For a summer of marriage pledges, comparisons of gay marriage to alcoholism, a tree, a napkin — hell, just about anything — and a spectacle of social conservatism splayed across the country, I wholeheartedly welcomed this year’s MTV Video Music Awards to finish out the season. I knew that I could rely on at least this televised event to entertain rather than horrify and disillusion me, and thanks to Jo Calderone, Lady Gaga’s male alter ego, it made the kind of positive political statement I’d been longing for.
Lady Gaga, dressed in drag as the chain-smoking, always-cursing, heartbroken Jo Calderone, kicked off the 28th Annual VMAs. Jo began with a lovesick monologue about Gaga and how she showers in heels, and repeats what Gaga told him: “Jo, I’m not real; I’m theater. And you and I? This is just rehearsal.” With that, Jo gets behind the piano and belts out Born This Way’s latest single, “Yoü And I.”
I thought it rather funny that the camera cut to Justin Bieber, who looked completely stoic and unimpressed. It’s OK, JB. You stole your look from lesbians; you’re allowed to be appreciative of some good ol’ fashioned drag.
A scene out of Footloose ensues and Jo is joined by a band of skinny boys in dirty white Ts, all doing the most androgynous choreography I’ve ever seen (i.e. amazing). The legendary guitarist Brian May (Queen) emerges riffing to infinity and it’s a beautiful, anthemic moment, complete with Jo spraying the crowd with beer and practically falling off the piano.The aftermath is a wide range of shocked, bewildered, and overjoyed looks from various folks in the crowd.
Watch the Jo Calderone performance below:
But no, it’s not just for shock value; Jo is at the Nokia Theater to stay and even presents the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award to Britney Spears, confessing his boyish obsession with the pop icon. He tries to steal a kiss since, he reasons, he’s just a “good old-fashioned man” and she’s a “good old-fashioned girl,” but alas, Brit’s been there and done that, and Jo adds that Gaga would get pissed anyway. Denied.
Later, Gaga wins Best Video with a Message for “Born This Way,” further spreading the LGBT love over the VMAs.
Although in my mind the night was dominated by Jo, the other most talked about moment was the unstoppable Queen of the Universe, Beyoncé, who sang “Love on Top,” the Stevie Wonder-inspired, feel-good track off of 4, changed keys four times, and adorably revealed a healthy baby bump.
Watch Beyoncé’s performance below:
Not only is she a vocalist in her own league — a new league should be created solely for her — she’s now a baby mama (1+1 = 3 for the Knowles-Carter family)!
Perhaps I’m just so fed up with the anti-gay rhetoric in the media these days that I’m getting too excited about Gaga doing an entire awards show in drag (even celebrating all bro-style after seeing Beyoncé’s baby bump), but I don’t care — it’s huge! That gaunt, filthy-mouthed boy represents the hope I have for some serious change.
What did you think of Jo Calderone and the 28th Annual VMAs?