three female dancers on her I Am Tour, meaning Cassidy was always a main dancer with his face upfront. Ever since she became famous with Destiny’s Child, Beyonce has been preaching female empowerment, while simultaneously submitting to male objectification, also known as the Male Gaze. As always, Beyonce performed one of her Destiny’s Child hits “Say My Name,” a song that reminds me and my generation of the last year of middle school and the Destiny’s Child controversy where two members were replaced. She even did her famous four-person spoke wheel that debuted in Destiny’s Child’s 2000 video “Say My Name,” but instead of four women performing the spoke wheel to represent girl power, Beyonce with three men performed it. The difference in gender drastically changes things, making the spoke wheel more sexual. Ironically, Cassidy was the guy directly in back of Beyonce during the spoke wheel dance, grinding in a circular motion. It’s very sexy stuff. Still it wasn’t until her song and video Video Phone that Beyonce started directly referencing her own embrace of the Male Gaze. Cassidy appeared in the Hype Williams-helmed “Video Phone” clip as one of Beyonce’s Gazers, but with a twist.

During a performance of the song "Video Phone" in Paris, the stage was made to look like a Netherlands strip club in the Red Light District, complete with red strobe lights. Cassidy started off the performance with a camera in his hand filming a female dancer performing a suggestive routine with a chair. He looked down at the screen of his camera. Then Cassidy’s head turned to the center where Beyonce was doing a similarly suggestive chair routine. As the lyrics “I see that you want me/so press record and let you film me” slinked from the loud speakers, Cassidy and his fellow male dancers all pointed their cameras at Beyonce taking a picture. As they proceeded to follow her movements, they never looked up from their cameras. It’s this that emphasizes their objectification of Beyonce and the other women on stage. The "Video Phone" song and video are about sexual objectification, and this performance is all about the Male Gaze, but at least we get to see Cassidy’s smiling face because in the "Video Phone" video his head is replaced by a camera, hence the big twist. So as you probably figured out, in the video, the tables are turned and the men are objectified, but on stage the men are in full control.

It’s no coincidence that Lady Gaga happened to appear in the "Video Phone" music video to support Beyonce’s transgression of the Male Gaze because Gaga covers the same themes in her own work. Also it’s no coincidence that Cassidy now dances for Gaga on her Monster Ball tour. He went from being the Gazer on Beyonce’s tour to being the Gazed on Gaga’s tour. From assuming the role of a Chippendale dancer during “Boys, Boys, Boys” to one of Gaga’s Mad Max-style road warriors on “Bad Romance,” Cassidy has never played more roles than on Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour. He’s played a man who emulates a woman and throws away his “masculine” faƧade and struts like the beautiful creature he knew he was meant to be, to quote a Pet Shop Boys song. Lady Gaga has been called the first true pop star of the digital age, and her choreographer Laurie Ann Gibson describes her choreography as “Do It Yourself” (D.I.Y.). This means that the choreography is not difficult to learn and is very adaptable, which explains why there are so many viral videos on YouTube, etc. that put their own spin on Gaga’s choreography. Again, Cassidy performs choreography that millions of people film themselves doing and put it on the Internet for the entire world to see. Gibson explains why the choreography is powerful in writer Julie Bloom’s New York Times article “D.I.Y. Music Videos, Inspired by the Pros”:

“I saw a little boy, and he was doing the sandwich dance and I was just, like, wow,” she said, referring to a sequence that involves double claps on the left and the right followed by little mimed bites, from “Telephone" (...). The rhythmic emphasis falls on unexpected beats: “They’re based out of an emotion,” she said, “so when you hear the record, it’s choreographed as an emotional dance, and it’s kind of like people are experiencing her when you do the movements (Bloom).

As a dancer performing famous moves, Cassidy Noblett is embodying the spirit of several generations and the heart of pop culture. Since Cassidy has already appeared in the music videos for Beyonce’s “Video Phone,” and Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro,” he’s immortalized on pop film, and part of pop history. As they say, if you don’t have it on film, it didn’t happen, which will never happen for Cassidy since he’s emerged in the digital age where seemingly everyone has a camera. His performances on the tours of so many iconic divas are all over YouTube captured by the cameras of fans. Flash, Flash, the camera goes. Take Cassidy's picture.

Works Cited:

Bloom, Julie. “D.I.Y. Music Videos, Inspired by the Pros.” New York Times 30 Apr 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bright Light Bright Light Bleeds Glitter In His "Love Part II" Music Video

Bright Light Bright Light gets showered with disco glass.

British singer Bright Light Bright Light is fittingly obsessed with lights. From light sabers to different colored lighting, his music video for his new single, "Love Part II" tells a story of metamorphosis by using light contrast. Contrast is the key.

