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Lady Gaga's new video Bad Romance confirms my suspicions that she's transforming herself into a poor man's Leigh Bowery. Her repertoire of PVC catsuits, blindfolds, and clubfooted heels clearly harken back to the work of the legendary performance artist. I don't disapprove of her choice of role models-in fact, I hope she moves on to Divine next-but her imitation drains the power and meaning from Bowery's original work. Leigh Bowery's costumess were spectacular and grotesue, but more importantly, they signalled his refusal to assimilate or adopt an acceptable gender identity. Lady Gaga appropriates his look without taking any risks; as a thin, generic blonde (whose videos always include bland hetero love interests), she can try on transgressive personas without actually threatening established cultural hierarchies. Bowery died in 1994 because the government allowed AIDS to ravage the country unchecked. For him, the act of putting on a catsuit took genuine courage; for Lady Gaga, it's just opportunism.

Unknown User says:
“Preface: I am not a Lady Gaga fan, I think that she does have talent, and once the hype settles down and she's allowed to create something on her own, it'll be great. While yes, he did indeed have an interesting vision and was very talented, he truthfully wasn't treading down any untraveled paths. Let's be honest here. Two more notes to your post: 1) you said "as a thin, generic blonde" She's not. she's a brunette, she's got a lil' meat on her and she's got very Mediterranean features. 2) "Bowery died in 1994 because the government allowed AIDS to ravage the country unchecked" Right, OR it's because he either had unprotected sex or shared needles. The government doesn't just GIVE you aids. He got it on his own, it may be sad, yes, but let's be honest here.”
Posted over 5 years ago
“While watching Lady Gaga’s video Bad Romance I was struck at once by her obvious appropriation of Leigh Bowery. At the same time, the image of Little Red Riding Hood, skipping merrily along, came to mind. Lady Gaga looks to me like a precocious child playing in that same dark and dangerous forest that Riding Hood did, maybe a bit more worldly, but I have an intuition that she’s not truly aware of the power in the images she is mirroring. Needless to say, she hasn’t lived it like Leigh Bowery did. All that said, isn’t this what happens through out the history of popular culture? The Flappers, the Hippies, the Hell’s Angels, Japanese Shoguns, and many others have all shown up on Macy’s ready to wear racks at one time or another. I am sure someone wearing Levi’s today hasn’t a clue that the intent of such attire was to work in the mines during the gold rush. Behavior crosses over generations and time smoothes out the historical edges. A young performer today applies the very serious images that Leigh Bowery created, not only with his hands, but his life. Therefore, Lady Gaga couldn’t possibly understand the width and breath of Bowery’s life, but she is a part of his legacy. After all, the Club Kids where his spawn, and it was in that playground that Bowery gave birth to these babies. I don’t judge them … they are just doing what children do. ”
Posted over 5 years ago
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