Toronto
3 min

Gaga’s genius

Die hard

“Lady Gaga’s penis is dead. Long live Lady Gaga’s penis,” writes gawker.com, in light of the recent rash of Gaga-inspired crotch-talk.

In particular, the declaration follows columnist Caitlin Moran’s assertion in London daily The Times: “Perhaps uniquely among all the journalists in the world, I can now factually confirm that Lady Gaga does not have a penis. That rumour can, conclusively, die.”

The statement, which caps Moran’s lengthy Gaga interview — an all-night affair that spans pre- and post-show chatter — comes in the wee hours of the morning, after she and Gaga share a trip to the VIP bathroom of a Berlin sex club. While Moran struggles to unzip her jumpsuit, Gaga sits her fishnet-and-panty-clad ass on the toilet and says, “I’m just going to pee through my fishnets!”

Let’s backtrack for a minute.

The obsession with Gaga’s crotch began in November 2008, when Christina Aguilera delivered a phobic dismissal in response to accusations that she was ripping off Gaga’s style: “[Lady Gaga] was just brought to my attention not too long ago,” she told the LA Times. “I’m not quite sure who this person is, to be honest. I don’t know if it is a man or a woman.”

Immediately thereafter, hoax-inclined gossip blog StarrTrash ran a mock disclosure allegedly scooped from the singer’s own weblog: “Yes. I have both male and female genitalia, but I consider myself a female…. The reason I haven’t talked about it is that it’s not a big deal to me.”

Despite the fact that StarrTrash is clearly a spoof site  — among their headlines, “Angelina Jolie Steals Asian Child” and “Diddy Catches Crabs on the Beach” — gossip outlets ran the story with fervour. And the fanatical fixation with Gaga’s groin was born. Witness: obsessive crotch-shots; compulsive analyses of said crotch-shots; even attempts to recode lyrics (“‘Bluffin’ with your muffin,’ are you?” asked the media as it sleuthed its way through “Poker Face”).

It was after Gaga’s June 2009 performance at the UK Glastonbury Festival, however, that the crotch fetish really began to frenzy, as media posted so-called evidentiary footage of Gaga’s “bump.” And overnight, Gaga’s name became synonymous with terms like “hermaphrodite” and “she-male.” Has no one in the press read the GLAAD Media Reference Guide?

Gaga took the rumours in stride. “I do have a really big donkey dick,” she told UK talk-show host Jonathan Ross. When Brisbane’s NOVA 106.9 morning show broached the subject, Gaga quipped: “I’m not offended; my vagina is offended.” And when Barbara Walters, during her 10 Most Fascinating People of 2009 roundup, asked whether Gaga was “part man, part woman” (seriously, GLAAD anyone?), Gaga met the question head-on: “No…. At first, [the rumour] was really strange and everyone sort of said, ‘That’s really quite a story,’ but in a sense, I portray myself in a very androgynous way, and I love androgyny.”

Gaga, however, has kicked off 2010 with a whole new approach. Instead of speaking to the media’s exploitative quest for evidence, its phobic and reductive attempts to strip and stabilize her body as either/or, she has opted to wield the phantom phallus, to wear it as an always-already absent presence (or present absence).

Take her “Telephone” video, which debuted in March. The reel opens as Gaga, having been led down the corridor of an all-female prison, is tossed into her cell and stripped down to fishnets; a blurred crotch shot follows. Says one butch guard to the other: “I told you she didn’t have a penis.” The reply: “Too bad.”

The lament — “Too bad” — is key. Despite the squall of violently phobic responses, at the heart of most Gaga crotch coverage is giddy fascination, a gaze that’s wildly scopophilic; mainstream culture desperately wants Gaga to have a cock (if only to rationalize the 24-year-old’s striking success, mouthy sexuality and mutinous aesthetic).

To that end, Gaga’s recent Q magazine cover shoot — while one gloved hand seductively covers her bare breasts, the other suggestively grabs at a bulging package — delivers a resounding fuck-you.

“We all know that one of the biggest talking points of the year was that I have a dick, so why not give them what they want? I want to wear a dick strapped to my vagina,” she tells Q. “This is not out of nowhere, right? I want to comment on that in a beautiful, artistic way…. And I want to call this piece ‘Lady Gaga Dies Hard.’”

Mouthpiece appears in every second issue of Xtra.