The chorus on "Love Part II" proclaims "I'm in love again", which implies that the song is about a person being in love, but the video offers another interpretation. It's clear that the video is about a man falling in love with God or some higher power. There are many examples in the video and on the song that hint at religion and God.

Bright Light Bright Light opens "Love Part II" singing "Clever boy, you got one eye on the clock, so you don't waste time, do you." One eye is commonly associated with God's All-seeing eye, like the eye on the U.S. one-dollar bill. As Bright Light Bright Light lies down with a profile view of his face covered in black making him a silhouette, shots of him are intercut wearing all-black clothing resembling a priest. These intercut shots look like flashbacks or memories. With the black background of these shots and Bright Light Bright Light's all-black clothing, the scene looks like a priest sitting in the darkness of a confessional. It's clear that he is in the shadows.

As the first chorus explodes with urgency, his black jacket is unzipped revealing a black tank top. It's a change from the all-black jacket that made him look like a Catholic priest. Two people, a man and a woman wear black wedge hats covering their eyes, signaling blindness. They stand and dance behind Bright Light Bright Light, winding their arms around like the hands on a clock. Remember "one eye on the clock." The background is various black pyramids doused with white light.

Bright Light Bright Light opens the second verse singing "Clever boy, you've got one hand on my side, don't let me slip out of view." He stands against a black backdrop wearing a black jacket. The scene lights up revealing the wedge-headed duo holding poles of light that look like light sabers from "Star Wars." Bright Light Bright Light's black jacket turns from black to a gray color. The light sabers could be phallic. Sigmund Freud would think so since he thought all symbols are related to sex. Maybe the two light sabers represent two penises, meaning homosexuality.

This is why the "Love Part II" video is so open to interpretation. Bright Light Bright Light could be expressing his gay love for the world to see or he could be expressing his love for God. I'm confident the video is about making a life change because time isn't promised.

By the time the second chorus arrives, Bright Light Bright Light is dressed in a windbreaker (jacket) and a wrinkled t-shirt and his hair a bit mussed. He sort of looks like he's been jogging in the streets. As the chorus explodes into action once again, Bright Light Bright Light is showered with glittery pieces that could very well be the remnants of a disco ball. The wedge-headed duo are still present, but they're less in focus, and their black wedge hats have turned gray instead of black. They're fading away. Time is weightng less on the mind of Bright Light Bright Light.

Next, he walks towards the violet light, his face soaked in purple light. As the last chorus explodes, the scene explodes with red light and red confetti. The wedge-headed duo wear red wedges, eyes still covered, but they wear red pyramids in the center of their torsos. What do the pyramids mean? The crimson red of the scene clearly represents love. Something about the glittery red scene reminds me of the Queen of Hearts from "The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland."

Now a close-up shot of Bright Light Bright Light lying on broken glass, that appeared as a flashback at the beginning of the video, intercuts the red scene. The close-up shows a black gloved hand shielding Bright Light Bright Light's face as glass shatters. Does this gloved hand belong to his protector? Then he falls onto his back, in the red scene, as well as the broken glass scene. The scene with broken glass seems to be reality and the red scene is his unconscious. Crimson red fills in the cracks between the shards of glass that Bright Light Bright Light lies upon. The ending is ambiguous because he could be going to sleep, back to a dream, or it could be dead. Maybe Bright Light Bright Light takes the metaphor of "falling in love" literally, and somehow he has fallen from a building to a bloody death---that is, the bloody death of his loneliness and darkness.

Since the Art Director for the "Love Part II" video is Alun Davies, it's no surprise that the video is bursting with creativity and visuals that touch the human senses. The elements of glitter and glass in the video are also reminders that these elements are constant in a lot of Davies' work. Davies designed outfits for Lady Gaga's "Monster Ball" tour, which he calls "mirror ball" outfits. Mirror ball is basically the same thing as a disco ball. Also, the shattered glass in the "Love Part II" video looks like pieces of a disco ball. Maybe the broken glass as a disco ball is a symbol of Bright Light Bright Light seeing himself reflected in the world's earth-as-disco-ball. He's at one with the world, and now he can be reflected through the world. He's opened up his soul, whether to a man or a woman or to God, and now he's reached a state of piece.

Watch the "Love Part II" video after the jump.

RedOne Introduces His New Artist Mohombi

Mohombi in the studio with RedOne

RedOne is the producer behind almost all of Lady Gaga's hit songs ("Poker Face" and "Bad Romance" to name a few) and now he has own record label.

