Lady Gaga, who has been rocking blunt bangs and going the Old Hollywood–glam route lately, does not fear androgyny. She has a history of it, so I wasn't exactly shocked when she shared a photo of herself with a beard.
When she first exploded on the pop music scene, rumors that she was a hermaphrodite — having ambiguous genitalia — ran rampant and became a running joke and part of Gaga lore. In an interview, Barbara Walters even asked Gaga if she was aware of the rumors and if they were true; she responded that the rumor is false and she was more miffed at suggestions that her art was artifice.
However, despite those pesky penis rumors, Gaga has embraced decidedly masculine elements of her style and personality. She morphed into her Jo Calderone alter ego, who was essentially a Ralph Macchio circa The Karate Kid lookalike, for her "You & I" video and while on the red carpet and performing at the 2011 MTV VMAs. It was a fully immersive, androgynous experience that saw her go in for the kill — actually, a smooch — with Britney Spears. Brit Brit politely declined, since she had been there, done that with Madonna years earlier.
Now Mother Monster has shared portraits of her in various states of gender, including the one with the beard. Robert Wilson is the artist. The images, taken in New York, have lived at The Louvre in Paris.
Going in clockwise fashion, some of the shots are NSFW, like the one of her roped and hanging upside down, which reminds me of Pink and her acrobatic awards show performances.
The one with her head on a platter like John the Baptist, sporting cherry waves and a heavy beard, is both Gaga-as-a-bearded-lady and Gaga-as-a-dude and is the one that captured my attention first. The next image looks like both her and Wilson's take on the Mona Lisa, thanks to that severe center part and that stare. The final image in the series is a reference to "The Death of Marat," yet another famous dude in art history who's met an untimely demise.
Hey, at least it's not projectile puke à la her 2014 SXSW appearance.
So, yeah, Gaga has a rich history of androgyny.
Gaga rocked Cali gangsta chic when Artpop came out last fall, throwing on a three-sizes-too-big red flannel and a baseball cap.
Ma Monster also paid homage to Salvador Dali, rocking a long, twirled mustache and posing next to a clock. The artist Dali was known for his repeated usage of melting clocks in his art, so she was nodding to him in multiple ways in one pic! That's some 'stache, though. It works with those goggles. Or are those "Gaga-gles?"
Jo Calderone was a broody, smoldering loner, with a greasy pompadour, a skinny physique, and loads of confidence. He smoked, drank, and had a curled lip. He was a total rebel who made us swoon. No, really.
Images: Lady Gaga/Instagram (3); Getty Images