The label is called 2101 Records, distributed through Universal Music. 2101 Records' first artist is singer Mohombi who's already won a South African Grammy. The 23-year-old singer was born in the Congo, but raised in Sweden. His music reflects his heritage, which is a mixture of African-soca and Swedish pop.

RedOne says he signed Mohombi because he's a global artist who has his "own world" like Lady Gaga and can write killer hooks and melodies. By "own world" RedOne means Mohombi knows what image and vision he wants to show to the world.

Mohombi's first single "Bumpy Ride" , produced by RedOne, will be released October 4, 2010. It's sure to be a number one hit. The song has RedOne's trademark submarine bass-lines and simple, catchy hooks, yet it sounds like Trinidadian carnival music. Just think of Kevin Lyttle's 2004 hit "Turn Me On." Mohombi vocals are of a nice, tenor tone that sound all his own. He even sort of shouts out Lady Gaga with the line "I'm on top of my love game and you're gonna get it tonight." I guess Mohombi is the guy with "a smile on his mouth his hand on his cock." Best believe he'll work his disco stick.

Like Gaga, RedOne is a good marketing strategist and he points out in a BBC interview that Mohombi is not only a gifted songwriter, but a man that "every girl will want to dance with" in a club and "put his poster on their wall." 

Check out his music video for "Bumpy Ride." There's lots of sandy beaches, bikinis and Mohombi's talent. The choreography is hot and matches the song perfectly.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

That Loveable, Gender-bending, Savior Of Our Souls Named Alejandro

sketch by Mario Laterza
Alejandro in his chili bowl cut.

*Links for performances mentioned listed at the bottom of the page:

Do you want to reinvent yourself? You know, like changing your hair color and clothes, or do you want to change your whole being. Like become a totally different person. Lady Gaga knows how to do that and she knows someone who can help you, and his name is Alejandro.

Lady Gaga’s song “Alejandro” is one of the most abstract songs you’ll hear in pop music because the lyrics are more like symbols, and although there’s a narrative, the metaphors make it ambiguous. Since the song’s release, Gaga has used several visual concepts when performing her song “Alejandro,” but there’s a steady message in all of the performances, and that message is metamorphosis. The process of metamorphosis only happens when people never look back to their past, and keep evolving.

“Alejandro” is a song from Gaga’s album The Fame Monster, and the song doesn’t seem very monster-like, but if you’re knowledgeable about Gaga’s avant-garde approach to music then you’ll see the connection. Gaga once said when describing her album’s monster theme that we humans are all born with the demons inside of us, as in Christianity’s original sin, and we will all sin in our lives. She finished with saying the monster theme is about the evolution of humanity and how we begin as one thing, and we become another.

It was in November 2009 that Gaga started performing “Alejandro” for the first time. The performance was pure Performance art that featured Gaga penetrated by men in simulated ways. Interestingly, Gaga says “Alejandro” represents the Fear of Sex monster. The male dancers are dressed in flesh-colored bodysuits and masks on their head made of what looks to be a mini version of a human rib cage. Presumably, the rib masks are a reference to Adam and Eve. Christian religion states that God used Adam’s rib to make the world’s first woman Eve. One of Gaga’s male dancers uses his hand as a phallus to lift Gaga up by her crotch. Then another male dancer arrives to caress both his fellow male dancer’s hand and Gaga’s body.

She then lowers to the ground lying on top of the two men as if they were her sofa. At an awkward position with her butt in the air, Gaga smokes a cigarette. Then she takes another puff of the cigarette and rubs her sparkly cone bra, as if for luck and raises her hands to the sky, perhaps God. Next the other dancers disappear, and Gaga throws away the cigarette as different male dancer approaches her. he sticks in his crotch in her face and starts thrusting against her face. She hangs upside down with her back resting on his thigh, and his butt facing the audience. As he puts his hands out as if sacrificing himself, Gaga pats his butt on makes the all-seeing eye of God with her fingers, placing in front of her dancer’s butt. They are two people as one.

“This is for all the lovers you left behind,” says Gaga after that sensual display of interpretive dance and Performance art. The “left behind” part stands out because it refers to the past, and Gaga encourages her audience to never look in the past because there’s a fear of getting stuck there, and never escaping. The religious aspects of the performance lie in the masks made of rib bone, and the phallus (means the penis is an object of generative power) symbols throughout that reference the male as primary, and the female as secondary. This performance from November 2009 evolved over the future months into something even more religious.

In March 2010, “Alejandro” as a performance evolved into a place resembling the Garden of Eden, full of trees, vines and benches. A large silver statue of an angel or Saint with spread wings in the middle of a fountain full of blood. Gaga tells her audience that it’s the Fountain of Youth, which is “the only fountain that bleeds for you.” The male and female dancers perform ballroom dances and strike balletic poses. Some men dance with women, and some men dance with men, but all the women and men are human, making them all of the same flesh, the human flesh.

The Alejandro saint.

In the Bible, it says that there will be a day of Rapture where Christ will present a glorified church, the church that he laid down his life for. He died for the sins of the human race. People prepared for the day of Rapture by cleaning their physical bodies and spiritually washing in blood, which means that their sins were forgiven by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. A verse from the Bible is as follows. Even though the outward man perish, the inward is renewed day by day. No matter how old we get in years, and if this body of clay does deteriorate, wrinkle and become old, we can have a beautiful, new, fresh lively spirit in Jesus Christ, new, without spot or wrinkle, and full of life. And when we are called at the time of the Rapture this old body will be changed in an instant. Or if we are called before that time, the beautiful soul will just slip out of the body. And at the time of the Rapture or the Resurrection, we'll be given a beautiful new body. Our bodies will be changed.
This verse is all about metamorphosis and evolution. It’s about how existence (physically and spiritually) is about taking different forms. Even in death, a person’s existence evolves.

The most recent televised performance of Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” on NBC’s “The Today Show” connects the song’s theme of metamorphosis to gender. The men begin the performance as just dancers, with nothing gender-specific about them, other than their obviously male bodies. The male and female dancers performed the same choreography. It’s not until the second verse that some men engage the only two female dancers on stage (note: there are five male dancers on stage) in a ballroom dance.

At this point, the dancers have embraced recognizable gender roles assigned by society. In the middle, the two sets of opposite-sex couples embrace and bite each other in the necks like vampires, and they drop to the floor, feeling weak. But of course they rise back up and are visibly different. The “masculine” men who led their women in a dance only minutes before are now reborn as stylish catwalk creatures strutting with ferocious glamour. Gaga’s newest male dancer Cassidy Noblett visibly mirrors his former female partner, Amanda Balen by putting his hands on hips and striking a pose right after she does. I’m sure the mirroring part is a nod to diva worship well-known in gay culture.

The blurring of gender in this performance is the same concept used in Gaga’s “Alejandro” video where her male dancer s dress as German WWII soldiers (think “Cabaret”) wearing monk bowl-cut wigs and high heels to bikini briefs and stilettos. What the gender-bending men in “The Today Show” performance and the “Alejandro” video do so well is keep their audience guessing: do they really act like that, are the “effeminate” or “masculine” or both, or are those physical actions just part of the show? All of these physical actions demonstrated could be their real identities that make up one diverse identity.

Alejandro turned out to be quite a man, didn’t he? You got more than what you bargained for, but I hope it was worth it and I hope that you are enlightened. Lady Gaga tells him that she doesn’t want him to call her name anymore, but you can call his name. He wants you to, so remember that.

Link for Today Show Performance:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Michael Silas Sacrifices His Life For Lady Gaga

Michael Silas performs at Gaga's Monster Ball in St.  Louis

Dancer Michael Silas becomes an important part of Lady Gaga’s lesson about blood, sex and religion in front of 20,000 people. She sacrifices Michael and lets him bleed to death with her on stage, and then she brings them both back to life.

As a classically-trained dancer, Michael Silas has been using his body as art for almost his whole life, but he has only been using his body as part of high-profile Performance art since he started dancing for pop star Lady Gaga. Recently Gaga showcased Michael in a July 17 performance of “Teeth” comparing him to a famous savior, and in the process revealing a scintillating detail about Michael.

At the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri, Gaga seemed like she was winding down to the finish of her song “Teeth” wailing like a soloist in a black gospel church. Wearing a blond, Marilyn Monroe wig, a skin-tight latex leotard and blood smeared all over her body, Gaga looked like she stepped out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Her dancers stood behind her frozen with their backs bent forward and their blood-dripping teeth clenched. The cameras flash in the audience, and the crowd screams with delight. Then Gaga addresses Jesus saying “Jesus, way up there…heaven…psssst. Some people say, Jesus, that you only love a certain kind of people. Some people say that Jesus only loves one kind of person, and not everybody, not every religion or every race or every ethnicity or sexual orientation.” The crowd roars when she says the last thing, and Gaga pauses for a few seconds. “But you have blessed me. And I know bleeding to death in front of 20,000 people every single night on a world arena tour that Jesus must love everybody.” She pauses and then repeats “Jesus, must, love, everybodddyyyyy!”

Gaga gets on the floor, and crawls until she’s lying on her back directly under Michael Silas’ crotch. He’s frozen in the same position he was before, and his legs are wide open. She speaks “This is Michael” and she caresses his leg, from calf to thigh. She proceeds “I like Michael so much because Michael likes American girls” and Michael sticks out his tongue and starts moving it as if he’s eating cherry pie. Then Gaga continues “But I also like Michael because Michael likes American boys.” The crowd explodes with cheers. As she says this, Michael moves his tongue around his mouth as if he has a lollipop in his mouth. Hmm…American boys. Then Gaga says “Just like Jesus…” and Michael crosses himself in the Sign of the Cross and spreads his hand as if presenting himself to the crowd, as Gaga says “Michael loves everybody.”

Next Gaga starts singing like a gospel singer as the rapturous electric guitar starts back up, “Show me your teeth” and Michael gyrates to the moaning guitar riffs, and removes his hood and thrusts his hips forward with Gaga still under him. It’s almost as if Gaga’s singing and the guitar-playing are speaking for Mike, who as a dancer can only use his body to communicate. Gaga has resurrected Michael, just like Jesus. This is made particularly clear when Gaga sings “I’m a free man, and Jesus loves everybody,” because obviously she isn’t the man, but Michael is. He makes a motion like he’s choking on a disco stick as Gaga wails, and then he even lip-synchs her wails. The words “I am a man. I am a human being. I am a me, and I was born this wayyyyyy! Show me your teeth!” It’s clear as day that Gaga is a reverend and this performance is her sermon.

You may call Michael a prop for Lady Gaga’s theatrics, which he is in a way, but the art reveals a little about Michael Silas. A dancer uses his body to speak, and not his vocal cords. Gaga used Michael to exemplify her audience who are largely gay, lesbian and transgender, or however they see themselves. Gaga wants the world to know that she and her little monsters were born this way. And don’t you forget it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lady Gaga and Her Telephone Effect

Gaga in her "Telephone" video.

By Chris Cole

For her 9-minute music video “Telephone,” Pop artist Lady Gaga takes the word “Telephone” from her single's title and turns it into a human condition brought on by American commercialism. It’s called “the Telephone effect.”

There are many references in Gaga’s “Telephone” video that support the concept of nature turning into product, and this concept drives the video. Gaga uses her video to rediscover the humanity she had in her childhood before becoming exposed to the products companies sold to her through their advertisements. The Telephone effect is that urge that people get when they see a product in an advertisement. Then the telephone in their head goes off, and makes them hungry for more and more, like a vampire hungry for blood.

The video starts out in a women’s prison full of anger and violence where she sees glimpses of the life experiences that make her life uniquely hers. The guards escort Gaga into the women's prison and put her into a jail cell and strip off her clothes. The scene cuts to the prison exercise area where women lift weights. Gaga wears glasses made of active cigarettes blowing up smoke. The cigarettes on Gaga’s eyes represent her blindness from commercialism. Steel chains wrap around her body. She’s a prisoner. Next, Gaga is in a jail cell with a bunch of women. Gaga stands dressed in a black studded leather jacket with spikes down the sleeves that references the Crust Punk scene of the ‘80s. She wears short blond hair with Diet Coke soda cans rolled in it. Gaga’s mother uses to use soda cans as rollers during Gaga’s childhood. A woman with long brown hair and sunglasses stands next to Gaga. This woman is a doppelganger of Gaga’s old self before the fame, the woman with long, dark hair waiting tables in New York City. The loud speaker announces that Gaga has a phone call for her from Beyonce. Gaga answers.

Beyonce brings the food that Gaga must feed on to stay alive. Beyonce arrives in a frosted package of sweetness, like a human honey bun. The bright yellow car she picks up Gaga in is the Pussy Wagon from the film Kill Bill. She opens up a honey bun package and holds it out for Gaga to eat. Gaga takes a bite and then Beyonce takes a brisk bite. The brisk sound of Beyonce’s bite is visceral. It makes you hungry. By taking a bite out of Beyonce’s honey bun treat, Gaga is essentially taking a bite out of Beyonce because the honey bun product, in its crinkly packaging and sweet, frosted texture, represents Beyonce. Hence, her name “Honey B.” Beyonce discards the half-eaten honey bun out the window. Its image against black asphalt is a shiny piece of product on something hard and ugly. The discarding of the honey bun represents how humans crave something and then eat it to satisfy the craving, only to shit it out. The half-eaten honey bun becomes road kill.

“Once you kill a cow, you gotta make a burger,” says Gaga, dressed in a 1940s power suit that’s definitely an homage to legendary actress Joan Crawford. As Gaga says, if you’re going to kill something, you might as well make a product out of it because that’s what the businesses and the media do. Turning death into product is what fast food restaurants do. They kill cows and use their meat to make quick money. The media turns death into product whenever someone dies, whether the victim is famous or not. Sometimes the death is the death of a reputation, and of course the media covers this religiously. A half-finished fountain drink from a fast food restaurant, crumbled up wrappers binded inside the pussy wagon’s cup holder reference the death of the food and drink. The food and drink was consumed and then peed and crapped out. On to the next product to eat and waste out. Gaga takes Beyonce’s picture with the Polaroid camera. It’s another example of instant satisfaction, and something going in and then quickly coming out. The Polaroid camera is like a mini factory in itself where the camera makes a copy of life, and then poops it out and discards it. It dies.

Beyonce in "Telephone" video.

It’s in a diner, a symbol of America and buddy movies, that the video’s culmination takes place. Beyonce enters and meets her boyfriend Tyrese there. The placemats on the table are shaped like American flags. The name of the diner is “Diner: Homestyle Cooking.” Another piece of America lies in Beyonce’s wig, which is pure Betty Page who was a racy 1950s pinup babe. The diner’s customers are of different races, ages, colors and sizes and probably different sexual orientations making the diner a melting pot and a symbol of a diverse America. Tyrese goes up to the diner's bar and smacks the butts of female patrons. Watching closely, Beyonce pours poison into his coffee. A logo of a skull pops up in the screen next to the bottle of poison in Beyonce’s hand. Even the poison is turned into a product, and once again death is a product.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lady Gaga Named Most Creative Person In Business By Fast Company Magazine!

Link to Dan Macsai's article:

Lady Gaga Is Shocked At the Honor
The moment after reading writer Dan Macsai's article about Lady Gaga in the June 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine, listing the 100 Most Creative People in Business, I knew that I had never read something like it before. This article is concise, structured, and full of colorful quotes that speak to the heart of Lady Gaga’s way of thinking.

The structure of the article is what really makes me smile because the structure makes the article flow. Macsai really composed the article smartly beginning it with an intro that mentions Gaga’s music first instead of her outfits. From there he builds the article into a presentation of Gaga as an artist and a fantastic business woman.

The article’s title “Lady Gaga, Pop artist” alludes to the dual meaning of that title. It’s her occupation, but there are two aspects of that occupation: in the musician sense and in the artsy Andy Warhol sense. Gaga is a pop singer who makes pop music, but she’s also a Pop artist who makes Pop art just as her idol Andy Warhol did. Like Warhol, Gaga takes pieces of pop culture and re-contextualizes them, and as a result assigns the pieces new meanings.

In the opening paragraph, Macsai uses Gaga’s lyrics to show that she uses references from her own life experiences in her music. He also mentions her humble beginnings and the drive she had to achieve her dreams, and this mention foreshadows the incredible accomplishments that make up the rest of the article.

Macsai sums up what Gaga does as a performance artist in the second paragraph. By talking about the references of her brand, such as “disco stick,””Madonna’s glitter-glam fashion” and shocking, Alice Cooper-like performances, he links that sentence to the following sentence about critics calling her derivative. Disco is from the past, Madonna is from the past and Alice Cooper is from the past. Then he discusses how Gaga’s brand spread like wildfire because of the Web. The paragraph ends with a sentence mentioning the power of Gaga’s brand when it’s partnered with another brand.

Macsai uses the next paragraph to show how Gaga’s ubiquity has made her attractive to other companies with their brands to sell. He talks about how the Web has helped Gaga become ubiquitous, and has made her brand global. The last sentence of this paragraph refers to her “outlandish fashion sense.”

The power of Gaga’s mind-blowing outfits is the focus of the following paragraph, and how her brand is fueled not only by the Web, but by the visual sense of her brand. The visuals support the other aspects of her brand, like music and social commentary. The last sentence points out that Gaga’s visually-strong music videos dominate the Web.

That flows into the next paragraph that has a topic sentence that points out that Gaga’s music videos function as marketing tools, as well as artistic statements. Gaga gives the brands and products exposure, and uses them as social commentary. She is simultaneously participating in the capitalist system she comments on.

The article focuses on the business side of Gaga, which makes sense since it’s a part of Fast Company's “100 Most Creative People in Business” issue. It’s also appropriate because Gaga is constantly used as an example of brilliant public relations, branding, marketing, which all makes for a great business plan. She does everything right and it’s a great thing to see. The quote from Polaroid CMO Jon Pollock about how when he met with Gaga he expected her to talk about “pink boas," but instead she talked about digital strategy and the best way to reach her generation is telling. It proves that there is an intelligent mind that exists behind Lady Gaga’s artifice.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cassidy Noblett Role-Plays with Lady Gaga and Brings Class Back to Dance

He smiles with pleasure. His eyes twinkle with seduction, and his body moves with the elegance of the Nutcracker Prince or the darkness of a monster. This body belongs to a professional dancer named Cassidy Noblett.

Cassidy is the master controller of his body, yet he never seems robotic and never unnatural. When a performance calls for energy and joy, he flashes his big, life-changing smile, and when a performance calls for tender sexiness, he becomes William Shakespeare’s Romeo. When Cassidy needs to be strong and graceful, he becomes Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Prince, and if he needs to be dark and dangerous he becomes a monster. All of these expressions show how Cassidy uses his great acting skill to make his dancing come alive, and touch your heart.

Right now, Cassidy is most famous for being one of Lady Gaga’s dancers on her ongoing Monster Ball Tour where he gets to play many different characters. The tour plays to all of Cassidy’s strengths as not only a dancer, but an actor. Recently, on July 9, 2010, Cassidy performed three songs with Gaga on NBC’s The Today Show Summer Concert series. For the first song “Bad Romance,” Cassidy’s hands become monster claws and he lopes around the stage like a panther who’s both beautiful and lethal. His hair is styled in a looser version of Elvis’ famous pompadour hairstyle. His white vest, corset, tights and Dr. Marten boots make him look like a ballerino turned punk. The peeling black polish on his fingernails adds to this image. There’s a standout moment when he gives a smoldering look of seduction that’s sexy, yet baby-faced and innocent. For the majority of Gaga’s songs, Cassidy embodies the fiercely stylish monster that knows how to work the runway and eat you for dinner at the same time.

During the song “Alejandro,” Cassidy plays three different roles in the space of three minutes. He begins the song a dancer acting out the narrative of Lady Gaga’s narrative about a woman and her struggle with resurrecting a love. By the time the second verse comes, Cassidy is a Spanish lover boy dancing a passionate tango with a female dancer.
The musical crescendo of “Alejandro” arrives and now Cassidy is strutting like a catwalk diva like Naomi Campbell, full of long strides and attitude. All of these performances show that Cassidy is one of the dancers most dedicated to his roles.

A few years ago, Cassidy said that he wants to bring a classical element to the commercial dance business because classical training allows for artistic depth. What he’s saying is that classical training is ageless and stands the test of time, as well as the basis for many other types of dance. I’ve heard that classical ballet training is good to have because it gives a dancer a base for his body, a good foundation, physically and mentally. Of course, Cassidy was trained in classical ballet at the North Carolina School of Arts. From what I’ve seen, classical ballet training makes dancers look like sculptures molded in the right stances. Their posture is regal, with shoulders firm and relaxed, and the lyrical lines when they dance look like they’ve been drawn by a painter. Cassidy is a perfect example of this because he moves to the strokes of the music, where he uses his body as the paint and texture atop the canvas of the music. Clearly, Cassidy is an artist, a human artist who makes each dance a work of art.

In a 2004 article from, Jennifer E. Wesnousky describes Cassidy Noblett as “technically and emotionally brilliant" in her review on the dance production Rhapsody: The Company. Wesnousky writes, “Poetry in Motion was both awe and tear-inspiring as Mr. Noblett, shirtless yet sheathed in intricately-tied white cloths which resembled bandages, unselfconsciously revealed his raw sentimental range and determination to continue on in the face of lost love and pain.” Cassidy Noblett is flesh and blood and makes you feel better of life when you watch him perform. His fluidity and spirit make me glad to be a human, and glad that Lady Gaga introduced me to such an extraordinary artist.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lady Gaga's Boy Toy Morphs Into Mickey Mouse

Lady Gaga has made her dancer Mike Silas a sex symbol for Little Monsters all over the world. Like Gaga, Mike’s layered persona adds to her performance art, and his love for reflecting the world through his mind and body makes him a Warhol in motion.

26-year-old professional dancer Michael Silas, also known as Mike, is a human camera who photographs the world with his mind and body. He and the woman he tours with, Lady Gaga share a concept of reflecting the world by using their bodies as mirrors, which was the basis for the work of American pop artist Andy Warhol.

Both Mike and Warhol reflect the world through their internal mirrors and cameras. Each man reflects an image that he sees in the world into his mind’s mirror, and then his mind’s mirror reflects the image into the mirror of a camera that people take pictures with. Next, the mirror of the camera reflects the image back out into the outside world that we all live in, so now the image can be reflected again through clothing and dance. With the mirror inside a person’s mind (the person’s mental camera and camera the person buys from the store), the person creates reflections of the world, just like the many mirrors in a dressing room that reflect one other’s images ending up in one twisted image, like from a funhouse mirror.

Mike has a love for photography, and based on the self-photographed and self-styled photos of him on Facebook, it’s clear that he knows how to capture the world on film, while making himself a part of the art. While on the Monster Ball Tour with Lady Gaga, Mike was apparently shopping at a Disney store in Japan where a bunch of Mickey Mouse key chains hang around him, and tin canisters printed with Mickey’s image surround Mike. Then Mike wears a Mickey Mouse mask where only the eyes are visible. The combination of Mike’s mysterious human eyes and the image of Mickey’s cartoon smile have a frightening effect because it’s that same creepy feeling you get when you see a dog’s head on an ant’s body. Also, the contrast of Mickey’s head (excluding Mike’s eyes) and Mike’s outfit of a black T-shirt revealing some of his arm tattoos and backpack straps is shocking because you can’t imagine Mickey Mouse wearing this, yet it’s very artistic because it shows Mike as combination of the wholesome and the edgy. The funny thing about Mike’s black T-shirt is that it has a white silhouette of Mickey Mouse on it.

Also, there’s a multicolored tile design on the wall that serves as Mike’s backdrop, splitting the shelves full of Mickey merchandise. In the end, Mike becomes Mickey Mouse, a parody of the world’s most famous cartoon mouse, and a symbol of America’s fascination with reproducing products for making money. It’s an example of Mike taking the mirror inside his mind and reflecting back one of America’s symbols of innocence, and corrupting it with his tattooed skin and edgy clothes.

The edgy pop star becomes a piece of art in Andy Warhol’s 1963 silkscreen print Triple Elvis. The print shows three identical images of Elvis Priestly pointing a gun towards the camera. This same image is printed on top of one another, making the three images of Elvis look like a trio of gunslingers. By repeating Elvis’ image, Warhol shows how symbols of pop culture like pop star Elvis can express the values of a culture, which is making copies of the same product, so that they can be sold in stores. Then lots of money is made from the products. Elvis’ image is like a product that anyone can manipulate into different versions and different shapes to make money.

Shape-shifting is the common thread between Mike Silas and Lady Gaga. Mike is an important part of Gaga’s performance art because of his tattooed body. The presence of Mike’s tattoos defies stereotypes because his many tattoos make him seem rough and tough. The choreography for Lady Gaga’s songs pushes the boundaries of gender and when Mike performs it, it shows that he can be masculine and feminine. Mike is the product of a black father and a Hispanic mother, so that’s why his skin is light. His tattoos are a combination of Japanese fish (inked onto his body in Japan) and a lion for his zodiac sign Leo, as well as other symbols that he uses as a diary of his experiences. Mike’s light skin is the perfect canvas to make his diary stand out with color.
During a performance of “Love Game” on Gaga’s Monster Ball Tour, Mike’s wardrobe looks like something out of the sci-fi A Clockwork Orange. He wears a white corset, white leggings, and a codpiece by his crotch area, and white boots that look like those Doc Marten boots that were popular in the ‘90s. A bone mask rests on his head with the point hanging down to the bridge of his nose, shading his eyes and looking like a bird’s beak. Mike’s face is made up with eye shadow and eyeliner. Also, his tattoos are exposed covering Mike’s lean, muscular body that makes him look feminine and masculine. So it’s a filled subway train car, a glowing disco stick and gender-bending costumes that pull the performance together. This is a reminder of how far Mike’s come since he first started dancing for Lady Gaga in 2008, when he had almost no facial hair and an ordinary haircut. Now he has facial hair, his hair shaved into different shapes, and Mohawks dyed fudge browns and cherry reds making him look like a punk rocker going against what people think is normal. The way Mike can always look so different is fits perfectly with Gaga’s performance art, including what he looks like and how he dances.

When Mike was teaching a Masters of Dance class, he gave his students a piece of advice about image that Andy Warhol would approve of. Mike said, “Just know that here [the dance class] is where you get your foundation and your confidence as a dancer, really look into this [touches mirror in the dance studio with hand].”When you look at your reflection in a mirror, the reflection depends on the mirror inside your mind. You could really look beautiful on the outside, but if you ugly on the inside then you’re going to look ugly on the outside. The idea of changing yourself into something different through makeup, clothes and movement of your body, is a way of destroying your ugly feelings, or just temporarily hiding it., Warhol thought himself ugly and tried to find beauty by making other people look beautiful in his artwork. Also, he photographed himself in drag, again transforming his image. As society often says, beauty is all in the eye of the beholder.